August 11, 2019 – Malachi 2
Lesson Date: August 11, 2019
Focal Scripture Passage: Malachi 2:1-17
AIM: To lead students to discover factors of Israel’s moral climate that God rebuked, and to examine themselves to see if any of those same factors are present in their own lives
Before class: Read the notes on Malachi 2 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Gather some news articles concerning hatred, violence, the emptiness of false religion, profanity, divorce, and public approval of evil behavior. Write the word “Climate” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Climate” written on the board. Ask the students to name some factors that make up our climate (there are basically three: temperature, wind, and precipitation). Those three factors make the climate of a desert different from the climate of a rain forest, and the climate of the southern United States different from the climate in Alaska.
Write the word “Moral” before the word “Climate” on the board. Ask the class to name factors that make up the moral climate of a society (the people’s view of life, marriage, morality, honesty, and how they treat one another). Show some of the news articles you brought to class. Those negative stories show that America’s moral climate is getting worse and worse. Tell the students today we will learn about the moral climate of ancient Israel, and we will also examine ourselves to determine the state of our own personal moral climate.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that we are studying Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.
- Briefly review the date and setting of the book of Malachi:
- The date was about 433-400 BC.
- This was about the same time or shortly after Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and found the Jews violating many of God’s laws.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God rebuked the people and priests for bringing unacceptable offerings to Him).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Mal. 1:11).
- Judgment Upon Israel’s Corrupt Priests.
- Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 2:1.
- Remind the class that in chapter 1 God rebuked the wicked priests. In this chapter the Lord pronounced judgment upon them for their sins.
- Ask the same volunteer to read Malachi 2:2-3.
- Ask: “What did God promise to do to the priests in verse 2?” (send a curse upon them and turn all the things that should have been blessings into curses).
- Tell the students that verse 2 says God had already cursed the priests.
- Ask: “What did God say the priests had done to bring this curse upon themselves?” (they refused to hear God or take His warnings to heart; they also refused to give Him glory).
- Ask: “According to verse 3, what else did the Lord say He would do to them?” (corrupt their seed – their descendants – and spread dung upon their faces).
- Stress the fact that the sin of these priests would have a negative impact on their descendants. The same is true for us today!
- Explain that when sacrificial animals were slaughtered and dismembered, their dung and skin were taken outside the city and burned. God told the insincere, corrupt priests He would spread this dung on their faces and take them away like trash to be burned outside the city. What a terrible promise!
- Read Malachi 2:4-6.
- Explain that Levi was the ancestor of all the priests. According to these verses he was a godly and honest man, so God chose his descendants to be priests.
- Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 2:7-9.
- Ask: “Why should a priest teach people the truths of God’s Word?” (because he is the messenger of God).
- Explain that since the priests were sinful and corrupt, the Jews had contempt for them.
- Write “Corrupt, Sinful Religious Leaders” on the board below the words “Moral Climate.”
- Summarize: The priests of Malachi’s day were corrupt and insincere in their service to God, so He promised to send judgment upon them and their descendants. The wicked priests negatively impacted Israel’s moral climate.
- Judgment Upon Israel’s Unfaithfulness.
- Read Malachi 2:10.
- Ask: “What two questions open this verse?” (“Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us?”).
- Tell the class that God created the Jews and they were all descendants of Abraham through Jacob.
- Since these facts were true, God next asked them: “Why do you deal treacherously against your brothers?”
- Explain that the phrase deal treacherously means to act covertly, be deceitful, or to be unfaithful.
- Ask: “According to the last part of this verse, how were they dealing treacherously with one another?” (by breaking the covenant – being unfaithful to God).
- Tell the students there is an important spiritual truth here – our lack of personal faithfulness and devotion to God will impact our family, our church, and ultimately our nation. Our lack of faithfulness affects the moral climate.
- Add the phrase “Unfaithfulness to God” to the list on the board.
- Tell the class God used the phrase deal treacherously four more times in this chapter.
- Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 2:11-13.
- Explain that in these verses God rebuked the Jews for dealing treacherously with Him.
- Ask: “How were they doing this?” (they profaned the holiness of the Lord and married women who were idol worshipers).
- Ask: “According to verse 12, who will be punished for this?” (the man, the master, the scholar, and the priest – no guilty man will escape God’s judgment).
- Tell the students that verse 13 reveals that they were unfaithful in private but put on a show of weeping and repentance at the altar.
- Ask: “How did God respond to their insincere repentance?” (He rejected their offerings).
- Add “Intermarrying with Followers of False Religions” to the list on the board.
- Stress the fact that the choice of whom we marry is very important. Christians should only marry other believers who are seeking to live for the Lord.
- Summarize: The Lord rebuked the Israelites for dealing treacherously with Him and with each other. They were unfaithful to God and were marrying idol worshipers, all the while making a show of following God.
- Judgment Upon Those Who Mistreat Their Spouse.
- Read Malachi 2:14.
- Tell the class the Jews asked “Wherefore?” They wanted to know why God refused to hear their prayers or receive their offerings. God answered them with another rebuke.
- Ask: “Who else were they dealing treacherously with?” (their wives).
- Ask: “Who witnesses our wedding vows and the way husbands and wives treat each other?” (God – He is watching how you treat your spouse).
- Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 2:15-16.
- Ask: “Why does God unite His children in marriage?” (to raise up a godly seed – children who love and serve the Lord).
- Ask: “How does God feel about divorce?” (He hates it).
- Tell the students people try to hide their misdeeds with a garment of respectability and law, but God still hates divorce.
- Explain that God allows and regulates divorce because of the hard hearts and sinful actions of men (Matt. 19:8-9), but He still hates it.
- Add “Divorce” to the list on the board.
- Summarize: God rebuked the Israelites for mistreating their spouses. They were divorcing one another without cause. The Lord witnesses our wedding vows.
- Judgment Upon Those Who Call Evil Good.
- Tell the class God has one more rebuke in this chapter.
- Read Malachi 2:17.
- Ask: “What else were the Jews doing?” (wearying God with their words – they approved of evil and called it good, even saying God approved of it).
- Ask: “Can you name any examples of how people do this today?” (one example is that homosexuality and transgenderism are glorified and called normal in our society; many of those involved claim God made them the way they are).
- Tell the class in the last phrase of the verse the ancient Jews mocked God, saying He would never show up to punish them for their sins.
- Add “Approval of Evil” to the list on the board.
- Summarize: God rebuked the Jews for calling evil good and claiming that He approved of their wicked behavior. They wearied the Lord with their mixed-up words.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Review the things making up the moral climate of ancient Israel by reading the list on the board. Ask: “How does the moral climate of America compare to that of ancient Israel?” (very similar, but America is undoubtedly worse).
Tell the students this is the important question: “How does the moral climate of your life compare to this list? Are you doing some of the same things?” Remind the class that our personal spiritual faithfulness or unfaithfulness does affect our family, other people, and even our nation. God put it this way in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Ask: “Are you guilty of any of the sins listed on the board, or of some other sins God has brought to your mind? Are you dealing treacherously – deceitfully or unfaithfully – with anyone?” Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Ask them to confess their sins and recommit themselves to righteous, faithful, honest living. Remind them that God is watching and He knows their heart. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Tell the students when they hear or think about the weather this week to use that as a reminder about the moral climate of their life and our nation. Encourage them to try to have a positive impact on America’s moral climate by living righteously every day this week.
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