Malachi 3:13-18: How we Speak About God


Words of faithlessness
Words of fear


What is the difference between a mercenary and a soldier? A soldier fights for his country; a mercenary fights for himself; the soldier for honor, love of country, to protect loved ones; the mercenary for money. This has given rise to the phrase mercenary spirituality, when your spiritual pursuits are all about you and your interests. The new self-help spirituality of West that is a fusion of New Age concepts and psychology would be a classic example of this. A biblical example of this spirituality is found in the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. There we see a son, typifying the Pharisees, whose obedience to God’s law came with the expectation that if he is good he will get stuff, and by implication those who have been bad should get nothing. Malachi is dealing with mercenary spirituality.

We come to the 6th dispute in 3:13-18. These verses are divided into two types of people who speak two types of words. In v13-15 we see God rebuking the Israelites for their faithless words that betray a mercenary spirit. The issue is the traditional problem of why do bad things happen to good people, and why do good things happen to bad people, or alternatively, why don’t religious people get the good they deserve and why do irreligious people not get the bad they deserve. This conundrum is ancient and has led many to doubt God’s goodness or existence. In v16-18 we see the speech of those who fear God, and instead of Malachi recording their words, we have God say things on their behalf. So as we look at these verses we will look at them under two headings, words of faithlessness and words of fear.