Joy to the world: Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:3-4, “You shall multiply the nation, you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.”

In verses 3 and 4 we see the “glorious light” of verses 1-2 personified as a person.  The you” in verses 3 and 4 is the “glorious light” that is going to “increase their gladness.  The word, “gladness” in the original language is the English word, “joy,” so that in verses 1 to 4 there is promise of a glorious light who is going to bring unimaginable joy and the glorious light is a person.

The glorious light isn’t a force. The glorious light isn’t a religion. The glorious light isn’t a philosophy to learn, but this glorious light promised in Isaiah 9 is a person to be known.

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Peace on earth: Merry Christmas!!

Isaiah 42:1-2, “1 Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.”

In Isaiah 41 the chapter ends with the God of Scripture describing the weak idols of their day like sex, power, comfort, and says, “Their worthless and empty” and in chapter 42, verse 1 we see the contrast of those weak, worthless idols with the word, “Behold.”

It is the God of Scripture clapping His hands to get our attention. These weak, worthless idols are going to fail you every time. They are going to give you an illusion of intimacy, comfort, and security, but “BEHOLD” My Servant will come and My Spirit will be upon Him, and He will establish justice on earth to all the nations.

Have you noticed how everyone is seeking justice for something today? Everyone is protesting something. Everyone is holding up signs. Everyone is getting fired for inappropriate behavior.

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How long will injustice go unchecked?

Malachi 4:2, “2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.”

In Malachi 4, verse 2 we see the word, “but,” because in verse 1 the Lord says, “Behold a day of judgment is coming” but “for those who fear His name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”

It is important that every man, woman, and child is worthy of God’s judgment.  We have all offended a holy and righteous God.  We are all layered with arrogance and evil.  Surely if you want to yell at someone for cutting you on the interstate you can see how our sin is worthy of judgment.

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How do we respond to difficult seasons?

In the book of Malachi we see the people in Malachi going through difficult seasons.  They are being ruled by a foreign government.  They are rebuilding their homes.  They are restarting their economy.

As a result of this difficult season their hearts have become hard, and as a result their words have become hard, so that in Malachi we see them asking very practical questions, “What is the profit of keeping His charge?”  (Malachi 3:14)

The people in Malachi are asking, “What’s the point of giving our lives to the God of Scripture if life is going to be just as hard?”  In fact, the people in Malachi are looking at the wicked nations around them and seeing God’s blessings. (Malachi 3:15)

Look at the Lord’s response in Malachi 3:16:

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How could we rob God?

Malachi 3:8-9, “8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!”

The people in Malachi were blessed by God to enjoy His blessing and in addition bless other people.  In the previous verses we learn that the people in Malachi are doing just the opposite.  The are neglecting the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant.  In response the Lord says, “You are robbing Me!”

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How to respond to immigration?

Malachi 3:5, “5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.”

Immigration is a popular topic in our culture today. There are two topics that need to be held in tension when you hear people talk about immigration; love and law.

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#metoo

Malachi 2:13-14, “13 “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

In our culture today there is a hash tag going around called #metoo. The hash tag is an attempt from our culture to bring awareness to the injustice committed against women today.

It is a reminder in social media to treat women with respect and honor, which is a good thing, but this hash tag trend is elevating a truth that has been important to the God of Scripture from the very beginning.

Even in Malachi 2 we see the God of Scripture bothered by how the husbands are treating their wives. Do you see the challenge in verses 13 and 14?

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