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“The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name” (Malachi 3:16b).

After returning from exile, the Jewish people were determined to obey God. Their new leaders enforced that, calling for purity in every area of life and a single-minded devotion to God and His laws. But despite this renewed zeal, there were still those who weren’t entirely committed. Idolatry had been abolished, but now the Jews’ great enemy was their own apathy.

The prophet Malachi, one of the last prophets of the Old Testament, spoke about this during his ministry in the time of the governor Nehemiah. He called out the people’s unwillingness to give God what He was due, bringing their crippled animals to the temple as sacrifices and keeping the best back for themselves. They gave the bare minimum of what the law required, demonstrating that their hearts were not truly interested in the things of God.

Malachi warned them that this would bring them back under God’s judgment. God is not pleased with a half-hearted offering. This is just as abhorrent to Him as worshiping another god is. Malachi reminded the people that God wanted their best. If they would just trust Him with that, they would see Him showering blessings on them. But if they failed to obey, disaster would once again fall upon them.

Despite the ominous tone of the majority of Malachi’s preaching, there is a glimmer of hope. The prophet makes note of a few people who listened to his words and made a point of obeying. God was pleased with these, and though their names are not mentioned, Malachi writes that God paid attention to them. The prophets did not speak in vain! Always there were some who listened.

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