Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Every age has its peculiar features. It is a duty to study the past. A knowledge of the past is often the basis of safety in the present, and stability in the future.
I. THE DAYS OF OLD HAVE CREATED THE PRESENT DAYS. Time is a development, society a building, humanity a growth. No age can begin for itself. The past surrounds us everywhere. "You will find fibrous roots of this day's occurrences among the dust of Cadmus and Trismegistus, of Tubalcain and Triptolemus: the top-roots of them are with Father Adam himself and the cinders of Eve's first fire." — Carlyle. You cannot understand the present without a knowledge of the past. This is true politically, socially, and religiously. It is true of nations and of each individual life.
II. THE DAYS OF OLD ARE FULL OF EXAMPLES WORTHY OF IMITATION. "History is philosophy teaching by examples. — Bolingbroke. Jewish history was full of examples that might have improved and instructed the degenerate age in which Malachi lived. Good men's lives are for all time. They are God's gifts to the world. They brighten the days of old and make them influential. We can best discover what those days were by the lives of the men who lived in them —
"There is a history in all men's lives
Figuring the nature of the times deceased."
= — Shakespeare.One age may imitate another. Biographies teach more powerfully than philosophical deductions.
III. THE DAYS OF OLD ARE FULL OF DIVINE REVELATIONS. God reveals Himself in many ways. Each age has its own revelations. God revealed Himself to the world in past ages as He does not now. The patriarchs, prophets, and apostles had visions of His glory denied to men of this generation. God was manifested in the flesh in days of old. Heaven seemed nearer to the earth then. God expects us to learn His will by His acts in past times; by the working out of His purposes; by rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked; by revealing His self-sacrificing love in the cross of Christ. The Bible is God's record of the "days of old." We may learn what He will be to us in our days by what He was to men then. His faithfulness, mercy, and truth are written unmistakably on those wondrous days.
IV. THE DAYS OF OLD SHOULD BE SURPASSED BY THE PRESENT DAYS. Men should be more virtuous and pure as the days roll on. Human experience should lead to advancement in holiness. All departures from the past are not in the line of true progress. Some ages have prided themselves in their onward movements when they have really been retrograding. Sad when in the life of a nation, or in the life of a man, the former days are nobler than the present. Ages should be stepping stones for humanity to rise to God. Every age should be an advance upon that which has preceded it.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.