Chapter 1.
Debating with Deity

Malachi 1:1-5

We now embark on a treasure hunt into the closing or curtain book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. Malachi means "my messenger" or "my missionary." He is one of God's messengers delivering the message, "Thus saith the Lord." The Latin translation of his name is "Angelicus." He's been called the unknown prophet with the angel name. My guess would be that 95% or more of today's Christians have never heard a series of messages that cover this entire book. Yet, this is a very important book in the Bible. It is just as important as Genesis, Matthew, or Revelation because it is God's Word and it has practical applications for Christians today.

When did Malachi deliver this message? Sir Robert Anderson seems to have the best conclusions on this question. He based his computations on Daniel's prophecy on the seventy weeks found in Daniel chapter nine. Daniel was told that seventy weeks of years or 490 years would sum up the future of Israel. The countdown would begin with the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The decree was given in 445 b.c. during the reign of the Persian emperor Artaxerxes. The seventy weeks were to be divided into three sections.

The first period was seven weeks of years or 49 years.

The second period was 62 weeks of years or 434 years. These first two periods would take us to the cutting off or rejection of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. This ushered in the Church Age where God would spread His message to the world through the New Testament church.

The last period was one week of years or seven years. This period is still in the future because the Church Age has been inserted between this second and third period. The final week of years of God's dealing with Israel will be fulfilled in the seven-year Tribulation period. God will again work through the Jewish people to spread His message to the world. The details of these seven years are revealed in the book of Revelation. Revelation 7 says that 144,000 Jewish evangelist, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel, will deliver God's message to the world.

With this background, when we go back to the first period, and add 49 years to 445 b.c., it takes us down to 396 b.c. Sir Robert Anderson carefully calculated and concluded that this was the year that Malachi prophesied and the Old Testament was finally closed. So the book of Malachi was the last of the old and also the anticipation of the new. It was God's final revelation to His people before the 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testaments. Malachi was the last of three post-captivity prophets. The other two were Haggai and Zechariah. Zechariah was the encourager and Malachi the rebuker.

The problems that Malachi faced in this time are similar to what we are facing today. This is why a study of this book is relevant for us. There was an apathetic, antagonistic attitude toward God and an unconcern toward the responsibility to serve and glorify the Lord. God's people were doubting or questioning God's Word, His character, and His promises. They were not concerned in giving their best to the Lord and doing their best for Him. Oh, they went through the motions and offered sacrifices to the Lord, but they were defective animals. They did not give God their best. Instead, they gave the Lord the leftovers of their lives. Their hearts were far from the Lord. As you look at yourself, do you find yourself doing the same thing with the Lord? Are you giving the Lord your leftovers instead of your best? If so, this book will be helpful to you and challenging.

A further look into the book will reveal that the hypocrisy and the carnality of the priests eventually develops in the future into two groups of people known as the hypocritical Pharisees and the carnal, worldly Sadducees. The attitudes in Malachi's day were the same attitudes that Isaiah contended with in his time.

Isaiah 29:13—Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

The attitude of God's people toward the Lord affected their relationships with others. Believers were intermarrying with unbelievers and pagans. Families were falling apart as divorce was rampant in Israel. Beloved, when a person gets hard and bitter toward God, when he starts to debate with deity, there is a tendency to get hard and bitter toward others. Sin hardens our heart and cools us off in our love for Him and for other people.

Matthew 24:12—And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

When sin gets a grip on our life, we tend to get selfish and ungrateful. We start fussing and debating with God over His control over our lives. This is the issue that we will address in this portion of Malachi. You can remember the basic events of each chapter of this book by the word "Lord."

  1. Lord reproves and reminds.
  2. Offenses of the priests.
  3. Robbing God is cursed.
  4. Dawning of a New Day.

Let's begin our journey into this book. In this first portion, we are going to look at five areas.

I. The Dire Message—1:1

The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.

The book begins with a burden. This is the first word of the book in the Hebrew text. It is the word massaʾ {mas-saw'}. A "burden" is a judgment, a judgment from God, and it will be a very strong and rigorous rebuke that God will give to His people.

Telling people about their sin is not an easy job. It is a heavy load for the messenger to deliver. As a pastor, it is not fun for me to preach on something that is controversial or some sin that I know others are involved in because I know I am going to upset people. I go ahead and do it anyway, though, because it is the right thing to do. You have to let the chips fall wherever they will fall and leave the consequences of preaching God's Word up to the Lord. I gave up the applause of the crowd many years ago when I was saved as a teenager. I answer to God for my preaching and writing, not men.

Malachi was not called of God to smooth things over or make people feel good, he was summoned by God to call the people to repentance and make matters right with God. Any preacher worth his salt will preach against sin and take a stand against wrong, yet, he will do it with the right spirit and attitude. You can preach against sin without being hateful or harsh.

This word massa also means "to lift up." The purpose of God's message is also to lift us up to a higher standard of living or godliness. Obeying God and godly living are not going to drag you down. They are going to lift you up emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and also physically. It is sin that acts like an anchor, dragging us down into the depths of despair. Our job as God's people is to challenge other believers to a higher standard of godliness, not to compromise and descend to a level of more carnality.

Notice that Malachi is addressing Israel. He is addressing all twelve tribes. It is obvious that the tribes of Israel didn't really get lost. Although they seem to be "lost" to some people today, they never were lost. There had returned to the land, a remnant from each tribe, very few from each one, but God addressed them. It is very likely that Malachi's message went out from Israel to the others who had not returned. The book of Nehemiah reveals that there was communication back and forth between messengers and travelers, going back and forth between Israel and the place of captivity where they had been in slavery.

II. The Declaration & Debate About God's Love—1:2a

I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?....

When you love someone, you want them to know it. You can't help but letting them know. You're crazy about them and can't keep your mouth shut. God is no different. In spite of their apathy, apprehension, antagonism, and ambiguity, God's first message through Malachi was "I have loved you." The tense of the Hebrew verb shows that He is saying, "I have loved you in the past and I love you right now." Right up front, He assures His people of His love. In spite of their hypocrisy, carnality, sensuality, and instability, the Lord says, "I love you." That is the Lord for you. Although this message applied specifically to Israel, it is a message of hope for all people in all times. No matter what you have done in your past, God loves and cares about you and He will cleanse and forgive you if you repent and seek His forgiveness. That is His promise to us. His love is everlasting.

Romans 5:8—But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jeremiah 31:3—The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Beloved, realize that God is more anxious to bestow His blessings on us than we are to receive them.

Touched by the words that were scribbled on the wall of a mental institution, F.M. Lehman in 1916, penned a hymn entitled: The Love of God. The last stanza says:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

How do God's people respond to this affection? They ask, "Wherein or how have you loved us?" Wow, what a slap in the face. How would you feel if you told your kids you loved them and they said, "How have you shown any love to us?" Israel debated God's concern for them, yet, there are people even today that question God's love and care for them. Unfortunately, if people suffer from problems, poverty, pain, perplexity, a promotion that is lost, the pain of the death of a loved one, a pulverized marriage or relationship, or physical diseases, they wrongly conclude that God does not love them at all.

Beloved, God's love is not measured by our comfort. The Israelites assumed that God did not care about them. They were wrong and you are wrong if you base your conclusions the same way they did. God has demonstrated ands assured us of His love to us through the Scriptures, by the Sacrifice of His Son, by the Shower of His blessings, and by His Sufferance or patience with our weaknesses and sinfulness.

In their debating with the Lord, God's people were revealing they had a serious problem with rebellion, selfishness, bitterness, and especially ingratitude. The phrases, "Ye say," "Ye said," or "Ye have said," occur thirteen times in Malachi. Thirteen is the number of rebellion, and this was the attitude of God's people toward the Lord and His messenger. They were selfish, rebellious, and ungrateful.

Ungratefulness is a trait of immaturity. It is the trait of people blessed by God, but are blind to His blessings, His bounty, His beauty, and the brightness He brings into our lives. A good king in Spain known as Alfonso XIX learned that the boys who served in his court were forgetting to pray before their meals. So he decided to teach them a lesson. He gave a banquet and invited them to attend.

Midway through the dinner, a ragged beggar came in, sat down, and began eating ravenously. When he was finished, he went out without saying a word. "That ungrateful wretch ought to be whipped," shouted the boys. "He ate the king's food and never showed gratitude." Quietly the king rose to his feet, and silence fell over the group. "Daily you have taken the rich blessings of life from the hand of your heavenly Father," said the king. "You've enjoyed His sunshine, breathed His air, eaten His food He has provided, and you have not bothered to say 'thank you' for any of them. You are more ungrateful than that beggar."

Ingratitude is the trait of spoiled children that are unthankful for what their parents have done for them. Yes, there may be times when you may need to offer loving, tender, constructive criticism to them. Immaturity, however, is demonstrated when you constantly and hatefully complain instead of compliment; when you demand instead of delivering love and thankfulness for what is done for you. We can be this way with our parents, pastor, teachers, neighbors, family members, our boss, government leaders, etc. Beloved, gratefulness is so important that Levites were appointed to give constant praise before the Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:4—And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel:

Ungratefulness is a trait of a nation that is on the verge of suffering from the chastisement of God Himself. After all that the Lord has done for this country, we have the audacity in Washington D.C. to make laws that forbid prayer and the public display of the Ten Commandments in our schools and governmental buildings, all under the guise of separation of church and state. Beloved, the separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution of the United States of America. It's not there at all. These anti-God attitudes are saying, "What is the Lord to us? He is not important."

The foundation of America was God and His Word. The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that God was glorified in this nation. He was to be praised and glorified. Do you realize that in Washington D.C, there can never be a building higher than the Washington Monument? On top of the aluminum cap that tops the Washington Monument, 555 feet above the ground, are two Latin words: Laus Deo. No one can see these words, but they are at the highest point of the most powerful and influential city in the world. What do these words mean? The answer is "Praise be to God!" Inside the monument are 898 steps and 50 landings. On the twelfth landing is a prayer offered by the city of Baltimore. On the 20th landing is a memorial presented by Chinese Christians. On the 24th landing is a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting these three verses.

Proverbs 10:7—The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot. Our nation will rot if we do not change our attitude toward the Lord.

Luke 18:16—But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. We are to love children, not abort them.

Proverbs 22:6—Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

We need God's help in rearing our children. Rejecting the Lord is not helping us at all. Proverbs 22:6 is good advice for a nation that is becoming apathetic and ungrateful toward the Lord just like Israel in the days of Malachi. We have forgotten what God has done for this nation. In old Anglo-Saxon, to be "thankful" meant to be "thinkful." Thinking of one's blessings should stir one to gratitude. We need to think about what God has done for all of us.

Beloved, we are to be consistent in gratefulness. Notice what David said in Psalm 92.

Psalm 92:1, 2—It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.

The demoniac was grateful for deliverance and told others what the Lord had done (Mark 5:19, 20). David was grateful for his dear friend Jonathan and to his shepherd, the Lord, when He said that his cup was running over (Psalm 23:5). He expressed his love by caring for Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:6). A woman washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped His feet with her hair because she was grateful for His pardon and forgiveness (Luke 7:37, 38). Truly grateful people show their appreciation to others!

When we are ungrateful, we fail to see or take the time to express thanks for what others have done for us. True gratefulness is expressing or communicating to other people the specific ways in which they have blessed and benefitted your life and looks for ways to bring honor to them. The opposite attitude of gratefulness is pride. Pride is believing that I have achieved what God and others have done for me and through me. Gratefulness is acknowledging the fact that everything I have is the result of God and others investing in my life. Notice what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4.

1 Corinthians 4:7—For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Paul says, "What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? If all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?"

When we are genuinely grateful, we will have an attitude of indebtedness and be motivated to sufficiently express that attitude. A grateful spirit recognizes that in ourselves we have nothing, we are nothing without the Lord, and whatever we have or do we owe to God, our parents, family, teachers, coaches, others, etc. Jesus put it this way in John 15:5, ".... without me you can do nothing."

Missionary Jim Elliot said we are a bunch of nobodies who are serving somebody... Jesus Christ. If you ever get to a point in your life where you have nothing left but the Lord, then for the first time you will become aware that the Lord is ENOUGH! He is the ultimate Satisfier and without Him we really have nothing!

God wants us to be thankful or grateful. Thanksgiving is good, but THANKS LIVING is better. To be grateful always is to recognize the fact that God controls our lives in every detail as He seeks to make us more like Jesus Christ. To be ungrateful is to disregard God's control, the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit's filling. It is the attitude that says, "God, I don't care what you have done for me. Just leave me alone." Ungratefulness is the first step to rejecting the Lord (Romans 1:21) and backsliding. Beloved, when we are ungrateful, we end up doing several negative and destructive things.

1. We reward evil for good when we are ungrateful.

Genesis 44:4—Joseph asked his brothers if they were doing this after he had been kind and generous.

Proverbs 17:13—Evil and trouble will not depart from our house if we reward evil for good. I think of the story of an old man that rewarded evil for good. This man laid in a hospital with his wife of 55 years sitting at his bedside. "Is that you, Ethel, at my side again?" he whispered. "Yes, dear," she answered. He softly said to her, "Remember years ago when I was in the Veteran's Hospital? You were with me then. You were with me when we lost everything in a fire. And Ethel, when we were poor—you stuck with me then too." The man sighed and said, "I tell you, Ethel, you are bad luck." Beloved, this is NOT the attitude we should have.

2. We ruin our testimony and example to others like the nation of Israel when we are ungrateful.

Exodus 14:11-12—... And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

They truly believed they were better off in Egypt!

Numbers 11:18—We don't like the free food we have been getting!

Numbers 14:2—We wish we were dead!

Have you ruined your testimony by being ungrateful? Then you have demonstrated immaturity and need to go to those you have offended and seek their forgiveness. I think of the ten lepers that were healed by Jesus, nine of them ruined their example and puzzled the Lord by their ungratefulness.

Luke 17:12-19—... And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: [13] And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. [14] And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. [15] And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, [16] And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. [17] And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? [18] There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. [19] And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

It is interesting to note that to the grateful leper, Jesus said, "Your faith has made you whole." This word "whole" is from the Greek word sozo {sode'-zo}. This word means "to preserve or to keep safe." All ten lepers were cleansed, but could their disease come back? This is a key question. To this grateful leper, the Lord could be saying, "You are not only cleansed, but you won't get this disease any more. You are preserved." This may have been a blessing for his gratitude. I wonder if those who were ungrateful could possibly get the disease again.

3. We refuse to be content with what we have received when we are ungrateful.

The ungrateful person feels that everything done for God is too much and all that God does for him is too little. The quest for more leaves him blind to the blessings he already has. He cannot enjoy what he has because his eyes are on something else which he feels he must have to be happy.

Jeremiah described the attitude of Israel this way—

Jeremiah 5:8—They were as fed horses in the morning: every one neighed after his neighbors's wife."

They were not content with their marriage. The person who is not grateful for the good things he HAS will not be happy for the things he WISHED he had. If you are not grateful for what you already got, it is very doubtful you will be grateful for what you'll get. The reason for your ungratefulness is you have a heart problem. The heart of your problem is the problem of your heart.

4. We resist giving to God what belongs to Him when we are ungrateful.

1 Samuel 2:29—Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

The person who resists giving to God what belongs to Him does this because the ungrateful person is selfish in his heart already.

When we are grateful, we not only bring glory to God, but are a blessing to others. James Baird said, "When we started the Presbyterian Church in America in 1973, we had no money, not a dime. We were going to start a new denomination. One group gave us $90,000 for world missions. The only two missionaries we had were down in Acapulco. We had Dick Dye and a young lady named Ellen Barnett. Dick Dye was down there for about two months, and he was discouraged. He looked up every day, and on top of one of those mountains of Acapulco was a huge cross that encouraged him. Finally, after about two months of looking at it, he drove up there to find out about that cross. When he did, he found it in a big hotel.

He drove in and asked the secretary, "Can I speak to the man who runs this whole establishment?" "Do you have an appointment?" "No appointment, I just want to tell him something." "What do you want to tell him?" "I want to tell him thank you." "Okay." So she got the owner. He was a German. Dick Dye explained: "I'm a missionary from the U.S., here in Acapulco. I've been discouraged. It's been two months, and I see that cross and it so encourages me. I want to thank you for having it up there."

The man looked at Dick Dye, put his head down on his desk, and began to weep. He wept, and he wept, and he wept. Finally, he raised his head and said: "That cross has been up there for years. All I've heard is criticism. You're the first man that ever said 'thank you.' Now, who are you and what do you need?" "Well, I'm just a missionary," Dick answered. "Where do you meet?" "We don't meet anywhere. I don't have any place to meet." The owner said, "Come with me." He took Dick to a beautiful chapel and said: "We have church here at 9 A.M. and 11 A.M. But from now on, at 10 A.M., it is yours. You begin services next week in our chapel." That was the beginning, and within a matter of years, we turned four congregations over to the Presbyterian Church of Mexico. How did it start? With one guy who was grateful and said "thank you."

John Henry Jowett, a British preacher of an earlier generation, said this about gratefulness. "Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic." What did he mean? He meant that gratitude, like a vaccine, can prevent the invasion of a disgruntled, discouraged spirit. Like an antitoxin, gratitude can prevent the affects of the poisons of cynicism, criticalness, and grumbling: Like an antiseptic, a spirit of gratitude can soothe and heal the most troubled spirit.

We have seen so far...

III. The Demonstration of God's Love—1:2b-3

Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Israel said, "How have you loved us?" The Lord responds with a specific answer, "I loved Jacob and hated Esau." What does this mean? The word "hate" carries the idea of meaning "not to choose." The phrase "Esau I have hated" does not refer to Esau's eternal destiny. It simply means that God chose Jacob, not his brother Esau, to be the one through whom the nation of Israel and the Messiah would come. He meant that He did not choose to bestow His favor on Esau to the extent that He did on Jacob. He made this choice even before the these twins were born.

The story of Jacob and Esau is found in Genesis 25:19-26. It is remarkable that God loved Jacob in view of the person Jacob was, and it is equally remarkable that God hated Esau, because in many ways he was a more admirable individual than his brother. He was very rugged and manly. Normally in the ancient Middle East the father favored the eldest son, but God did what was abnormal in choosing to bless Jacob over Esau.

Because God chose Jacob and his descendants as the nation through whom the world would be blessed, God cared for them in a special way. God allowed Esau to father a nation, but this nation, Edom, later became one of Israel's chief enemies. God firmly dealt with the Edomites because they chose to be the enemies of Israel. He judged them because...

  1. They were immoral and godless.
  2. They oppressed Israel. They refused passage to Moses through the land during Moses' journey to Canaan.
  3. They did not offer to assist Judah when they were invaded by foreign powers who carried off the treasures of Jerusalem.
  4. They rejoiced over Judah's captivity.
  5. Edom looted Jerusalem after its destruction.
  6. Edom set up road blocks to prevent Jewish people from fleeing their enemies.
  7. She delivered Judah to captors.

The Edomites were called by the Romans the Idumaeans. King Herod was a decedent of the Edomites. It was Herod who tried to murder Jesus when He was a baby. The evidence of God's hatred or judgment for Esau was that He had made the mountains of Seir, the inheritance that God gave Esau and his descendants, a desolate wilderness. Unstated is the fact that God had given Jacob a land flowing with milk and honey for his inheritance, which proved His love for them.

God loved Jacob in that He chose Him and his descendants for service and a covenant relationship with Himself. God said that He loved Jacob because of the fact that He knew what was in Jacob's heart. He knew that here was a man who had a desire for Him and that Esau did not have a desire for Him at all. But it had to be worked out in fifteen hundred years of history before God was prepared to make the kind of statement He makes here in Malachi. We have seen so far...

IV. The Deficient Determination of the Edomites—1:4

Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.

Even though the Edomites, Esau's descendants, determined to rebuild their nation after it had suffered crushing destruction and shattering devastation by the Babylonians, they would not be able to do so. They could not because God would not permit it. He would tear down whatever they rebuilt, so much so that other people would view them as a wicked land and the objects of the Lord's continual anger and judgment.

Because of their wickedness, God was at war with these people. In fact, the name "Lord of hosts" means "Lord of armies." The word "hosts" means "to wage war." It is a military name for the Lord. Both Israel and Edom received judgment from God at the hands of the Babylonians in the sixth century, yet God repeatedly promised to restore Israel because of His covenant promises.

Deuteronomy 4:29-31—.... But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. [30] When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; [31] (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

There is an important point we want to make here. Those who are wicked and defiant toward God will not be able to escape His judgment. They can scheme and manipulate others and try to get out of trouble, but their sin always catches up with them. If you die without Christ, there will be no escape from the flames of Hell, no matter what you think, what you say, or who you are. Without Christ you have nothing. You have no hope at all.

Isaiah 57:21—There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

Job 11:20—But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.

Proverbs 19:5—A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.

Matthew 7:21-23—... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

V. The Declaration of God's Glory—1:5

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.

God says, "When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, 'Truly, the Lord's greatness reaches far beyond Israel's borders!'" God is concerned about His glory. His people are challenging and debating Him about His love, authority, and glory. The Lord says, "What I have told you, you will see the fulfillment of my word and I will be magnified beyond Israel."

Let me ask, "Do you find yourself debating with the Lord and His authority over your life like God's people here or are you magnifying and glorifying Jesus Christ?" We are to be witnesses of His saving grace and forgiveness. He is to be magnified by our lives. The question is, "Is He magnified by your life?"

When something is magnified, it is enlarged and made easier to see. Attention is focused on that which is magnified. Unfortunately, most Christians do not have a clue that this is to be the purpose of their own lives. They are too busy focusing their attention on themselves instead of pointing others to the Lord Jesus Christ. The challenge of Christ is to glorify Him. You may ask, "How does a person really magnify God with their life? What does this really mean?" Let's provide you with some answers.

How to Magnify God with Your Life

1. By Our Contribution in Service, Concern, and Compassion for Others

When you serve and help others in the name of Christ, you bring honor to Him.

Matthew 5:16—Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Peter 4:11—If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. The word "minister" is diakoneo and it means "to be a servant to others." This is what we are to be and to do.

Once a month, a group of dedicated professionals, venture into their community to serve those less fortunate than themselves. They're not carrying hammers and nails to build a house, or ladles and pots to work in a soup kitchen. Rather, they're armed with blow-dryers, scissors, and nail polish. Oh yes, and love. The volunteers of HIM—Hairdressers in the Marketplace, a ministry at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago—host monthly Day of Beauty sessions where women in need receive free pampering, from haircuts to manicures, but also hear about God's love for them. HIM also goes to nursing homes for the poor, homeless shelters, and facilities for the mentally handicapped to provide free haircuts. Hairstylist Teresa Russo-Cox founded the ministry in 1998 after trying numerous volunteer positions at her church. None felt like the right fit for her skills and passions.

For a while, she wrestled with God. "Why did you give me a talent that's so much about vanity?" she prayed. "How can I serve you?" Teresa says God answered those prayers with a vision for a group that not only communicates God's love and care to women in need, but also reaches out to stylists themselves. "That's what sets us apart from other ministries that offer haircuts to the poor," explains Teresa. "We focus on evangelism to the beauty industry, which is filled with so much darkness. Its underlying message is all about external things—glamour and glitz. I want to bring the light of God's Word into our industry."

John 13:35—By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:9—As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

2. By Commending & Cheering the Lord, We Magnify Him

Psalm 34:3—O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. Exalt means "to lift up, talk about, or brag about" the Lord. Don't be afraid or ashamed to brag about what Christ has done for you and others.

Psalm 50:23—Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

3. By Our Consistency in Spiritual Growth and by Our Consecration to Christ

1 Corinthians 6:20—For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

John 15:8—Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples.

Christ is glorified when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit and win others to Christ. When we grow in Christlike character, in love, godliness, concern for others, patience, wisdom, and zeal for the Lord, we magnify Him by our changed life.

At the height of his worldwide fame, rock musician Alice Cooper drank a bottle of whiskey a day, but the bottle almost destroyed his marriage to Sheryl, his wife of 25 years. He started heading off to church with her and felt as if God was speaking to him every Sunday. Now a believer, Cooper takes the opportunity to speak to curious fellow musicians about the reality of the Devil and the change in his life. "I have talked to some big stars about this, some really horrific characters, and you'd be surprised," he says. "The ones that you would think are the farthest gone are the ones that are the most apt to listen."

4. By Our Concord or Unity with One Another, We Magnify the Lord

Romans 15:6—That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Agreement attracts attention.

5. By Our Cares, Concerns, or Suffering, We Magnify Him

1 Peter 4:14—If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1 Peter 4:16—Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

6. By Our Confession of Sin

Joshua 7:19—And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

God is glorified because His power is working to change the sinner and bring him to repentance. Sinners tend to be proud. When they accept responsibility for their actions, humble themselves, and confess their wrongs, it demonstrates that the Lord is working in their lives and He is truly glorified.

7. By Our Comprehensive Conduct, We Magnify the Lord

1 Corinthians 10:31—Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Elliot Huck, a 14-year-old from Bloomington, Indiana, decided to skip a preliminary to the National Spelling Bee. Though he placed 45th out of more than 250 spellers in last year's competition, and was favored to go again, he felt convicted to stay home this time around. More precisely, he felt convicted to stay in church. The 2007 Bloomington Herald-Times championship was held on March 4, 2007... a Sunday. In Huck's eyes, the competition conflicted with his view of the biblical commandment to rest on the Sabbath. "I always try to glorify God with what I do in the spelling bee because He is the one who gave me the talent for spelling," said Elliot. "Now I think I'm going to not spell and try to give glory to God in that."

It certainly wasn't an easy choice for Elliot. He loved his time in Washington D.C. at last year's competition and was looking forward to more of the same. Even so, the expert speller concluded, "I have just accepted that God knows what's best, and I'm just going to do what He says." It was his desire to glorify God in his life the best way he knew. This should be the desire of our lives too. May we be devoted to the Lord instead of debating Him.

8. By Our Confidence in God's Word We Magnify Him

Romans 4:20—He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; Our confidence and conviction in God's Word will inspire confidence in the lives of other people to trust the Lord and His promises.

9. By Our Contentment and Gratefulness, God Is Magnified

Psalm 69:30—I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

An attitude of gratitude for the Lord shows altitude in our spiritual height, servitude to the Savior, plenitude in our praise, and a multitude of maturity.

10. By the Cessation or Death of Our Life for Christ

John 21:19—This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Jesus was speaking to Peter about his death and how Peter's death would bring glory to the Lord. Every year, around 160,000 Christians glorify God in their deaths as they are martyred for Christ.

The following letter was written by a Baptist missionary to Iraq, Karen Watson, prior to leaving for the Middle East. The letter was dated March 7, 2003. Karen was killed, along with four other missionaries, on March 15, 2004. Here is what she wrote to her pastors: Dear Pastor Phil and Pastor Roger, You should only be opening this letter in the event of my death. When God calls there are no regrets. I tried to share my heart with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations. I wasn't called to a place. I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory my reward.

One of the most important things to remember right now is to preserve the work. I am writing this as if I am still working with my group. I thank you all so much for your prayers and support. Surely your reward in Heaven will be great. Thank you for investing in my life and spiritual well-being. Keep sending missionaries out. Keep raising up fine young pastors. In regards to any service, keep it small and simple. Yes, simply, just preach the gospel. Be bold and preach the life-saving, life-changing, forever-eternal gospel. Give glory and honor to our Father. I was called not to comfort or success, but to obedience. There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him. I love you two and my church family. In His Care, Karen.

Philippians 1:20—According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.