Separation Time

Malachi 3:16-18  NIV,

            16 Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.


  1. The meaning of the word “Malachi” means “my messenger.” 
    1. The prophet’s address is directed to the Israelite community who were restored to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity and Nehemiah rebuilt the Temple. About 500 BC
    1. Malachi’s message to the people is to challenge them about their sins, while encouraging them to pursue a life of holiness.
  2. Throughout the book, Malachi was not shy when it came to addressing the sins of the people.
    1. The message to us today from Malachi is that despite the Israelites denial and unawareness of their sin, God is still there to love His people and will exercise grace to those who turn back to Him.
    1. This love was constant and continual, denoting that God had the same love for His people in the past, the present, and the future that was to come.
  3. Malachi is the last prophetic voice that the Jews would hear, considering that 400 years of silence from heaven was on the brink of exploding to the present. The prophecy of John the Baptist is about to emerge onto the scene.
  4. In the days of the prophet Malachi, the people were having a problem with genuine religion. Most of the people were religiously apathetic, so God sent a messenger to warn them of the danger of living in hypocrisy or false security.
  5. We have to ask the question of ourselves:
    1. Is it possible that one of the reasons the church is in retreat today is that many church members are apathetic?  
    1. Let’s ponder this!
  6. Pause
  7. Hear these words from Malachi 3:16 from the Message translation: 16 Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name.
  8. Pause
  9. A fictional tale is told in management seminars about a young manager who was to replace a retiring executive. The younger man approached the older, venerated leader and asked, “Sir, I know of the legend that you have become as a leader in this company. Could you give me some advice as I try to fill your shoes?”
    1. The older man pondered the question and responded: “Three words: Make good decisions!”
    1. “That is good advice,” the young man replied as he wrote this down. “And what is the key to making good decisions?”
    1. “One word,” the veteran executive replied. “Experience.”
    1. “And how do I get this,” the eager young man asked as he scribbled “experience” on his paper.
    1. “Two words,” the retiring man answered. “Bad decisions.”
  10. Pause
  11. An Ohio State University psychologist estimates that each of us is faced with hundreds of decisions each day. They range from trivial (Italian or Mexican for lunch), to moral (good from evil), to priority (best from better).
    1. In these decisions we want to make good choices.
  12. Why? Because we really are the sum-total of our decisions.
    1. We make our decisions, and our decisions make us!!!
    1. Mary Kay Ash the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics has said, “Be careful of the choices you make today. They will become your lifestyle tomorrow.”
      1. Clearly the men at the Westminster Rescue Mission live by the effects of wrong choices – some of them made decades ago.
  13. Each day we face key choices regarding our decisions to walk with God.
    1. How we handle them really is representative of how we honor God.
  14. Here are some examples.
  15. Will you render service to others? Malachi 3:13-15, 18
  16. Some of the people Malachi addressed were guilty of whining and complaining. They were talking to each other about their complaints against God. When confronted they denied any wrongdoing.
    1. In this very short book of Malachi, this is the seventh time they deny their errors.
  17. What were they talking about?
    1. Serving God was drudgery.
    1. It was useless.
    1. Worshipping, tithing, and serving had no purpose.
    1. It was all empty, vain, and futile.
  18. I hear this complaint today: Some people stop serving because they don’t see any benefit. “I’m not getting anything out of it.” Or, “I’ve been faithful, yet God doesn’t bless me. And, what’s more, evil people seem to prosper while good people suffer.”
  19. Malachi raised the bar on service. He showed that service distinguishes the righteous from the wicked (3:18). Righteousness in God’s sight is more than a profession of faith. The righteousness of true faith will prove itself in a heart of service.
  20. Remember the words of Jesus on Matthew 25 on the separation of the sheep and goats at the end of time: “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”
  21. Serving God is serious business. God commands us to serve. We have so many opportunities to serve others, don’t we? But do we do it willingly?
  22. By the way, all the great people of the Bible were called servants. God referred to Moses as “my servant Moses” (4:4).
    1. The ultimate servant is Jesus.
    1. We should follow His example.
  23. Each day presents the choice of serving or not. What is your decision?
  24. Pause
  25. Next, Malachi points out that God remembers us
  26. In Malachi 3:16 we read, “A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.” Not only does the Lord listen to our words, but he also records our good works in a book of remembrance, and he will reward us in due course.
    1. Oriental rulers frequently recorded the names and deeds of citizens who did beneficial deeds to make certain they were not forgotten when the time came for appropriate rewards.
    1. I believe that God keep tabs on us all. God remembers what we have done.
    1. In fact, the only thing God forgets is our confessed sins.
  27. God treasures us
  28. “‘A special possession on the day I am preparing'” (3:17). Special possession means to set aside a thing or property. For example, you have many possessions, but those items of great value are placed somewhere for safekeeping. God treasures us in the same way. We matter to Him far more than we know.
  29. Finally
  30. Malachi warns of a coming judgment. That day could be this day. Are you ready? Will you be able to face God as one who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord?
  31. Seattle’s famed Kingdome – home of the Seattle Seahawks, Mariners, and at times, the SuperSonics – was destroyed on March 26, 2000. The demolition company took extreme measures to ensure no one would be in danger. Engineers checked and rechecked the structure. They evacuated several blocks around the Kingdome. Safety measures ensured the countdown could stop at any time if there was concern about safety. All workers were individually accounted for by radio before the explosives were detonated. A large public address system announced the final countdown.
    1. In short, the company took every reasonable measure and more to warn people of the impending danger.
  32. This is the summary of what Malachi is all about!
    1. Will you render service to others?
    1. Will you reverence God?
    1. Will you be ready for judgment?
  33. In his sermon “The Writing on the Wall,” William Willimon tells the story of an aggravating funeral at a country church.
  34. The preacher pounded on the pulpit and looked over at the casket. He would say, “It’s too late for Joe. He might have wanted to get his life together. He might have wanted to spend more time with his family. He might have wanted to do that, but he’s dead now. It is too late for him, but it is not too late for you. There is still time for you. You still can decide. You still are alive. It is not too late for you. Today is the day of decision.”
  35. Then the preacher told how a Greyhound bus had run into a funeral procession once on the way to the cemetery, and that could happen today. He said, “You should decide today. Today is the day to get your life together. Too late for old Joe, but it’s not too late for you.”
  36. I was so angry at that preacher. On the way home, I told my wife, “Have you ever seen anything as manipulative and as insensitive to that poor family? I found it disgusting.”
  37. She said, “I’ve never heard anything like that. It was manipulative. It was disgusting. It was insensitive. Worst of all, it was also true.”
  38. Today is the day of decision. What is your decision?
  39. Thanks be to God!