“I am the Lord, and I do not change; and you, children of Jacob, have not perished. Return to the Lord.” Malachi 3:6 CEB
We traveled back in time, if just for a couple hours. We went back to where it all began and where many memories were locked in a box that had not been opened for years. The surroundings were familiar and as we walked the grounds and hallways the memories began flooding back. I began to see faces of people I had not seen in years and some I had not seen since those days. These were memories of some great times and some challenging. Times of new beginnings, new friends, and new experiences. Also, times of challenge as I navigated a new school, new people, and a new city and state. As we walked the halls of my old junior high school I remembered what it was like to move 1,100 miles from your whole life and start over in a new state and a new community. As I walked the halls of my old junior high school and remembered my time there it was as if nothing had changed and yet—everything had changed.
The memories of my days in junior high were pristine and unchanged. If I closed my eyes I could see the people and events as if they had just happened. The layout of the school remained exactly the same and completely unchanged. Yet, in reality everything had changed. As I walked the school the place seemed smaller, the stairways less intimidating. Everything about me had changed as well. I was taller, more mature, and living on my own as an adult and productive member of society. There was a part of it all that was unchanged and a part of it that was totally changed. I believe this is a part of the real life, everyday experience the people of God were living in the time of Malachi. The unchanging part of that time was God and the completely changed part of that time was the people of God.
God was, and is, the same God who created the universe, gave life to the animals, and breathed life into humankind. This was the same God who commissioned Noah to be an example of promise, God was the same God who promised Abraham a brilliant future family through Isaac. The God of Moses, Joshua, and David. The same God who continually offered grace, justice, and covenant in the face of the unfaithfulness of the people of God. In a word God was—unchanging!
The people of God were the ones who changed. Adam and Eve ate, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. The Israelites melted down their gold and formed it into a calf and worshiped it. David allowed his lust to overcome his love of God. In Malachi we have seen that the people intermarry with the ones God warned them to avoid. We also have seen in Malachi the priests are allowing people to sacrifice lame, sick, and imperfect animals because the work seemed too tedious. Over time the people with whom God made a covenant either forget the covenant or deem it unnecessary. The people of God changed and continued to keep changing until God sent the messenger—Malachi.
What did the unchanging God desire of the people of God? Faithfulness! Faithfulness, first and foremost, to God—their creator, redeemer, and sustainer. God also desired faithfulness to the covenant God established with the people and the priests. God desired an unchanging, unwavering, covenant keeping people. This is the message Malachi is charged to deliver. God was promising a new messenger who would bring news of a new covenant, which would help the people of God to be faithful.
We are the people of that new covenant, ushered in through the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Messiah, brought about a new covenant for God’s people—and all who would believe. As people of the new covenant, the unchanging God desires faithfulness from us. In our life will we remain faithful? Or will we drift away little by little—changed by the winds of culture? The call of God through Malachi was for God’s people to return to the covenant and be faithful. The call through the Holy Spirit is for God’s people to return to the new covenant and remain faithful in Jesus Christ. Will you remain faithful? Will your faith remain unchanging and constant? The unchanging God desires an unchanging commitment to the new covenant. Let’s remain faithful in Christ. Let’s make today count for Christ.
This weekend at all four worship services we continue the message series Malachi: The Messenger. Malachi was God’s messenger to people and priests who had lost their way. Malachi’s specific role was to help the people of God repent and return to the covenant God has made with them and to tell them of the promise of a new covenant. As we now know, this was in preparation of the coming of the Messiah and the New Covenant. This weekend we will discuss how God’s grace is unchanging and never goes away. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s as we are on mission together. I can’t wait to see you in church!