Malachi 3:13-14 Your words have been stout against Me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, what have we spoken so much against Thee? Ye have said, it is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?
Malachi is the last of the Jewish prophets. His message to Israel was delivered after the return from Babylonian captivity and after the rebuilding of the temple. The Jewish nation had, once again, become negligent and indifferent in worshipping God, and had become disobedient to His commandments. The text indicates that they considered serving God as vain. They ask the question, What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance? They inferred that they were prospering without serving God, so why serve Him.
The book of Malachi contains the final passages regarding the relationship of Israel with God. The Old Testament is full of incidents such as this - how Israel is obedient to God and God pours out his blessings on them, then, how Israel turns from God and God punishes them. Reading through the bible, it is hard to comprehend why Israel continually turned from God. The learning process of reinforcement from rewards and punishments, seemed to be non-existent with the Jewish nation.
The book of Malachi references a number of incidents where the Jewish people show indifference to God as their Creator and the Sustainer of their life. It is as if their consciences were seared.1 Timothy 4:2 indicates that the conscience can become numb as when a hot iron sears a wound - it becomes insensitive. The conscience is the "voice" within us that tells us whether we are being obedient to or violating previously learned ethical or moral principles. We know that the Jewish people had, at some time in the past, learned God's commandments. However, at this time in their history, their conscience did not appear to condemn them - it seemed to be seared - it had become numb. They were being disobedient, but they were not condemned by their conscience. They seemed to think they were not sinning against God.
In Malachi 1:2 the prophet tells the Israelites that God loved them. Their reply was, Wherein hast Thou loved us? With all the historical references to God pouring out His blessings on Israel, the Jewish nation, at this time, seemed to have forgotten. Their past had no positive affect on their present moral lives. It did not serve as encouragement for them to be obedient to God.
In Malachi 1:6, the prophet tells these Jewish people that children are to honor their parents, and servants are to honor their masters. He then asks them where their honor is to their Heavenly Father. Their answer was, Wherein have we despised Thy name? By not keeping His commandments, they showed their lack of respect for God. Their problem was that they were not compelled by their conscience to be obedient.
Also in Malachi 1:7 we learn that these Jewish people were offering sacrifices to God that were not their best. They were offering the lame and the sick animals for sacrifice and keeping the best of the flocks and herds for themselves, or for selfish profit, to sell in the market place.When told this, their answer was, Wherein have we polluted Thee? Further in Malachi we find similar answers from the Jewish people. In Malachi 3:17, Wherein have we wearied Him? In Malachi 4:7, Wherein shall we return? And in Malachi 4:8, Wherein have we robbed Thee? The continual provoking by their disobedience definitely served to weary God. When asked to return to God and be obedient to His commandments, they were effectively saying, "return from where?" They didn't realize they had strayed away.
Today, we may ask God this question: "How have we robbed you?"The answer, as it was with the disobedient Israelites, would be,by disobeying His commandments and refusing to use their blessings, talents, and time, to serve God and their fellow man - theywere robbing God.
Study God's word as spoken through His prophet Malachi. In them we will find that God's commands to the Jewish nation also apply to His Christian children today. We can definitely profit from the prophet!