- Introduction – two-sided coins… Throughout Malachi, God reveals to us a number of truths that have two sides. One example might be covenantal relationships: for our ‘up/down’ relationship with God to work properly, we need to be careful of our ‘side to side’ relationship with each other. Both ‘sides of the coin’ need to be embraced for covenants to work. See Malachi 2:10 as an example and John 13:34-35 as a New Testament example. The closing sentences of Malachi offer the ‘flip-side’ of a couple more coins given to us by the Lord.
- The coin of ‘The Day of the Lord’: earlier in our studies we heard that the Lord’s arrival will be like a refiner’s fire. It will purify the faithful that it touches. In 4:1 we discover the other side of this coin: for those who reject God, the fire will be destructive and reduce them to ash.
- The coin of ‘Moses and Elijah’: both men are mentioned here (4:4-5) and both are present at the Transfiguration of Christ (Mark 9:2-13). At the Transfiguration, it is generally believed that they represent the Law (Moses) and the Prophets(Elijah) all being fulfilled and passed on to Jesus – rather like a baton in a relay race. In a more simple way, in Malachi, they could represent two sides of a coin. Elijah (prophet) represents theology – believing/understanding. Moses (lawgiver) represents ethics – actually ‘doing’ the right thing. Both are needed to please the Lord. Cf. Luke 6:46; John 14:15; Matthew 28:20; Amos 5:18-24
- Conclusion – the coin we must give to God: the passage also reveals another coin – this time, it’s one we must give to God. We persistently sin and do wrong; it’s constantly part of what we offer God (1 John 1:10, Isaiah 64:6). The other side of this coin must be repentance. We should be particularly attentive to those moments when we realise we’ve done wrong. Rather than being obstinate or prideful, we should turn from our wrongdoing and beg God’s forgiveness. 3:16 shows a moment when some of God’s people did this. Every so often, God challenges us and says, “This is what I want: love one another so marvellously that everyone wants to come to church! Long for justice! Come before Me in all humility! Honour Me with your tithe – the best of all you have been given! Do precisely what Christ commands!” Are we obedient to all of this? If we can be, then these great sentences will apply to us: 3:17; 4:2.
- In what practical ways can we be faithful to one another? Have you felt like your fellow Christians have been a ‘proper family’ to you since entering the Faith?
- How urgent should we be when it comes to evangelism? What excuses are most commonly made for failing to proclaim the Good News? How important is the Holy Spirit for our task of evangelism? How important is prayer for our task of evangelism?
- What steps can we take to ensure that we have a sound grasp of the teachings of Jesus? Can you think of any specific examples of Jesus’ teaching/wisdom being applied to everyday life?
- With regard to sin, what are your thoughts/reflections on the following passage of Scripture: James 5:16?