God, the Lord, Does Not Change

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.”

This is a prophecy about the coming of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, and of his messenger who was sent before him to prepare the way for the Lord, and that messenger was John the Baptist. Jesus is the Lord who came to his temple, and he is the messenger of the covenant who came to the earth and who took on human form and who eventually was put to death on a cross for our sins so that we might be delivered from slavery to sin.

Now, it appears that Malachi may have blended Jesus’ first coming and his second coming together, yet I can see how all of this can fit with just his first coming. For Jesus did come to the temple of God, as the people’s Messiah, and he did proclaim the truth of the gospel, and he did confront sin in sinful humans, and he did call them to repentance and to obedience to him as Lord. And he performed many miracles before them.

So, being like a refiner’s fire and a purifier of silver so that those who he purified would then bring offerings acceptable to God would not be about his second coming. This would be what he did at his first coming when he expounded the truth of God’s word to the people and he spoke to them about their sins and of their need to turn away from their sins to follow him in obedience to his ways. For the Word of God cuts to the heart.

And since this is about Jesus Christ and it is about him purifying our hearts, then this is about the gospel of Jesus Christ, that he died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. This is about us being crucified with him in death to sin and being raised with him to walk in newness of life in him no longer enslaved to sin but now walking in obedience to his commands and serving him as our only Lord.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]

Malachi 3:5 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.”

Now, this could be speaking about the judgment of the Lord that is to come at the end of time, and if so, the previous could, in fact, be talking about the time of tribulation which precedes that judgment, which will definitely be a time of refining and purifying of God’s people to get them ready for the return of the Lord Jesus.

For, the book of Revelation begins with letters to seven churches, which were Christians in seven different cities, not necessarily that they all met together. And five of those churches were told of things that they needed to repent of and correct or else face God’s divine discipline. And following that we then have declarations of judgment. So, God is judging his church during the time of tribulation to purify her to get her ready to meet him.

Once the Lord has, thus, purified all those who would be purified, then he will come in judgment against all the sorcerers, the adulterers, those who swear falsely, and those who do not fear him, etc. Now, this could be part of the tribulation judgment or this could be speaking of his judgment at the very end when he will judge all humans according to their works, but whatever the timing, the point is that we will be judged by our works.

Malachi 3:6-10 ESV

“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.”

Many people professing faith in Jesus Christ today are altering the divine character and nature of God, and they are turning him into a doting grandfather in the sky or to a genie in a bottle there to grant our every desire, but who is never angry with us, and who is happy with us all the time, and who pours out his blessings on everyone who professes his name.

They have also altered his gospel message to make it more appealing and palatable to the flesh of man and to the people of the world so that it barely resembles the gospel that Jesus Christ taught and that his New Testament apostles taught. For they remove or they dismiss his requirements for repentance, obedience, and submission to him as Lord (Owner-Master).

But this passage of Scripture, and others like it in the New Testament, make it quite clear that God has not changed. He still hates sin. He still sees sin as sin and not as little mistakes we make. And he still demands that we repent of our sins (that we forsake them) and that we turn to him to follow him and his commands (New Covenant), and that we walk in the fear of the Lord.

And the way that we rob God today is still in our offerings, but now the offering that he requires is that we give our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of God. And it is that we are no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but that we now live holy lives, separate (unlike, different) from the world. And all else will flow from that – our giving, service, and obedience.

So, to say that we should bring our full tithe today would be like God saying that our hearts and lives are to be surrendered to him fully, for that is our full offering, and if our lives are fully surrendered to him, then we will give all to him, we will see everything we possess as belonging to him, and we will do as he commands and give as he directs us to give, etc.

And when our lives are fully surrendered to Jesus Christ, to the forsaking of our sins, and to following him in obedience, and to doing and saying whatever he commands us to say or to do, in his power and strength, then he will pour out his blessings on us. But if our lives are surrendered to the flesh, to doing what our sinful hearts desire, in practice, then we will not have his blessings, and we will not have salvation and eternal life with God.

[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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