Biblical heroes and villains

Many of us know people of such influence that they are indelibly burnt into our memories. These people caused permanent change either directly or indirectly. They were key in forming our character and directing our values by either positive or negative input. These are either our heroes or our villains.

Biblical heroes and villainsThe same is true of biblical characters. We learn much from both the evil people as we do from the righteous. While God’s Word is God’s story, He employs the lives of real people from beggars to kings and queens in providing the human faces to His truths. Ultimately, the Bible reveals God’s Son, Jesus who “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). While all other Bible characters fall under Jesus, I want to consider a few in the coming weeks which I hope will enrich us.

One such man was Malachi, who lived between 500 to 425 BC, approximately. He was the last prophetic voice for the Lord in the Old Testament period. Four hundred years of divine silence followed Malachi until John the Baptist emerged preparing the way for Christ (Mal 3:1; Jn 1:19-23). Courageous passion for God marked Malachi’s ministry, delivering hard hitting appeals for God’s people to return to their Lord in humble obedience.

The Lord begins Malachi’s ministry by reminding Israel of His love for them, only to get a sarcastic challenge in return. “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” (Malachi 1:2). Israel had sunk to an all-time low, where they felt entitled to judge God based on their fleshly appetites for sinful living. Unless God approved of their sin, they wanted nothing of Him.

Going to the root of Israel’s problem, Malachi hit the spiritual nail on the head. “And now, O priests, this command is for you. 2 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” (Malachi 2:1-2). Israel’s people had been following the corrupt priesthood in their downward spiral of defiant living, making a joke of God’s law. Hosea 4:8-9 sums up the priest’s attitudes perfectly; “They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. 9 And it shall be like people, like priest…”

Malachi also delivered Scripture’s most definitive statement on marriage through a rapid-fire series of rebukes (Mal 2:10-16). He fearlessly confronted Israel’s marital hypocrisy; “the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Malachi 2:13-14). He presents five positive characteristics defining marriage through a negative format for a nation gone haywire. Marriage is a Sanctuary Relationship, a Faith Relationship, a Companion Relationship, a Covenant Relationship, and a New Identity Relationship.

While the fruit of Malachi’s life continues to this day, there was a revival among some of the Jews, who turned and feared the name of the Lord. “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 3:16).

Malachi was God’s man for his time and culture, just as we are in our time and our culture. May we follow his example; proclaiming God’s love, God’s holiness, and God’s call to receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

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