Last time we looked at the spiritual condition of Israel. We saw from Micah’s prophetic words that they had become complacent in their worship of God. Micah’s mission was to point out their sins to them and call them back to a sincere devotion of God.
At the heart of Malachi’s message is the command: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel” (4:4). This is the very thing that Israel was failing to do. God didn’t come against them for any new expectation, or implied obligation before him. All of these things were old hat. In their indifference, they were failing to do the basics. Despite God’s gracious preservation of his people through exile, they were still failing to live as the people God called them to be. They were failing to live a life of worship that honored God in a way worth of his name.
But Malachi wasn’t just telling them to obey the law. It was a call to remember the law. Notice he says the law given at Horeb. That’s just another name for Mt. Sinai. But do you remember what God says to them on the mountain as he gives them the law? Do you remember, what he says right before he says “you shall no other gods before me” (Exod 20:3)?
He says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2). The entire covenant between God and Israel—all of his dealings with them—are based upon this defining truth: He saved them from Egypt. Thus, their relationship to God wasn’t based on what they did, but what he did for them. The law given to Israel came after their redemption. The command to obey came after his saving mercy.
This is the consistent approach of the Scriptures in motivating God’s people to a life that honor’s God. One of the best examples is seen in Romans. For the first eleven chapters, Paul presents “the mercies of God” (12:1)–that is, the great truths of God’s mercy towards sinners, culminating in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says that it’s because of those mercies that Christians are to offer their entire lives as a sacrifice to God. This is our reasonable service of worship.
It’s essential we get this: the people were bored with grace because they had forgotten grace. When we are prone toward the same mindset, the way beyond an attitude of indifference towards God comes by reminding ourselves of the gospel—the grace that God has shown us in Christ. And in reminding ourselves of the God, being reminded the kind of life such grace should produce.