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Robbing Widows

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.” (Micah 3:6)

We have a nasty penchant for crudely drawing distinctions between sacred and secular, faith and works, redemption and justice. Themes, which naturally travel in pairs, are ripped apart which can lead to the unfortunate result that each loses its force.

The recipients of the prophet Malachi’s brooding message — Judaeans who had returned from exile to a partially restored homeland — had fallen into such a trap. Cynically content with their recent change of luck, they had adapted to a certain malaise, settling into a rhythm where God was given a cursory nod but relegated to the corner.

God’s people had abandon their center – God, and His covenant with them. The tragic fallout was how abandoning God led them to abandoning their unique role in the world: priests who mediated God’s grace and justice to an unrighteous society.

The same is true today; when we lose our sense of God, we lose our sense of our role in the world around us.

Malachi addresses this tragic abandonment by making somewhat of a surprising connection. Immediately preceding the most familiar portion of Malachi – his rebuke against the practice of robbing God by refusing to bring the appropriate ties to the temple worship – he rattles off a number of other common commandments for God’s people: those who oppress widows, lack love for the orphans and refuse proper justice for immigrants.

The message seems clear: there’s no distinction between abandoning justice and abandoning worship; they travel in pairs. In Malachi’s view, there is an inherent connection between robbing God and robbing widows.

The prophet’s answer for their insincere worship was not only for them to bring in the tithe they owed, but to repent of their simple stance toward the less fortunate. Malachi’s posture highlights another inconsistency in public displays or rituals of worship that have not taken root in our private life with our fellowman. We are urged not to leave our gold at the altar if we have left our neighbor hungry.

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Malachi’s words penetrate deep in a world bowing to idols of consumerism, individualism and capitalism. We construct our behemoth church campuses, insist on the latest SUV and consider it a major inconvenience that the local Super Walmart isn’t open 24/7. While millions are starving, and viruses ravage entire nations, and children are born into the world where “The American Dream” is their highest goal. Malachi must be heard again.

Dig Deeper:

Read Malachi 3.

Prayer:

God, search my heart and reveal to me the ways I’ve lost my sense of You by not seeing the need of those around me. I confess that I’m often afraid or lazy. Open my eyes to the social injustices around me and direct me in how I can help.


RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.

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