“You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you ask, ‘How have we wearied him?’ When you say, ‘Everyone who does what is evil is good in the Lord’s sight, and he is delighted with them, or else where is the God of justice?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have your kids ever worn you out? If you are a parent, then the answer to that question is almost assuredly a resounding, “Yes!” That’s just part of the journey of parenthood. The older kids get, the more they begin to look for ways they can assert their growing sense of independence. Unfortunately, that sense of independence does not develop as fast as a spirit of wisdom and discernment regarding the prudence of the choices they make. That is, they may think they’re good, but they still need their parents for guidance and direction. This, of course, creates a tension that can be pretty draining. Well, if you are a parent who has felt this before, you can rest assured that you’re not alone. Not only are there other parents who feel the same way from time to time, but so does your heavenly Father.
Verse 17 introduces a new section of Malachi’s prophecy. The focus here shifts back to the cynicism the people had embraced when it came to their relationship with Him. This reveals yet another way they are questioning the character of God. Back at the beginning of the collection, they were questioning God’s love. Here, they are questioning His justice. Is He really a God of justice?
While there are many different attributes of God, three are primary over all the rest. They are the building blocks from which the others are formed. These three are His love, His holiness, and His justice. In a sense, Malachi’s collection of prophecy is about helping a people who were wrestling with all three of these aspects of God. They were questioning if He was really a God who is worthy of their worship. They questioned His love at the beginning. His frustration with their cynicism toward worship generally reveals their questioning His holiness. Here the focus is on justice.
God was eager to move the people forward in His plans for them. He wanted to move forward with His desire to use them to be a vehicle of blessing to the world through the revelation of His Messiah. But they were still struggling with and questioning His character. The effect was wearying to Him.
Of course, the people were clueless of this. They were shocked that He was so frustrated with them. It was the same shock your kids expressed when you finally blew up at them for dancing on your last nerve as if they had not a single other care in the world. What do you mean we have wearied you?!? Friends, if we’re not careful, we can fall to walking the same path they were taking.
But what exactly were they doing that was so wearying to God? Once again, they were questioning His justice. They were doubting His character. They pursued evil and called it good and then claimed God’s approval for it. And besides, He’s not really going to do anything about a little vice on our part. He’s so busy managing the world, He doesn’t have time to worry about a little slip here or there by any one person.
Have you ever thought along similar lines as this? I know this wasn’t right to do, but surely God is going to give me grace for this. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal. He’s got better things to do than worry about every little thing every single person does that isn’t quite fully in line with His character. The universe is an awfully big place to manage.
Ah, but you see, the problem is that sin isn’t ever content with just a little bit of vice. It wants more. If we ignore and excuse away a little bit of sin, more will soon follow in its wake. Then more. And then some more. And suddenly we’re up to our eyeballs in a mess. We are sitting in the midst of an exploded life with the wreckage of broken relationships–including our relationship with God–lying in pieces all around us.
Now, what Malachi is not doing here is hitting the people for questioning or doubting God. Doubt that flows from a place of faith, from a desire to understand Him better is welcome. He’s okay with our struggling with who He is while we are moving in His direction. But cynically questioning His character in order to justify ourselves is something He won’t abide.
God is good. He is holy, loving, and just. That’s all simply who He is. And He wants to be in a relationship with you. He’ll pull out all the stops to make it possible. He’ll reveal Himself so that you can have a chance to know Him. But at some point you are going to have to trust Him. You are going to have to trust Him and commit yourself to that trust in active, life-transforming ways. Thanks to the cross, the power to do it is available to you. You simply need to receive it (because you can’t do it on your own) and start enjoying the life that is truly life.