“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.” Malachi 3:1-4 ESV
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Messiah, came to the earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffered, and died on a cross for our sins so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and walk now in the power of His Spirit in holiness and righteousness (Phil. 2:1-11; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).
But, then he rose from the dead in victory over sin, Satan, death and hell. And, after he had appeared to many, he went back to the Father in heaven (1 Co. 15:1-9; Jn. 3:13; Jn. 20:17).
But, one day he is coming again to judge the earth, and the people of the earth, and to take his bride home to be with him forever. And, that judgment is not just the final judgment, but it is the time of tribulation on the earth that the scriptures talk about when true followers of Jesus Christ will be severely persecuted for their walks of faith in Jesus Christ. And, we are already experiencing some of this across the globe.
But, this isn’t just a time of judging the non-believer in Jesus Christ, but it is a time when our Lord will purify his adulterous church, too, which is living in immorality, sexual sin, idolatry, and the like. And, the purpose of this judgment will be to revive her and to bring her back into a right relationship with Almighty God to where her offerings to the Lord will now be pleasing in his sight.
For, the book of Revelation was written to the church and it begins with letters to the complete church of all ages, in which Jesus chastises the majority of them for ways in which they are failing to honor God as the holy God that he is, and where they are failing to obey his commands and to reject the lies of Satan and to embrace the truth of God’s holy Word. And, then he calls on them to repent or to face his judgment.
And, then what follows are declarations of judgment and a description of the time of tribulation, during which the saints of God will be persecuted and killed for their testimonies for Christ and his gospel, and during which a beast will rule the world for a short period of time predetermined by God.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5 ESV
This description is not just of those who have verbally rejected Jesus Christ as Savior of their lives. This includes many who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who deny him by their lifestyles. For there are many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today who are living immoral lifestyles, who are addicted to sinful practices, who are liars, adulterers, haters, and abusers and the like.
And, they are among some of the fiercest opposition to Jesus Christ, and to his gospel, and to his messengers who are bringing them the truth of the gospel. And many of them are persecuting God’s holy ones who are bringing them the truth of the gospel of our salvation from sin. And, it is because they don’t want to hear the truth, because they want to continue in their sins unhindered and without guilt or remorse.
Yet, they profess outwardly that they are followers of Christ, so they swear falsely such devotion to our Lord while they live the opposite of what he has called his followers to do. They will fake righteousness, too, in order to cover up their sinful lifestyles, hoping that they will fool people and that people will think well of them while they are still living in habitual sin in secret.
And, rather than submit themselves to Jesus Christ as truly Lord of their lives, they hide their sins inside and then put on a false front on the outside. Rather than getting rid of their sins, they hold on to them. Rather than getting rid of hate, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness, they just suck it up, and they internalize it, but it never goes away. It just eats away at them inside. And, eventually it does come out in abuse or in habitual sin.
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:6-10 ESV
I believe the Lord is giving me a picture here of the tithe, not in the sense of a monetary offering, though it is that, too, but as having to do with what is owed the Lord. It is his portion. And, his portion of us is the whole.
He wants it all – our all on his altar, living holy lives pleasing to God, which is our spiritual service of worship to him. And, he wants us no longer conformed to the sinful patterns of this world, but he wants us transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin and to obedience to Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23).
But, so many professers of faith in Jesus Christ today are not willing to give him what is his due, but they withhold their lives from him and will not yield to his Lordship over their lives, because they want to continue in their sinful lifestyles unhindered and without guilt. So, they are, in essence, robbing God of what is due him even though outwardly they may give an appearance that they are his followers.
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Rom. 8:12-13 ESV
So, Jesus Christ is calling out to his adulterous church, and he is using human beings to get out those messages, too, and he is calling them “to bring the full tithe into the storehouse,” i.e. to give their lives totally to Jesus Christ, fully surrendered to our Lord and to his will for our lives, not holding anything back. He is calling them to forsake their pride, their sinful practices, their idolatry and their secret sins to follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways for their lives. And, if they do, he will pour out his spiritual blessings upon them, and he will revive their hearts.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Co. 5:17 ESV
Jesus Christ wants to make us all new in him. He wants all of us to forsake our lives of living for sin and self to follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways. But, this is not optional. It is not just a suggestion or a recommendation. It is a command of God that we walk, no longer according to the flesh, but that we now walk (in practice) according to the Spirit, if we want to have our sins forgiven and to have eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, if you are holding back from the Lord what is his due, then give your all to Christ Jesus today, and he will bless you. But, if you hold on to your sin in your pride, and if you refuse him and his Lordship over your life, then know that heaven is not what awaits you, but that you will die in your sins.
And, if you are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, especially by others who profess to be followers of Christ but who are still living in sin, be encouraged that God is on your side, and he will never leave you or forsake you. Forgive those who have sinned against you, and love them with the love of Christ, and pray that they will turn their hearts over to Jesus Christ before it is too late, so that they will have the hope of eternal life with God.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.