The fire of zeal from the days of Zerubbabel had quietly been allowed to extinguish itself. The faithfulness to truth, inspired by an Ezra, had turned to indifference and scant toleration. All that was left of the fervor of Nehemiah and the stirring preaching of Haggai and Zechariah the visionary, was a cold, formal ritualism. The Divine physician desperately looked for a pulse but found only a cold, lifeless form.
To this moribund condition came Malachi, the Lords messenger. If ever prophet had a difficult task, it was this man. With sharp, insightful statements in a rhetorical-dialogue style, he brought home to the nation its guilt before God. Starting with their failure to appreciate His love, progressing rapidly to the character of their worship, and ending with the withholding of their tithes, he underscores with unsparing severity the tragic condition of the returned remnant.
He began by reminding them of the honor and fear which is due to God as Father and Master. Irreverence, indifference, and ritualism were the sum total of their actions. Nothing so reveals our condition as does our worship.
We are thankful to God for preservation of testimony in our own day. While there is much failure and much to confess, yet there are companies who seek to maintain the honor of the Name. We are not, however, immune from some of the attitudes which shaped Malachis day.
Actions are eloquent. What about our presence at the gatherings of the Lords people? What message does our attendance, or lack of it, send to God about how we honor Him? Some are quick to reply that Gods presence can be known at home, in the study, or wherever a believer bows his knees. True, yet God has chosen to have His people meet as groups of believers and requests our presence there. You cannot remember the Lord, have united prayer, and uphold testimony in isolation.
What about our punctuality? There are places where the starting time for the meetings have become mere approximations for many. Last minute delays, especially when marshaling children to the meetings, can occur. But these should be exceptions and not the rule. To walk in fifteen or thirty meetings late to the Breaking of Bread suggests to God, angels, and your brethren that this is not a very important gathering.
Our preparation and participation at the assembly gatherings also reveal how highly we regard our Father. Is He deserving of our best? Most of us prepare far more for presentations in the secular world than we do in the spiritual. We need to be careful that we do not equate participation with preparation. Our sisters and some of our brethren know genuine preparation without vocal participation. But sadly, many fail to prepare or participate.
Finally, what about personal appearance? Have we adopted “dress-down” Sunday as our standard? Some may not be able to afford suits and jackets; but certainly God is deserving of our best. Someone responds that the important thing is that God knows our hearts. While that is true, the world looking on has no way of knowing your heart. They will judge your respect and regard for God by your appearance. Let us never stoop to the level of the world around us but seek in every way in which we are able, to give honor and fear unto our Father. He is deserving of it.