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August 30, 2015
“Return to a Just God”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
As a teenager I learned a very important lesson about getting involved in he say/she say stuff. There were two groups of girls in our neighborhood who couldn’t stand each other and they were always looking for a reason to start trouble or fight with one another.
One time, being a friend of both groups (or so I thought), I was asked to relay messages back and forth. Oh, how naïve I was in those days. When the groups did not like the messages that were relayed they hopped on the phone accusing and going back and forth with one another.
Both sides began to say that they didn’t say what they said. Both sides began to place blame on me, the messenger, saying that I was lying and I was the one that really said all of those things. In the end, to get out of fighting one another, both groups tried to point me out as a target to fight (which never manifested because they knew they were wrong).
Since that time I have tried to keep my nose clean of being a messenger in this type of a situation.
Today’s lesson involves a man whose name means “my messenger,” and his name is Malachi.
Malachi was another of the postexilic prophets God used to relay His divine will to the people in order that they might draw near to Him and live their lives as His covenant people.
As with most of God’s “messengers” the words relayed were not popular; rather, they were full of rebuke for sinful living. At the same time, because the love of God is so strong for His people, His messenger delivered a plea of return that He might in turn bless them.
Today’s lesson doesn’t examine he say/she say in a natural sense but leading up to it there was a lot of He say (speaking of God)/they say (speaking of the people). God would address an issue with the people and they would offer some sort of rebuttal or questioning of how or in what way have we done what we are accused of doing.
For instance, God starts off in the very beginning of Malachi’s book and says, “I have loved you,” (Mal. 1:2a). At the same time God says the people say, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” (Mal. 1:2b).
In verse 6 of that same chapter God accused them of despising His name. And they people say, “Wherein have we despised thy name?”
After that, God lays out several more accusations of the unjust nature of His people toward others and toward Himself. They are accused of (and I won’t be able to list them all here) things such as offering unfit sacrifices on His table when God demands the best (Mal. 1:8; Lev. 1:3).
They are accused of having and operating under a priesthood that was less than exemplary; causing many people to stumble (Mal. 2). God strictly told them, “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name . . . I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already . . .” (Mal. 2:1).
Some of the others things they were accused of dealing with their wives wrongfully in marriage and of having fake tears of repentance on God’s offering table (read all of Mal. 2).
With all that they do, with their infidelity and insincerity in worship and lack of integrity towards one another and God, the injustices built up until Malachi told them God had enough of it. He said, “Ye have wearied the LORD with your words,” (Mal. 2:17a).
Even though the Lord does not get tired and weary in the physical sense of human nature (Is. 40:28); He does, however get tired of sin (Is. 43:24).
And to this, yes, they had a response as well.
They say once again, “Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgments?” (Mal. 2:17c).
Where is the God of judgments (justice)? That’s what they wanted to know. Were those who are evil getting away with being blessed by God? Was God turning His head and not paying attention when His people are afflicted? Was God being unfair as His people accused Him of?
How often do people suppose themselves to approach God with this kind of questioning and accusation without first taking inventory of one’s own life? Today many view God in this same light without first asking, “Is it me, O Lord?”
Regardless, we know that all of God’s judgments are truth (Ro. 2:2).
God was not being unfair. It was the people who are suffering repercussions of their own actions which caused their life to be the way it was at that moment.
In regard to the issue of justice, God said, “It’s coming!”
Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Malachi the messenger had the privilege to prophesy of another “messenger.” One who “shall prepare the way before me.”
We well know this messenger now to be John the Baptist. Jesus, when speaking of John the Baptist, told His disciples, “For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee,” (Mat. 11:10). John said of himself quoting Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord,” (John 1:23).
This was his purpose. This was his mission while on earth; to point the way, as the Word of God verifies, to the only one who can truly save; to give testimony to the true Lamb of God; to God’s true justice.
This was his special mission on his life from before the time of his conception. Luke 1:15-17 shows what the angel pronounced to Zacharias about his soon to be son:
“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
At the time of his circumcision, his father Zacharias also prophesied, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,” (Luke 1:76).
“And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come.” The Messiah is coming! Jesus Christ came as a babe in a manger once (of which Micah prophesied would be in Bethlehem; see Micah 5:2).
But, when He returns the second time it will be as Judge! Psalms tell us, “Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth,” (96:13).
John, in his Revelation prophesy, gives us a glimpse of what that will look like: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doeth judge and make war,” (Rev. 19:11).
Which is why in the next verse the question is asked . . .
Malachi 3:2-4“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
They wanted to know where God’s justice was? Maybe they shouldn’t have been so crass in their accusing assumptions and questioning. Because when His “Justice,” in the form of Jesus Christ, does come, “who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?”
Because when He does come, He will come “like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.” He is coming to “purify and purge.”
A refiner’s fire is meant to break down and clean out. It takes a substance of hard metal such as gold and silver and melts it so that it becomes a liquefied state of its former being. Impurities are then skimmed off that the trueness of the product can be itself without any contaminates; without any impurities. The trials will be hot.
And the cleaning process of the “fullers’ soap” will be unpleasant to say the least because they will be scrubbed and rubbed until nothing of their former, impure nature remains. They will be boiled and cleaned until whitened and brightened removing spot and stain.
“Who shall stand?” These processes are meant to “purify and purge,” (to sanctify); “who may abide the day of his coming?”
Psalms tells us, “Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.” (76:7-9).
In the future, Revelation 6:17 warns, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” The wicked; the unclean; the unbeliever; the unsaved; the one not found in Christ, washed in the purifying agent of the blood of the Lamb, will not be able to stand! Those that are not sanctified will suffer His anger of that great day.
And, He was starting with the “sons of Levi;” the priesthood; the leaders of the day who were responsible for leading people in proper worship of God. Leaders are ordained by God to draw people toward a closer relationship with Him and not further away. Corrupt leaders corrupt people. They work like an infestation that comes in and contaminates all it touches. Therefore is the need for the purifying process.
“That they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” The accusation laid before them was defiled and blemished offerings; offerings that did not stand up to God’s holy and righteous requirement (see Malachi 1:7-8). True and respectful worship to God will be restored “as in the days of old.”
As a whole, “the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD.” God would be pleased. Shouldn’t this be the result that anybody hopes for from the refining process: to be pleasing to Him?
Malachi 3:5 “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.”
God is against all sin and He will “come near to you to judgment.” As discussed before in a previous lesson, a choice in disobedience DOES matter to God and disobedience brings consequences (something the people forgot about in their questioning of God’s justice).
In Leviticus 26 the wording for not following the commands of God are pretty harsh. Some examples are:
- I will appoint you to terror, vs. 16.
- Ye shall sow your seed in vain, vs. 16.
- I will set my face against you, vs. 17.
- I will make your heaven as iron, vs. 19.
- Your land shall not yield her increase, vs. 20.
- I will punish you seven times for your sins, vs. 24.
- I will make your cities waste, vs. 31.
- I will scatter you, vs. 33.
The coming future judgment will be much worse.
He is against, “the sorcerers, and against adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear me not, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Many of these injustices and sins of the people have been discussed over and over again. Added to that is messing with occulted practices through the use of sorcery and the like.
Anybody who “fear me not,” God is against! Those who don’t reverence God will face His wrath. The people then have treated God with contempt will suffer. Sinners today treat God as if He is nothing to be afraid of, but oh, are they so wrong. He will have the last say. Man can go back and forth all he wants, but when that Day of Judgment comes none shall be able to stand. His divine hand that possesses His divine gavel will pound with a resounding guilty to all who are not found purged and purified in Christ and written in the Lambs book of life.
They won’t able to ask where the God of justice is at that time, it is their own actions, just as the people in today’s lesson, and they brought the results of condemnation. “The wicked is snared by the work of his own hands,” is what Psalm 9:16 says. God will judge and His judgments are right and all sin and unrepentance will be dealt with.
Malachi 3:6-7 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”
God doesn’t change. That is our foundation of faith and a comfort to the people to Malachi was addressing. Because of the immutability of God, He remains in a covenant relationship with His people. They have repeatedly “gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” Yet, as a nation God has not totally “consumed” them.
“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not,” is what Jeremiah expresses in Lamentations 3:22. God had every reason with them and us to banish and do away with forever. Yet, He pleads, “Return to me, and I will return unto you.” For the soul that looks to Him, it’s not too late. For the soul that turns back from his/her wrongdoing and turn to the righteous God, He is there ready with restoration because He does not change. He is a covenant God. He loves His people. If they will be turn their relationship with Him will be restored.
Unfortunately, being of the lineage they were they felt that they hadn’t gone anywhere. They thought their relationship with God was solidified because they were after all His covenant people. Why did they need to repent?
Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
To explain their lost state of thinking God asked a question, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.” God’s accusation was the people were acting as thieves when it came to His house. They were stealing from the Almighty of what didn’t belong to them, and they wanted to know how: “Wherein have we robbed thee?”
“In tithes and offerings,” God responded. To “tithe” means to give ten percent of one’s increase to the house of the Lord to help support its ministry and in the Old Testament times it was used to support the Levites because they didn’t have an inheritance (see Numbers 18:21-24). They have been accused of taking away the supply and provision of God’s house to foster their own greed. Their injustices were not just toward people, but God Himself.
Therefore, He said, “Ye are cursed with a curse.” There were so many blessings that God would rather bestow on His people (see Duet. 28:1-14). Instead, they would suffer because of their continual contempt to heed His warnings and to adjust their lifestyles according to His commandments.
Deuteronomy 28:15 warns, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all the curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.” And, trust me, from Deuteronomy 28:16-68 there are noted many, many curses (really read and look through them – WOW!).
I would rather be on the blessing side and in the favor of God than to endure and subject myself to curses.
In spite of all that, God still had a promise for them: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
God wants to bless His people. If they will just turn; bring the tithe and offering into the house of God, He promised abundant blessings from heaven. So much, “that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” That’s my kind of blessing!
Listen, God is not a magic genie as some think to treat Him. But there is a very real and legitimate promise here in His word. You give to God and God will more than give back to you! That’s a promise! “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again,” (Luke 6:38).
You lose out on nothing giving to God! In every part of our lives, our relationship with Him and people, with our worship and yes, with our finances, God will bless because He is a just God that does not change. A just God requires people who will act justly as well. Therefore, they need to return.
God gives the invitation to try Him. Prove Him. See if He won’t do what He said He will do; because, He will. It may not always be in the form of a material blessing and it may not always be as evident as we would like it to be, but we are guaranteed to be on His blessing side.
But, don’t just come to God for a blessing (He knows the difference between a sincere and insincere heart); come because you love Him. Come because you know there has to be a change that takes place in you in order to prepare for that greater Day of Judgment when Jesus comes back.
That is the main focus of a life being called to RETURN TO A JUST GOD!
Return! Come back to a whole relationship with God. Come back and seek restoration. Stop questioning and stop making excuses, just come back to Him. The Day of Judgment; the day of the refiner’s fire and fullers soap will come. Will you be ready?Because when it’s all said and done, it’s only what He says that matters.
Please note: I will not get into a whole debate here but there are many who suppose that the tithe is not for the modern day church. I for one believe it is. This is just a simply summary: The tithe predates the law as we see in Genesis 14:18-20; and in the New Testament in Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees He said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment ,mercy, and faith: these ought ye have done, and not to leave the other undone,” (Matthew 23:23).
Jesus never said they didn’t have to pay the tithe. He said they should have showed mercy and judgment without leaving the other undone, which was the tithe. Don’t neglect the tithe, but still show compassion as well.
Just my thoughts . . .
(Click here for PDF: Return to a Just God Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
How Many Words?: Return to a Just God How Many Words
Below are Activities/Links/Resources that support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Note: ANY activities from previous repent and return lesson will go nicely with this week’s lesson.
Activities for Tithes and Offerings:
Memory Verse Coloring Page: Malachi 3 10 Coloring Sheet
Coloring Sheet 2: Giving Joyfully Coloring Sheet_2
Printable Puzzle (Don’t forget to use cardstock or glue to cardboard or inside out cereal boxes. Enjoy!: Giving Joyfully Puzzle
“Offering Craft”: Make this offering box craft with an empty tissue box, coffee can, etc, and this PDF: Offering Craft Activity Sheet
“Printable Offering Box” Students can decorate and create their own offering boxes. This is great if you don’t have a lot of time to gather supplies. A time when you need something QUICK AND EASY. Simply print out on cardstock PDF: Offering Box, bend edges in and TAPE TOGETHER (I strongly recommend taping. For this project it’s so much easier than gluing and it’s less messy, something every teacher appreciates :)). Make sure the Money For God part is at the top and wordforlifesays logo is at the bottom. Don’t forget to cut a slit in it for money. Enjoy! (Of course, your students will decorate theirs. I left a rough picture as a demonstration 🙂 ).
“No One Can Serve Two Masters” Coloring Page by Ministry to Children
“Giving for Orphan Care” Coloring Page by Ministry to Children
“God Loves a Cheerful Giver” Memory Verse Coloring Page by Mssscrafts
“God Love a Cheerful Giver” Offering Plate Craft by Mssscrafts
“Make Your Own Money Sack Craft” from Mssscrafts
“Offering Crafts” from Ehow (Many ideas for offering crafts including painting a paper plate gold. Fancy! Make it look like a real offering plate. Throw in some chocolate gold coins to represent money or use plastic money from your local dollar store. Enjoy!)
Jesus’ Second Coming Activities (goes along with Jesus’ return for verses 2-3):
Going to Meet Jesus Craft:
Using this Jesus in the cloud coloring sheet from Kidopo.com and this coloring sheet of a group of people from Picturesforcoloring.com, I put together this craft of making people going up to meet Jesus in the air. Color and glue the Jesus coloring sheet on construction paper. Print out the group of people on cardstock or attach to construction paper also. Punch holes into the bottom of Jesus picture and the top of the group pictures. Weave yarn or string through and tie onto the group of people. Attach a clothes pin to the top of Jesus picture. Slip yarn or string through the hole of the clothespin. This allows you to slide the people up and down to meet Jesus. Make sure students leave plenty of yarn or string for the people to go up and down. When not in use, wrap excess string around the clothespin to put away. Enjoy!
“Jesus’ Second Coming/Ascension” Coloring Page from Free Christian Coloring Pages
“Jesus’ Second Coming” Coloring Page from Abdaacts (suited more to older children)
“Jesus’ Second Coming” Coloring Page from Daniel Revelation Bible Studies
“The Second Coming” Activities and Coloring from Calvary Curriculum
“As a Thief in the Night” Activities and Coloring from Calvary Curriculum
“Jesus’ Return to Earth” Coloring from Christiananswers.net
“Create – A – Crown” Craft from Crayola.com
“The Day and Time Not Known” from Missionarlington.org
“When is Jesus Coming Back” from Missionarlington.org
“Jesus is Coming Again” Activities and Coloring from Sermons4kids
“Craft Ideas on the Second Coming” from Ehow.com
“1 Thess. 4:17 – the Rapture“:
“The Rapture” Activity from Elephantgrace.com