Strength to Say I’m Wrong

11/13/2022

Message Title: Strength to Say I’m Wrong
Theme:
Strength Through Trials
Season: ordinary time
Main Text: Malachi 4:1-2a
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 12
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12 **; Malachi 4:1-2a; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19
Focus: Israel refuses to take ownership for their wrongdoings and instead blame God.
Function:
To create a habit of recognizing when we are wrong and making things right.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 12

You will say on that day:
“I thank you, Lord.
Though you were angry with me,
    your anger turned away and you comforted me.
God is indeed my salvation;
    I will trust and won’t be afraid.
Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield;
    he has become my salvation.”

You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation.
And you will say on that day:
“Thank the Lord; call on God’s name;
    proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples;
    declare that God’s name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things;
    proclaim this throughout all the earth.”
Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion,
    because the holy one of Israel is great among you.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What do chicken and gambling have in common? – Kenny Rogers
    1. Disclaimer: the only reason I know this is because of Josh. I had no clue there were Kenny Rogers restaurants.
  2. Kenny Rogers released “The Gambler” in 1978. Though this song is at the height of cheesy country – don’t be offended, just admit it—the song still came to my mind while thinking about our text for today.
    1. “know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run….”
  3. Kenny’s song may have been about poker but the words insinuate a wisdom and humility needed to live your life.
  4. Today, we get to talk about the comfortable lesson: It takes wisdom and humility to admit when you are wrong.

TRANSITION: We’re in the prophet Malachi this morning to hear his message, which requires humility from the audience and instead of folding they don’t back down.

Malachi is a short book. Let’s get some context for our passage while you turn to Malachi 4. This is the last book of the Old Testament, right before the Gospel of Matthew.

  1. Dating: Judah has returned from exile. They have been back in the land about 100 years. The Temple is finished and has gone into disrepair from neglect since the days of Haggai.
  2. Audience: God sends Malachi to speak to Judah- God’s people who returned from exile in Babylon- and get them back on track.
  3. Content: The book of Malachi is basically a prophetic debate between God and his people. God reveals the state of God’s people and they dispute God’s observations. This back & forth happens 6 times over the course of chapters 1-3.
    1. God says “I love you.”
      1. Israel says “No, you don’t.”
      1. God says, “yes, I chose you to be my people.”
    1. God says you’re defiling my temple
      1. Israel says “no we aren’t”
      1. God says, “yes, you’re offering blemished and sick animals as sacrifices. You don’t care about me or this practice.”
      1. God says “priests you are participating in this defiling.”
      1. Israel says “nope.”
      1. God says “remember the job Levites are given!”
    1. God says “men, you’re leaving your wives vulnerable by divorcing them for foreign wives and foreign gods.”
      1. Israel says “nah uh.”
      1. God says “you’re divorcing me when you divorce your wives. You’re choosing other gods above me.”
    1. Israel says “you’ve neglected us!”
      1. God says “I’m sending my messenger to prepare the way. I’m coming.”
    1. God says “Come back to me!”
      1. Israel says “We don’t know how”
      1. God says “trust me more than the money you’re hoarding, give your tithes to me as an act of trust.”
    1. Israel says “We won’t trust you; you’re letting evil prosper.”
      1. God says “the faithful remnant remembers what I’ve done.”

MAIN TEXT: Malachi 4:1-2a Look, the day is coming, burning like an oven. All the arrogant ones and all those doing evil will become straw. The coming day will burn them, says the Lord of heavenly forces, leaving them neither root nor branch. 2But the sun of righteousness will rise on those revering my name; healing will be in its wings so that you will go forth and jump about like calves in the stall.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. In Malachi 4, God promises to keep God’s side of the covenant. God promises the coming of a messenger and the Day of the Lord. This day will end evil and we will finally see justice prevail.
  2. A cleansing fire was mentioned in chapter 3, now God uses imagery of an oven burning straw to speak of the restoring work he has planned.
    1. Evil will get burned up
    1. Those who revere God will be healed & restored.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Israel is back from exile. They lost everything when Babylon destroyed their homeland. They’ve rebuilt- even the Temple- but they haven’t learned their lesson.
    1. I keep picturing Israel shouting complaints at God and plugging their ears when God replies while shouting “I’m not listening.”
      1. Israel says “I’m suffering God and it’s all your fault.”
      1. God says “have you tried living the way I designed you to live?”
      1. Israel says “you are the one making my life hard.”
  2. God has continually kept God’s promises. Israel continues to break their promises.
    1. God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that this people would be God’s people. God has not given up on them but even exile didn’t teach them to trust in God’s way.
    1. Will Israel learn to take ownership of their actions and claim their responsibility to the Covenant?

APPLICATION:  To create a habit of recognizing when we are wrong and making things right.

  1. Convo with God
    1. Me: Why is there war, famine, & orphans?
    1. God: You tell me
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: We’ve talked about apologizing but what about simply admitting to yourself that you were wrong. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being excellent 1 being poor, how good are you at admitting when you’re wrong? (Deescalated)
    1. PERSONAL CONNECTION: I don’t know about you but there are times when I’m so convinced that I’m right that I am not able to back down. Those typically lead to rage prayers with God to help me fix my attitude if I’m wrong. Nothing more embarrassing than someone seeing you pray like that.
      1. Prayer is the only thing that can finally break me down when I’ve armored up for battle. Believe me, sometimes I can barely get the words out.
  3. God loved Israel, regardless of what they had done. God even gave them a pathway back to him… but they chose to point fingers instead.
    1. If you are feeling stuck today, I need you to hear two things:
      1. God loves you as is, no conditions attached. God is good no matter what you’re feeling
      1. God provides a way to healing but it may mean letting go of your perspective in exchange for his.
      1. Problem of suffering – God didn’t design your life to include pain

CONCLUSION

Nothing will change if we don’t take ownership

  1. The Israelites were choosing other gods over God. They valued their wealth and possessions over the security that God could provide. God asked them to sacrifice the very thing that was their stumbling block.
    1. What is the thing you are terrified for God to ask you to give up? Where are you standing your ground?
    1. What are you preventing yourself from receiving while you cling to “your perceived best?”
  2. In arguments—admitting your fault and apologizing provides a clear pathway to enriched relationships.
    1. In faith- admitting God wants even better than you want for yourself enriches all of creation.
    1. Are you ready for the transformation? Not “I won’t back down”

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