God, and having favor with all the people." 4. They rejoiced. Yes, for "the joy of the Lord was their strength" (see Jno. 15:11; Phil. 4:4), and they made "great mirth" (Ezra 8:12). Oh, t h at all would gather themselves together as one man, and that our teachers would read the Word distinct- ly and give the sense, that it might have "free course and be glorified" (2 Thess. 3:8).
tears, and the rainbow on their faces in the bright shining off- His own. 3. They were filled with charity. They had sweet fellow- ship, exchanging love-tokens one witn an- other; and sent portions to those who- had nothing. Lake the first Christians (Acts 2:46, 47), "they continued daily in the tem- ple (Ezra 8:14, 18), and breaking bread from house to house; did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising
Lesson XIII.—Dec. 24. The Lord's Messenger and Message. Malachi.
dureth all things; hopeth all things" (1 Cor. 13). What had not the Lord borne with that perverse nation? We have read the story a thousand years long, "All day long (thatilong day, and longer) have I stretched forth My hands to a disobedient and gain- saying people" (Rom. 10:21). He has borne in like manner with us all. How He loves us.' If we run into His outstretched arms need we doubt but that He will receive us? If, when we were enemies, He loved us, much more now He will spare and bless' us (Rom. 5:10). (5) It was a grieved love. The people abused it The Lord said they wearied Him. His whole pleading in this book is pathetic. It is the Voice of Him who wept aloud and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy chil- dren . together, as a hen doth gather her brood under wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34. 2. A message to the unworthy. (1) They were ungrateful. They said "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" What base ingratitude! What insensibility to loving kindness! How different from David, who could not count the Lord's mercies (Psa. 40 :5). Can any of us say, Wherein has God loved us? See if you "Can count your blessings, Name them every one?" They are wicked children who say to dear father, and loving, sacrificing mother, "What have you ever done to show me love?" (2) They were undutiful. With their lips they called God, "Father," and "Master," but neither showed honor or obedience (Isa. 29:13). They were utterly without ("fear") the reverence that was God's due. For "the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments" (Ecc. 12;13). (3)' They were sacriligious. They had contempt for God's holiness and holy worship. They deemed anything good enough for His service, and. offered "the blind, the lame, the sick," expressly forbid- den in the law (Lev. 22:21-24). God, our King, Lord, Father, Benefactor, and best Friend, deserves the best we have. And there is neither love, nor charity, least of all worship, in giving our worthless and nast 7 off remnants to God, His house, min- istry, or poor. It is insult to. Him, and profane sacrilege. God must have our best; and His house, day and worship must be held in reverential awe. (6) They were in- sufferably impudent. "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" "Wherein have we despised Thy name?". "What a weariness it is!" they said of His worship and "snuffed at it" (turned, up their noses). 1:13. "Where- in have we wearied Him?" (2:17); "Where is the God of judgment.?" which was to. say, "Where »is your talked of justice, O' God?" (2:17). "Wherein shall we return?" Or, "Wh'at are you finding fault about; aren't we doing well enough?" (3:7). "Wherein have we robbed Thee?" (3;8); "What have we
Î. GOD'S MESSENGER. 1. "Malachi" means "My Messenger." "Malach" is translated "angél," many times, as well as "messenger." The context in- dicates whether an earthly or heavenly mes- senger is spoken of. 2. "My mèssenger,". Mal. 3:1, refers to John the Baptist, thé "messenger" of our Lord's first advent. Elijah (4:5) will be the messenger, and therefore the Malachi of His second advent (compare 3:1; 4:5; Luke 1:12-17; Rom. 11:3- 6). The Lord Himself is "the Messenger of the Covenant," 3:1; and in Ex. 23:23, called "Malachi" in the Hebrew. Thus we have four Malachis—Malachi John, who pre- ceded the first advent; Malachi Elijah, who precedes the second advent; Malachi Jesus the Lord in both advents, and Malachi the Prophet, who predicts them all. 3. Malachi, the book, is the last one in the Old Testa- ment. Nearly four hundred years intervene between it and the New Testament. How glad we are that God had other messengers, with other messages to comp. The Old Testament does not end with the words "To be continued," but it implies them. The story is not ended. He says: "Be- hold, I wilJ send My messenger" (3:1). Our New Testament has also its continuation, for it ends with "Surely, I come quickly" (Rev. 22:20). If now other messengers come they will bring other messages. Elijah brings only the reiteration of the Old, for he is "to restore all things (among the Jews)" (Mark 9:12); but when Malachi Jesus returns He "will make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Meanwhile we are to listen to no messengers or messages " that bring anything essentially new (Gal. 1:8,9). So taught Paul, who was also, with his fel- lows, a Malachi, for Apostle means "mes- senger" in Greek. II. GOD'S MESSAGE. 1'. A message of love. (1) It is a con-, fessed iove. "I have loved you." This is His message to all men everywhere, for though in this case it was directed to thé Jew, it was also for the Gentile in care of the Jew; for "salvation is of the Jews" (Jno. 4:22). The very proposition of the Bible is "God is love" (1 Jno. 4:8). It is written, in the Blood of the Lamb (Jno. 3:16). (2) It is an unchanging love. "I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." If it were not for His unchanging love we sinners all would soon be where we deserve to be. . But it is as if he .said, "I have loved you, I do love you, I shall always love you." Now! should wè not love, trust, and serve Him?. "Having loved His own—He loved them unto the end" (Jno. 13:1). "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). "But God commendéth His love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ .died for us" (Rom. 5:6). (4) It is a long-suffer- ing love. The kind that "suffereth long and is kind; that "beareth all things; en-
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