6.9.19 - What God Promises (Kenny Camacho; Story By Elaine)
SCRIPTURE: Malachi 2:17-3:5
The middle sections of Malachi’s prophetic writings remind the Israelites of the specific practices they have allowed to fall by the wayside in their return from Exile, including the tithe, their commitment to marriage, and the quality of their offerings to God. But it is not until the end of the book that Malachi addresses the root reason for his people’s apathy: they have given up on God’s promises of justice. Malachi writes that the people cry out, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord...Where is the God of justice?” To this, God replies that his character has not changed and his justice is coming...but when it arrives, it will be “like a refiner’s fire,” and come at great cost to those who have abandoned their promises both outside and inside Israel. This week, we want to talk about the relationship between love and patience, which is a relationship that is at the heart of all prophetic texts. We want to explore the reality that waiting on a God whose passion is for all of us is always a difficult thing to do. But our hope is first and foremost in his character...and our trust that a good God must be unchanging.
Have you ever felt the way the Israelites feel in verse 2:17 (“Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them”)? When? How have you been able to process this in light of your beliefs about God?
Malachi 3:1-2 promises that not only will God bring justice, but justice will be personified: first, a messenger will arrive...and then, God will come himself. Why do you think God talks about justice in this way? Why do you think God chooses not to carry out justice “from a distance,” or make a world where justice happens on its own? (These are tough questions!)
The question for all prophets in the Bible--and for God!--is why must we wait? What does the book of Malachi offer as an answer to that question? Why is waiting important?
Have you ever thought about God’s patience as something loving? What is hard to accept about that idea? What is easy?
Where are you waiting for God’s justice in your own life? What lessons or challenges might come from your season of waiting?
How can a community wait well together? What can we help each other remember?