The Reading: Malachi 3:13-18
“How have we spoken against thee?” (v.13) RSV
“Your words have been stout against me” (v.13) says God. It is amazing how puny man can be so bold in opposing God. The Israelites were a bit taken aback when they were accused of this: “How have we spoken against thee?” They had been committing the cardinal sins of grumbling and ingratitude. They basically felt it did not pay to try to be good and to follow God. It all seemed hard work and God was not blessing them. Remember our first session in Malachi; they asked, “How hast thou loved us?” (Malachi 1:2).
The Israelites were accustomed to resenting God. Way back in the time of Moses when God had brought them out of the Red (Reed) Sea and into the Wilderness, they grumbled all of ten times (Numbers 14:22-23) over various practical issues, like food and water, so that in the end God let them rot in the desert and not enter the Promised Land. This was not so much an arbitrary punishment as the inevitable result of adopting an unbelieving and grumbling spirit. It made them incapable of entering Canaan.
Nowadays people tend not to complain to God, they simply say that because they are not blessed in the way they think they should, that there is no God. The arrogance is palpable when paltry man shakes his fist at heaven and tells God that he does not exist. But if we do believe in God then we may be guilty of finding fault with him; we may even get angry with him. Job did that, but in the end he came to his senses and had to repent for speaking so rashly (see Explore More).
The third of the Ten Commandments is: “Take not the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). We can do this by swearing/cursing, of course. But more importantly we can do it by calling ourselves Christians and then not living up to that high calling. God is easily dishonoured by our lives. So our lives can “speak against God” (cf. v.13). Our desire should always be to bring honour to his name, and indeed to be the first to praise and thank him, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Thank you Lord that you never grumble about me. Help me never to grumble about you. Amen.
1 Read how Job repented after being angry with God.
2 How did Paul honour God even in prison?