Holy Scripture sets
forth everything that is necessary for our salvation. Consequently, nobody
should be required to believe as an article of the Christian faith, or to
regard as necessary for salvation, anything that is not found in Scripture or
that cannot be proved from Scripture…
Therefore, Scripture is to be our highest authority, not
tradition, experience or reason.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
Where is the God of justice?
Is there any justice in the world?
Why does God allow evil to go unpunished?
This is a very common dispute people have with God.
It’s a dispute you’ve probably had with God.
God is supposed to be just. God says we must be just. But we
live in an unjust and wicked world?
In Malachi’s time, the unbelieving nations surrounding Judah and Jerusalem were prospering, while their own crops were failing. The great promises of renewal remained unfulfilled and God seemed very distant.
Where was the justice?
We see the high crime rate in South Africa, we hear of murders and rapes, old people in our suburbs and townships are robbed of their life-savings, corrupt business leaders and politicians prosper, and the sordid list continues.
We live in a country of huge inequalities, where many people
were hurt by state-sanctioned abuse.
We see our non-Christian friends ignoring God, doing their own thing and having the time of their lives.
All this while Christian people seek to be godly, face hardships, endure temptation, struggle with sin, and face disappointments and hurts.
“And now, O priests, this command (warning) is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honour to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings.
Unfaithful leaders have continually harassed the church in South Africa and around the world.
Locally, Pastor Mboro, from the Incredible Happenings Church, is a self-proclaimed prophet. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley and BMW i8 (which costs an estimated R2 million). Guards carrying AK47 assault rifles guard him.
In 2016, he claimed to have gone to heaven. He took a selfie with his Galaxy smartphone to prove it. For R5000 he will WhatsApp you the photo.
Many in his church are poor and struggling to make ends meet.
Further afield, in the Church of England there has been a
huge turning away from the Bible by many ministers and bishops.
Recently, Melvin Tinker, an evangelical minister, was banned from preaching at a Carol’s service at Derby Cathedral.
Astonishingly, the Cathedral was willing to host the viewing of sexually explicit movies earlier this year. The Dean of the Cathedral permits erotic films, but banned an evangelical preacher.
There are countless examples of leaders in the church falling far short of the standard God requires.
Malachi teaches us that God holds leaders accountable.
In Malachi 2:1 God singles out the leaders of God people,
the priests, for rebuke.
This week was the start of the international campaign of “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” (focussing on violence against women and children).
“Police statistics indicate that the murder rate of women in South Africa has increased by 16% in the past five years and the number of reported child rapes in the same period has gone up by about 3,000 from 15,000 to just over 18,000.” (EWN News)
According to research, intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of gender-based violence (GBV). GBV includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviours by a current or former intimate partner or spouse.
As Christian people, we ought to be at the forefront of condemning any form of GBV.
We are commanded in the Bible to love our neighbours as ourselves and to especially care for the weak and vulnerable. Husbands are called to love their wives and be willing to die for them.
Our churches ought to be safe-spaces where victims of abuse receive help, care and support. We ought to assist in reporting any perpetrators of violence to the civil authorities.
I wonder, however, if some of our more conservative churches may unintentionally promote intimate partner violence in their teaching about marriage and divorce?
Leviticus ch. 11 is all about clean and unclean animals and what the Israelites in Old Testament times could and couldn’t eat.
Therefore, every time someone hunted, ate a meal, went to a petting zoo, or came across roadkill, they had to ask themselves, “Is this clean or unclean?”
Land animals. Sea animals. Insects. Clean or unclean?
You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:43-45)
Ch. 12 is all about childbirth and how that made one unclean.
Ch. 13 is all about skin diseases and mould on clothes and how that made one unclean.
Ch. 14 is all about skin diseases and mildew in houses and how that made one unclean.
Ch. 15 is all about different bodily discharges and how that made one unclean.
What was the point of all these rules?
The point of the rules was not personal hygiene, but a picture or symbol of sin.
The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa voted in 2015 to permit those in same-sex relationships to serve as ministers. The synod also voted to permit same-sex unions to be blessed in Dutch Reformed churches. That decision was then appealed in 2016.
At present the DRC is experiencing huge turmoil as the issue of sexuality continues to be debated.1
Many of those who were pleased with the synod’s original decision to permit same-sex marriage equate discrimination towards those who practice homosexuality as essentially the same as the discrimination towards black people under apartheid.
For them, the 2015 synod’s decision was a great moment of liberation to be celebrated.2