August 4, 2019 – Malachi 1

Lesson Date: August 4, 2019

Focal Scripture Passage: Malachi 1:1-14

AIM: To lead students to discover the kinds of offerings the Jews in Malachi’s day were giving to God, and to evaluate the quality of their own gifts to the Lord of money, time, and talent.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Malachi 1 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Locate some worthless item (such as an old dirty sock with a hole in it or a broken kitchen gadget or tool) and wrap it up in pretty giftwrap. Bring it to class and place it in a prominent place at the front of the class.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the wrapped gift. Comment that everyone enjoys receiving gifts, because they are tangible representations of someone’s love for us. Ask: “Have you ever received a gift you knew was insincere; someone felt obligated to give it so they wouldn’t be embarrassed, but they didn’t really want to give the gift?” Ask a volunteer to open the wrapped gift, revealing the worthless item inside. Ask: “How would you feel if you received such a gift?” (that the person giving it obviously didn’t love or respect you).

Tell the class today’s lesson is about the offerings the Jews in Malachi’s day were bringing to God. We will discover what those offerings were, and we will also evaluate our own gifts to the Lord. Tell them offerings to God encompass more than just money; we also give our time and talents to Him.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Introduce Malachi.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ’s future Kingdom).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Zech. 14:9).
    • Read Malachi 1:1.
    • Briefly introduce the book of Malachi, using the following outline:
      • Malachi’s name means “my messenger.”
      • Malachi was God’s messenger, but we don’t know where he was from and he didn’t give us any specific dates for his messages.
      • Since the sins addressed in the book are the same as those Nehemiah found when he returned to Jerusalem (sometime after 433 c. – see Neh. 13), most scholars believe Malachi wrote around or shortly after that time.
      • Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.
      • God didn’t send another prophet to His people for 400 years, until John the Baptist came on the scene.
  2. The Jews Questioned God’s Love for Them.
    • Read Malachi 1:2-5.
    • Ask: “What is the first thing God said to His people in verse 2?” (“I have loved you”).
    • Ask: “How do we usually respond when someone says ‘I love you’?” (we usually respond in kind, saying something like, “I love you, too”).
    • Ask: “How did the Jews of Malachi’s day respond when God said He loved them?” (they asked how God had loved them; they were skeptical of His love and wanted proof).
    • Ask the students to imagine they expressed love to a family member, but that person replied, “How have you loved me? Prove it!”
    • Ask: “How would that make you feel?” (terrible, rejected, unloved).
    • Explain that Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. God chose Jacob as the one through whom the godly line would come. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel; he was the father of the Jews.
    • Ask: “How did God say He felt toward Jacob?” (He loved him).
    • Ask: “How did God feel toward Esau?” (He hated him).
    • Tell the class the Edomites were the descendants of Esau; God never blessed them the way He did the Israelites.
    • Summarize: In spite of the many ways God blessed and protected the Jews, they questioned His love for them.
  3. The Jews Gave God Worthless Offerings.
    • Tell the class Malachi 1:6-8 describe some of the Jews’ offerings to God.
    • Ask a volunteer to read those verses.
    • Ask: “According to verse 6, were they honoring God – even as much as sons honor their fathers or servants honor their masters?” (no).
    • Tell the class the word despise means to disesteem, disrespect, disdain, or hold in contempt.
    • Ask: “What did the people ask in verse 6?” (“How have we despised your name?”).
    • Write the word “Offerings” on the marker board or chalkboard, and write “Dishonor” below it.
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, what were they offering to God?” (polluted bread).
    • Write “Polluted Bread” on the board.
    • Tell the students the Jews were offering stale, moldy, rotten bread to God and keeping the best for themselves.
    • Ask: “What did they ask in verse 7?” (“How have we polluted you?”).
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, what else were they offering to God?” (blind, lame, and sick animals).
    • Write “Blind, Lame, & Sick Animals” on the board.
    • Tell the class they were offering God inferior, worthless animals and keeping the best and healthiest ones for themselves.
    • God asked if their earthly rulers would accept such gifts.
    • Ask: “What do you think is the answer to that question?” (they would not).
    • Summarize: Instead of giving God their very best, the Jews were bringing worthless sacrifices.
  4. The Priests Served God Only for Pay.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 1:9.
    • God urged them to beg for His grace and mercy.
    • Read Malachi 1:10.
    • Ask: “How would you describe the attitude or work ethic of the priests?” (they wouldn’t do anything for God unless they received pay).
    • Write the word “Selfishness” on the board.
    • Ask: “What did God say about them and their offerings?” (He was displeased with them and He rejected their offerings).
    • Summarize: Instead of serving God out of love and devotion, the priests were only interested in receiving pay for their services.
  5. The Jews Dishonored God’s Name.
    • Tell the class the Jews and their priests were corrupt and were bringing worthless offerings to God.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 1:11.
    • Explain that God said one day Gentiles all over the world would worship Him with pure offerings and sincere praise. We, as Gentile Christians, are part of the fulfillment of that promise.
    • Read Malachi 1:12.
    • Ask: “The Gentiles will honor God’s name (verse 11), but how did the priests and people of Malachi’s day treat it?” (they profaned it).
    • Write the words “Dishonor God’s Name” on the board.
    • Tell the students the Jews of Malachi’s day didn’t have any respect for the things they offered to God because they didn’t honor or respect God.
    • Summarize: Instead of loving and respecting God, the Jews dishonored His name and had no respect for His offerings.
  6. The Jews Were Tired of Serving God.
    • Read Malachi 1:13-14.
    • Ask: “What was the attitude of the priests toward their service in the Temple?” (weariness and disinterest).
    • Ask: “What did they offer to God?” (the torn, lame, and sick).
    • Write the words “Tired of Serving God” on the board.
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, what did God say about the person who has something good to offer but instead brings something worthless?” (he said that person is cursed).
    • Tell the students God is the great King who deserves our respect.
    • Summarize: The Jews’ were tired of serving God so they brought Him worthless sacrifices. This placed them under God’s curse.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Briefly review the lesson using the words and phrases written on the board. Ask: “What kind of offerings were the ancient Jews bringing to God?” (worthless, unacceptable offerings). Ask: “Was God pleased with them or their offerings?” (no; He rejected them). Tell the class the Jews were supposed to be God’s chosen and blessed people, but their behavior actually placed them under God’s curse.

Tell the class today’s class session has merely been an unimportant lesson in Bible history unless we apply its truths to our lives. Ask: “Do you think God is still concerned about the quality of the offerings we bring to Him today?” (yes). Explain that we no longer bring animals or bread or fruit to God. Today we bring three types of gifts to the Lord: money, time, and talents or abilities. Lead the class to evaluate the quality of their gifts to the Lord by asking the following questions:

  • “Do you give God the first of your income, or do you give Him what’s leftover after you pay bills and do the things you want to do?”
  • “Are you giving some of your valuable time to worship and serve the Lord?”
  • “Are you using the abilities God gave you to serve Him in His church?”
  • “How’s your attitude? Are your gifts of money, time, and talent a weariness and drudgery, or do you enjoy giving back to God?”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage them to be honest with themselves and with God. Tell them to confess any areas of sin and to commit themselves to giving their best to the Lord. Voice a closing prayer of confession and recommitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to bring acceptable offerings of their money, time, and talent to God. Ask them to memorize Malachi 1:11.

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