Malachi 3:1-4 ESV
“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.”
John the Baptist was the messenger sent before Jesus Christ, before Jesus began his ministry on the earth. And, the way in which he prepared the way for Jesus was in preaching a message of repentance – of turning people away from their lifestyles of sin to now following our Lord in surrender to his will and in obedience to his commands. And, the reason for this message was that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 3:1-3).
And, Jesus taught the same message (Matt. 4:17; Matt. 7:21; Matt. 18:3).
In fact, Jesus made it quite clear what it meant to follow him. He said if we would come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily and follow (obey) him. And, he added that if we didn’t do that, but we decided to hold on to our former sinful lifestyles, that we would lose our lives for eternity. But, if we gave up our old lives, for the sake of Jesus, then we had eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-26; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
So, Jesus didn’t come to die just so we could be forgiven our sins, escape hell, and go to heaven when we die. He came to cleanse us of all sin, to purify our hearts, and to make us holy – set apart (unlike, different) from the world. He died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:15, 21).
Malachi 3:5-9 ESV
“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.
“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…”
So, this really fits with the section before this. For, one of the ways in which the Lord purifies us is through judgment or through divine discipline and chastisement (See: Heb. 12:1-13; Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-7).
And, who is the book of Revelation written to? It is written to the church. And, how does the book begin? Chapters 2-3 are dedicated to the church, to confront 71% of the church (5 out of 7 churches) with their sins of adultery, idolatry, sexual immorality, complacency, forsaking their first love, and putting up with false prophets, etc.
And, then these 5 out of 7 are rebuked by Jesus Christ, who is the author of the book and of the letters to these churches. And, he calls them to repentance. But, then he warns them that if they do not repent that he is going to visit them in judgment of some kind or another. BUT… he promises restoration, revival, renewal and heavenly rewards for those who overcome.
And, then what follows in the book of Revelation after these letters to the churches? Judgment!
So, Jesus Christ isn’t some “mamby pamby” Savior, lacking in strength of character, who is weak and spineless. He will do what he said he will do. And, he promised to judge the church which is living in adultery against him, which is just playing games, playing church, and which is dabbling in all sorts of other things that are contrary to Christ and to his holiness.
But, what is the object of the judgment? It is that his wayward people would return to him, and it is that those who are just pretending to be his will be his in truth, and it is that many more people in the world will come to faith in Jesus Christ, which a revived church will help to facilitate.
For, our “tithes and contributions” should not be considered as just giving money to some organization called “church.” For, God isn’t looking for money. He doesn’t need our money. What he is looking for is human hearts sold out to him. He is looking for us to lay our all on the altar as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of God, and for us to be conformed to him and his ways, not to the ways of this sinful world in which we live.
Malachi 3:13-18 ESV
“Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. 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. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”
Doesn’t this speak to the vast majority of the church today, at least here in America? They have no use for walking in the fear of the Lord. They also have no use for repentance, submission to the Lordship of Christ, and for obedience to his commands. Holiness and righteous living are not in their playbook at all. Contrite hearts who are humble before God, they also see no need of. For, they think God’s grace to them is a free ride to heaven which frees them to continue in their sinful course, only without guilt.
And, so they are raising up on pedestals these fake shepherds of the people who are tickling their itching ears with jokes, comedy routines, entertainment, and feel-good messages that coddle them in their sins and which do not make them feel guilty about their sinful lifestyles. They are their heroes. And, people are flocking to these false shepherds – these wolves in sheep’s clothing – by the thousands, or the hundreds of thousands.
And, this is a tragedy of enormous proportions!! This is what should be breaking our hearts. This is what we should be passionate about!! And, we should be shouting from the rooftops in proclaiming the true gospel of salvation, and in dispelling the lies of Satan that are being passed off as the true gospel, but which is still leaving people bound in their sins.
So, who is going to make it to heaven? It isn’t going to be all the people who were just “nice” to everyone else in order to make them feel good about themselves while refusing to tell them the truth that could save their lives. And, it isn’t going to be everyone who said, “Lord, Lord,” but who would not bow the knee to God, and who would not honor him as Lord, and who felt like they didn’t have to obey him or submit to him, or repent of sin.
Those who walk in the fear of the Lord are those who serve the Lord. Those who turn away from their sinful lifestyles to walk in obedience to the ways of the Lord, in the power of God’s Spirit living within them, are those who serve the Lord and not wickedness. But, those who continue to walk in the ways of their flesh, especially thinking they are entitled to do so, do not serve God.
So, just know that we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. And, that’s the truth! (Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 5:16-21; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, walk in the ways of the Lord!
All The Way My Savior Leads Me
Lyrics by Frances J Crosby, pub. 1875
Music by Robert Lowry, pub. 1875
All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
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