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Criswell Theological Review 2 1 1987 39 61 Copyright 1987 by Criswell College cited with permission digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM PREACHING THE BURDEN OF ISRAEL C RICHARD WELLS Criswell College Dallas TX 75201 The path from the then of biblical exegesis to the now of biblical preaching always proceeds between borders On one side are the times on the other timeless principles The contemporary preacher must negotiate the path so as to bring the truly universal teaching of Scripture to bear on conditions similar in some significant ways to those addressed in Scripture The path is strewn with debris from earlier and sometimes careless travellers And we must be sure we actually remain on the path lest we find ourselves digressing along an overgrown trail that leads to a place where nobody lives Our plan for this article is to point out some of the significant landmarks that lie on the path from the prophet Malachi to a generation approaching the last decade of a phenomenal century We will work in two ways First we will attempt to mark the path in broad outline We will suggest a parallels between the conditions of Malachi s age and those of our own and b major theological themes addressed to Malachi s audience and by application to us Second we will attempt to develop a preaching program from Malachi I A Practical Theology of Malachi Malachi and the Malaise of Israel Most scholars agree that Malachi was written sometime during the last half of the 5th century B C The reader will find extensive introductory material elsewhere in this Review The critical point here is that Malachi s prophecy appears within a strategic nexus of social and religious realities 40 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW The Social Realities Just as there were three deportations to Babylon there were three returns to Palestine Zerubbabel returned with a group of exiles in 536 B C After some delay cf Haggai and Zechariah the people

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