(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
So, we come to the final book of the Old Testament and the content of Malachi should be familiar to you. Well, let me say, “If you're willing to be honest, it should be familiar to you.”
I would entitle Malachi, “Doubt and Grace.” Malachi is a recording of a series of disputes between the people and God, disputes that question God's goodness, His faithfulness, His presence, and His love.
Listen to how Malachi begins, “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste to his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert. . .” and it goes on. So, God says, “I have loved you,” and the people of God said, “Yeah, like how? Doesn't look like we’re being loved.”
Now all of us carry on disputes with God. “Why did I have to get sick? Why did this person have to betray me? Why did I lose my job? God, I thought you loved me…” And it's back to that struggle that is in all of us between doubt and faith. And so I want to talk about that struggle a moment and it really emerges out of the content of Malachi (?).
There are two types of doubt. There's the doubt of wonderment; it's very clear as we complete all of these prophetic writings that God will surprise you, God will confuse you. God's way of working won't always make sense to you. So, there's nothing wrong with the doubt of wonderment; that's a necessary part of faith. If you have hooked your life to this One, you will go through moments of wonder.
That's very different than the doubt of judgment; that's where I have concluded that God is not good, I've concluded that He is not faithful. And once you do that, you quit going to Him for help because you won't go to help from someone whom you no longer trust.
The message of Malachi is, once again, that our doubt, the wobbliness, and weakness, and fickleness of our faith proves once again that we are not chosen and capped an object of God's mercy because of our righteousness, but because of His grace.
And what's the plan? He won't say, “I've had enough of your weak faith.” The plan is, “I'm going to come, and I'm going to make my presence known, and I'm going to refine, and I'm going to cleanse.”
Isn't it amazing that, in the spiritual struggle that we have seen, this war of the heart that we have seen, the way the Old Testament ends is a theme of redeeming grace? “I'm coming, I'm going to purify, I'm going to strengthen, I'm going to cleanse, and there will be a day when your faith will be weak no more. There will be a day when your questions will be silenced. I will do this for you, I am the Lord!” What a beautiful way to end this story of travail and we know what's coming. The Gospels are coming, Jesus is coming; cleansing will take place.