|Minor Prophets: Major Messages
The following summary draws and expands on the outline given in the Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms .
After the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the return of the exiled people, another temple was built. Was it as beautiful as Solomon’s temple? Probably not. But Israel once again had a temple to worship in. There it stood before the children of Israel as a symbol of their religious heritage.
Did the years of Babylonian captivity and depravation strengthen Israel’s resolve to be a faithful people of the Lord? Had they learned important lessons of what happens when a proud heart strays from the ways of the Lord? Were the worship of the Lord and the rejoicing of freedom central in the services at the temple? Were the ministrations of the priests and people for the Lord and to the Lord?
The external ceremonies, sacrifices, and rituals abounded with great detailed pomp and circumstance. The Lord, looking within the hearts of the people, saw evil and falsity thriving under the cloak of tradition. He sent Malachi the “messenger” to expose the sham and spiritually dangerous things going on in His temple. What did Malachi report to them was the Lord’s assessment of worship? From the Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms, we have the following summation of chapter one: It is the Lord who institutes a church. The Lord said that although the church was there, the people in it did not acknowledge the Lord. He told them they worshiped from evil and not from good; therefore, their worship was not accepted. Those outside the church worshiped the Lord, but those within the church profaned worship. External good had been destroyed, and therefore, their external truth was destroyed as well.
Things within the church had to change. If the people of Israel didn’t listen to the Lord and change their ways, all worship would be perverted and profaned. The Word was given to them that they might have conjunction with the Lord. They departed from the Word and, therefore, dissolved the conjunction. They were worshipping another god, whence came the profanations. Following other gods would not lead to life but death. Therefore, their external worship was not accepted, and they were severing themselves from the church by calling evil good.
The destructive choices of the people would not go unchecked by the Lord. The Lord’s advent into the world would be to teach the Word in its purity. The church, doctrine, and worship would be like they were among the ancients. The Lord would execute a judgment upon all who adulterated and destroyed the truths of the church. Those who had done this from the beginning, and who would not desist from it, nor would they desist from adulteration, now would bring about their own ruin. If they had lived according to the Lord’s statutes, they would have been in the good of the church. Instead, they confirmed themselves in the belief that good is of no profit and that evil does no harm because, to them, it appeared that the good and the wicked prospered equally.
Those who trusted in the Lord would find it otherwise. They would be blessed by the Lord when He came. When the Lord came, the difference would be seen.
The good would be saved by the Lord. The evil would choose to leap into hell because they annulled the Word. The Lord’s preparation of the way by John the Baptist made it possible for the Lord’s purification of evils and falsities. The Lord ’s foresight and providence enter into most minute singulars of human life. He takes care of things so minute “that it is impossible by any thought to comprehend as much as one out of a hundred millions of them…” (AC 3854)
The Lord’s New Church will bring us a church that not only is present but will offer sincere services of praise, purity, and devotion to the one God of heaven and earth.