Monday, April 28, 2014

An Indictment Against the People of Israel (Part IV)

And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” (Malachi 2:13)

Unfaithfulness, adultery, and unlawful marriages had plagued Israel's past, and now the Lord says, “...this have ye done again....” The people had not taken heed to past chastening. The fact that God did not simply wipe them out bears witness to His longsuffering nature. Instead of hardening his heart toward God's rebuke, the believer should thank God for administering it. When warned and chastened, a man should respond to God in humility, and thank Him for being so patient and merciful.

Metaphorically speaking, the persecuted wives of these ungodly men were covering God's altar with the tears and cries of their misery. In a feeling of destitution and betrayal, they would come before the Lord's altar and make their supplication before Him. The scene is almost unimaginable. Being cast aside for another woman who was not even a worshiper of God, these Hebrew wives were left to fend for themselves. Such treachery so enraged the Lord that He says concerning the sacrifices of the nation, “...he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” God would not put up with such pretense. No man will be permanently permitted to oppress and persecute others while maintaining an appearance of worship. God will see to it that such wickedness is adequately rewarded. The Lord hates oppression of any kind. His very nature is one of redemption. He “...executeth judgment for the oppressed...,” He “...giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners (Psalm 146:7).” He “...[binds] up the brokenhearted...,” He “...[proclaims] liberty to the captives...,” and He “...[opens] the prison to them that are bound (Isaiah 61:1).” Concerning the oppression of the needy, God said in Exodus 22:23-24, “If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword....” Oppression directly opposes God's nature and directly compliments the nature of Satan. Isaiah 14:17 declares that Satan “...opened not the house of his prisoners.” With this in mind, anyone who oppresses another is practicing the character of the devil. Oppression can take on many different forms. In blindness, a man may say to himself, “I don't oppress people.” Yet, he does not consider that his bad temper adversely affects others. This is a form of oppression. He does not consider the oppressive nature of his stubbornness. He fails to see that his failure to guide others into the way of truth is a form of spiritual oppression because it deprives them of that good thing which leads to peace. A woman can oppress others by means of her self-centered behavior. A “drama-queen” could well be labeled an oppressor, because she places a constant burden on the souls of others and denies them spiritual edification through her actions. Is not a man who fails to lead his family according to the Bible an oppressor? Is not the pastor who compromises truth an oppressor, seeing that such things lead people astray and make them easy prey to the powers of darkness? Yes, oppression need not be limited to adultery and desertion. The men of Malachi's day had taken oppression to one of its highest points, yet God's people also practice it in the valleys every day. Such a spirit is not only treachery against the LORD's people; ultimately, it is treachery against the LORD's holiness.

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