MSG: God’s Message Overcomes Boredom!

This message was presented on July 7, 2013 as a part of the Malachi series.

God’s Message Overcomes Boredom!
Malachi 3:1-7
 
Many children enjoy getting out of school in the summer, but the drawback is that they often become bored.  When I was eight years old, my parents sent me to Covenant Pines, which was our church camp in northern Minnesota. It was my first camp experience and it was great.  I enjoyed the chapel, “Canteen” and cabin bunks, but I admit it was a big learning experience. 
On the last night, Friday, each cabin had to come up with a skit to “entertain” the campers. Remember this is elementary kids thinking of the skit, writing it and then acting it out.  Our cabin decided to do the skit, “The Viper is Coming!”  It is about a king and queen who receive a message that the viper is coming.  The message keeps coming and the tension escalates as the viper’s arrival approaches.
The cast included a king and queen, their court, the messenger and of course the “viper.”  It was my first camp and I was appointed the “queen.”  I must have weighed 80 pounds coming out of the water, so I was not able to argue too loudly.  Some wise guy thought of me wearing a mop for long hair and a ribbon around the mop holding the “hair” back.  I also wore an apron for my gown. We practiced a couple times, but the skit was very simple. Each time the messenger announced the viper was coming, I was supposed to get increasingly hysterical saying, “The viper is coming! What are we going to do?”
On Friday night, we took our positions.  As the skit started, the king and I sat there looking royally silly.  The messenger walked up to our thrones and announced, “The viper is coming!” I let out a high pitched, “The viper is coming, what are we going to do?!” The next moment I found myself in a very difficult position.
The two chairs we sat in must have been built in 1888 and were solid oak with heavy duty arm rests.  That king was probably in sixth grade and must have had a beard, because he was big and had a low voice.  He added to the skit and put his big 22 inch bicep arm around me and pulled me over to himself.
 Now, what is more flexible?  Is it a big wooden chair with arm rests, or the rib bones of an eight year old boy? When he pulled me over, I did not have to act.  It felt like my ribs were going to snap. What I said came out as if I were in painful fear.  I was in great pain!  But I kept responding to the messages each time (how was I to know if there was a Hollywood scout or not in the audience?)  It escalated until the viper arrived.  Now remember, this skit was written, directed and acted by elementary boys!  The viper arrived and said, “Hi! I’m the vinder viper. I’ve come to vipe your vinders!”  The camp came unglued, but then it was elementary ages.
Just like the king and queen in the skit were not ready for the message, neither was Israel ready for the message Malachi gave.  In Malachi one, God made the statement, “I have loved you” and asked the question, “Why do you offer defiled offerings to Me?”  Israel asked, “Just how have You loved us? And furthermore, how have we offered defiled offerings?”  God responded, “When you offer sick, lame and diseased offerings, is it not evil?” Israel was disconnected from reality.
Then in Malachi two, God sternly rebuked the priests in Israel and said, “You have not served glory to My name; you have not stood in the covenant of truth; you have not submitted to the covenant of life and peace and you have not set yourself aside to teach your children and disciples about me.” And furthermore God added, “You have been indifferent toward holiness in your marriages; you have been indifferent toward holiness in your children; and you have been indifferent toward My holy purposes.” 
Israel was indifferent, complacent and just bored with it all.  They wanted to know, “Where is the God who will bless us?” What is God’s message to His bored people? 
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)      <!–[endif]–>God will send His messenger to prepare the way 3:1
Let us make sure we have the context for Malachi three. In the preceding verse, Malachi records,
  • 17 You have wearied the LORD with your words; Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the LORD, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?” (Mal. 2:17)
            God’s statement is true, because He is God. So what does Israel’s question mean? The question makes us assume two things about Israel’s mindset. First, they thought it must be okay to not understand God’s Word and character. They should have asked, “Lord, what do I need to do to understand and please you?” Secondly, Israel must be thinking, “Maybe God loves; but He doesn’t judge the wicked. So where is the God of justice?” These were very arrogant responses from Israel.  They made God little and Israel big. Malachi began with God’s warning that a messenger was coming,
  • “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 3:1)
God says He will send His messenger to prepare the way.  Israel has likely been thinking, “The messenger is supposed to be coming, but how long do we have to wait?” Psalm 46:10 records, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Israel had been waiting since Moses first recorded the beginnings of the Old Testament and that was 1000 years earlier.  One thousand years is a long time!  But for God, it is not a long time.  Remember, it was Peter who wrote, “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8 NKJ) Who wants to wait 1000 years? We want answers immediately, especially in our google oriented expectations!
            How many of you have been on vacation and what is the question you here from the back seat about ten miles into the trip?  It is a four word question.  “Are we there yet?”  We want an answer, so we can get on to what we think we ought to be doing.  The disciples were like that also.  After the resurrection of Jesus, in Acts 1:6 the disciples asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”(Act 1:6 NKJ)  They wanted to know God’s timetable, because that makes life easier than having to wait and trust.  It’s almost as if people want to know so they CAN trust.  God wants them INSTEAD to trust that He knows.
Well, 400 years went by, and God’s messenger was sent by God.  The Jews sent priests and Levites to inquire about that messenger,
  • 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>23 He said: “I am `The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD (John 1:22-23 NKJ)
This is a quotation from Isaiah 40 of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the people for the coming Lord.  God’s message to His bored people is that God will send His messenger and the question is will they be ready? The second aspect of God’s message is that God will send judgment to cleanse His people.  
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)      <!–[endif]–>God will send judgment to cleanse His people 3:2-3
When you were a child, did you have a mom who said you needed a bath, but you said you didn’t? Some kids don’t think they need a bath. I remember making that kind of response to my mom when I was a boy.  Sometimes we also get comfortable in our sin.  Israel was comfortable with their sin.
  • 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap. (Mal. 3:2)
Malachi asks the question, “Who can endure?” and the answer is – no one!  The word “endure” comes from the Hebrew word “cul” and means “to contain” in the normal tense, but here the pilpel tense is strongly intensive and repetitive, which means “support” or “sustain.”  Who can sustain themselves, or support themselves at Jesus’ coming?  No one can on their own power.  No one can stand on their own power when Jesus appears.  He will be like a Refiner who purifies and He will be like a Laundryman who washes out the dirt, the filth, the sin of Israel’s life. In Malachi 3:3, the verbs describe the intensity with which God will purify Israel.
  • 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. (Mal. 3:3)
The words “refiner” (tsaraph) and “purifier” (tahar) are actually intensive piel verbs describing the action of Jesus purifying God’s people the Jews during the Tribulation.  He is going to be like the goldsmith watching the crucible of ore and scraping off the sludge so the metal can be pure.  Jesus is going to purify Israel, so they may bring the Lord righteous offerings in holiness.  There is a day coming,
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>“For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch.” (Mal 4:1 NKJ)
There is a day coming and it will refine like an oven. The pressure grew under the Romans as they conquered Israel in B.C. 63 and Roman oppression intensified in Jesus’ day. Israel thought they could endure without Jesus.
What happens when you have a heat lamp, butter and a lump of clay?  The heat lamp will melt the butter and harden the clay lump.  When the crippled, the blind, the widow hemorrhaging turned to Jesus, they melted in their heart in dependence on the Lord. But when the religious rejected Jesus, they were hardened.  In their hardening. God allowed Rome to increase pressure on Israel, so that they would humble themselves and seek God with all their heart.  Israel rejected the One who came to save them, until they were crushed at 70 A.D.    The message is: God will use physical, environmental, governmental pressure to purify His people.  The pressure was designed to make Israel more dependent on the Lord. In fact, that pressure is for purity in His people for His sake.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)      <!–[endif]–>God will purify His people for His sake  3:4-5
  • 4 “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, as in former years. (Mal. 3:4)
Notice that first key word “Then.” “Then” refers to something after the purifying process of Malachi 3:3.  It refers to a time in the future that the offering will be pleasant to the Lord.  It happened during the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  There were pleasant offerings during the time of Moses and David and Solomon.  But there were no pleasant offerings in the time of Malachi. We saw that from Malachi 1:7-8. Were there pleasant offerings during the time of Jesus?  No! 
When will there be pleasant offerings in the future? There will be pleasant offerings when Jesus returns at the Second Advent, when the people will be cleansed and restored during the Millennial rule of Jesus.  See Ezekiel 40-48 for the procedures Israel will follow.
Yet because people play after the flesh, Jesus comes to purify and He begins with His own people. The reality is that even with Jesus present during the Millennium, people will pursue the flesh so much that there will be an uprising at the end of the Millennium, called the Gog and Magog Revolt and all the disobedient will follow Satan in attacks against Jesus.  So instead Jesus will come as a swift witness,
  • 5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien– because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 3:5)
Jesus will come to judge, that is to cleanse, and He will be swift.  It will seem sudden to those who are indifferent, complacent and bored.  He will come against the “sorcerers.” Those are people who pursue or dabble in the occult, astrology, palm reading, psychobabble, which are all philosophies and beliefs that contradict God’s Word.  He will come against the “adulterers.” Those are people who engage in promiscuous sex, fornication, adultery, pedophilia, homosexuality and a multitude of other sexual deviancies.  He will come against the “perjurers.” Those are people who bear false witness, lie, act hypocritically, or tell half-truths. And Jesus will come as a swift witness against “those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans.”  Those are people who are so greedy for gain, they know they can pay workers a minimum wage, while they make millions of dollars.  They do not realize God is the one who gives them that ability, not to live luxuriously, but to help others.  Why do people not wake up?
            People play the flesh.  They do not fear God, nor do they care for those in need.  It reveals they do not fear God, nor treat God as holy.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Pro. 1:7).  If there is no fear of the Lord, there is no wisdom and cleansing will be coming. He, Jesus, will be swift in judgment.  He was swift in judgment during the First Advent.  He swiftly cleaned out the temple in John 2:15-22.  He did not cleanse the nation, because that was not His mission.  He also cleansed the temple a second time, recorded in Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19.  But that was only cleansing the temple of God which was supposed to be for worship and prayer.  When Jesus comes the second time, He will purify the whole nation.  In fact, Israel will be cleansed during the Tribulational period prior to the Second Advent. 
God is faithful to His Word.  He will do what He promised.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4)      <!–[endif]–>God will hold faithful to His promise 3:6-7
  • 6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. (Mal. 3:6)
God’s judgment is not a change with God.  Whether God blesses or disciplines, He does not change. It is like this umbrella.  On the top side you see the Essence of God.  One of the attributes of God is His immutability, which means unchanging.  The handle is in the shape of a “J”, which represents the Justice of God and is the point of contact with man.  Justice ensures that the Love of God blesses us and Justice ensures that the appropriate Divine Discipline corrects us from His Righteousness.

            It is the Justice of God that ensures that we are not consumed by the Righteousness of God.  In Numbers 14, God had had enough with Israel.  They sent 12 spies into the land and they came back with a report that perfectly matched what God said.  However, ten spies said there were giants in the land and Israel couldn’t go into the land.  Even though Joshua and Caleb said Israel should go, the people said, “No.”  God was angry with Israel, because they would not trust Him.  God wanted to wipe out Israel and start over with Moses.  Moses pleaded for the people and God did not judge them.  Because Moses repented for the people, the Justice of God continued blessing, instead of disciplining Israel.  God never changed; Moses changed for the people.  Yet, the message remains for the people,
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>7 Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But you said, `In what way shall we return?’ (Mal 3:7 NKJ)
God laid out the facts.  Ever since Abraham’s time, Israel went astray from God’s Word.  Man strays, but God remains faithful.  Israel thought they were special and pretty good.  They said, “We are right with the Lord.”  They kept saying it and they believed it. They said things like, “I’m a good husband. I’m a good husband.” They believed that. But what did God say in Malachi two? Here the chapter concludes with the question, “In what way shall we return? We haven’t strayed.  We’re still living the right way.”
Was God wrong? Maybe there were a few things God had not noticed about how good Israel was? Was Malachi wrong? How were the people blind and confused?  They were complacent, indifferent and bored, so they established their own rules of righteousness that we have seen in Malachi 1:7-8; 2:13-14.  They were not concerned about the 4th generation. They were not concerned about producing a “godly offspring.”
In Jesus day, Jesus offered the kingdom, but Israel rejected it. They wanted a physical deliverance from Rome. So Jesus said, “I must offer Myself for your spiritual deliverance.” And when Jesus saw Israel, “He was moved with compassion for them, because they were wearyand scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matt. 9:36 NKJ)  What was the problem? Israel was indifferent, complacent, apathetic and bored.  That is a sign of a focus on self.
The term “boredom” was first used in 1852 in the Charles Dickens novel “Bleak House.”  The word “bore” was used back to 1768 for a tiresome or dull person.1  “Boredom” is defined as feeling a lack of interest in and difficulty concentrating on the current activity.  It is often seen when we 1) are forced to engage in an unwanted activity, 2) are unable to do something, or 3) do not maintain engagement.  It is a perception of dull, tedious, or what doesn’t stimulate. Blaise Pascal in the Pensées describes human perception in saying “we seek rest in a struggle against some obstacles. And when we have overcome these, rest proves unbearable because of the boredom it produces”, and later he states that “only an infinite and immutable object – that is, God himself – can fill this infinite abyss.” That is the God-shaped vacuum. 
If you reject God, to any degree, boredom will be one result.  It causes people to pursue humanistic solutions like entertainment, success, talents and many other things in the physical realm.  If you become filled with the Spirit, you will not be bored. 
I used to visit with Mae Lowes, who owned the corner property of our church and who died just five years ago at age 103.  I used to read to her and her friend Helen Hendricks “A Christmas Cup of Tea” each Christmas and they enjoyed that thoroughly. We had conversations about many things and she will tell me about the Pacers, her paintings, her property down in Brown County and how Franklin Township changed over the years.  As we spoke, she often said, “Isn’t that interesting?”  She was 103, but was not bored with life.
I have put together several thoughts on examining yourself to know if you are bored.  If you are bored, you are bored with God, because He is what life is all about.
How do you know when you’re bored with God?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>i)        <!–[endif]–>You don’t pursue God studying Scripture
<!–[if !supportLists]–>ii)      <!–[endif]–>You don’t confess your sins to God
<!–[if !supportLists]–>iii)    <!–[endif]–>You don’t consciously depend on the Holy Spirit
<!–[if !supportLists]–>iv)    <!–[endif]–>You treat worship as just something people do
<!–[if !supportLists]–>v)      <!–[endif]–>You regularly come to church tired and exhausted
<!–[if !supportLists]–>vi)    <!–[endif]–>You don’t have goals for reading Scripture
<!–[if !supportLists]–>vii)  <!–[endif]–>You don’t want to be discipled or to disciple others
<!–[if !supportLists]–>viii)            <!–[endif]–>You don’t get together with other Christians
<!–[if !supportLists]–>ix)    <!–[endif]–>You don’t seek purity or holiness
<!–[if !supportLists]–>x)      <!–[endif]–>You don’t see the wonder of your relationship with Jesus
<!–[if !supportLists]–>xi)    <!–[endif]–>You don’t think there is enough to entertain you.
The key with all of these is they are all a focus on self.
The last time I was bored, my family had just moved on to White Bear Lake in Minnesota.  I was 14 and I remember sitting out on the end of our dock and I was bored. I could watch the waves lap by and our raft about 20 yards from the dock bobbing in the waves, but I was bored. I was not thinking of the world going on under the water.  There were hundreds of fish waiting for me to catch them. There was the surface of the water waiting for me to slice through it with a water ski.  Above the water, there were ducks just waiting for me to, well you get the point.  What was my problem?  I was indifferent toward the holiness of God and focused on myself.  I expected people to pander to me, entertain me and provide me stimulation.  I found out I can overcome boredom by a choice.
Overcome boredom by a choice
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You have God’s message to prepare you for His coming (1 John 1:5-6)  I never cease to be amazed at how exciting God’s Bible is.  There is so much to learn and apply!  I have the message.
    • 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>o   <!–[endif]–>6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6 NKJ)
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You have a choice to overcome boredom by intensified study with growing people (2 Tim. 2:22)  I just needed to make a choice and study God’s Word AND to do it with people who called out on the name of the Lord!
<!–[if !supportLists]–>o   <!–[endif]–>22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Tim. 2:22 NKJ)
<!–[if !supportLists]–>·         <!–[endif]–>You can welcome God’s purifying process to grow in holy dependence on Him (1 Pet. 5:10)  I should have recognized the troubles, trials and tribulations that come in life are all there for my cleansing and purification.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>o   <!–[endif]–>10 But maythe God of all grace, who called usto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Pet. 5:10 NKJ)
In fact, that purification is going on for the Christian,
  • 12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
  • 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
  • 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you1. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
  • 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
  • 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
  • <!–[endif]–>17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet. 4:12-17 NKJ)
How does this apply to you?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)      <!–[endif]–>God will send His messenger to prepare the way 3:1 This is God’s Word.  Read it. Study it. Know it. Live it.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)      <!–[endif]–>God will send His judgment to cleanse His people 3:2-3 When trouble comes, accept it. Understand it. Rejoice in it.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)      <!–[endif]–>God will purify His people for His sake 3:4-5  Thank God for this as a necessary part of becoming like Jesus.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4)      <!–[endif]–>God will be faithful to His Word 3:6-7  Praise God that He is always faithful to the end.
God’s Message is here;
those who are purified overcome boredom and trust Him!
Jesus Christ is the hope to America.  It is not in getting rid of the bums in Washington.  Jesus wants you to be purified and be equipped, so you will multiply by making disciples of others.  We exalt the physical all day long.  How much time do we spend exalting the spiritual? 
 
Message Based Discussion Questions
<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)      <!–[endif]–>Have you ever received an unexpected message?
Digging Deeper:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)      <!–[endif]–>Before the Bible was completed, did God communicate in different ways (Heb. 1:1-2)?  _______________ What were some of the different ways God communicated to us?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)      <!–[endif]–>What two things often cause boredom and therefore problems according to Proverbs 19:15? ______________ and ________________  Read the following passages. What often happens to bored people? ( Pro. 2:11-19; 26:13-16; Ecc. 2:1-11; Is. 6:8-13; Acts 19:32) ?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>4)      <!–[endif]–>What are God’s purposes for purifying His people (Titus 2:11-15; James 4:8)?
Making application of the message to life:
<!–[if !supportLists]–>5)      <!–[endif]–>How do you explain to a new person that God does not change, when it seems like He changed His mind (Mal. 3:6; Num. 23:19;  Gen. 6:3-8)?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>6)      <!–[endif]–>What can you do in your life to maintain a fire for learning God’s Word in your soul and not be bored (cf. Ecc. 9:10)?
<!–[if !supportLists]–>7)      <!–[endif]–>What are ways you can encourage others to be fervent in their growth in Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9)?
 
 

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