Introduction to the message of Malachi
Malachi means “messenger of the Lord” This may have been the prophets proper name, or simply the name he used in his writing. As a godly man, his mindset and purpose was to speak the words of the Lord, his God, to the people known as God’s people. He would not be drawing attention to himself but allowing God to speak through his skills.
Malachi lives synonymously with Nehemiah and Ezra, around 430BC. The troubles spoken about in the book of Malachi, seem to fit the record during that period of history. It is thought that Malachi was a Levite, ministering at the temple, and therefore observed first hand the laziness of priests and people which in turn led to social sin and the desire for secularization.
The book of Malachi is the last book in the twelve prophets, at the end of the Old Testament. It is included in the Hebrew Bible and was considered part of the canon of Scripture by the early church.
It is the last voice of God, before the birth of the promised Messiah, and the message us profoundly a warning and a call to repent and prepare the way for the coming kingdom. It leaves us with little hope that humans can change their minds or their behaviours. The coming Saviour would be the only one to rescue a dying race of sinful creatures, and bring in the glorious kingdom of God.
Malachi brings hope too, as God loves His people and is not willing that the human race should finish in secular tragedy or pandemic judgment.
The role of women, is not glossed over, and they are given the dignity and respect for who they are. They are the harbingers of power in the coming kingdom, and the rampant oppression they have faced, will be put down.
Who will inhabit the heavenly city? The Scripture uses the male pronoun in many places, but this must not be mistaken for authority or favour. God knows the creatures He has made and why He has permitted the sexual orientation of His beings, to become a key issue in our world. We see clearly the prejudice and lack of choice that infests the mindset of ungodly Christians. Judgment is every here, and people will do and say anything to get what he want. They will manipulate nearest and dearest, even though it drags them down into a Christ-less place.
Of course, “godless Christian” is a misnomer. There are only redeemed Christians – Christians who are made perfect in righteousness. The progress is upwards and the end game is certain.
There are many difficult passages here, and this book is not for the faint- hearted. Beloved, be not deceived, God is not mocked, and He will strengthen all who hope in Him. There is rejoicing and lessons for those who want to serve and God will reveal all the opportunities He has in store for these elevated Believers. We are not all the same.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. “‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19: 17-18
We must not hate, even when people do us wrong. If someone aggrieved you, you must be honest and say so, and talk out a solution. Bitterness must not build up. Holding grudges against people is equally wrong, and the quicker we forgive the better. God is the Lord and He will work it all out in His own time, for His glory.
There are other situations between people that cannot be “ fixed” in this way. God requires honesty, and that is not always the case with some people. The wronged person can seek the Lord, and find solace, and God will guide them to find the solution. There are all sorts of ways that God encourages us and we can know His guiding hand on our lives that brings peace and stability. It is really important that we do not depend on the help of man, for it is worthless.
So, let us embark on this journey, with the hope of arriving on the distant shore in great joy, with wisdom and love as our guides and the peace of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Come, Lord Jesus… soon….
Malachi chapter One
V1 A prophecy: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.
This book at the end of the Old Testament, is a prophecy from the Lord to His people at the end of the ancient times and preparing the way for the massive blessing that would overcome the whole world at the arrival of its Saviour and Redeemer.
Israel is the remnant that was left of God’s people from the beginning of its inception with Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It also includes the spiritual and holy Israel of God which includes all who believe and put their faith in Christ. This prophecy is for us. It is not necessarily a statement of prediction about the future, or about specific events that are to come, but a proclaiming of the truth of God. All flesh can read it and be warned and comforted by these words from God.
Malachi does not set himself up or promote himself in this Word, but he points only to the Saviour who is to come and the circumstances that He should find us in. He is calling out to the people to face their carelessness and lack of holiness, without which none can see the Lord. Malachi is the spokesperson for the Word of the Lord, and no doubt suffered greatly for his speaking and teaching, of how God expects His people to be.
We all suffer from the predisposition to justify ourselves and blame others, or God, for our trials and tribulations. We need to face our sins, as did the people in Malachi’s day, and return to the Lord to seek pardon and power to live in His ways. It is clear that this prophecy is a reflection on the holiness of God and His rightful expectation that His people should also be holy. So His Word comes to us in power and authority, identifying our sin and offering salvation through repentance. We come to Him as penitent sinners, seeking a place in His kingdom. The fact that God reaches out to us in this way, is our comfort that He will freely pardon all who come to Him.
The fact that God raises Malachi, a sinful man, to speak His words to us, is a message of His power towards us, His faithfulness in His word, and the unchanging love of a father toward, His children. This then is our assurance, that God sent His servant Malachi, to tell the message of liberty, to all who would believe.
There are also words of warning should we decide to live without God, or to not take what He says seriously, and bring in some of our own ideas. As God is one pure Spirit, so His message is pure, and He expects godly lives to proclaim that message to a sinful world, nation and community. God identifies the tribe of Levi, as His choice for leading the people of God in righteous living, and since we are the “Priests to God,” we are challenged by the Holy Spirit, about the way we live and speak. We also proclaim the love of God to a world overtaken with sin and death. Our Saviour, Jesus is the only Saviour, and He can change the heart and mind, and resurrect the soul from death.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me, saying, “Don’t be afraid. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.”
Revelation 1: 17-18
V2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. Yet you say, “How have you loved us?” “Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord, “Yet I loved Jacob;
The Lord begins His message with the base line statement of His love for His people. It is plain and bold, and sets the tone for this prophecy. God says to His people, “I love you… I have loved you” God has loved His people from before time was incepted. He knew who they were, long before the world was made or any human beings ever existed. Jesus said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” God’s love is set upon His people, and nothing can thwart His will to save them and keep them to dwell with Him in eternity.
The love of God is a characteristic we do not see or understand. It is outside the remit of our human experience, and contrary to our idea of justice. We need this love. Without this love, we cannot endure the hardships of life of the onslaughts of the enemy on our person. God’s love reigns supreme and He will bring salvation to those He has chosen. He will bless them with forgiveness and peace and bring them safely home to heaven, when the history of this world is over.
God also shows His love to every human soul. He provides for us and rescues us from many troubles. But there will be those who will refuse Him and will not bend their will to His will. There will be people who will be lost for all eternity.
We have here, the response to God to His statement of unchanging love. The listeners question His love, and send their reply in a rude and accusatory manner. The tone of the response is that God should “prove to us that you love us.” We don’t quite believe you and we need further explanation. The root and branch of pride is right here.
God does not reply in kind, or stay silent. He answers in a way they will understand, and uses a historical event to get through to these people, how His love works. God says that Esau and Jacob were brothers, born very close together. Esau was the eldest by a few minutes and therefore the family birthright belonged to him. His brother, Jacob, came soon after, and longed for the possession of the birthright. As adults they had very different characters, and Jacob managed to trick Esau out of his family inheritance.
God tells us here, that God set His heart on Jacob rather than Esau. Even though Jacob behaved so notoriously towards his brother, God chooses him above Esau, as the chosen family line for the people of God.
God does not choose the people that we would expect. Esau and Jacob were both sinful brothers and sons, and neither deserves anything. They are different, in that Esau is a hunter, and enjoys the outdoors and lots of physical activity. He has a complexion that reflects his great love of the outdoors. Jacob preferred indoors and the domesticated life of looking after the household, cooking and activities in the family home/tent. He is a smooth skinned man and with a light build. He is also scheming and can think of great ways to get what he wants and employ strategies to get what he wants from his brother, Esau.
Jacob tricks his brother into giving over the family birthright for a bowl of stew. He chose his time perfectly, as Esau returned from hunting and was ravenously hungry. Jacob easily manages to get Esau to pass the authority and privilege of the birthright to him. Jacob also tricks his father Issac into giving the family blessing to him rather than Esau. You can read more about his scenario In Genesis 25:19-34 and Genesis 27:1-40
God chooses a sinful man, like Jacob, to be the ancestor of the Israelite nation, and God’s basis for this choice is His grace and mercy. None are deserving of anything, but God is rich in mercy, and calls sinners to repent, and He brings them into the kingdom of Heaven.
God loves Jacob, but has rejected Esau. Jacob is the recipient of God’s grace in a special way. Even though he attained the position through deceit. God has set His heart on Jacob and God will show His amazing mercy and long suffering heart, with this scheming and treacherous man.
”And God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus;” Ephesians 2: 4-7
From Old Testament times, God has been displaying His character and purpose in human history, and specifically in Israelite history. God does not choose who we might expect. He does not choose the high and noble people, or people who have money or influence. God chooses the weak, sinful and despised people to confound the wise of this world. From this beginning time when the Israelite nation was being formed, God choose Jacob as a man who would demonstrate the power and forgiveness of God, and that God is no respecter of persons.
V3 “But Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness”
So, if God has chosen Jacob, then Esau has lost out and is hated by God. This is strong language. Those who are the inheritance of Christ are the “beloved.” Those who despise God’s mercy, are castaways.
Esau actually possessed the inheritance, which was his through birth, but he did not value it. It was easy for Jacob to trick his brother out of his rightful position, since Esau was a careless person and valued his immediate physical needs to be of greater worth than his family status, or the position in the family that God had given him.
This is a reflecting of the world-wide and pan-historic situation of all people. The everlasting kingdom is offered to all, and the message goes out and our hearts witness to its truth, but we will not humble ourselves and repent. The things of this life that we possess, or are seeking to possess, are of greater value to us that what God offers. The Scripture is clear and plain to every heart.
“You, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, you will go down to Hades. For if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which were done in you, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, on the day of judgment, than for you.”
No one is in a situation where they have a excuse to God as to why they did not come to Him. The people in these Bible times, saw such amazing miracles and heard such words, yet they did not repent. We in our day have the full light of Holy Scripture, and yet we will not come, either. Surely our condition is dangerous in the extreme. We can read, and understand and hear God calling to us, but we push Him away. Like Esau, we are uninterested in what God offers to us, and whatever blessing of comprehension we have from Him, will eventually be lost. God does not always call. There comes a point when His voice no longer resonates with us, and we don’t even care.
Jesus brings this situation to our attention…
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How merciful is the Lord Jesus. Though we refuse Him, He calls to us to come and put all our sins and sufferings on Him. Only He is able to bear them for us, and only He was willing and able to bear them away on the cross at Calvary. He calls us to learn from Him, so that we can be like Him. What a Saviour He is, and so gentle and humble in His character and speaking. Only He can bring this eternal rest to us and set us free from the bonds of sin. Jesus warns us of the judgment to come, and tells us how we can escape it.
Only the foolish would ignore this. It is the offer of such magnitude, than we will never be able to take it in, even through the countless ages of eternity.
Esau’s situation is set before us. He chose the wrong option and is now desolate. He was once a mighty mountain before the Lord, but is now the dwelling of jackals. He has preferred the wild beasts to his family inheritance. And so will wander across the wildernesses he has chosen, ever to lament his folly. Esau has given his rightful and uplifted state, to meaninglessness and has preferred the wandering in the wilderness to his rightful glory.
We need to be careful what we chose, for God will honour our choice. He never makes mistakes and He gives to everyone according to what they have done. We need to be clear about the choice. If we reject Christ, we reject all goodness, light, comfort, rest, peace, love… in fact anything beautiful, and we choose darkness, loneliness, pain, rejection from God forever. There are no second chances. God will not be mocked and His anger burns against all the ungodly and ungodliness.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.”
O how God speaks to us…
He is no soft, yielding elderly man… He is the mighty God and He in Himself is a consuming fire. He will destroy all the ungodliness that ruins His world, and seeks to ruin His kingdom. We are dealing with someone here, who can snuff out our lives in a second. To trifle with Him, is absolute folly. How can we think we know better than Him, or that we have any standing before such a person? God has wrath, and we must run from it.
If God rejected Esau, then why not you?
There are no separate judgments for any people. Esau ultimately rejected God, and therefore was rejected. He bore the consequences forever. God did not permit him to do whatever he liked, nor will God “understand” when we reject Him.
It seems like Esau chose his own way, but in spiritual terms, God rejected him already. The stage was set from the start. God set His heart on wretched Jacob, and not on careless Esau.
V4 “Whereas Edom says, “We are beaten down, but we will return and build the waste places;” thus says the Lord of hosts, “They shall build, but I will throw down; and men will call them ‘The Wicked Land,’ even the people against whom the Lord shows wrath forever.”
The fate of Esau and the ignominy he brought on himself, filters down through his human family line into the nation of Edom. Edom is finished before it was begun, since God made His will and purpose clear to fallen Esau.
The descendants of Esau, the Edomites, recognised their predicament, and the people set their hearts to return from where they have been lost, and rebuild all that has been broken down. These people have been cursed by the Lord, as the descendants of Esau who sold his birthright for a meal. God gives them a land to inhabit and be secure in its borders, but the enemy has over run them and taken them away. Eventually this nation would pass into antiquity and the people of Edom would be no more. Even as they are beaten down, they decide to rebuild, but God will not permit them to prosper.
God sees that they will build again, but he promises to throw them down again and again. It is sobering to accept that our decisions affect the lives of those who come after us. We choose lifestyles and places to live, and it impinges on our whole family line. If we should neglect the Lord, it will affect our children and children’s children. God is no respecter of people, and although we might feel secure in a certain place or following a certain lifestyle, that does not mean God will choose those who follow after. Families who live godless lives, may find children who search for God and find Him.
There is no good outside of Christ and there is no forgiveness outside of Him either. We should foster a deep and accurate fear of the Lord, so that His ways will be known and followed by those who come after us.
Edom is beaten down. They imagine that they can rebuild in the power of their own efforts, but God says He will not permit it. They cannot escape the enemy on their own terms, or rebuild homes and communities, without the power of God. So, God tells them, that they are wasting their time rebuilding, and He will not let them carry out their plans.
As the Edomites fail, so others will see it and recognise the hand of God in their failure and they will be called and regarded as “The Wicked Land” This looks like an official title and by their works they are identified, even by outsiders. This title is forever. It is not a passing fancy or a joke, but the verdict that God has put on them, through His work of rejection. People can see that God’s wrath abides on these people and it will not be lifted.
God has caused these people to suffer the indignity of their father Esau. Who we align ourselves to is crucial, even in our day. We must walk with the righteous ones, and take our refuge in God alone. To find ourselves making decisions based on the situation of this life, is folly. All who do not seek God, but want the transient blessings of this vain world, will be rejected. We must not walk in Esau’s steps. We might seem to prosper at some points, but God will bring every foolish way into judgment and we will loose out.
This is such a destructive situation, and no matter how many times they rebuild, there will come a time when they will have to give up. Their way of life, civilisation and culture will completely disappear. The Lord builds and the Lord takes down.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
We must all acknowledge this, and accept what God calls us to go through. The people of God will ultimately reign victorious with Christ, but there are deep waters to go through as we travel in the pilgrim way. We come to God as the sovereign ruler of everything and we ask in humility for His blessing.
“Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. After my skin is destroyed, then in my flesh shall I see God, Whom I, even I, shall see on my side. My eyes shall see, and not as a stranger. “My heart is consumed within me.”
When we seek answers to prayers, we come in His love and put our petitions before Him. We do not demand, but ask that His purposes will be worked out in our lives and in the lives of other people around us. He is working all things of the good of all who love Him, and we must rest secure in that. This is the mindset of faith. Our final thought is that one day we will see or Lord and God and the redeemed will see the Redeemer. All that we suffered in the flesh, will give way to the sight and sound of heaven, and peace forever.
The Edomites were not going to be rescued from their folly. The people around them could see the final outcome, even if the Edomites didn’t. The wrath of God was against these people, because of that foolish decision made by their fore-bearer, Esau. We must be careful what we do, and who we associate with. People can seem busy for the Lord, but in the end, it is to no avail. For many in this modern time, where there is very little accountability, especially to God, this will seem like harshness. We ask questions of God and find no answers to our searching. We cause ourselves a lot of grief, and fret and worry about things that are not our business to try to sort out. The believing soul will rest in the Lord, and know that He is totally just and absolutely righteous.
In Genesis 19, Abraham petitions God for the lives of the people of Sodom. He questions God and it appears he is doing a deal with God. It is recorded here, so that we can see the mind of God and His mercy towards a people who do not deserve it. This is a common theme of the Scriptures, and these situations show us the holiness of God and the mercy of God, coming together in acts of grace.
“Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right?”
This rhetorical question shows us the truth, that God is in control over all things, and He will do the right thing in every way. Let us not forget that we deserve nothing and have no authority over God at all. We wait on him, and rest on His grace. He builds up and He pulls down. As God’s servant Job has said… all those who trust in Him, will bless His name in all circumstances. If God has given you blessings, He also has the sovereign right to take them away…
Those who love the Lord should ponder their blessed place, and we should foster a deep gratitude to the Father in heaven and the Lord of our lives. This is the place of peace and joy, and the love of God will be obvious in our daily lives. The Edomites trusted in themselves, and so they died in their sins.
V5 “Your eyes will see, and you will say, “The Lord is great—even beyond the border of Israel!”
The unsuitable eyes of humankind will behold the beauty and power of the Lord, even though they do not believe to the saving of their souls. Human eyes will see what God does among societies of people and see how He lifts up and brings down, and lifts again.
God is here showing that mercy belongs to Him alone. The blessing did not come from Abraham, or by the birth of these two twins, Esau and Jacob. It came from the desire and purposes of God. God set His love on Jacob, not because he was first, (he was not born first, therefore the younger) or “better” Jacob was a heart and a liar) but simply because God loved him. There is no earthly reason why God should choose Jacob. Jacob was in no way good. He was not better than his brother, but he was chosen to be the leader of God’s people, and his brother was rejected, even though he was technically the “ firstborn.”
“But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
God calls to Himself those who He has chosen, for without that work in any of us, we would ever come. Jacob was a twisted manipulator, but God set His heart on him. It is the same for every child of God. We are blessed because of grace alone, and we escape judgment, because of Christ alone. Our gratitude should be palpable and our deeds and words and thoughts should show this mindset.
Now is the time to see and say, “ the Lord is great…”
We must look out at our world, politics and economics and societies, to see the hand of God at work. Unbelievers can see it and recognise that God blesses people wether they regard Him or not. God blesses people, who are outside His kingdom and prospers people who are not His own. It is time to look out and see it. This world belongs to God exclusively, and He rules all things by His might and according to His will. His blessing on people should drive them to His throne, and seek His forgiveness and a spiritual life.
There will always be those who refuse to see – a lazy group of people who trust in human leaders, and therefore do not know the Lord. There are people who have a name to believe, but they are confident in their social group, or a belief system that they hold to, or have a family circle who believe. Their mind set is in the things that exist in this world, physical things that they can quantify and gain courage from. But it is not the Lord. All things that fail, are not within the kingdom of God, and so, very easily and unnoticed, we have many idols that take up our time and love.
“And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: “He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things: “I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God.”
What a state to be in. To think you are alive to God, but there is no power. There are people who look good on the outside – look good on paper, but they have no life. These people have no works before God. Christ will condemn them at the end, and say those chilling words…
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’”
Our eyes must see clearly the work of God and our hearts must believe to the saving of our souls. Mental assent is no good, but our lives must cease to belong to ourselves, and become a sacrifice of praise to our God.
These words are also a small inkling of the magnitude of the coming kingdom. God’s people would stretch outside the formal borders of geographical Israel, and would stretch from sea to shining sea. Every kindred, tribe and language would be included in that amazing throng. God will work out His plans without resistance. All will bow before Him and all will see the beauty of the Lord throughout the whole Earth. There will be no sunrising or sun setting on that might nation, and all their iniquities will be forgiven.
V6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, then where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? Says The Lord of Hosts, to you, priests, who despise my name. You say, ‘How have we despised your name?
In the usual course of human interactions and relationships, there are those who deserve and should have our regard and respect. Our father and mother should have the place of honour, because they are our Mother and Father, and because of what they have done for us. If we work for a boss or a manager, we must follow their directions and carry out our job as they wish us to. God is looking into the hearts of His people and watching the deeds of their hands, and saying to them that He is not experiencing honour or obedience from them.
God is the Eternal Father and the ultimate Master. He is the Father of all humankind, and the Master who rules over all things and determines their lives. Even though He is the ultimate authority and has total power, He is not receiving any respect from His creatures, even the ones who claim to believe in Him and worship Him. The priests of God’s temple are acting similarly. They do their own thing and have no respect for the will of God. They do things as they see fit. They think they are pleasing God, but no effort is made to understand His Word or find out about God’s character and purposes.
God points these things out to these priests, and they reply with rudeness, and a terse tone of voice. How dare God challenge them. What does He mean about despising his name?
These unbelieving servants are also unprofitable servants. They have no knowledge of God or what He is like. They somehow seem to have got the idea that they are the top of the tree, and God is somehow serving them. Why is He being so demanding? He should be grateful for what we do. So we see the notions in the unbelieving heart. We get every thing wrong and think that God is here for our comfort, and the paltry worship we give and the money we give to Him, He should be grateful for.
The fact that God is our authority and our master who we serve, has been cut out from our perception of Him. We have no fear of God and therefore we lack wisdom. We don’t understand that His demands are valid and we must obey Him. In this world of choice, we think we can love God or ignore Him. We have lost the concept that our God is a consuming fire. We never seem to think about the consequences of ignoring God, and disrespecting His Son, Jesus, or insulting the Holy Spirit. The idea of ultimate and everlasting punishment has gone from the collective idea in our culture, and we can take God or leave Him, and that is our choice.
The Scripture is clear about this. Those who reject Jesus Christ and refuse the sacrifice He made on the cross, will bear the weight of their own sins. God requires humility and repentance, but these words seem to have become meaningless in our present vocabulary.
We tend to blame God for our failures and and behave like spoilt children, who have no respect, even for the person to whom all things belong, and who holds our breath in His hands. We have embraced folly and made friends with self- orientated philosophy, which will drag us down into sin and death.
V7 “By presenting defiled food on My altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled You ?’ By saying that the table of the LORD is contemptible.”
God in His patience and forbearance, engages in dialogue and seeks to answer the question. He is under no compulsion to do so. These are unbelieving, hard hearted creations, who have no fear of God before their eyes. They walk boldly and confidently on the stage of this life, and have an underlying sense of entitlement, and that somehow God is beholden to them for their perceived greatness. This is our mindset, before the Holy Spirit works in our minds and hearts and convicts us of sin and judgment. We strut along, thinking that we have it all worked out and that God loves us much, He will let us off our debts for free.
“Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12: 28-29
We must have a healthy fear of God, because of who He is. He is a consuming fire, and has always been, since He changes not. He is holy, and will not tolerate any sin or lack of devotion from His people. Here, God speaks and tells His cold hearted people, the reason for their lack of blessing from Him. They have brought defiled food to worship Him at His holy altar. They have brought damaged animals that are no use to anyone. They have not followed the rules for the sacrifices offered to God, but have come in their own way. They have brought sacrifices that are unworthy and against the way God has stipulated. The have used their own imaginations and done what is right in their own eyes. Their so-called sacrifices are not sacrifices at all, because they have cost nothing to the offerer. They are second – hand, having been already sacrificed to false gods and fouls things from their corrupt ideas.
Gods will not accept these offerings. He points this out to His people, so that the might recognise their error, and turn and be saved. The generosity of God only hardens their heart further. They do not want this message and they are annoyed at God’s righteous questioning.
The reply in the negative with another stubborn and recalcitrant remark. “Explain to us how we are failing…”
The gospel of God is not accepted by the human heart, unless the Holy Spirit works in the heart, to convict and convince of persons sin. We will never turn, and we will justify our outlook with all sorts of godless reasoning. Surely the attitude of personal entitlement, is very destructive.
“whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. The way of peace, they haven’t known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3: 14-18
This is God’s view of us and it is not attractive to Him. Unfortunately it is a normal viewpoint for the people He has made. We are so used to this self- centered way, that is just everyday thoughts and words to us. We cannot break out of it, unless God Himself comes down and resurrected us from our spiritually dead state.
God replies to their impotence and tells them that they speaking through their behaviour and says that the table of the Lord’s mercy is contemptible to them. Worthless and not worthy of regard. We forget that we speak loudest through what we do, not what we say. We promise all sorts of things to God, and speak flattering words about how much we love Him, but our attitudes and motives are seen in how we conduct ourselves and how we treat others. How can we ignore God the whole week, and then saunter into church, dispensing friendliness and Bon homie, and yet we have not walked with God, or sorted out our failures to Him. We are too casual, too public- relations orientated, and shallow of heart to climb down from our high places, and seek the Lord. This is for Christians. It speaks into our hearts for our good.
We have no excuse for not knowing, because the Spirit dwells within. He is quenched and silenced when we put the things of this life as first place in our lives.
“The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and lived in the cities of it. So it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they didn’t fear The Lord: therefore The Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.”
2 Kings 17: 24-25
Here is a situation where outsiders were brought into the land of Israel, who did not know the Lord, and so they lived as they saw fit and ignored the Lord, not fearing Him as the eternal God. Even thought they were strangers, God punishes these people, because they did not seek Him out, our think it was important to find out what God is like. The Lord sends ravenous lions to oppress them and which killed some of them. God does not let any of us off the hook for our lack of regard for Him. He does this, because we are most blessed and most happy when we are in personal fellowship with Him.
God will not allow his people to wander on and fall away from faith and love. The love of God for His people, is as strong as death, and He will not let us be lost. He will keep us and find ways to speak to us, so that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and in a state of contrition as we live our lives for Him.
However, we do have an enemy, who stalks us and roars at us, like a roaring lion, seeking out who he will devour. God permits this, to make us careful and to realise we need His presence and power every day. Some are destroyed, who did not truly believe to the saving of their souls. A true Christian will not fall or fail forever, but will learn and find their way back to God. A true Christian will bow to God, and others who obey Him, and will be filled with holy gratitude for all that their Lord has done for them. They will see their faults in coming to God, on bended knee, worship Him and take their place before His throne with great joy.
V8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is it not wrong? And when you present the lame and sick ones, is it not wrong? Why not offer them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show you favor?” asks the LORD of Hosts.
God has challenged His people regarding the offering of defiled animals on the altar of His mercy. He now narrows in the spotlight of His holiness, to make plain to them, that they are unacceptable and why they are unacceptable. The people are offering sacrifices for sins that they have done and have offended the holiness of God with their wrong doings. Seeking forgiveness from God, they bring blind and sick animals to the altar and present these inferior animals to God for recompense of sins committed.
Even in terms of logic, why would a person bring a damaged animal to a holy God, to atone for sin? It doesn’t make sense, even from a human point of view. The spiritually blind cannot see God, and cannot see the seriousness of their own sin. Yet the blind animal is presented on the altar of sacrifice. It is not really a sacrifice, since its value in the market would be less, and of no value for breeding or for show. Even in human terms it is not a sacrifice since it cost the giver nothing. God is given blindness in place of faith, and no understanding in the place of repentance. Until God opens our inner eyes to see, we will remain blind to His holiness and unrepentant.
Repentance that is not clear and with understanding of the seriousness of sin, is worthless. We come to the living God and His holiness will consume all unrighteousness and the unrighteous. We can find ourselves presenting God with unsuitable gifts that have no value and cost us nothing. We know this even as we try to pass off the gift, and lie to ourselves and God, that we are serious about repentance and getting real forgiveness.
Then we have the presentation of sick and dying animals that can’t even walk to the altar. These animals have no value at market as it is clear to everyone that they are full of sickness and have become weak. To present God with such animals to purchase the forgiveness of sin, is folly. God is not pleased with the offering since the are useless and ready to die from sickness anyway. The sacrifice God demands for the price of forgiveness, is a holy and perfect sacrifice, who’s blood will atone for the sinfulness of sin. The picture is given in the Old Testament sacrifices, of a pascal lamb that would one day come, to die and bear away the sins of the world.
“If you call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man’s work, pass the time of your living as foreigners here in reverent fear: knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a faultless and pure lamb, the blood of Christ; who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.”
1 Peter 1: 17-21
The lamb give in the Old Testament sacrifices, was without blemish, to point the way to the perfect lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would be the single and sole Saviour of the world. To present any animal less than perfect, was to detract from the perfection of the Son of God, and the tremendous work He would do for those who believe in Him.
“On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at evening. They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they shall eat it.”
Exodus 12: 3-7
To present lame, sick and dying animals, was an insult to the coming lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world. This lamb is perfect and His work is able to save all who come to God through Him. To present a substandard animal, is to not believe God’s Word, and to mix your repentance with your own ideas.
“Every priest indeed stands day by day serving and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins, but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from that time waiting until his enemies are made the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Hebrews 10: 11-14
The perfection of Christ the redeemer, was represented in the ancient Jewish sacrifices, by the spotless lamb. Those ancient peoples knew the significance of that lamb, and that it only pointed to the once-for-all sacrifice of the holy lamb of God, the once time Saviour of the world, the Messiah. There was no efficacy in those animal sacrificed, but their death was the message to the Israelite people, that God would save His people, through faith in the coming Saviour.
There is no other sacrifice for sin, other than Christ alone. He is the perfect one, who can deliver the sinner, from the penalties of their own sins, and make them, righteous. To imagine that God is satisfied with sick and dying representations of His Son, is to completely misunderstand the price of sin, and our complete condemnation before a perfect God.
Even in human terms, to give a broken gift to someone, or to curry favour from a manager with a damaged gift, will not suffice. Why then would God be pleased with us, when we give Him something that costs us nothing. In this day, as in all days of human history, we need to understand our sin and seek repentance from God, humble ourselves, and giving up all we have to Him.
God is holy, and His ways are holy. When we look to ourselves, we see only blindness, lameness and sickness. Our whole person is full of sickness, and we come to God to receive His forgiveness and a righteousness that is not our own. We come on God’s terms and realising our total dependence on Him and that we cannot save ourselves.
V9 “Now, please entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With this, will he accept any of you?” says the Lord.”
The correct attitude of heart, is complete humility and the realisation that we have nothing to offer God, but our sin and shame. We are the needy party, and we are corrupt, so we come in dependence that He can forgive us and change us, so that we are acceptable in Him. Our Saviour is Christ Jesus, and only He can purge our sins and cover our shame.
He can do this because of the cross, where He suffered and paid the price of sin. He took the blame on Himself and made a way for sinful people to be able to approach God and to become part of His everlasting kingdom. If we seek this kingdom, we must come through Christ, so that God’s favour will rest on us. The only way we will be accepted, is through Jesus, so there is no room for pride or any kind of self- seeking.
If we follow the way of human teachers or leaders, we will miss the mark. If we follow polluted practices and self- indulgent activities, why would God listen to us, or answer any prayers?
We are all liable and responsible for our mindset and the way we live our lives. If we follow lies and contaminated lifestyles, we will loose out. Every one is included in this, and we must seek the Lord in His Word, and not follow sinful human ways.
We entreat the Lord to listen to us and show us favour. Why would He do that, since we are proud and blind and lame, like the sacrifices we make to Him?
If we continue with this folly, we will not be heard.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation. My tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
Lord, open my lips. My mouth shall declare your praise.
For you don’t delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering.
Th sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51: 10-17
This prayer from the Psalms is the proper attitude of heart. It is a brokenness that God regards, and a laying of all the person on the altar of mercy, to receive mercy. The Psalmist is concerned that God will be merciful, because he realises he has nothing to bring to God. He wishes to be taught, and to receive mercy. The Psalmist knows that complete contrition is the way to enter into the joy of the Lord.
V10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you,” says the Lord of hosts, “neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
God is so incensed by His people’s neglect and sin, that He is asking that the lowest point of restitution will happen in His temple. He seeks just one person to shut the doors of the temple and keep out the idolators from the whole body of His people. God hates their fake show of religion and He despises the flame of false devotion on His altar. All the sacrifices are devoid of sincerity and are just a token gesture of repentance for the sins of the people.
The people put the sacrifice on the altar and light the flame of holiness, to no avail. The people are rejected by God and He has lost patience with the pretense. God longs for someone to just shut the door, so that the worshippers cannot get in. They do more harm to themselves than good. They imagine that God is like themselves and does not care about sincerity and worshiping in spirit and in truth.
God gains no pleasure from His people, because their hearts are hard and far away from Him. He tells them so, but to little effect. Someone must close the door on them. God clearly tells the people that He will not accept any sacrifices from their hands. God does not require sacrifice, but holiness.
The sacrifices offered in this temple, were only types and pictures of the sacrifice of Christ, which was to come. Those Old Testament worshippers, who looked to the animal sacrifices for relief of sin’s guilt, were never relieved. Only those who looked in faith to the coming Messiah, the Saviour of the world, would find peace with God. Only those who worship in the beauty of the holiness of Christ, are able to enter in.
“Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and cattle, the chief of the devoted things, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
1 Samuel 15: 20-23
Here we have the words of someone who thought that God was like himself, and had no idea of the holiness that God requires and the obedience that pleases Him. King Saul has disobeyed and tried to blame it on his people. God shows him that his sin is a great evil, like witchcraft and idolatry. Saul’s inability to obey cost him his crown. He became a castaway from the kingdom of the Lord, and failed utterly in all he tried to do. The teraphim were a multitude of small, household and false gods that infested houses, even of God’s people. They were evil Gentile entities that people used to gain “good luck” and were condemned by God as unworthy of people who were to worship the one true God, who is jealous of His glory.
They made their way into kings palaces, through the bringing in of many wives from the surrounding nations. Both David and Solomon had such amulets in their households. God requires that we pay attention to all these seemingly small objects of unbelief and purify our hearts, minds and lives.
“Be subject therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
James 4: 7-10
To listen to God and obey, is what God is looking for in our hearts. Fancy sacrifices and partial obedience, is no good. God will never accept anything for us, without total surrender and complete obedience. When we trust and obey, we enter into beautiful blessings and the felt sense of His presence. If we do not value these spiritual gifts, He will give us no others.
The beauty of Christ can be seen in the life that is given over to Him, and obeys Him. He is glorified in the offering of obedience and truth, and the daily repentance of His beloved people. To those who surrender, the doors are always open into the presence of God, and our prayers are answered as we put ourselves on the altar of mercy to gain forgiveness and a holy life. It is not automatic, but we seek it and prize it highly, so that we know His power in us and His perfect will.
V11 For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts.”
Though the people of God are remiss, the name of the Lord is loved and revered, all around the world. The Israelite nation will fail, but God is calling a people for Himself, from every nation tribe and tongue. Even here, at the end of the Old Testament time, the Spirt of God is moving His servant to proclaim this great truth.
“He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
The mountains shall bring prosperity to the people. The hills bring the fruit of righteousness.
He will judge the poor of the people. He will save the children of the needy, and will break the oppressor in pieces.
They shall fear you while the sun endures; and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
He will come down like rain on the mown grass, as showers that water the earth.
In his days, the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.
Those who dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him. His enemies shall lick the dust.”
Psalm 72: 2-9
The king of righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ, will rule from sea to sea. There will be no part of this world that will be outside His dominion. Even though the presence of sin is still in our world, Christ is over all and His reign is victorious. It may not seem so to us, for we are still looking with tainted eyes and not the pure eyes of faith. But God is working His purposes out, wether we see it our not. He allows the present situation to continue, so that all those who will believe, will come to Him. Once that innumerable throng is complete, the end of all things will come. There will be now reason to tolerate sin any longer. Our pray is that people will be gathered in and the song of joy, will rise forever in the kingdom of Christ.
The people of God will fear Him, as the Lord their God, and He will bring peace and righteousness to every redeemed heart. He will bring fruitfulness, and joy will inhabit those who love Him, but the wicked will be humiliated and have nothing but dust.
We live in the 21st Century and can access what is happening to people, all around the globe. Every day, God’s people lift up their hearts, and hands and voices to the king. Every moment as the world revolves around its axis, there is praise to Jesus the Saviour. No moment is silent and no land is untouched by His love and the message of the gospel. One day, the last saint of God will be saved from this world and will put their faith in Christ. That will signal the end of the day of mercy. The door to the kingdom will be forever closed and the Lord Jesus Himself, will return to this world, as he said He would. The kingdom will come in all its glory and His everlasting peace will finally descend, as sin is now completely put away forever. All who have chosen the foolish path, will reap their reward of the second death. No one will mourn for them, or wonder where they are. God will wipe every tear from the eyes of His people, who have suffered at the hands of evil women and men, and they will never grieve again.
All will be prayer and praise, and all hurt will be no more, and be never remembered. Prayer will rise before the throne of God, as the pure words of His people who He has redeemed, will rejoice in the completeness of their salvation. The offerings will be pure and bring joy to heaven’s king. Jesus will reign everywhere, in heaven and in hell. His will cannot be thwarted and His love never fails.
Even though that blessed time has not yet come, we can see the whispers of it’s glory in the lives of those who truly love Him. We should see it in our own hearts – a longing for holiness and the absolute peace that will envelop every heart that has been made pure and free by the blood of the covenant. We are safe now, nor could we be safer, as Christ has died and paid the price so we can be free and become like Him.
In certain parts of the world, the name of Jesus is not regarded. Usually places where there is wealth and a focus on the here and now. Or in places that have been infiltrated by false religion and superstition. The past sins of people, can leave a culture in darkness for long periods of time. It can take much work in witnessing for Christ, to break through this darkness. When God works through His Spirit, then there will be blessing and joy, as many will come to faith in Jesus, and start a work for God that no one can stop. In the Western world, we are in this place, and we wait and pray that the message will again go out and resound through our communities.
God’s name is great and will always be great. All will bow the knee to Jesus, one way or the other.
“Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2: 9-11
“Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by myself, the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and will not return, that to me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.
They will say of me, ‘There is righteousness and strength only in Yahweh.'” Even to him shall men come; and all those who were incensed against him shall be disappointed.”
Isaiah 45: 22-24
God is working out His purposes, even in the failure of His people in Old Testament times. As the era comes to a close, the message is the same as ever. God is working His purposes for the salvation of His chosen people, from every part of the planet. His will is never thwarted, and His servants, the prophets, speak the message across all time and history.
God’s name will be great and will be forever great, because He has spoken it.
V 12 “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, even its food, is contemptible.’”
Although God will have the glory at the end of all things, in this time when the prophet Malachi is speaking, the people of God have no respect for their maker. They insult and disrespect the things of God and regard secular and irreligious considerations as worth more regard than the things of God. The name of God will be lifted high, in the coming kingdom, but for now, His name is dragged into the dirt and insulted.
The name of God is of great importance, it is of ultimate importance. We must take care how we speak of Him and how we use His name. Many people use His names as swear words and insults and to back up their falsehoods.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”
Deuteronomy 5: 11
God will judge us for every idle word and for every careless speaking of His holy name. We should make sure that people know this fact, and to stop the spread of this evil in families and other groups.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things. I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 3: 33-37
Our words show us up and tell out the truth about our thinking and believing. We will be judged by what we say. If we refuse the Lord and ignore His entreaty to give up our sin, we will show our mindset by what we say and how we say it. If we have no respect for God, then his name will mean nothing to us, and the actions He values are of no value to us.
We will then find ourselves cursing the things of God, and being critical of His Word. The table of the Lord refers to the temple and the rightful direction of God for offering sacrifices. The priests were critical and scathing of the fruit and food of the Lord’s temple. In other words, they disrespected the flesh offerings and the blood offerings for the sin of the people. They had no regard for the truth of God or for His pictures of redemption and salvation.
“This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in the same way with the blood. According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.”
Hebrews 9: 20-22
God’s requirements were obvious and clear. We come to God on His terms and in humility and obedience, but God’s priests were not of that attitude. Similarly, the people shared the same disregard for the law of God, the fruit of His word and the food of repentance and confession. These people knew no contrition and were rejected by God. Instead, God set His love on the Gentile people’s all around, and they would soon be brought into the kingdom. The Gentiles would repent and believe, as soon as they heard the message of God. They embraced what God offered to them, and so His glory was lifted up before all people.
“The table of God” is shown to us in the shared supper of the “table of Communion.” This is a precious place to find ourselves as Christians believers. The New Testament makes it clear if we should find ourselves at that table, without forgiveness from God or from fellow Christians, we will suffer loss. It is a serious action to meet around the Table and we must be there in a suitable fashion. We must not hold that table as “contemptible”and God promises serious consequences for those who come with a similar attitude to the Israelites of old.
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep.”
1 Corinthians 11: 26-30
Contempt for God and His ordinances, are very serious. We cannot regard the things of God as “ rubbish” and think we belong to Him. We might get away with hypocrisy in the various groups we go to, but we cannot dupe God. We can also try to dupe ourselves and write our own testimony, but God sees all our motives and the hidden intentions of our hearts. Do not follow the scoffers. Sitting with them, will lead straight to perdition. It’s easy to do. We just neglect our spiritual life, loose our prayer life, our mediations on the Word of God, and we slip into that darkness very easily.
We might even find ourselves laughing with the jokes of the world, even in regard to the blood of Christ. How can we be changed, if we can do such a thing?
So, we follow the Word of the Lord, and not the folly of men, even those who stand at the front and purport to teach us. Our personal relationship with Christ is the most pressing thing, more than food or drink, more than sleep and rest.
God rejected His people. They found His ways “contemptible” and because of that became castaways. The people on the outside, who were without hope, were brought into the kingdom of Christ and the glory of God was seen in their lives and deeds of service. This is what God is like. He lifts up the needy and the outcast and makes them kings and queens and priests to God. He picked the unlovely, the unlikely.
“Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I want to with what I own? Or is your eye evil, because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 20: 15-16
The unexpected will be first…
V13 You say also, ‘Behold, what a weariness it is!’ and you have sniffed at it,” says the Lord of hosts; “and you have brought that which was taken by violence, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring the offering. Should I accept this at your hand?” says the Lord.
God’s people have become weary of doing good, and neglectful in their regard for His person. They have become slack and careless and tired of following His holy commands. To do the deeds that God requires of sinful beings, has become tedious, and the people have lost sight of the purpose and necessity of sacrifice and worship. Whatever worship they do, it is not right in God’s eyes and they are in a state of danger that is not recognised by their sinful hearts. The sacrifices of God are below their delicate tastes and self- important judgment.
God is setting before the people, how He views their state of mind and heart and He is blunt and to the point. There is no hiding the fact that He is greatly dishonoured by His people and and the Lord of all things, is setting out the neglect and godless attitudes that are now residing in the hearts of His people.
The people take no care about what kind of offering they make. They come to God with the fruits of their violent activity, in war, or in disputes with neighbours. The sacrifice has been acquired by violent means, taking what belongs to others and passing it off as their own. There is no repentance from such godless deeds and false sacrifices that are worthless to God. They give what they have discarded and present it as a gift to God.
“These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.'”
Matthew 15: 8-9
It is often the lame and the sick that are presented to God as a sacrifice for sin. The people of God, know the requirements of God, but since respect has gone, they will offer sacrifices of convenience. The offerings they bring are substandard and cost nothing to the bringer. In reality, these sacrifices scoff at the work of Christ, who was promised from the beginning of human history, and planned before the world was made. Those who have no regard for God’s ways, fail to see the love in the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. They fail to see the rottenness of their own hearts and their own need does not register with their consciences.
The necessity for sacrifice is wearisome and despised as religion. But God is wearied by these false believers, and will despise them as phantasies.
“Until I entered God’s sanctuary, and considered their latter end. Surely you set them in slippery places. You throw them down to destruction.
How they are suddenly destroyed! They are completely swept away with terrors.
As a dream when one wakes up, so, Lord, when you awake, you will despise their fantasies.”
Psalm 73: 17-20
God challenges these lazy and complacent people, as to why He should accept them or anything they bring to Him. Would they accept such treatment from servants? The pride of human nature would never stoop to such insults. But God has come down. He has done everything for our salvation, even though we hate and neglect Him and insult His person. God is not like us. Although we fail and fall, yet still He is willing to save and forgive. This is the majesty of the person of Christ and the utter glory of the man on the cross. How could we not melt and wonder at Him?
We may have all sorts of bad attitudes toward our Father God, but still His love reaches out to us. Our sacrifices are worthless, but His sacrifice for us, is life and peace. It cost our Saviour, Jesus, everything to buy us back from sin and loss, but He did so willingly and knowing every soul for which He died. Only the redeemed and forgiven heart can appreciate these truths. A heart that is warm to God and loves Him with everything in our possession, will be able to make sacrifices that are good and true and lasting.
“For you don’t delight in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You have no pleasure in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Psalm 51: 16-17
V14 But the deceiver is cursed, who has in his flock a male, and vows, and sacrifices to the Lord a blemished thing; for I am a great King,” says the Lord of hosts, “and my name is awesome among the nations.”
We might feel happy about our actions and attitudes towards our God, but it is too easy to dupe ourselves. This person who has brought the defective sacrifice, is called a deceiver. Their actions are a lie. They think God accepts them and their sacrifice, but God is deeply insulted and knows and sees our lack of faith in Him.
This person does have a suitable male animal in the flock, and the animal is promised to God. The person seeking forgiveness has a sacrifice ready to give to God, in exchange for salvation and spiritual life. The sinful person know what God expects and has all the pictures of salvation laid out before them. The person wants the blessing, but is not prepared to humble themselves and obey. They fail to see the sacrifice of the animal is a latent picture of the coming cross of Christ, the sacrifice of the Messiah. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the only way to pay for sin. To have salvation, we must see that and understand that.
The fact that the unblemished animal was a picture of the Messiah, made it even more ungodly to substitute a damaged and dying animal with no value.
The person wants the blessing, but is slow to bear the cost. They promise to God the price of their soul, and then at the last minute, they substitute a defective animal, in the hope that it will be accepted. Too many people of old times did not understand the picture of Christ. They imagined God will accept anything as long as it looks ok. They loose sight of a holy God, who requires perfection from his creatures, and absolute obedience. Often we think God is like us and his holiness is not a big deal. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are those who say we can come to God, “just as we are” God knows what we are like and we can only come to Him as sinner in need of forgiveness. But sinners need a Saviour. We dare not come to God without His blood that can cleanse us from sin. Sinner are destroyed by the majesty and holiness of God, and we cannot stand in His presence. We have no words to say to Him, and no worship that is acceptable to His person. There is no reason why He should accept us and He is under no compulsion to tolerate us.
As with all human beings, we do not understand the standards of God and we do not grasp the deadness of our persons. We are spiritually dead without Christ, and we languish without hope in this world and face destruction in the world to come. God says His name is awesome to the nation of the world, and outsiders understand His power and majesty, more than God’s people. God’s people offer substandard offerings to the mighty God.
All that we think, do and say, are reflections of our true attitudes and prejudices especially towards the Lord. We cannot change unless God the Holy Spirit, will teach our resurrected souls. We will settle for second best, the sickly offering and the second-rate sacrifice for the one who gave up all for us, and laid down His life for people who would reject Him. He lifts these people, forgives them, and makes them worthy to stand in His presence and call Him Lord and God, Father, Saviour, and friend. These who are forgiven will have a growing realisation of what God has done for them, and their worship will become acceptable, their sacrifices holy and their love for God will grow to perfection.
God will be awesome to these people and their outlook on living will be the opposite of this world and all its folly.
Malachi chapter two
V1 Now, you priests, this commandment is for you.
The spotlight moves closer and focuses on those who appear to be at the top of the spiritual pecking order. All ungodliness will be dealt with and sin will not always seem to prosper. But those who are leaders of the people of God, are judged as responsible for the welfare of God’s people.
“Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. For in many things we all stumble. If anyone doesn’t stumble in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.”
James 3: 1-2
We must be careful about what ministry we take on, because if it is teaching, we are judged more strenuously in what we say. We must take great care about what we teach, because we are answerable for it. The Word of God is deep and profound, and is a spiritual book for the teaching and encouragement of the people of God, so we must be careful how we present the Word to other people. It will cost the teacher much time in study and research, and in seeking the teaching of the Holy Spirit into our minds and hearts. We constantly seek God in much prayer, for the application of the lessons to those we minister to. God will not hold us guiltless for informality and lack of clarity or a faulty hold on truth.
The state of our personal walk with Christ is of prime importance. We must all walk worthy, and if we minister to others, we must be transparent and honest with people. We are all fallen creatures and we all fail in every way. It is to the detriment of ministers of the Word, that they present themselves as somehow above the average and as morally set apart for some special work. We must all be honest and be able to take reproof from anyone who questions what we say. There is no place for pride in self, or in some position we have been given, in an organisation. We need each other and the bonds of fellowship must be close and sincere.
In chapter two of this book written by Malachi, he is homing in on those who teach and lead in whatever capacity God has called them. They have a particular responsibility and will be held up for close scrutiny, as they must avoid hypocrisy and double standards.
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But let each man be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.”
1 Corinthians 3: 10-15
What we do for God is a serious business. We will suffer personal loss, if we are not faithful students of God’s Word, and the spiritual life of those we have taught, will also be part of our judgment. We must be careful how we speak, and the counsel we give to Christians and unbelievers alike. Our work will be tested with the pure fire of the holiness of God, and many will suffer loss. We must be careful how we build the house of God and on what foundation we do so. The truth of Christ is the only way, untainted and untarnished by the deceitfulness of this world. To be a leader, a minister and a teacher are all deeply responsible positions in the church of Christ. God will judge everyone without excuse.
This prophecy is not just for leaders and teachers, for we are all accountable for the gifts we have been given. We are required to make much from what we have, and serve God in obedience and faith. We are all involved in witness and helping each other to understand, and live holy lives unto God. We are all striving to be holy people of God and to have fruit from our labours in Christ. His reward is personal closeness with our precious Lord Jesus. No one and nothing can take His place.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God.”
Romans 8: 5-8
This is our peace. We do not live for the things of this life, but for the truth of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures. The things of the flesh are set aside, so that we enter into the joy of spiritual life and growth. This brings the peace that passes all understanding, since it is not of this world. We must all walk worthy of our calling and have fruit for God and a life full of sacrifice and ministry from His sake.
Teacher, beware. Your work is so important.. It will bring great fruit to God, when we walk worthy and speak truly for Christ.
V2 “If you will not listen, and if you will not lay it to heart, to give glory to my name,” says the Lord of hosts, “then will I send the curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have cursed them already, because you do not lay it to heart.”
God is very clear. If the people will not turn and change their attitude, nor the leaders of the assembly, they will fall under a curse from God.
They must first listen. They must pay attention to the voice of the prophets, like Malachi, who are God’s mouthpiece on earth. God has given these prophets for the blessing of His people and to constantly remind them about the perfections of His character and the demands of God’s holy law. They must listen to the standards of God set out by the prophets, and take the message into their minds and soul. They need to feel their need, and recognise their sin and repent. Specifically, they must acknowledge the right of God to demand respect and worship from them. At this moment in their history, God’s people are entertaining disrespect and they have no notion of lifting His name in their worship or in the way they live their lives.
They are scathing of the idea of God, and fail to realise His person and the power He exerts over every aspect of life. It seems to escape their notice that their lives depend on God, even on a physical level. They forget that without spiritual life with God, their souls are eternally lost. Humans were made for God, to have a deep and wonderful relationship with Him, but we rebelled and now we do not feel our need, and we don’t want what He offers. It is distasteful to us and not our desire, and we are too lazy to seek. The priests, who are specifically targeted here, have allowed this attitude to prevail. The people are guilty, but the priests are doubly guilty.
To ignore the way of holiness, is to choose death. To be cursed by God is something we don’t even think about, because we have an idea that it would never happen. God is too nice, too soft to carry out the warnings. He speaks through the prophets. If we stay comfortable in our life on earth, it makes the reality of the warnings fade in our minds. God is telling us clearly that if we do not think about the issue and recognise our situation on His terms, we will certainly fall under His curse. In fact, the blessings He has given us, will be turned into a curse.
All the good things that God has given and the blessings He has poured down on human beings, will turn against them. The good they have, will become the bad they fear. Maybe this will turn the human heart to repentance.
God sees what is coming and He says that the curse is upon the people already, because God knows the bad attitude that the people have towards Him. We push God so far and tolerate our lax attitude towards Him, so we will suffer loss, in this life and most importantly in the life to come. To play games with what is bad and what is good, is to disregard what God says, and we will suffer the result we choose.
God sets before us blessing and cursing, we choose…
“Behold, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you go in to possess it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce to you this day, that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land, where you pass over the Jordan to go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed; to love the Lord your God, to obey his voice, and to cling to him; for he is your life, and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
This message is repeated over and over through out Scripture, so that no one can miss it and miss the chance to think seriously about it. God is not willing that anyone should perish, and He has made the way to life very clear and very easy to choose. Jesus has paid the price for sin and has done everything for us, and we exercise faith in Him and find entrance into the eternal kingdom.
The thing that stops us is our own sinful nature and our aversion to drawing near to our God. God calls out to us through His servants, and yet so many ignore the message.
V3 “Behold, I will rebuke your seed, and will spread dung on your faces, even the dung of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.”
The far reach of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, goes down the generations and affects our children and grand-children. If these reluctant believers do not turn and confess their sin, God will ensure that the children will feel the effect of the sinful mindset of the parents. God does not punish other people for the sins of others, but it is easy to understand that children and grand-children would be deeply affected by the sinful lives of parents and other family members. We all affect each other, and we show behaviour and speaking every day wherever we are. We show what we are like and we influence people who look up to us and watch us. The younger generation look to those who are older, and model themselves on the things they find attractive.
It is obvious, that our lives are important and we should take these issues into our consideration. We can find ourselves closing the door of faith on God, and at the same time, causing others to do so too. This is a great evil. We can see why God challenges us repeatedly to make sure we are clear about what we are doing. We reject God the Lord of everything, and shut our minds to His Word.
God is clear what will happen. God will cause every person, to feel and know their folly in rejecting Him, and the character of the unbeliever will be seen to be impure and ungodly. The picture of this truth is put in a very insulting way. People who neglect God will end up with mud on their faces, or as this verse says, faeces smeared all over their faces. This is vile to humans and the person who is affected by this, becomes vile to other people.
The faeces is the waste product of the luxurious and opulent parties that people go to, to enjoy themselves and never think of the Creator who made them. They imbibe the drinks and feast on the gastronomic delights, and fill their bodies with rich foods. These are then excreted as waste, and these waste products are what adorned their faces. The body reveals our deeds and the activities we are involved in.
Waste from the body is only fit for the sewer. Waste products will contaminate water and land, and are the source of disease. Without proper sanitation, the land and water courses, will fill up with body waste, and be the breaking ground for all kinds of deadly diseases. If that waste is clinging to our person, then we will end up in the sewer with the contaminated fluids and solid waste products.
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5: 19-21
These are revealed in the life of the unbeliever, and makes life sinful and full of sinful desires and deeds, that God hates. The result is a life pandering to self, and rejected by God.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1: 8-9
It can be seen in the way we carry out our worship and Christian service. Like these people who say they love God and are doing what He requires, we also are corrupted by our evil mindset. Our so-called religious practices are foul and not pleasing to the Lord. There is no sincerity, no heartfelt sacrifice and no purity in our lives. We say we are Christians, yet live like people of this world.
We can get ourselves in such a depraved and sinful state, that we cannot find a way out. If we can admit our guilt and the rottenness in our lives, there is a way out. If we can turn from pride and confess our wrong-doing to God, He will freely pardon us of every filthy thing we have said and done. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, our Saviour, on the cross, we can have total forgiveness and a new life. We can be cleansed from all sin and be made right with God.
Of course, the opposite truth is also true.
If we do not turn and be saved, we will be swept away with our sin, and our contamination will be complete, separating us for God our Lord forever.
V4 “You will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that my covenant may be with Levi,” says the Lord of Hosts.”
God is actually reaching out to us and has sent this commandment to us, through the priests of God. God has set apart this tribe of Israel, to be priests set apart for Himself. God will communicate with His people through the priests, and they are to commit themselves to God as mouthpieces and models of what God requires. They will also be the prescribed way of coming to God and bringing the sacrifices that God requires, and how they are to be carried out. Coming to God is not a leisure activity.
“Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”
Hebrews 11: 6
We dare not come before God, or seek to stand in His presence, unless we have been purified by faith in Him. We must believe. We must come though the sacrifice of Christ, the Saviour. In Old Testament times, the tribe of Levi, was the conduit for coming to God, and in the New Testament, Christ, Himself was revealed to be the sacrifice for the sins of human souls. In the Old Testament, the roles had to be kept, so that the people would never loose sight of the necessity of holiness. The coming of Jesus into the world, brought the certainty of forgiveness and the ability to have holiness, that we do not have in ourselves. By trusting in Him, we gain a redeemed and righteous soul, that is pleasing to God.
If the priests become sinful and neglectful, then everyone will be affected by that. The covenant promise was through Levi and the Levite tribe, who were set apart for spiritual ministry to the people of God.
As we see that the position of the Levite tribe, and the necessity of their holiness and faithfulness to the Lord, we see the gravity of the fact that they fell from that position, and were complicit in the ungodliness of the Israelite people. They could not sidestep their responsibility or negate their blame in the state of the nation.
This is the same in every age. Those who are set apart for teaching and ministering, have a greater burden to bear. If the people set apart have become evil, what hope have the body of the people of God. We cannot escape our blame. God makes it very clear. We do not take it on board, because we justify ourselves, blame others, and underestimate the power of God. God will even send people to challenge us, but we are adept at trashing the message because the messenger is not what we expect.
The people of God have become proud, and the leaders are prouder still. This is the way of human society. Those who are lifted up think it is because they are superior, and take glory to themselves, and therefore away from God. We imagine we are above the usual rules of life, and take more and more privileges to ourselves. We become proud people, with filthy hearts.
We listen to the people we approve of, and recognise their support for our designs, and become less and less open or correction and reproof. We laugh and pass stories around, putting the godly sister or brother to shame. All the time, we are heaping up to ourselves, a deluge of shame that will stick to us, because it is from the law of God. We will eventually see the filth, but we will be too proud to admit it, and so we will not turn. There comes a point when our hard hearts will be ossified by the Holy Spirit, so that we cannot return. This ought to concern us. We dare not trifle with the Holy God. Will we return, or turn?
The message of the Bible is full of this theme. It is the one theme that will cause pain and heart searching like no other. But will we persist with what God is saying to us?
It is the one message that will turn the heart to God and bring the sinner to a state of repentance, and to gain spiritual life. It is crucial we do not soft- pedal this issue. We can see how it will be accepted by the least and lowest, and rejected by the lifted up and highest.
We are all answerable to God for our hearts and whether or not we believe in Him. We will all answer for every idle word. We cannot run forever.
V5 “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him that he might be reverent toward me; and he was reverent toward me, and stood in awe of my name.”
God continues to set out the situation between His purposes and the Levite’s, who were the spiritual guardians of God’s people. God held out to this tribe of people, the promise of life and peace. There is nothing greater than to have a life in this world where we are able to have spiritual life in God and walk with Him on a daily basis. We can know this life, because Christ has died and has bought those who are slaves to sin, into the life of God, where all is now peace. There is nothing greater than to rest secure in the love of God, and to be exercising our faith in all that God has done. This is for every Christian, not just the Levites of old. The wisdom and power of God is for every believer and the promise of life and peace stands for all who trust in Jesus the Saviour.
This covenant is kept by God, and it was made by Him and with Himself. It cannot be revoked and is powerful and effective to keep us. God did all this for those who believe and determined that they should be kept in His love, eternally. We seek to choose, but in reality, it is God who chose us. Left to or own devices, we would never enter into this covenant. We would never choose Christ, and would remain dead in our sins and under the condemnation of God. Everything has been done for us, and we enter into the blessings that the Lord our God has done, when we cast all on Him and life lives of faith.
All this was shown to the Levites so that they would understand the God who is sovereign, and see that His ways are past finding out. They could see that God keeps His promises and can be relied upon to meet the needs of the people. They needed to see that His grace is sufficient for all of life, and that nothing can break the culture of peace, that resides in the hearts and minds, of the believer.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching for who or what kind of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, pointed to, when he predicted the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow them. To them it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to you, they ministered these things, which now have been announced to you through those who preached the Good News to you by the Holy Spirit sent out from heaven; which things angels desire to look into.”
1 Peter 1: 10-12
As leaders of God’s people they had to understand what God is like and who He is and that His operations are not the same as human strategies. These Levites of old, were not just ministering to themselves, but prophesying the grace of God in the coming Messiah, the Christ. These Old Testament prophets, were announcing the coming kingdom of Christ, which the New Testament believers were preaching. This came to pass through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Only with the power of God and the courage of the Spirit, would they be able to minister and teach with the full authority of understanding. If they did not follow and experience God, then their witness to the people would be faulty. They would start to lead the people astray and teach falsehoods. The teaching would get contaminated by other ideas, and become false. This would seem to be our situation today in Western Christian religion. The leaders seek themselves and not the Lord, and when challenged, they are personally affronted and their inbuilt pride is hurt.
There are communities of leaders, who bolster each other up in futility and folly, and falsehood and error is tolerated because of some sort of idea about unity. There is no real peace. The message of peace with God, has fallen into darkness. We preach good works to please God, and happy feelings, as worship and spiritual life. We have forgotten what God is really like, and how little time He has for show. The elevation of men as teachers, and the lack of personal humility and sanctification, brings spiritual death.
“Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over their young men, neither will he have compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is profane and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
We are not in a good place. The lessons to the Levites, from God, are needed again in our communities. The conceit of man and the necklace of pride, must go. We all must be concerned about and pursue holiness, in each of our individual lives. God is gracious and kind, and when we turn to Him in repentance, His forgiveness is complete. Our task is to tune for the folly we entertain and seek holiness in our lives.
“Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing..”
This is a straightforward message for God. If the prophets are false, then the people will wander.
God’s covenant was meant to make His people revere Him, and respect His person and His ways. The people of God in these Old Testament times were able to see who God is, and respect His name and stand in awe of that name. There is often very little of that today. People seek standing in the media, the church, or music scene. We do not seek the Lord, and we have forgotten what it means to seek Him. We have too much money, and our faith has shrunk.
To stand in awe of the name of God, will require a deep understanding of who He is, and His holiness and how He communicates with people. Every Christian is a child of God and has the Holy Spirit dwelling in their lives. God lives in them, and they live lives of power and love. This ought to make a difference. People who are sold out to God, are easily seen, since they are far different from the people in the world. Awe of God, is a place of complete dependence and a place of humility and holy joy. How foolish we are in our living, and how tuned into this world, rather than the one to come. To change this will require a work of God in the individual lives of people who love Him, first and foremost. It will cause them to do things that are different and that require personal sacrifice and loss.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
“Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you. So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Let us stand still and gaze upon the likeness of Christ. You will see Him clearly in the book of God, and He will reveal many things to you. Give your heart to Him, and find out what He can do with ignoble creatures, that are so slow to understand and see His beauty. When we shed our sin and put it away from our hearts and minds, we are cleansed and renewed daily. We can know the filling of the Holy Spirit, and the power of God as we serve Him.
Be bold and strong, because God the Lord is with His people. He will not let the righteous be shaken.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”
“Save me from the lion’s mouth! Yes, from the horns of the wild oxen, you have answered me. I will declare your name to my brothers. In the midst of the assembly, I will praise you.”
V6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips. He walked with me in peace and righteousness, and turned many away from iniquity.
God chose Levi to be His especial servant in the kingdom of God. The Israelite people needed this representation of the authority of their Father God, and to have His person reflected in the person of the Priest, Levi. Levi became a tribe of priests to God and they were all set apart for this steadfast task.
The servant of God spoke the truth in all His words that he uttered to the people. His lips were clean from from all unrighteousness and no ungodly words or phrases were spoken by Him. His person and his speaking were a true reflection of God and he led the people in all uprightness of life. Levi was a true-hearted servant, who walked with God, in a constant state of peace and holiness. All his words and deeds came from a mind renewed and full of the Spirit of God.
How difficult it is to be righteous and to walk and speak in a holy way. The priest spoke words of truth and no unrighteousness came out of his mouth, or manifested themselves in his speech. This is impossible for a human being to accomplish, without the Spirit of God dwelling within. Even when we are alive to God, we find it almost impossible to live righteous lives. So this man was motivated by God and given the power of God to live right.
As a consequence of that, the priest had peace with God, and peace with people as he walked in righteousness. His godly living turned many to righteousness.
We find this in our own lives, since people will not listen to the message if we are hypocritical in the way we act and speak. To Iive for God, means everything we are and have, must be put on the altar of sacrifice, and all our thoughts and motivations must be from a renewed life within. Our motivations for doing things for God and others, must be right motives. It is easy to hide our sinful preoccupations from others, but God sees and will reward us according to what we do, and why we do it.
This person shown here, is held up for our admiration. In human terms, this person is above average in their pursuit of godliness and a holy life. No human being can ever sustain this level of righteousness, so what we are seeing here, is actually a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He is right and holy. The only reason we can be holy, is because of Him. He does not just speak the truth, but He Himself is the truth, the eternal truth of God.
“The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.’
John 1: 14
“We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
1 John 4:6
The fact that Jesus is the truth, means that everything He said and did was truth. We are not like that. We imagine we can dispense with the truth, but subjugating it to modern philosophy, and create our own truth. May have tried this and it leads to confusion, pride, selfishness, anxiety and death. When we subjectivize truth, we only hurt ourselves, and make it impossible for people to find God. We drag ourselves down, and we drag other people with us.
God is not willing that this should prevail, so He sent His Son into the world, to show us the beauty of the Father, and the Son, through the Holy Spirit. The right path is still open for all who will enter in, and see past the futility of modern, secular thinking, and see the truth about ourselves and our need of forgiveness and a right relationship with God, the Father.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.”
John 3: 16-18
This is a favoured verse, verse 16, as it encapsulates exactly why Jesus came. Now is the time for belief, and to escape the certain death that follows all who refuse. God loved us so much, that He sent Jesus to suffer and die on our behalf, and pay for all our misdeeds, and have eternal life in exchange for the second death. The time for judgment is not now, as the offer of mercy still stand. This is the time for repentance and faith, and to find a new life that never ends, and a Saviour who never fails. We are sure about such things, because we rest on His eternal Word, which is Truth.
Many are turned to righteousness by this Saviour, but some are not. There will always be those who harden their hearts, and refuse such a salvation. They make a wretched choice to their own hurt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we would put self down, lockdown our foolish selves, we would find the way of peace with God, and hope for eternity.
V7 “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of God the Lord.”
Here is the huge challenge of the messenger of God. The priest must keep a watch over his lips and a tight rein on his tongue. The priest is taught by God and is responsible for his words, and they should reflect the power and holiness of the Lord. Levi was the first, as is shown in these verse, and he was a representation of the Word of God to the people of God. This later became a whole tribe of priests to God, as in the Levite tribe of the Israelites. God gave knowledge to His servants, so they could extend that knowledge to the people and teach the people.
The words of the servant of God, had to be sincere, since they were a mouth piece of the God of Creation and all things. They did not speak out of turn, or embellish what God said, nor did they seek their own personality through what they said. To be a mouth piece of God is a weighty task and one with specific gifts, that are made subjects to the will of God.
Levi had to be very particular about what he said, and how he said it. The spiritual health of the nation depended on him, and there was no room for trivialities. God is not mocked, and those who seek themselves, will reap what they sow.
The teacher of the things of God, was also the priest. The two roles were tightly bound together. To be a for-teller of events and not to teach the whole council of God, was not recognised by God. To be a priest and not a teacher was not from God. The priest spoke the words of God and taught the people their application and meaning in their lives. To not teach and therefore to not understand, is not a message from God. We must be careful that what we say is only from the Holy Scriptures, and not some source outside the premise of that Scripture.
Fo the people who are listening and leaning, the words they hear must be accepted as the Word of God. The people should have a reliable source for hearing the Word of God, and be able to depend upon it. The people should be able to look to the speaker, and be sure and certain that it is God’s message to them. We live in unreliable days, with so many voices speaking to us over the internet and radio and television. How do we know what is right? How do we judge the speaker, and be certain that the words and true, and wise and from God?
In this day, more than any other day in history, we must know the Word of God for ourselves. We must read, mediate on the truth of what we read and listen to the witness of the Spirit within. There is also much made of the “work of the Spirit” and all the voices we hear do not agree with each other. It is confusing for listeners, because they do not necessarily see the lives of the speakers in an up close way. If we are to judge words by deeds, then we are left feeling more confused than ever. Some “churches” have reputations for “correctness” but there seems little evidence of it when we look up close. We have “ministers of the gospel” who do not have godly lives and who’s minds are focused on other things than the salvation of women and men who are perishing.
We must feel concern about this. If the people are God are confused, then the unbeliever is in an impossible position. When do we go to hear the gospel clearly explained? Where do we send people, to go and hear the good news about Christ and forgiveness and spiritual life? This is what make our days so dark. It is not the rise of ungodliness, or the acceptance of society of immoral lifestyles, but the inability of the people of God to rise up, explain, teach, show, love…
Our society is in a rotten state, because of the way God’s people are living and behaving. It is really challenging and will cut deep in to our minds and souls. How can we be this way?
God’s people have been in this place many times before. The Scripture is full of instances, and post-resurrection history is also full of examples…
“As for those of you who are left, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies: and the sound of a driven leaf will put them to flight; and they shall flee, as one flees from the sword; and they will fall when no one pursues. They will stumble over one another, as it were before the sword, when no one pursues: and you will have no power to stand before your enemies. You will perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies will eat you up. Those of you who are left will pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.”
Leviticus 26: 36-39
God’s people have moved away from Him and His words. They disregard all warnings and teaching from the priests and the prophets. This bring sin weakness to those everyday lives. They are scared of trivial things and have no faith in their God to deliver them. Enemies come, and they acquiesce. The enemies eat them up like food. Those not devoured will pine away in fear and trembling. Could we be here again today? Time will tell and God will listen to how we pray and what we pray for. If we turn to fantasies, that is, anything that is not the Word, we will fail. As God required holiness in the lives of priests and prophets, so He also demands holiness in us and a strong turning to His law and statutes.
God looks for servant who will take on His ways, and speak His purposes to others. The message of the gospel must be again spoken, in purity, power and love. Not soft-pedalling offers of divine help, but the unpopular message of repentance and belief. There is no holiness without repentance, Christian and unbeliever alike.
Do we imagine that God will not do such a thing? Here are some woes, from the prophet Isaiah…
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Woe to those who are mighty to drink wine, and champions at mixing strong drink; who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice for the innocent!
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as the dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust; because they have rejected the law of the God of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore, God’s anger burns against his people, and he has stretched out his hand against them, and has struck them. The mountains tremble, and their dead bodies are as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is still stretched out.
Isaiah 5: 20-25
We may think that our Christian lives are good, and the groups we meet with are good, but God says otherwise. God will not a quit the guilty, because He is holy.
We are satisfied with our own little set of behaviour and activity, but God is looking for more. He looks for contrition and obedience and a heart that will listen to what He is saying and live righteously.
Be careful who you listen to. Play it safe and listen to the Lord of hosts, who knows all things and will bring everything into subjection to Himself. All who trust in Him, will not be put to shame ultimately, although you may well feel the ill will of others for a short while. God will save His people and we can rest secure in that. The godly will not be shaken, but sinner will be destroyed.
“Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12: 28-29
V8 “But you have turned aside out of the way. You have caused many to stumble in the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts.
The situation started well, and deterioration set in. This is the universal dilemma that we face as individuals and as a community of beings. In our physical world, everything deteriorates according to the second law of nature. All things rot and die. We get older and our bodies wear out, as is also the case with everything around us. So it also seems with our moral and spiritual situation. We start off with enthusiasm and good intentions, and then it peters out and eventually we give up, or at least, become less steadfast.
We understand that we live in a world that is high in moral breakdown, and low in moral excellence. We accept it, since it is in our nature and our desires for goodness will eventually succumb to just getting what we want. God says to His servant Levi, and the whole Levite tribe, and also to us as the people of God, “you have turned aside..” This is our constant disappointment in ourselves and in the human world we live in. Our failure is “we turn…”
Why do we see the good we want to do, and yet cannot do it.? The Apostle Paul talks of this in Romans chapter seven. There is a war within my person that pits my desires against God and drags me down into sins that I don’t want to do, and good deeds that I want to do, but don’t do. God’s law is perfect and spiritual, and yet the Christian finds it so hard to obey and desire God’s perfect way. This law that a Christian desires to do, is put down by the law of sin and death that has a hold over the person, and causes an ongoing spiritual warfare.
Paul exclaims his frustration at this constant battle and longs for the deliverance from it. This should encourage us in our battle with self, and sin. One day we will be released from it and we will gain the absolute victory over this mighty enemy. One day the mind and body will be renewed and we can live as redeemed people from that prison of sin and death.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin. For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.”
Romans 7: 14-25
This passage is a huge issue for the Christian warrior, and has many deep and searching truths to teach us. This New Testament Scripture, shows us how the situation with the priest Levi, was brought into a low place. Levi turned aside. He stopped doing and teaching what God required, and added things of his own, that contaminated the message to God’s people. Because Levi was the teacher of God, his false and lazy words, caused many to stumble and fall. If we do not keep a check on ourselves, this situation is inevitable for us also. To applies to the teachers and leaders, and also to individual Christians, who should be living lives to God. If God’s law is holy, then serious trouble will ensure, if we do not keep it ourselves and teach it to those around us who need to know. We all stumble every day, but we must keep short accounts with God, and continually draw near in prayer and Bible study.
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. My body shall also dwell in safety.”
Psalm 16: 8-9
“Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering; for he who promised is faithful.”
Hebrews 10: 19-23
For the Christian, the law of sin and death has no permanent hold over their psyche or person, having been conquered on the cross of Christ and finally and eternally defeated when Jesus rose from the dead. We do not have to give in to sin, or be overcome by temptation. We have the victory in Christ, and our lives should be a serious of conquered battles and victorious praise. As the mind conquers in the knowledge of God, so our flesh can be brought into subjection and the power of the Spirit can be known in our daily lives. Paul, the Apostle, says, thanks be to God for Christ Jesus, who is our living Saviour and constant Lord and friend.
Of course, that is not our continual experience, for we are still prone to temptation and failure of thought, word and deed. But there is always forgiveness for all who believe and confess sins daily, to the Father and Christ Jesus, who is our Saviour, Lord and friend. We do to need to be discouraged.
But the problem remains with those who teach others, and do not pay close attention to what they are saying. It is too easy to go wrong, and lead people away from God. If we lift ourselves up and encourage people to follow us and our words, it becomes inevitable that we will deviate from the truth of Scripture and lead people astray. This happened to God’s servant, Levi, and hence, the people of God corrupted God’s law to suit themselves. The law ceased to be holy, and became unholy.. So it stopped being the law of God, and became the law of man. The people could no longer depend on it for truth, and so error crept in.
The whole panoply of Scripture is this situation repeated and repeated again and again. God showing His way, people follow for a short time, and then they cease to attend carefully, error creeps in, disobedience follows, and so the whole of the society is dragged down into increasing sinfulness. God steps in, chastened His people, they return after experiencing hardship, and holiness returns once more. There is rejoicing, and then the cycle starts again. Every generation must seek and find the Lord, and every person must have a personal encounter with God, and repent from sin and unbelief. Without the pain of repentance, there is no true salvation of the soul, and no spiritual life.
So, in this verse, Malachi is telling the people, that the promise or covenant that God made with Levi, as His servant, is actually broken. Human kind will always find itself breaking covenant with God. We are the weak party in the covenant, and we fail to uphold our side of the promise. We thank God for that better promise, that God made with Himself, to save human souls from sin and death, and raise up a people for His names sake. If we trust in Christ, then we are in that covenant, and though we may struggle in our lives now, yet one day we will be released from the hold of sin and death, and be lifted in to the everlasting kingdom of God.
“However, what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yes, most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Philippians 3: 7-11
So, as the law failed because of Human sin, God has brought grace into the covenant, so that He will redeem a people from sin, and make them kings and priests forever, in His everlasting kingdom. We keep the law, as God requires, but it can never save us. Only the contrite in heart, with the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within, will be able to enter into this holy place.
V9 Therefore I have also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according to the way you have not kept my ways, but have had respect for persons in the law.
It is an awesome calling to speak for God, in whatever way He calls us to speak. We cannot utter words of holiness and worship, if our lives do not measure up. The priest Levi, and also the whole tribe of Leviticus priests, have become contemptible. This started with laziness and excusing sinful behaviours, which themselves start in the mind. We cannot allow ourselves to roam aimlessly through life and give rein to our foolish thought processes. Levi started down this way, and the inevitable deterioration happens, and his deeds and words became hateful and godless. He started regarding one group of people above another and these people had some way they could benefit him. He starts teaching what suits these people.
The point comes where God actually hands the priests over to the base lifestyle they have chosen, and God allows the people to see the true colours of these fallen servants. God makes the way of the priest, contemptible to the people he serves. The people seem to have more insight than the priest.
How did this situation come about for Levi? It was quite simple. He regarded the uplifted position of his office, as the thing he most loved. He loved his reputation before people, before God’s view of him and what he was doing. He kept the regard from women and men above what God taught and regarded. His public relations were more important to him, than the speaking of truth. Levi stopped looking at the truth of God and the moral law laid out for us in the Scriptures, and so he ceased to follow it. In a short space of time, the people noticed that things are not what they once were. Levi the priest becomes disrespected and he is seen to have favourites, and regard for people that God does not have regard for. His life becomes hypocritical and his words change from the Word of God, to self-centred a godless utterances.
Rather than having regard for the ways of God, he has prejudicial attitudes towards people in this life, because these regarded people, will be able to benefit the lifestyle of this group of leaders.
Levi is being reproved by the prophet, as the priest is downgrading the words of the prophet, to gain control over the people. This is an abomination to the Lord. He requires truth in our inner most parts, and the words of the priest should reflect this accurately. Levi must live a pure life, and speak the message of God always. The priest was required to dress with sounding bells sewn to his robe, so that he was always representing God and teaching the people.
This is a wonderful picture of our Saviour Priest, Jesus Christ. He is our great High Priest, the Word of truth, and always leads us in the way of the truth of God. God has given us an accurate message in the Holy Scriptures, and this is the touchstone for all Christian believers. Levi was to be the earthly picture of that truth of Christ, and teach the people the pure and right doctrine of God. If the message becomes contaminated, then the view of the Lord is lost to the people. The priest of God occupies a high position before the Lord, and must walk in God’s way and not their own ideas. The priest does not take any acclaim to himself, but should he do so, then the message and view of the Lord God, is contaminated.
As this applies to the priests of God, so also to those who follow God and seek to live for Him. We are not our own people, but have given over our lives and destinies to God the Father, to serve Him and enjoy Him all the days of our lives. We reflect His glory and show His truth to a world that is lost. In the past, literacy levels were very low, and the people relied on the ministers and preachers, to teach them the right way. The people had no real way to check the accuracy of what they were taught. It is easy to see how error and complacency came in and the church authorities became the standard for life and thought. Many were led astray.
Today, we have a situation where they are great educational advantages, certainly in the Western countries. Everyone has legal right to attend school, and learn a whole range of subjects, none less that reading and writing. We have huge advantages over people living in the past, and have access to books, internet books, websites, film and spoken word. And yet we have so many false priests who spread error and lead many astray. The fault is with the priests and ministers who purport to speak truth, but also we as people must use the gifts God has given to us, to read the Word and study the Word, ourselves. We listen to the person at the front, and are satisfied with that. We regard the church group as “sound in doctrine” and never think to mediate on what is said, and check it out. We all go astray so easily, and we become so lazy, depending on others for support, and not our God. If the priests and ministers have a low view of Scripture, then so will those who listen to them and follow them.
As a body of people, we need to check in these days, if we are a body of true believers, and that we are following the Lord, and not anyone else. If the lives of our leaders do not measure up to the Word of God, then they are castaway people, and we must not listen to them. There are plenty out there, who have set their lives up for riches and huge acclaim, and are duping the people of God out of true regard for God the Lord of hosts. God says He will make them “contemptible” to their followers and listeners. Error cannot last long, and God will continue to call out His people to listen to the Word and obey what God is saying.
V10 “Don’t we all have one father? Hasn’t one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”
When we, as created beings, move away from our creator, we also move away from each other. When we disrespect God, we are also disrespecting our fellow humans.
Malachi argues from the safe and true position, that God has created all, and all belong to Him and were made for Him. Humans have moved away from that exalted position and have fallen down from their high calling and become sinful. As such, we do not recognise that God is our Maker, and has the right to worship and obedience. Because we have become spiritually dead, we do not want that fact to be true, or the condemnation that goes with our rebellion. We imagine, that if we don’t believe, it will somehow be alright in the end. We invent other “truths” to cope with the looming prospect of punishment and assign God to the scrap heap.
The whole philosophy of evolution, on a world wide scale, has enabled other philosophies to thrive, and so we imagine we have liberty from this “God.” Some are not so sure about this takeover. Some are questioning the whole foundation and premise of what science can prove and disprove. Some are recognising that other disciplines can give meaning that our so-called “scientific method” cannot explain. In our seemingly “educated” Western countries, we are starting to look again at historical texts and philosophical views, that go against the now-centred norm of science and evolution.
Malachi is speaking here to the Jewish nation, and reminding them of their privileged position, of God being their “Father” in that He has chosen them to be His people on the earth. God has preserved Israel and they have kept His laws for posterity and have been the means whereby God shows what he is like and what He expects from His creatures. They have the ancient history of the beginning of the world, the holy law of God, the types and pictures of the spiritual world to come and the promise of a Messiah, who would be the Saviour of the whole world. This nation, above all others, has had massive privileges and the close dealings with the Father God, and has seen His greatness more than any other nation.
Malachi asked the rhetorical question. “Don’t we all have the same father?” Israelite people looked at Abraham as their father and regarded themselves as special, because of him. Abraham was mighty in faith and was called “the friend of God.” His story that is recorded for us, shows a man truly in tune with God, and who had amazing faith, even when there was no written Scripture to guide him. He did what God commanded, even to the willingness to sacrifice his son, the son of promise. Abraham left for all time, the standard of obedience to God and complete trust in loving and serving Him.
The Israelites had such regard for Abraham, that they took the righteousness of Abraham to be somehow their righteousness before God. God’s people are reminded here, of that fact, which they cling to. They are Abraham’s children and therefore special to God. This, of course, is not how God views these issues. These people may well be relegated to Abraham, and they are certainly created by God, but they in no way reflect any of the goodness, which should go along with this.
The reality of the facts show otherwise. These people of God are irreligious, proud and self-orientated. They have broken the covenant, which God made with their fathers. They do not magnify God, or adhere to His pure and fitting commandments. They have left their side of the agreement a long time ago. They think they are safe in Abraham, but they are godless and full of sins. They think the link with Abraham will hold them to God, but do not understand that God requires holiness in the inner life and in all their thinking. This is true for us in our day too. We may look back to a past time when God was widely honoured in our country, and we might think that this will give us a kind of holy link to God, but it does not. God does not deal with nations, but with the godliness of the individuals in the nation. If there are many Christians in a country, then that will be reflected in the society and laws that are held to. But we have given up Christ for secular, and that is reflected in our Western societies today.
The Jewish nation cannot claim the goodness of Abraham, and we cannot claim the goodness of the past, for ourselves today. As Israel broke the covenant, so we, every one, have broken the link to God and we are reaping the consequences of that. We reap unholy attitudes, prejudice, we accept immoral lifestyle choices, we are unjust, greedy, hateful and unkind. We accept it all, because we have forgotten what it is like to live for God. God is now portrayed as the enemy, and He is accused of all kinds of negativity and even His goodness, is seen as evil.!
The covenant is comprehensively broken. We cannot fix it, because we are trapped in the sinfulness of sin, and the rebellious mindset of unbelief. As we profane the Creator, so we also behave hatefully towards His creatures, even though they are our fellows. Crime abounds, self-righteousness and self-hatred is everywhere. People are separated from each other and social group and families break down. Individuals suffer mind and emotional illness and pain, because of how our societies have deteriorated and actually hurt us as human beings. We have forgotten our spiritual core, and are not able to put things right, or heal our spiritual hurts.
We are unable to help ourselves, and look to all kinds of false gods and idols to support us.
Only the Spirit of God can break these chains. We must seek the freedom that comes through repentance, and a renewed life as the Spirit of God comes to dwell in us. The tone of this statement suggests that we are without excuse. God is perfect and has done all things well in our regard. He has kept the covenant that we have broken, and is willing to take us back and make us as we should be.
If we, individually, hear the call, and turn back, there is full hope and a future for us.
“For thus says the Lord, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will turn again your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord; and I will bring you again to the place from where I caused you to be carried away captive.”
Jeremiah 29: 10-14
If we do not heed, then the inevitable time in captivity with oppression and hard labour, will come to us. We need to see how we need the Lord, and then He will rescue us. God does not intend any experience for our hurt, but is teaching us His ways, which are prayer and worship. God looks for the praying heart and the heart that seeks Him always. God can release us for our prison of mind and soul, but we must seek Him and use all spiritual gifts to seek His face.
V11 “Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the holiness of the God which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.”
Here is the bedrock of the problems in the situation of the people of God. They have broken faith. They still go through the motions and take themselves to the temple, but their worship and contrition is false.
“These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’”
Matthew 15: 8-9
This Scripture shows that this state of backsliding and in attention to the voice of God, is a common and recurring situation. In every generation we see this manifestation of unbelief, parading itself as devotion to God. Some are cynical in their falsehood, and some are ignorant.
God calls this an abomination. It is not just a bad state, or a time in history where God is not working very much, but is a desolation of famine that overcomes every soul. There is no food from God, because the Word of God is not preached, or accurately taught. Sound doctrine is ignored and the teachers rely on their version of the Holy Spirt. This is a very dangerous attitude which can tip over into grieving the Holy Spirit, which is an unforgivable sin.
This is the “abomination” that the true God is ignored and the false god from our own ideas, is presented and propagated. The one true God, is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and we must see Him clearly and accurately, or we find ourselves worshipping a God who is not there. We can never read or study too much, but constantly need to keep ourselves in check, that we are actually serving and upholding the true God.
Very quickly, we can find ourselves embracing the false doctrine of culture and human ideas we see around us, and we bring lies and evil into the house of God. The Israelite people did this often, and their kings and leaders brought beautiful women, who worshipped other gods, into the Israelite nation. The kings were taken in by the outward looks and counted it a small thing to bind themselves to unbelieving wives. The amulets and idols were then introduced into the palace, the home and the temple of God, in a very innocuous way. It seemed so little, but the idea of concrete “gods” to worship and look to, quickly caught on.
We are so fickle and easily swayed. As we look around us on the Internet and television, there are so many things out there that seem like a good idea, and seem to produce results. Like the attitude of the Israelites, we find ourselves bringing them into our churches, our evangelism and lifestyle, and think we are reaching out. We may be reaching out, but with what? What idea are we giving people about what God is like? We can look at Christian people today in our churches, are they Christ-like? Are we ourselves Christ-like?
These questions presuppose that we know what Christ is like! When we meet together, do we show His person and mindset to each other? Do we make sacrifices for others so that His character may be seen?
“The Lord said, “Because this people draws near with their mouth and with their lips to honour me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught; Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men will be hidden.”
Isaiah 29: 13-14
The passage from Isaiah 29, brings hope for us all. God can still do a marvellous work in the lives of His people and in saving those who do not yet believe. The work belongs to God, and He will work out His purposes in his way. Our place is to pray and pray and pray…
The so-called wise and popular people on our media platforms, will pass away, and God will again have His Word spoken rightly and a work of tremendous salvation will be accomplished. The wise of this world, are not wise, but those who bring many to salvation, will have everlasting fruit. This is done through prayer and fastidious study of the Word, for ourselves, so that we can answer anyone who asks us about being reconciled to God.
“As for you, son of man, the children of your people talk of you by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, everyone to his brother, saying, Please come and hear what is the word that comes forth from the Lord. They come to you as the people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but don’t do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they don’t do them. When this comes to pass, (behold, it comes), then shall they know that a prophet has been among them.”
Ezekiel 31: 30-33
The attitudes and intentions of the human heart, are so convoluted and hidden, even to ourselves. Ezekiel tells us of people who seem to be righteous, and seem to want the Word of the Lord, but their hearts go after gain, of one sort or another. Some seek money, and some seek acclaim. They see an attraction in the message, but deny the power of it. The gospel message is so beautiful, and its reach is to everyone. The idea of the suffering Saviour appeals to our human need for love and a person to look to, but we do not want to actually respond to this call from God. We want the comfortable feelings, but not the requirement to give up everything – our whole person and all that we are, to God. Repentance is not what we bargained for, so we will trust in an insipid Christ, who has no real demands on us and will excuse everything I do.
This is no salvation. Lull us to sleep with pleasant music and softly spoken words of love, and we will waken up in that lost place. Satan is perfectly able to concoct a false gospel and we will follow him to the end. Beside the door of heaven is a short cut to hell, for all those who did not believe to the saving of their souls, and who never sought forgiveness at the foot of the Cross.
When we preach an inadequate gospel, this is the outcome. When the life is not for Christ and the heart is not full of prayers for those around us to be saved, we have every kind of falsehood and godless abomination.
If we are dealing “treacherously” with God and people, there must be a work of God to turn the situation around. If we have spoken and acted against the holiness of God, we will need an act of God to turn us around and bring us to that state of contrition and repentance. Only when God is truly honoured, will any kind of salvation attend our words and ways.
V12 “The Lord will cut off, to the man who does this, him who wakes and him who answers, out of the tents of Jacob, and him who offers an offering to the Lord of hosts.”
The language here, is quite archaic, but it follows on from what God is saying in this passage of Scripture. Anyone and everyone who profanes and disobeys the law of God, will be cut out of the reckoning of the people of God. This seems severe to us, which highlights our sinful mindset and our lack of conversance with the holiness of God. God will deal strictly with the teacher (him who wakes) and the student (him who answers) who follow their own ideas about God. If we are not accurate in our understanding of God, then we will teach error. The teacher will perish along with the the pupil.
The term “cut off” means completely rub out. God, our God, is a jealous God, and will not tolerate the changing of His commands. God will cut off even those who offer sacrifices to Him, as they are not done with the tempering of ungodly people. The bringing in of heathen gods, to the Israelite nation, was no small thing. It is why we must watch our lives for any semblance of ungodliness, which could put another person off from seeking God, or give the wrong idea about what God is like.
This is not an idle threat, or a simple reproof for a wayward follower, but is a dire consequence of not keeping to Scripture. God will purify the individual, and the family and nation that tolerates these attitudes and falsehoods. We have recorded the fate of Achan, who hid the false Gods and refused to confess and repent. He was destroyed, and His whole family, for the sake of the purity of the nation. It is a very sobering thought that our God is consuming fire.
“Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? God will trouble you this day.” All Israel stoned him with stones, and they burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. They raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. The Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Therefore the name of that place was called “The valley of Achor” to this day.”
Joshua 7: 25-26
It is difficult for us to grasp the anger of the Lord against sin. This event seems small to us, but God sees beyond the individual sin and He sees the effect on the family and nation as a whole. The responsibility was Achan’s and he and all his family suffered the consequences of his disobedience. It is recorded for us to pay attention to, and try to grasp the eternal outworking of disobedience. As our verse says, God will stop the rot by whatever means necessary. Nothing overtakes or overwhelms the majesty of God, or will take away fro His person or His plans. The will of God reigns supreme and those who set themselves up against it, will be destroyed.
That could be unbelievers, or believers, or those who sit in church. God sees what we do not, so it behoves us to search the Scriptures to learn and pursue our walk with God.
V13 “This again you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand.”
The Lord of all things and controller of all activities, has the documentation of the failures of His people, in view. Nothing is hidden from Him, and that alone should cause us concern about our behaviour. He doesn’t just see the deeds we do, but has full knowledge of why we do the things we do. Our motivation are fully obvious to God, and He sees through all hypocrisy and self-seeking. God says to His people, I see you do this also. You come to my temple, right up to the altar, with tears and exaggerated sorrow, because I do not listen to you any more.
These people are sorry, because they realise that God does not accept any of their offerings, and they feel bad about that. They do not necessarily feel sorrow for their sinful behaviour that has caused this situation, but just a bit offended that God doesn’t accept them any more. They feel a bit left out, and are sorry that God does not accept their service, but they show no inclination towards repentance, or for turning their sins out of their lives and pleasing the Lord, in obedience to His Word and holy law.
The altar is the place of sacrifice where the offering is put for the forgiveness of sin. They have no more forgiveness of sin, for they have squandered away their privileges and there is no mercy left available for them.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me,” says the Lord, “I will repay.” Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 10: 26-31
We can get into a state where they is no repentance left for us. We have rejected the Lord too often and remained unmoved by His reproof. God bears with us in mercy, but at some point, the Spirit of God grows from our consciousness never to return. This should deeply concern us, not just for ourselves, but for the people around us. The people in this verse are lamenting their loss of God’s goodness and mercy, and the blessings that go along with it. They want the blessing but not the Lord. They want to feel comfortable in their seeming salvation, but not to do what God requires of them.
The sacrifice on the altar is none other than the Son of the living God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet still they do not believe to the salvation of their souls. Their view is on their own sacrifices, and not the sacrifice God has provided for them. They have no active faith, and do not regard the redemption God has given, to be of use to them. They have once “believed” but now do not. God’s ways shave become closed to them, and all they are left with is weeping – weeping that has no comfort.
The altar is also good the place of prayer. They come with petitions to God for their lives, family, needs, and so on. The prayer are not heard, because the life is not right with God. To pray prayers and remain sinful, is a waste of time, in fact, the prayers stand against us and stop the blessing of God. God does not see any goodwill, even though these people seek to leave it on the altar in the presence of God. The state of their hearts before God, is not acceptable and their prayers will never be answered. They have “insulted the Spirit of grace.” This is the unforgivable sin, and one we must avoid. If we don’t listen and stop our pride, we are already lost to love and already condemned by God. We must turn from the stony heart and seek a turn heart of love to God. To seek holiness is not an optional task for the Christian believer, but is our way of life. As God shows us our failures, we repent and turn from them to walk more closely with God our Father.
These people have no such desire, and God sees their motivations and they are rejected. Rejecting God is one thing, but to rejected by Him, is quite another. We seek His face daily and put on contrition and confession as robes of righteousness, as gifts from the Father. We, as dearly beloved children, seek Him continually, and fearful of His person, as our God. We rest on His promises as our foundation and comfort, and that He will lead us safely to heaven and home.
V14 “Yet you say, ‘Why?’ Because the Lord God has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant.”
Though God’s people are in the wrong, their response is terse and rude. Their disrespect for the Lord comes across in what they say and how they say it. The challenge from God regarding their attitudes and behaviour, is met with the question, “why?” These sinful people require further explanation from God about His comments about their unworthy lives. Their disrespect is complete and the attitude of their minds to God, is grossly irreverent.
The focus in this verse, is the relationship that these people have with each other, specifically their marriage vows. God says that these people have not kept their vows to their wives, and have been unfaithful to them, dealing “treacherously” with their nearest and dearest. The promises have been made to be together in love and harmony, and to bind themselves to each other for life. This is what marriage is about, and reflects the bounds of Christ towards His people. Marriage is about keeping oneself pure and unspotted from the world, and being faithful to each other, as long as life lasts.
Marriage is important, indeed, of prime importance, and the breaking of our vows, is not something that is pleasing to God. When we make our vows, it is not a light thing, but something we will keep to as long as we live. We must not enter marriage thoughtlessly, because of this binding vow, which lasts as long as life itself, if both parties maintain a righteous life. Whatever problems we encounter, we must work them out, and seek the good of the other person, and not just ourselves. Marriage for life, is a bond that holds families and societies together, and it is vital that we seek the will of God in making this huge decision and keeping our lives together pure. We will need the strength and mercy of God to help us live through many trials and failures, and it will test our character like nothing else.
These people who are addressed, here, are not living godly lives and have not kept any of their vows. They do not treat each other honourably, and have many other relationships that undermine married life. This verse focuses on the wife, who is a companion and help, and has supported the husband through difficulty and the problems of life, but he has gone after other things, and has not kept the marriage vow. This is unacceptable to God.
But there is more here, than meets the eye. The difficulty in the marriage state of these people, is a mirror of their relationship with God. As these people are unfaithful to their companions and wives, so the mirror image, is their unfaithfulness to God. They do not respect God, or maintain the covenant relationship with Him. Similarly, these people who claim to love worship God, have no commitment to Him, or love for living in the light of His commands. This is the human condition, and the result of our compete moral failure to live rightly and to love God.
We are constantly confronted by the evil of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, rape, child molesting, incest, and every kind of moral sin in relationships. Most so-called Christians don’t even know what it means. Women are kept down and made to feel constantly guilty and manipulated to “keep house” “ raise the family” and be satisfied with her “god- given” lot.
The spite and despicable deception of men, is God- sickening. Women cry out and no one hears. The children are poisoned by the filth of the father’s mindset, and women end up burned out, disgusted by themselves because they have not been able to care for themselves.
They are bullied into cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, childcare, discipline, family devotions, and it goes on indefinitely. The man goes to work, posing about with cameras and Artwork, and never coming home when he says he will. The woman is further put down, because “love covers a multitude of sins..”
She goes back to work when the children are are school, but must also keep up the household. If she needs something, she must get it for herself. She expresses love in a gift at Christmas and they are dashed aside. She is given a tawdry, insulting device. She makes great dinners, and makes sure it is all cleaned up. She asked for appliances to help and is denied. The jobs that need to be done to keep the house safe, are scoffed at – not important.
She gets sick. Repeatedly. No one makes the connection, and so she cannot break free. She is labelled with a illness and that is used to keep her down continually. The trump card is now in the husbands hand.
One day, it starts to become clear to her what this is about. No matter what she says to her husband, it’s scorned and explained away. The evil has now taken residence in his heart and he recognises himself to be hard and cold. He has no friend, because he has a slave. The abuse gets worse. Touching everywhere. Rubbing, hurting, insulting. Family and friends let her know she has to suffer this… GOD SAYS..
But this woman will never relinquish her hold on Christ. She knows Him and loves Him. Her body, mind and soul belong to Him, and she is filled with the Holy Spirit, ever. She waits for His time. Terror holds her, fear that almost stops the heart, but she waits.
Then the night comes when his guard is down. He grabs her, puts his penis inside her and pumps the semen into her frail body. She sees the look on his face of total satisfaction. He thinks he has conquered her.
She manages to escape and the woman realises she has been completely violated. The rage that burns fires her mind and so begins the judgment of God in this evil, illegitimate son-of-god.
He is finished, even before her feet step over the thread hold of the room.
Do not be decieved. God is not mocked. When you scorn His daughter, you are devil’s food.
There is no more opportunity to repent.
The WOMAN grows in stature and becomes a Warrior Queen in the Eternal Kingdom. All who see her will fear and she will dispatch all evildoers into the inferno that is known as hell.
All the little children run to her, because she is their protector, teacher and will make sure they all make it into the kingdom of God.
This is the destiny of all women who truly believe.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, and repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him who hates him, he will repay him to his face. You shall therefore keep the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day, to do them.”
Deuteronomy 7: 9-11
The Lord God will hold everyone to account for their behaviour, and every way they have contravened His commandments. God always keeps the covenant, and shows lovingkindness to “thousands” but He is repaid with unfaithfulness and carelessness. God is our companion and covenant Saviour, but we have not regarded Him, or worshipped Him, or loved Him.
The man is now rejected, since he is a sinner for the beginning. He deliberately disobeyed his God and Maker, and chose sin instead righteousness. He is despicable, and only delivered by the love and teaching of godly women of renown.
The woman? She was deceived. She did not deliberately disobey, and is therefore and true daughter of the kingdom. No woman would ever leave Christ, or find any reason not to believe. Apologetics are all the construct of man. Women believe because they feel the love and recognise the Gracie of God. The hallmarks of the Holy Spirit and His renewing work in the life of the Believer, shown as love, joy, peace, patience, faith, are female traits.
But there is also a holy boldness, a resilience that is from God, and is honed in women, through the circumstances of their lives, that reflects God. Men hate it. Men want wanton whores, because they want their own way. They turn women into monsters, and flatter and cajole their despicable thought processes into the womanly mindset. They tell us what to think.
The whole of our culture has been manipulated by men, to address their own desires, and they will stop at nothing to get what they want…. Even the fact that men are automatically enraged by such statements, shows the inability to question themselves and their motivations. Why do men think they are good? Why do Christian men thinks they are better than others? Are they Christians men at all?
So, the way men treat women, is crucial to the way God will treat them. If they step aside and abuse their so-called nearest and dearest, why should they be believed when it comes to anything else. Men want sex, and the dirtier it is, the better. The salacious, and sights and sounds that draw the blood into the penis, ready for explosion. Is this the way they do business? Carry out friendships? Certainly.
It is the same situation with the people of a God. They seek God but cannot find Him, because of the abusers. These dark stars inhabit pulpits and stages and take recognition and fame to themselves. The message is sullied and the rape of the holy people is carried out. Who will stand in the gap? Who will be heard?
The only hope for the world is Christ in women. They are prepared with the good works that God wants them to do, and they will nourish the next generation with love, resilience and fortitude. Our small boys need their Mums. They do not need the conditioning backtrack of competition and putting others down, which ungodly man is programmed to teach. Some men must be kept away from children and women, and if re- education does ant work, then its curtains.
How powerful is the woman who loves the Lord her God and is totally committed to Him? The Spirit of God will be with her in whatever she does, and she will bring the thousands into the kingdom. Everyone will call her blessed and she will free the slaves from their shackles and the power of God will be rampant in that society.
It gives me goose- bumps, to know I am there. Praise His blessed and glorious name forever…
V15 “Did he not make you one, although he had the residue of the Spirit? Why one? He sought a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.”
The wording in this verse is hard to decipher. It is a contention as to what or who the prophet is alluding. The word “he” is sometimes assigned to Abraham, since Abraham was talked about earlier in the chapter. Abraham was a giant in the faith and called the friend of God, and yet he took more then one wife. Sara his wife was old and beyond childbearing years, and so he took Hagar as a wife, to produce the son of promise. This was not a godly or faithful decision, and showed a weakness in the character of the ancient patriarch, as he did not trust God in the situation of his marriage to Sara. Abraham had over-much presence of the Spirit in his life, and yet he chose badly in this regard.
God gave Abraham his wife, Sara. God purposes all the situations of life, so faith will keep to the promise from God, and wait for the overruling of God’s power and love in situations we might not understand. Abraham was given one wife, but he failed by taking another, out of fear and too much trust in human biology. God promised Abraham a “godly seed” but Abraham took the situation into his own hands and in his searching for the “godly seed” failed to trust and obey God.
Because of this situation, the people of God that Malachi was speaking to, are using this failure of Abraham to justify their failures. If it was ok for Abraham, our revered father in the nation, then its ok for us. They look to Abraham rather than God, and use the failure of someone they revere, to cover up their own failures. This is the problem with religion, and religions movements, and denominations and church practices. We as humans, look to the people we can see, and follow their practices, rather than to follow the Lord. To set people up as monuments of knowledge, spiritual strength and as role models, is not helpful. All the characters in the Scripture are recorded for our help. God records all their failures, and often huge failures, to teach us that we must follow Him and not other sinful humans. King David was described as “a man after God’s own heart” and yet was responsible for the worst sins, and needed the prophet Nathan, to show him his sin, because he managed to hide it from his own conscience.
Everyone fails, because we have sinful natures that still war against or souls and spiritual life. We will fall if we do not pay careful attention to what is taught in the Holy Word.
As Abraham failed, in his marital relationships and was unfaithful to Sara, even though she too thought it a good idea, so we will fail too if we justify ourselves and excuse our sin and lack of faith. To “deal treacherously”with our marriage partners, is to fail God and undermine our life with Him. To seek more than God intends, that is, a man and a woman together in an indissoluble bond, is to seek outside the will of God. The husband and wife are together in the marriage promise, to live and serve God together, and keep their relationship free from outside temptation. When we forget what we have promised, then other influences will get between us and the enemy of our souls will find a way to undermine and separate our union.
The prophet here shows that these unbelieving Israelites had no intention of obeying God, but used excuses to justify their own behaviour. They confronted God with nefarious arguments to cover over their sins, as if they were presenting a case in a human court of law. The knowledge of God has gone from their outlook on life and relationships, and they are determined to do as they please. They fail to remember that God sees all, and reads the intention of every heart, and will judge us accordingly.
The tempter and the sinfulness of the human heart has already got into their lifestyle, and their mind processes are contrary and contravening the life with God.
We are here, implored to guard our close family relationships, and to stick closely to the ways of God. To seek help and support outside that relationship, is to seek outside of God. God is putting the two relationships together, the marriage as a reflection of the Christian’s life of faith. Marriage is that important, and God will measure our godliness according to the health of our home relationships.
It is too easy to fail. We can justify ourselves by saying that lots of marriages break down, and “it was not my fault.” We can see high-profile marriages end in separation, but this is not God’s way. God “allowed” Moses to issue the Israelites with a bill of divorce, because of “The hardness of their hearts.” To fail in marriage is to spiritually fail. We know it, but we find excuses for what we do, and become oblivious to our own fault in the relationship. Husbands and wives are sinful beings, and we must love and help each other to overcome our weaknesses. We must bear with each other, forgive daily, be encouragers of the mind and soul, make sacrifices for each other. We are as individuals and as a couple together, reflections of Christ, and not the way this world is going.
Christians marriage should be so very different from this world. We are partners together with Him. There is no pecking order. We are responsible for our spiritual life, and for the development of each other as spiritual people. The patriarchal or matriarchal model will not wash. We are all sinful, and we must daily support each other to live God-orientated lives. The moment either one looks away from Christ and to self-help, or other worldly attractions, is the beginning of the weak link in the bond. Marriage is founded on mutual trust and faith in the living God, and we should walk in that way, forsaking everything for the sake of each other and the glory of God.
“Don’t let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favour, and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Fear Yahweh, and depart from evil.
It will be health to your body, and nourishment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3: 3-8
“I call you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.”
Ephesians 4: 1-5
The Christian way is for men and women, and we need each other as helps and teachers of the heavenly way. Neither gender can be remiss about these things, and we all have a spiritual life which God is using for our joy and for the benefit of other people. We should not find ourselves in the situation, where our lives are not as bright as they could be, and where the glory of God is not seen. Too many seek themselves and their own comforts and desires, and the Lord is in no way obvious. Our witness before Christians sisters and brothers is damaged, and also before the sight of unbelieving people, who see that God was not enough for us. It is a very testing viewpoint, but is the way of life and peace.
If we should fail, and our partner should fail, we have a petition before God, for forgiveness and to rescue us from sin and failure. It is ot easy to just leave a relationship, but God can do more than we ask or imagine. God can make things better than before, and can help us to grow and become better equipped to trust him and obey what He says. Nothing is easy, and the Christians life is impossible without the Lord. We are weak and often unwilling to do what God says in His Word, but God can even change that mindset to someone who is strong in God, and able to forgive and reach out to others.
Our relationships are crucial, and we must fight to maintain them and to be better teachers to each other. Everyone is a student of the Word, because without that knowledge and close bond with the Father, we cannot grow, and therefore be of little blessing to others.
V16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “He who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,” says the LORD of Hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not break faith.”
If the situation was not clear, already, God says it exactly as He views it. God hates divorce. The permanent breaking of a vow is the opposite of God’s way of doing things. God is Love. His love is strong and constant and never changes towards those He loves. God never breaks a promise and never gives less or short-changes the person, who He loves. He is never annoyed, never boastful, never disrespectful to that person.
“Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
The whole of this chapter is a most beautiful grace, that we as human beings don’t have. Many of the statements are put in the negative “not proud…doesn’t brag… is not provoked….” We need to hear these things from God, so we can be sure of our need of Him. Love is a positive force that puts down the negatives and prays them out of our lives.
“Love is patient and kind…” If we were like this always and forever, we would be like God. The point that is being made here, is that we are to be like God. If we are like Him, then our relationships will not break down. Our marriages will be strong and healthy, and the goodness of God will be the defining factor for both women and men. Marriages will not stand the test of time, if we are not putting these qualities first in our behaviour and in our mind. Both parties must seek the good of the other, or the situation will be one spoilt person and one drudge.
To be like God, requires a complete turnaround in our behaviour and the way that we view life and it’s manifestations. We need a heart like God’s heart, and a mind that is taken up with His commandments. In other words, we must walk with God. Without God in our lives, we are at the mercy of our desires and the temptations of the evil one. He hates marriage, because it mirrors the grace of God, as two sinful people learn how to live at peace and submit, lovingly to each other.
God is not a tyrant and He is not a silent partner, who does not really contribute in an active and positive way. God is always seeking to do good, and to do good to everyone, not just those who revere His name. God is generous to everyone, and still blesses those who do not respect His name. But to those who put their trust in Him, and accept the love shown on the cross a Calvary, there is especial help, and all the promises of God in the whole of Scripture, belong to these people.
“But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust..”
Matthew 5: 44-45
Whatever our partners are like, or however they fail, it is Godlike to forgive and to persevere in all good hope. If there are things that we will not forgive, then the righteousness of God does not dwell in us. Marriages fail, because we fail. Unfortunately, when a marriage is troubled, one side or the other wants to blame each other. We all like to justify our behaviour, and to avoid looking into our own hearts, to see our faults and failures.
If we cannot face the fact that we ourselves are just as wrong, then the relationship is over, because we all need to face up and really put things right. In this most private of relationships, this is hurtful and very searching. If we cannot sort out our marriages then we have no hope with other relationships. We will not be loving our enemies anytime soon, and our attitude will shift to justifying our many failures, and being too embarrassed to bring them to God. This is why God hates divorce, because it takes His children away from the closeness of walking with Him, and a whole family is tarnished with the effect of the failure of that precious promise.
If one party is “unfaithful” it can cause a lot of upset, and a lot of bridge building if there is to be restitution. There must be reflection on both sides about this failure, and neither person will survive the test, if God is not at work in the relationship. Marriage should not last as long as life, as there will be many times of searching the heart for signs and the rising of sin. There will be failure that cannot be rectified and sins that cannot be forgiven.
In a good marriage, both people will be on their guard and will help each other to keep thinking rightly and finding help in the Word of God. Complacency will undermine the sincerity of the person towards the other, and relationships become tedious and lacking in vitality. We must work at our relationships, and feeling forgive, if we are to succeed and have a strong and vital bond.
The divorce spoken of here, is to confront the state of the priests of God, who have been monumentally unfaithful to their God. Their treacherous dealings with God and His laws, are even worse that the practice of putting their wives out of the marriage bond, without any care or respect for them. The men who divorce their wives for any reason, carry out violence on their person and feelings, and break the sacred bond of promise before God. If we do this continually, it will harden our hearts and eventually reach the stage of no going back.
So also these priests are breaking every bond of promise in the book, by entering into relationships with people who hate the Lord and who destroy the hearts and faith of His people. They are violating the trust of their people and causing unfaithfulness.
The Lord asks the priests, to guard their spirit and not to break faith with Him. To go against God and to disrespect His law and love, is utter folly. These priests had gone down this way, and had lead the people of God astray. They are breaking faith, and causing others to break faith and make a ruin of their lives, since God is no longer regarded as God, and the desires of the heart, become rampant.
V17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord your God, and he delights in them;’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?’”
The Lord, the mighty God, has heard it all. The excuses, the complaints, the self-justification, the groaning against having to follow His commands. The Lord is weary of the words of His people, because they are so dull and faithless. Over and over, God has to listen to the excuses and groans of a people who have been given everything and still, will not follow. The are ungrateful and unbelieving, full of open, festering sores on their souls, that only deserve eternal punishment. Even the fear of that place, does not cause them to desist. Good has to listen to the constant rudeness, disrespect and disloyalty to His person.
And yet, God is still trying to reach them. He keeps teaching them His way, and what it means to follow His way to eternal life. God is not willing that any should perish…
“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3: 9
God requires repentance. There is no other way that we can become part of His kingdom. Our sins separate us from our God, and like these Israelites of old, we don’t really care, without the work of the Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts. We are not able to acknowledge God, as we should, and we certainly don’t want to look within and see our sin. It is not a selection of wrong stuff that we do, but it is a heart condition, which is fatal, unless we turn and confess our sin and get the moral disease cured.
We have wearied the Lord with all our distractions and selfish desires and godless ambitions. We are no different to these people, and we must accept that human society is not getting better. We must examine our place in that society and decide if we should be part of it, and to what extent to be involved in the issues of this life.
Again, in this verse, the people reply to Almighty God, with accusatory statements, and self-promotion. God points to their sin and they reply, “what sin?” It is incredible that they should speak in such a way. They are actually blaming God for their spiritual deadness and for their sinful state, and that it is somehow His fault that they remain evil. How can they harbour the idea that they are pleasing God by what they say and do? Their knowledge of God is poor, and their understanding of themselves, is blind. The attitude to the holiness of God is based on their human desire to justify themselves. They say that God regards evil people as good. These people are building their hopes on a God of mercy, but without the holiness of the demand for recompense for sin.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin. For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.”
Romans 7: 14-20
Paul tells us about a powerful force within us, that cannot over come the disease of sin. It is in my person, and it overcomes my desire to do what is right. To accept that we as beings are sinful, and that no good lives in us a all, is a realisation that only God can show us and teach us to accept. Even as Christians, we still battle with this force, this mindset and intent of the heart. We must love righteousness, and hate what is evil, and we need God to teach us that.
The idea that God will just accept anyone on any terms, is totally ungodly. God will never excuse our sin, and every single deed of unkindness and every lazy word, has to be paid for. This is the whole premise for the Lord Jesus coming into the world. He had to take our sins and pay for every last one. Again, without holiness, or perfection, no one can see the Lord our God. The phrase “come as you are..” has been turned to an unholy thing. We do come to God in our sinful self, and He changes us completely and resurrects us to a new life, but He will never accept us without the blood of Christ, shed for sinners.
So these professed God-followers, do not accept His verdict on their lives. They say to themselves that the evil is actually good, and God will accept them no matter what, just because they are seen as the people of God. The shoddy devotion and unclean, damaged sacrifices, are regard as good enough, by these spiritually blind people. We can see they do not know God, and their words do not match their deeds, but they themselves cannot see it. They imagine God is just like them, because He does not immediately destroy them. They think The Lord is tolerating their sinfulness, rather than being merciful and giving them a chance to change. They excuse His lack of punishment, for lack of holiness.
This is a common point of view. If God is not presented for who He is, we get the wrong idea quickly, and have no interest in finding out for ourselves. We are not lovers of God, or of His Word, or of the way of salvation, but just want to fit into the social setting of church life. God is asking again, what the spiritual leaders of this nation were teaching. If the people do not hear what is right and have it lived out in the lives of other Christians, they will go astray. This is why the spiritual state of Christians leaders is so very crucial, because people go astray from God very quickly.
The state of the church of Jesus Christ, in these days, has never been more mixed. To try to define a Christian, is very difficult, because the gospel is not being preached and it certainly isn’t preached widely. In past centuries, preachers went on horse back to spread the good news, speaking first the message that repentance must happen, so that we understand what it is to be forgiven. In these days, we have the internet, which goes into billons of homes. Yet, there is almost no clarion call to repent and be changed. The message is human based, a message of God’s help under any and every situation, but no pointed teaching that God is holy and we are sinful. There is no urgency that we must “flee from the wrath to come…”
The message becomes our particular point of view. “I believe…” “I think..” This is not the point. The point is, that God says attend to what His judgment of the situation is. We deflect from God, and take authority to ourselves. Hence, the hierarchy and the building up of a human reputation, to build another empire in the name of “church” and “kingdom of God.” The people remain blind to their need, and faith is feeble, and work for God is laid aside for the sake of self. We are too relaxed, lacking in zeal, and blind to what is coming. God seems to hide, and we interpret that as things are fine. Self-examination is too infrequent, and pouring out confession in contrition- there is no evidence of that. We are not desperate enough yet, and we still think God is like us.
“For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming; even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Because of this, God sends them a working of error, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
2 Thessalonians 2: 7-12
This needs no explaination…
Sent from my iPad
Malachi chapter three
V1 “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, whom you desire, behold, he comes!” says The Lord of Hosts.”
The beginning of this chapter is a beautiful relief for the hungry human soul, who seeks the Lord. Amidst all the condemnation, which is necessary, there is a sure and certain hope, that God will send His messenger to teach the people His ways, and this messenger will speak the truth and be faithful in all things.
“Behold. He comes….” as the messenger born into a Godly family, and set apart for a specific purpose of preaching the coming of the Son of God, who was a cousin to this preacher, and who was the incarnate God. John the Baptist was a man born for a particular time and for a particular role. He rejected the easy life, and all the trappings of worldly success, and called out to his fellow women and men, to repent. This was the gospel of John the Baptist. Repent and be converted. Someone was coming soon, who was so worthy, that even John, as a holy man, was not good enough to untie the shoes of this Redeemer.
John was sent by God to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming Messiah. His presence was foretold by the prophet Isaiah…
“A voice of one calling: “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it.”
Isaiah 40: 3-5
John the Baptist was that prophet, and his message was unique, for it called people out of sinful lifestyles, to follow and obey this coming Messiah. John. Gave up the right to a soft life, and became an example of the attitude of all who proclaim this Saviour Jesus. His reward was not in this life, but in the life to come. He died a violent death, at the hands of a foolish and vain king, but God’s servant was praised by the Lord Jesus as the “greatest man who every lived.”
“For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”
Matthew 11: 10-11
“Behold he comes….” the messenger comes to Bethlehem, as was foretold by all the prophets. He comes without trumpets and world acclaim, but is born silently, into a lowly situation, to a humble couple who loved the Lord their God. It was foretold, and even evil Herod, could read the signs left in the pages of the Old Testament. Jesus is seen by the few, who were ready to receive the message in obedience and faith. It is recorded for us if we should wish to read it, and the power of God is seen in the protection of the Saviour of the world from human wickedness.
“Behold He comes..” He comes for those who are seeking Him and looking for His coming. All the prophecies pitted the way, but when Jesus came, it was a sudden and unexpected event. Even though we have signposts to the way of life, and the provision of the Saviour who came to die and rise again, we are still not ready. Jesus comes to the physical temple where He was dedicated to God, and which would be thrown down in the space of a generation. Jesus has come as the holy Lamb of God who can seal the covenant of promise and keep it eternally for the sake of His chosen people. He is the Saviour and the Redeemer of all who love Him and who walk in faith with Him, even in a sinful world.
There seems to be some desire in the people for such a Messiah, and there is a cooling off in regard for the corrupt priest at this time. Sin makes us sick and it eventually becomes too much for us to bear. We seek a Saviour. The religious leaders have no such power or authority or love for the people, who were perishing, to save them, or even point them in the right direction. The people are sin-sick, and there is no remedy in the religion of the Levite priests. When we get sick enough of sin, then God can come down and offer salvation and a new life. When we run out of this world’s diversions, we will get round to seeking the Lord. When the time is right, Jesus will come and there is rescue. Even this sentence shows how far away our hearts are from any desire for Christ. Unless the Spirit of God moves in us, we can never find life. This is not a woolly- minded feeling, but events that we can look back on and remember how God brought us to Jesus through the inner working of the Holy Spirit. This is crucial for our future assurance, and we must be clear.
“Behold He comes…” what joy for the sin-sick soul and the person who is seeking relief from the oppression of this present age. With what joy we learn and turn and repent, to find a living Saviour, who is for us and not against us. Life now begins, and there is peace with God and strength to life uprightly in a perverse age. Those who love the Lord Jesus will keep their eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfected of our faith. There is someone we can trust and rely on to keep us and bring us safely through the struggles as we walk towards heaven and home.
“Behold He comes…” Jesus is coming again. We look to the skies for our Lord to break through the gloom and put an end to the wickedness for good. He will take all His people home to Himself, and all who choose sin, will have what they desire. For the Christians it will be a greatest day, and the first day of an eternity of great days that will never end. For the unforgiven, it will be the worst day, and the beginning of an eternity of unending days of anguish.
This is the day we look to. The earth will melt with fervent heat and the Universe will implode like a rolled up cloth, heaven will be filled with delight and joys and utter pleasure, as the believer sees the one they love. Hell will open to receive those who reject the Lord and all His goodness. They will be forgotten forever.
Such joy in that heavenly kingdom, as all wrongs are put right and the glory of eternal righteousness is enjoyed by all those who love it and love the One who has bought it for them. We cannot yet know or understand enough to be specific about it, but it will be unimaginable peace, joy, love, all emanating for the Saviour of the world, who bought salvation for His people.
This should be our unending cry, in this world, “repent and seek the Lord.”
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”
Acts 3: 19
“Flee from the wrath to come.”
Matthew 3: 7
“He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.”
Acts 3: 7-9
How can we claim love for lost people, when all we will do is give money into church funds? Where is our devotion to Christ, that propels us out into the streets to speak the news? Let us be clear, if we have no love for God or our fellow human being, we are not Christians. The levels of apathy and laziness, are astounding. We say we love God and want Him to help us, but we are not willing to learn or change, or make the sacrifice of our lives, to Jesus.
Let us remember who is speaking these words. It is the Lord of Hosts. The Lord commands and controls everything, and He is prepared to keep warning us, but at some stage, we must waken up. This prophecy of Malachi is at the end of an era, and is the punctuation for a period of silence from God. When God is silent, we should be afraid. When He stops speaking to you, you should pay attention to what He has just said to you. We need to listen to Him and do what He asks. No one wants better for us than our loving God. However, if He is silent, and we don’t care, we are truly in a bad state. Here may be no way back for that position. Some people are lost long before they get to hell.
“Behold He comes…’ what joys that He comes for us… don’t delay…
“Now therefore be wise, you kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Give sincere homage to the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 2: 10-12
This is the only appropriate response to the call of God. He will not call forever. We must come on His terms, and humble ourselves before Him, and give all honour and praise to His name. We serve Him with fear, and rejoice before Him with trembling. All those who trust in Him will not be confounded…
V2 “But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like launderer’s soap;”
What an amazing rhetorical question to every living soul. When Christ appears, who will be able to withstand the sight of His power and authority, and who’s eyes will be able to linger on His holy presence?
This Scripture was for the Jewish nation in the expectation of the coming of Christ as the Messiah. They superficially looked ahead to Christ as their redeemer, but it was for earthly and not spiritual reasons. The political situation took up their thoughts and viewpoint on what God would do, but they did not seek God, nor really want His closeness to infiltrate their lives. The Messiah was coming, but these, so-called people of God, would be shown up to be the hypocrites they were. We have seen it clearly in the historical record of the life of Christ, how blind and hard-hearted, these people showed themselves to be. They did not endure that first coming of Christ, because they could not recognise who He is and He didn’t do what they thought He would, or should do. Their unrepentant and godless hearts, did not see the spiritual reality of their situation, and refused the truth at every point.
It is appropriate to also think of that second coming of Christ, which is yet to be, and how that will affect all nations, not just the Jewish nation.
Every person who has ever lived, will stand before him, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting ignominy. There will be only two camps in this, and we all decide who we want to spend eternity serving.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18
These words are a comfort to Christians and should cause anxiety for those who don’t believe. If we know Christ, we will know we are ready to stand before Him, not in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness given to us by Jesus the Saviour, when we first believed. It will be a terrible time for those who have chosen not to believe, and they will understand the wretchedness of their choice and that it is now too late to repent. Who can endure this the greatest of days? Who can bear to even think of it? Only those made ready and washed clean by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the first coming of the Messiah, will now come to full fruition. The kingdom will finally and fully come in great glory and joy for all who have believed.
The limbs of the unbeliever will not be able to hold them up, yet they will surely stand before the judge. Hearts will fail with the pressure of fear and crushing regret, but all shall live to suffer the consequences of personal unbelief. No one can endure His coming, and spiritual life will be unavailable, since the day of salvation will be over, as we stand before this mighty judge. Jesus the Lord, will no longer be our Saviour, but the highest judge who sees and knows us perfectly. We will not be able to hide, nor will there be any insolent excuses, only fear and trembling and the prospect of a fiery indignation from Him.
The believer will be caught up to meet their Lord in the air, and go to be with Him, the one they love above all others, forever. Their joy will come to full fruition, and they will rejoice that the fight with sin and self is over, and they enter their eternal rest with the full and free redemption that was promised to them. What is our comfort as Christian people? It is to be “with the Lord, forever..” what a prospect to give us hope and encouragement as we face our daily lives in the here and now. One day we will rise, wether we have died or are still alive when Christ returns, we will all go together to be with the Lord.
Without Christ we have no such hope, and in this present life, we will have no power over the evil that infests our days. We have no power to fight it, and no prospect of reprieve. If we hear His voice, do not harden your heart.
“That day is a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of the trumpet and alarm, against the fortified cities, and against the high battlements. I will bring distress on men, that they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord, and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath, but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy; for he will make an end, yes, a terrible end, of all those who dwell in the land.”
This mighty day will cause such distress for some, because they will realise their fault, and will not be able to put it right. God records fearful words and phrases to make it clear to us, what will happen and why it will happen.
“the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Therefore, since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
2 Peter 3:10-13
This Scripture is so clear about the effect this knowledge should have on us. We must seek holiness and long for that day when sins will finally be put away. All those who laugh or scorn or put it off for the sake of present convenience, will be surprised when they find themselves standing before the judge with no defences and no witnesses to plead for them. Whereas, those who believe, will see the fruition of all they have longed for, and enter into the salvation of the eternal kingdom.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. For when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape. But you, brothers, aren’t in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness, so then let’s not sleep, as the rest do, but let’s watch and be sober.”
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
So we have this mighty day spoke about, and pointed to, by the Old Testament prophets. And clearly explained by many New Testament passages of Scripture. The writers saw it and proclaimed it as a truth, that this world is not forever. This day is a secret and will come to pass when no one expects it. We are told to “be ready…”
Malachi tells us that Christ will come like a refiner’s fire. Christ’s time on earth was marked with the unbelief of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus spoke to them honestly and warned them of their situation before God, but they would not believe. Only a few, like Nicodemus, were inclined to seek out the Lord, and believe. When Christ came He came to save from sin and give righteousness to all who believe. Many listened to His words and admired His miracles, but few seemed to actively believe. Jesus taught serious lessons about the Father’s righteousness and the purpose of His coming into this world. He spoke of repentance and faith and that spiritual life was the one thing we really need. Those who stood in the way, Jesus condemned. He called them “a brood of vipers..”
“You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?”
Matthew 22: 23
His words of judgment showed them to be “dead mens’ bones.” It this was the pronouncement in the day of God’s mercy, how much worse in the final day, when the door of salvation is shut.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
Matthew 23: 27-28
Jesus the judge will test every person to see if their deeds will measure up to the perfect standard of God’s kingdom. If our personal sins have never been dealt with, we will perish in that fire. Only those who have the righteousness of Christ, will be able to pass the test, as they stand surrounded in His robe of righteousness.
In the incarnation, at Christ’s first coming, Christ came to cleanse the world of sin, and draw a multitude of sinful people to Himself. He came to pay that price, the cost of human sin, so that we would escape the judgment and be made worthy of living with God forever, and redeemed people. Jesus came to purify and to pay the total price of the cleaning from sin as the saviour of the word. We have the record of this in the New Testament, and we can see the effect the words and deeds fo Jesus had on the people, at that time. There is also the second coming of Christ, which we also have documented as the things which are to come.
Many do not believe in this, and risk the safety of their souls on a foolish idea, that God is not true. The refiners fire will come.
The refiners fire was used to refine precious metals, and to purify them to make them valuable and fit for the queen or king. The metal had to go through the fire repeatedly, to burn away all the impurities that had infiltrated the metal, and so, in the fire, the metal was made completely pure. So on that last day, the refining fire of the judgment and wrath of Christ, will test every human soul. If you are not pure, you will suffer eternal loss. Anyone who has put their trust in Christ and has had their sins dealt with in their earthly lives, will be already refined and fit for that heavenly kingdom.
The Scripture speaks about Christians being tested in the fire of God’s purity, to see if their Christian service was pure or suffered contamination.
“For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward.”
1 Corinthians 3: 11-14
Only the life and service that has been built on the person of Jesus Christ and on the altar of sacrifice of holiness, will stand that test. Some Christians will suffer the loss of their reward, because they have not kept to holiness of life, humility and obedience, and have built an empire for themselves and not God. There will be Christians who will enter heaven because of what Jesus did for them, but will have no works of service to give for the praise of His glory. Too many are happy with this, and do not seek the righteousness of God, in Christ. We must be certain that we really belong to Jesus Christ, and have the desire to grow and make disciples of all who God brings into our lives.
Similarly, we have the analogy of the launderers soap. Soap is a great cleanser and has been down through the centuries of time. It is a simple looking substance, that anyone can use, and it cleanse and disinfects our clothes, homes and anything that we use for cleaning. On this great day that is coming, Jesus the judge will cleanse all those who believe, and the rest will remain filthy. His kingdom will come, and only those made ready by faith will be included and brought to the full immortality they have been promised. All who have stubbornly refused, will be put out, like the soap that cleans clothes. The impurity of the unrepentant will result in their exclusion from the kingdom.
V3 “And he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer to the Lord, offerings in righteousness.”
Here are the words of comfort for the people of God. There will be restitution for those who truly love God and are His servants, and they will be cleansed. The Levites could not cleanse themselves, but God put them in the furnace of testing, to cleanse away their impurities and make them worthy to serve once again. God does not leave His people, to take the path of the law, which only condemns and can never make right. Christ walked that path of obedience for the sake of His people, as they were unable to walk it for themselves. Only the righteous One, the Pascal Lamb, is able to make restitution, and only He is able to make sinful people clean and fit for His service.
God in His kindness, points out to us our many sins, and shows us the inability we have to change ourselves, since we are dead to God and all spiritual life. He does not praise us in our failures, but challenges us about our inadequacies and show us our need to turn and repent. No other religion does this, because we do not like to hear about our faults, and are not attracted to reform, or, resurrection of our souls. We think we are ok, and not that bad. Without the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we are dead to God and all spiritual knowledge and wisdom. We can have a semblance of religion, but it is all about trying to change ourselves, which will ultimately fail.
The message of God, in the Old and New testaments, tells us we need a new life. We must confront our own sins, and hate them and earnestly seek God who alone can pardon us. We must seek the forgiveness from the man on the cross, and appreciate what He has done we for us. This means turning our back on religion, and turning to a Saviour who shed His blood for ignoble us, so that we could be free from the sin that binds, and be free to obey the Lord, with a true heart. No religion can do this, because only God can address the depths of our depravity, and make us new. Only the work of God in our minds, hearts and souls, can make this change. Only God can resurrect a dead soul and make the conscience feel the need of pardon.
“… in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him…”
Ephesians 1: 7-9
The work of salvation is the work of God. It is God who opens our eyes and mind to see the truth and our desperate need. God has purposed all things according to is will and He will bring us to repentance. Our part is to seek Him with a whole heart and not give up. We must put ourselves in the way of the message, so that God will speak to us. In speaking we respond in contrite confession of our sin, so that we can be saved.
If God challenges us about our lives, and we feel our conscience troubled, that is a good sign. There is a way for sinners to be forgiven and God can purify us and make us righteous.
In this text, we see the process of how God will refine His priest and make them fit for the task they have been given. When the refining fire has done its work, they are renewed and able to minister to the people of God. This is rich comfort for those who seek God and have desires after His holiness, when they seek to be like Him. Once again, the priests of God can offer acceptable sacrifices for sin and for thankfulness for the faithfulness of God towards Hid people. The people are once again, lifted up to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
If we need the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, and desire the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living, we must seek cleansing. Only the power of God can give that desire and bring about the repentance and faith in necessary for the growth of spiritual life and holiness in the lives of those who belong to God.
V4 “the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years.”
This state of holy living, comes from the mind and heart of God. The reformation needed for Priests and people, is a renewed heart to God. When God’s people wander and stray into dark places, only the light of God can bring them out again. We can become so tangled up in our webs of self-deceit, that we cant even see the way out. To resurrect souls is the work of the Holy Spirit, and we pray fervently to see this work of release in human hearts and minds.
These particular priests and congregation, have strayed, but they can be brought back, so that the relationship is put right and the return of truth comes to pass, as in the days of long ago. We do not know how long these believers have rested in the wrong meadows, but wether long or short, God must bring them back.
The way to God is not by ourselves. Sinners cannot stand before a holy God, and justify themselves for what they have done. God’s verdict is that we are full of iniquity, and though we may look good on the outside, we are full of dead bones. We must come through Christ, the mediator between man and God. Only the perfect sacrifice of Christ can atone for our wicked deeds. We come to God in the humility of the sacrifice paid for us, knowing that we stand only in the merit of Jesus Christ, and His righteousness, give to us. It is the place where human beings least want to be, unless they have grasped the enormity of their crimes, and the thoroughness of the price paid on the cross.
Judah is the people of God, the name from old times, and Jerusalem is the city of God, which is the place where all the people of God will reach in glory. Judah is precious to God and will not leave them to linger close to death. He can lift the again and renew the covenant of old. Jerusalem will never be taken and that city will shine forever and a beacon of grace and mercy and love. It is the home of the just. The home of sinful people made righteous and reigning forever with their eternal Lord. What a great expectation for every redeemed person. The Christian’s can look forward to that day, with a certain hope and the joyful longing for what will then be.
But in this life, our fallings and failings will also be conquered and there will be strength of spiritual life for those who believe. God will lift up those who are trusting in Him and who look ahead to that last great day, when human history will be over, and the everlasting kingdom is come. Even in our present history, the kingdom is being built and all who will be in it, will become part of it. The ancient days will again and again, be remembered, and those who love God, will be made awake by His power, to serve and minister to all those around who remain lost people. God will save and no laziness, or falsehood, or folly, will stand in the way.
The offering will once again be pleasant to the Lord, a work done in His power and love, that will bring in a wave of lost people responding in faith. How wonderful that will be… Do we want to be part of it? Or is it unattractive to us. Christians who believe and seek this kingdom, must pray without ceasing and live holy lives, leaving aside all wickedness and seeking God to give a life that loves God and others too.
V5 “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the perjurers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and who deprive the foreigner of justice, and don’t fear me,” says the Lord of hosts.”
In this verse we have a list of people who will not go unpunished for their sins. It is an interesting list and puts those who fail to give fair pay to their workers on the same level as those who practice witchcraft, break binding marriage vows and those who tell lies. All these practices are the opposite to God, and contravene His holy law.
Those who oppress others are identified as those who deny the workers their worth in wages, and take advantage of the workers of short-term hire to make more money for themselves and their shareholders. Those who deny the widow, who has lost her partner and is now bringing up the family alone, should have the same benefits as other people. Orphans, who have lost parents are likewise to be supported, financially and also in all other ways too. The people who have come to work in countries to support themselves, must also have the same resources and justice as those who are indigenous to that place. There is to be no favouritism.
This has always been to law of God for the well-being of any human society. We ignore it at our peril, because it is His provision for people who are not able to fully support themselves and God will not allow oppression to finally succeed. God says that if we ignore these statements from Him, we are showing disrespect to Him as the author of all life and living.
No child of God can be involved in this kind of system, since it is ungodly, indeed, God includes sorcery along with these social evils. There are those who say that social support makes people “lazy” and “ dependant” but that idea does not come from God. It is usually the argument of people who don’t want to share and regard themselves as pillars of society because they are not in one of these groups. We easily forget why we can work, or are able to afford certain things, and we imagine our abilities are our own achievements. None of can lift a finger, unless the Lord gives us ability and strength. Why should we not work and use our money for the good of other people? Some argue that they pay taxes for that purpose. It depends on who you think the money you have belongs to. If God gives the strength and ability them surely the money we earn (the outcome) belong to God who gave those things. It turns the situation on its head.
I must be careful how I use that money, because it is not mine. I should take the minimum for my basic needs, and use the rest to help others around me. In these days, our families have needs, and their prospects for our children for living and having what they need, seems to only affect the very rich. Our children study and work, and still cannot afford homes and everything they need. This is a social breakdown, and parents still must help out. This is a great opportunity for us to be closer to family members and actually cements the bonds of love.
Nevertheless, in the wider society of public life, no one has more rights that another, and we should be regarding each other as equal in value and therefore equal outcomes. If you were able to have a good education and good prospects in work, you are blessed by God. It is safe to regard what we have in this way, and helps us to fight pride, and self-seeking. Unfortunately for us, the love of money drives us to seek more and more of this worlds goods, to our spiritual hurt.
It is easy to feel we have the right to certain things, but in reality we don’t. We are not better or more worthy than others, and we judge others without really knowing their circumstances. We do judge by the outward appearance, but only God sees the heart. Our love for God will show itself in the way we regard other people, and that will influence us in the way we treat others and talk about them. We are to be generous, and not hold back if someone is in need. We are all made in God’s image and that is true even when we fail.
If you do not agree with this situation, you are a “sorcerer.” God will judge you as an evil person, who flagrantly disobeys His commandments, and who practices the dark arts and the evil one. You are against God, because you are against people. It is easy for you to pass people in the street who are obviously needy, and just walk on by with your money safely in your pocket and the good news about Jesus the Saviour, trapped within your dead heart.
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.
If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.”
Galatians 5: 19-21
We need to repent. We need to get ourselves sorted out in our thinking and believing. God says He will move swiftly in this judgment. In fact, He Himself will be the witness who will be up at the stand first. He will level the accusations against you and you will not stand. All the “riff-raff” people you laugh at, or ignore, will be exonerated, and you will be indicted, and the one who failed to speak up, or practically help a fellow human being . No one else will stand for you as a witness, since God is a witness against you.
“A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’”
Matthew 18: 17-23
It is better to be needy and seek your help from the Lord, than to have funds and fail to share them. God is not a Capitalist, nor a Socialist, but is the righteous judge of all the earth, and He will do what is right. His ways are not our ways, and are impossible to find out without the soul operating in faith and love. Love is our hallmark and it must be seen, or we have no salvation.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Revelation 17: 17-21
V6 “For I, the Lord, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
It would be mistaken to presume that the reason why God allows us life, is because we deserve it. As Christians, the situation is the same. The only reason we can breath and work and live our lives, is because God allows it. He is working out His purposes, and He continues to call people to repentance and faith, and His motivation is mercy and love. We find this very hard to believe and take in. If someone wrongs us, we retaliate and try to save face and get a good feeling about giving as good as we get. God is not like this. We think He is foolish because He is like this. Christians can be so far from the mind set of Christ, that we fit in well with the things of this world, and the activities of this life.
God is plain speaking in this regard. He does not justify Himself, or explain His ways to sinful us, but tells us that He is merciful to us. This is because He does not change and His reasons for acting as He does, is hidden in His holy will. We have no right to delve into that, and we stand in His presence, made holy by faith alone.
If God was to treat us as we deserve, and give us the things we have coming to us in His justice, we would be destroyed. If God was to treat you fairly, you would be in that terrible place of torment. Even if we never exercise faith in Christ, God has still given us life as a gift to live and enjoy.
God’s mercy remains through all the generations of humankind. He is slow to dish out trouble, and this slowness causes us to think He is not paying attention to what is going on. God’s ability to wait for people to repent, is long suffering and His patience towards us, we mistake for not noticing our wrongs. God doesn’t change, and so the generations from Jacob, are not swept away in His anger. God bears with His people and teaches, rebukes, chastens us to obey and follow the path to life.
God calls Himself “I, the Lord.” Just so that we are certain who He is and what his rights over us are. He is “I” He is the one through whom all things consist and exist, and there was no one before Him. He is the eternal one, and He decides what will happen to each person and He makes the destiny of everyone. We should bow to such a God and seek Him earnestly, that our lives will be put right and we will be acceptable to Him. In Him we live and move and have our being, and to know Him is life and peace. We can rest easy in His love and care, and know that whatever befalls us, we are safe in His hands. It takes a lifetime of walking with Him, to understand such peace and to not fret at any trial that comes our way. He is reliable and faithful and full of tenderness towards His dear people. Who will be foolish and stay away?
The unchanging nature of our God the Lord, is His unchanging quality. He cannot change, for He is good, and no part of His character can be improved upon. We stand in sharp contrast to that state and require a change so great, it is a complete resurrection of soul and reformation of life. We cannot be trusted, because we are unable to offer any certainty about the future. God is the only person we can rest freely on.
“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” Thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by a greater one, and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. In this way God, being determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil; where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 6: 13-20
God’s promises and character is the reason we can trust Him, and that will never change. The grace offered to us depends on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our priest and king forever, after the order of Melchizedek, who was a singular and unique priest. We can depend on Him to be keep us and this hope in the unchanging Christ, is the anchor for our souls. He is sufficient and able to save and keep us.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4: 14-16
Our great high priest stands in heaven as the one person who can identify with us and who has overcome on our behalf. We can approach that throne of mercy and grace at any time, to attain help in all our times of need.
We are not consumed because of Him and the saving power He shows us daily. We rest wholly on Him, and embrace the love that embraces us. The thunderings of the law are now silenced in Him, and our future is certain because God changes not.
V7 “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my ordinances, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’”
We have here the ongoing situation with the people of God, indulging themselves in the things of this world and rejecting God and His ways. Each passing generation has rebelled against God and has contaminated the truth of God with the tainted things of this life. God’s people have turned from His ordinances and kept the rituals that suit their lifestyle and amount of time and money they spend on God.
The people of God gave their attention to the ceremonies and rites of the religious life, and it seemed to placate their consciences and make them feel good about themselves and what they were doing for God. The heart of the matter was not addressed because their hearts were far from God and there was no spiritual life in what they did or believed. The true ordinances of repentance and sacrifice for sin, were not necessary, since no one recognised their sin and there was no sorrow for the breaking of the commandments of God.
The people have turned aside and God is no longer their God. They are satisfied with this situation, because their hearts are so far ways. They are insensible to corruption and so they embrace corruption.
“(Jesus) answered them, “Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?”
Matthew 15: 3
God’s message to these people in the time in history is the same as in any time in history.
“These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.'”
Matthew 15: 8-9
“Return to me..” The Scripture is full of this theme. It is timeless and culture less, and applies to every human soul. If spiritual life is to be found and the heart renewed to God, there must be this turning to God. In order to turn, we must see our need of God and the horrific nature of our sin. When the Spirit of God moves in the human heart, and starts to point out wrong doing, there will be guilt and fear at the godless state of our situation. We will not know what to do about it. We will be afraid of God and afraid of the judgment that we know we are under. God calls to us, to return and be saved. He tells us to face out sin and hate it, and bring it to Him so that it can be forgiven. This is a fight for the soul. The selfishness of self, will not want to come to God, or bow down, and the enemy will not relinquish his hold on our minds and hearts, and we will wrestle with the fact that eternal death will be ours if we don’t repent. If we do not deal with the sin in our hearts, our lives will just continually circle down into a progressively godless state.
“In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”
For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”
Matthew 3: 1-3
It is so hard to return.
But if we do, God will return to us, and is willing and able to forgive every transgression and sin. He can wash us clean and we will want the things He wants and we will be free to not have to choose sin. We will have the liberty and ability to refuse temptation and our trials will be the means of strengthening our souls and minds in God. God is willing to forgive everything we have ever done and every will do, and we will have a new desire to stay away from sin and to please the Lord.
At this point, these particular people do not turn to God. They respond in ignorance of what God expects and have no understanding of why they need God. They say “How shall we return?”
These people do not need the Lord, as they are perfectly fine in their lives and are comfortable in their complacency, thinking God is just like them. They do not see their sin, sin we they never look inside, and when they do, they only see trivial things that they count as just mistakes.
These people do not need repentance, they ave no mistakes, as they see it, and the idea of a complete conversion, is far from their minds. They have no need of repentance, because their lives in church are good, and they have good friends, and give some money to God. So the “self” is justified and the ability to turn to God fades away…
The call of God is held out in every generation, and He is not willing that envy should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.”
Luke 15: 6-7
God rejoices over every soul that comes to Him and receives that forgiveness and a new life. The “just” people, who think they have the moral high ground with their rules and regulations, are not the ones that Christ goes after. The lost ness of the sinner, does not prevent the saviour from leaving the sheep safely in the fold, and going into the wilderness after the wandering sheep. This could represent the sinner, and how Jesus the Shepherd, will go out after the lost one.
It could be the wayward saint of God, who has fallen not sinful ways, and is lost in the ways of this world.
The Jewish nation were referred to as “God’s people..” They descended into unbelief and godless ways, very quickly. God made a people who were not His people, to be part of the everlasting kingdom. The Gentile nations were brought in a part of the people of God, and the Pharisees and Sadducees could not accept this, because the Gentiles were “outsiders”
This is the way of God. He takes the unworthy and fallen people, and makes them His people. He sent His son, Jesus, to search for them and to bring them into the kingdom, and lift them to be exalted and loved by God. God will not allow His people to wander aimlessly, but will teach and correct them, according to His lovingkindness.
If we regard these people in this verse as being looked for by God, and He is calling them to Himself, and they turn and say, “we don’t need you.. why do we need to be forgiven?… why do we have to turn and be changed.?”
There is no repentance here, so there is no forgiveness either…
V8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings.”
The voice of God, at this point, sounds incredulous. God asks the key question, the question above all questions… Will a person be able to rob God? Can a human soul think to itself that it can get the better of God? Can we steal for ourselves things we want from the generosity of God.? Can we sin against God and get away with it?
Surely the answer to those questions is obvious. How can the creature that is made, take from the eternal being, who made them in the first place? The question is rhetorical and only the most foolish thinks the answer is “yes.”
We cannot take anything from God. Our lives are given to us, to live for God and enjoy Him forever. Of course, we think otherwise. We imagine we have the right to self-determination and we are operating freely and according to our desires. It can seem that way, but God is sovereign and is over all things, and He is in control of our lives and the circumstances of our lives. We will never choose the best thing, unless He opens our eyes to see and our hearts to believe. We will never understand until our minds are filled with the light of God, to want His ways, and to seek relief from our sinful living.
Satan thought he could rob God. He thought to himself that he could be like God and take over the authority over all that existed, and become the new god. In a moment of sheer folly, he designated himself to eternal punishment and took many angels with him. He fell greatly, and completely. He was lost, his following angels were lost with him, and he is seeking to thwart the minds and hearts of human beings away from God and keep them blind to the light of glory. He has lost the glory he had at the beginning, and he is consumed with spite towards the creatures God has made to be His friends.
This root of pride and selfish ambition, is behind all other sins. It puts the “self” in the place of God, and takes from God who is His. This will not last. God will not give His glory to another. If we persist we will loose out everlastingly.
And yet, here, we see the statement that these carnal believers were actually robbing God. The were taking resources and abilities to themselves, and keeping the things that God gave them, for themselves. They did not even follow the commandments as holy law, but interpreted it for themselves to suit their own lifestyle. The procedures for sacrifices were not followed, but substandard sacrifices were made as good enough for God. God tells them they are robbing Him, and not paying tithes and offerings as they have been taught. They have become lawless and profligate and have closed the Word of God and are following the lax practices of the priests of God. They have all become worthless.
When God speaks to them about their attitudes, they respond with the usual contempt and challenge God to show His evidence that the are in the wrong. It shows the complete disregard for the Lord and Creator of all things. He is the author of salvation and has provided everything we need for life and eternity. Their attitude is almost unbelievable, that they should utter such words to God. And yet, we are all done so. We do not want God, or His eternal life, and think we will be alright one way or the other. Their attitude does words, show how far away they have gone from God, and maybe we never near to Him at all.
Theses people are asking God for justification for what He is saying to them and why they are being criticised. They have complete lost the mindset of Christ, and are weaving and dodging life on their own terms. It is a dreadful state to be in, and will require a work of God to turn them round to His love again. There are verse in Scripture that warn us against wandering, and they speak about people who wander away and never come back.
“He who is often rebuked and stiffens his neck will be destroyed suddenly, with no remedy.”
Proverbs 29: 1
The door of mercy is not open forever. If God speaks to us, we must listen and obey. Many do not recognise His voice, and become so immersed in this world, that they cease to hear. They think it is just someone’s point of view, and not worth bothering about, and so get deeper and deeper tangled in the ways of this world. There will always be people who will excuse us and give us an easy remedy, and there are few who will go with us and stay with us and try to teach us the paths of peace. Because that path is difficult for us as sinful creatures, we think is is not good, and we don’t want the bother to learn from our companions, the things pertaining to God. We want to live our own lives and make our own decisions.
The Scripture tells us to make sure our companions and friends and godly people, or they will lead us away from the path of life and from those who would pray for us to be there.
“Poverty and shame come to him who refuses discipline, but he who heeds correction shall be honoured.
Longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.
One who walks with wise men grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Proverbs 13: 18-20
It is difficult to walk in the ways of God in this fallen and sinful world, but it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, and exercising trust in God and obedience to His commandments. We cannot walk alone, and we cannot overcome the difficulties without the Lord. All those who love Him and seek His face, will enjoy His blessed company and all spiritual blessing in Christ.
V9 “You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation.”
This sentence could to be stronger. God is cursing the whole nation, universal and giving them the compete loss of all things. This is the reason for captivity and the breaking up of the nation of Israel, and that they are subjected to the rule of foreign nations and false gods. This is a recurring cycle with the people of God, as they fall into wrong ways very easily and quickly. The wrong is not confessed and stopped, so it is propagated throughout the entire nation, and so there is this general curse put upon the people.
The nation, in turn, refuses to see that this is their fault, and blame God for their difficulties, which they regard as “unfair.” They are unable to admit their fault, and so repentance is far from them.
God blesses the “just and the unjust” and is full of mercy toward all He has made, but when we persist in sin, to such an extent that we are blinded by it, we are doubly culpable. God will not extend mercy indefinitely. At some point, we have to face up to what we are doing or not doing. God will not allow His people to wander along in sin and harbouring evil attitudes and practices, but will bring us to repentance. Where there is no repentance for sin, there is no salvation.
“The soul who sins, he shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
But if the wicked turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him: in his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked? says the Lord of hosts; and not rather that he should return from his way, and live.
But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die.”
Ezekiel 18: 20-25
This is a truly amazing passage from the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel. It shows us the equitable nature of God and the outworking of His holy justice. If we will sin, we will die. Everyone will bear their own sin, and not the sin of other people. God does not have pleasure in the death of those who reject Him, and His ways, and repentance is offered. Those who repent are saved, but those who reject the offer of mercy, will pay for their own sins.
If also, the “righteous” people do not repent, they also will be lost. We must make sure we are not ignoring this truth and bluffing ourselves into error and even punishment.
We are not sure about what exactly this punishment took. It would have been physical at least, but more, the spiritual life of the nation was compromised and there was almost universal error and misrepresenting God, and therefore worship of false idols. It expresses to us the deep and general nature of this falling away, and the complete loss of the sense of God’s holiness and the provision he has made for the forgiveness of sin. The people did not value God or His salvation, and so they suffered devastating loss.
We must not ignore God’s word to us in our day too.
“Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, house of Israel: Is my way not equal? Aren’t your ways unequal? When the righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies therein; in his iniquity that he has done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considers, and turns away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”
Ezekiel 18: 25-28
Such is the mercy of the living God… He calls out to us again and again. We have sinned and we must acknowledge it, because without repentance there is no forgiveness. We must seek Him out, carefully, prayerfully and with diligence. He is not hiding from anyone, and is not willing the even the most sinful, which is us, should be forgiven. Forgiveness is there, bought for us by the Man on the tree. Why would we ignore it?
We will come and repent, or we will turn away and perish. This is plain speaking at its most helpful and most loving tone.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness….
“…. Seek the Lord, while he may be found; call you on him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Isaiah 55: 1+2, 6+7
What comfort God gives to those who obey. They gain all things, in Christ, but those who refuse have no future…
V10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says the Lord, “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough for.”
Here we have the other side of the coin, the outcome of the bending of knees and repentance to God. We check the value and sincerity of the repentance, by the acts that proceed from them.
“But when he (Jesus) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit worthy of repentance! Don’t think to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.”
Matthew 3: 7-10
What we repent of, we turn away from and do not do any more. If we have wronged someone, we must make recompense and make it abundantly clear to other people, and ourselves, that we are really sorry and fear the Lord, is that we don’t do it again. Repentance is impossible for us as sinners, without the work of God in our lives. Repentance brings life and hope to us, if we would but walk in its ways.
“So as to turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you call out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures: then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom. Out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity; that he may guard the paths of justice, and preserve the way of his saints.”
Proverbs 2: 2-8
This is the beginning of wisdom. To turn from evil and do good, is the will of God. This is the beginning of godliness, and a life of repentance and faith, that leads to the full outworking of personal salvation in the everlasting kingdom. This is the pathway of godliness and the deeds done that please the Lord, and bring glory to is name, and bringing many others into the kingdom of heaven. This is the remedy for broken family life, for failing marriages, and rebellious hearts. The work of God is ever new in the life of the believer, and others looking into the live of a child of God, will see the beauty of Christ. The hearts will soften and the word of the gospel is heard. Faith comes by hearing that Word, and the mind is changed to love God. The sinful heart is saved by that faith, and the sin of the person is cleansed and made clean from the guilt of sin, and the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell with that person.
God commands us to bring in the tithes we owe. Christians who have become lazy in thought and word, can find no comfort here. We must give to God what is His rightful portion. The picture of the tithe is to teach us the sacrificial life which the Christians leads. It leads on and more and more, until the day that all is given back to the Creator, from whence it first came. All of us belongs to Him, but as we hold back the final tithe, we loose the blessing, and the things of this life will over-run us again.
“But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6: 8-11
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9: 13 -14
There is no part-salvation here. If we belong to Christ, we are all His, for there is no life without Him, and the sacrifice He made for His people. We cannot be part-sanctified, or part-holy. We grasp this more and more as we walk along with our Saviour and Lord. The Holy Spirit will show us the truth and beauty of these things, and will lead us into all truth. We will actively cast off our sin, secret temptations, unbelief, pride, and folly, and call to God to turn us around and build His kingdom among us, even in this day…
If the tithes of Christians lives are brought into the storehouse, there would be massive blessing. If we will obey, there will be a tidal wave of blessing as the outpouring of salvation and repentance, brings the attendant blessing on our societies and families and marriages. This is God’s way. If we will give back to God what is already His, there will be a waves of gospel blessing not seen in our land for many years. People will weep to return to the Lord, pastors and preachers, will drop to the floor in utter contrition, unbelievers will seek the Lord and cry out for people to tell them how to be saved. Christians will be pulled out of their houses by neighbours, begging to find out how their sin can be forgiven. Colleagues will weep for strength to call on God, and for someone to teach them the Holy Scriptures, so that they know for sure that they are saved by the Lord Jesus.
If this should happen, there would not be enough things to put right, to give the new Christians, jobs to do. There would be so much blessing that there would be no homeless on the streets, because they have been lifted up by the Lord Jesus and made kings and priests to God. There will be no “unable” ones, no one left out, except those who will not change, or bow the knee to the Lord of All. Gin houses, pubs, night clubs would be open for people to have Bible study, fellowship and prayer. People would go out at night to raise holy hands in worship to the Lord. The streets would be safe and clean, and the hospitals would not be anywhere near full. Teachers and children in schools, would have the freedom to learn and enjoy and they would all have what they need to succeed and have a place in society.
This sounds too good to be true. The cynical Christian will say, this is for heaven, but God does not say that. If you want the kingdom of God to come, you have to decide what your are going to do about it. Is Gods Word going to come true?
“For you will light my lamp, Lord. My God will light up my darkness. For by you, I advance through a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect. The word of the Lord is tried. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, except the Lord? Who is a rock, besides our God, the God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect? He makes my feet like deer’s feet, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to war, so that my arms bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand sustains me. Your gentleness has made me great.”
Psalm 18: 28-35
Nothing can stop the will of God. If we have suffered a long season of coldness and adversity, God will bring that situation around and will pour out such blessings, that we wont be able to cope with it, humanly speaking. I am not speaking about filling up churches, but a work so large, it permeates everything and everybody. People will not seek religion, nor the trapping of that state of existence, but true life in Christ and fellowship with others who love Him too. Buildings will be filled with believers, but not necessarily church buildings. The work is spiritual and the kingdom of God extends to all who believe our Lord Jesus with undying love.
Christians, it will cost you to be part of this. You will have to give up your pet ideas, and return to the Lord and His Word. The fellowship will extend and extend so that more and more are included. Everyone will have their part to play, and people will not be excluded because of someone’s else’s whim. The Holy Spirt will indwell each Christian, and the prayer for each day will be “Fill me with your power and love, Lord, that I will reflect you today…”
We may not recognise ourselves and we might not recognise each other, because our look and demeanour will have changed so drastically. There will be faith and not recurring failure. There will be love and not outward signs of affection. There will be power as human souls are raised to life in Christ the Lord. Peace will reign throughout society, and people will help each other and not hinder.
Lord, we need you so badly. Our lives and our society are in tatters. We want you to come down, and pours out salvation everywhere, so that people will be saved by you and sin will be put away.
Lord, change me. Forgive me my self-seeking ways, and my hateful self-protection, and lead me out in your power and love to the places you have called me to.
Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
V11 “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,” says the Lord of Armies.”
What ever is raised against the Christian or Christians, will never prosper. Even the beast that devours all living things, the hand of death, will not come near you, touch you, or be able to damage what is yours in any way. Your property, or your belongings, and the children that God has given you, will never fail and will come to full fruition in every part of their lives. Death itself will be conquered and will not damage what you leave behind for those who depend on you.
Do we think that God will allow His children to die in great pain and anguish? God will remove the fear of death from them, and show them the truth that Jesus the Christ has died, and there is no more fear or pain in that enemy. The soul will go to Him, and the body will be reconstructed at that last day, exactly as it was before, but with all impurity and hurt taken from it. What age shall we be? At what age were you best happy? Well, that’s a good, place to start. Perhaps we will grow, or change to be whatever we like… The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…
“But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3: 7-8
The people, are coming in and the thousand days are closing swiftly. Do not be tardy, for God is not. Still He is willing to wait for you, who have squandered your time on your own affairs. He sends the right messenger to you, but still you will not listen. How dreadful will be that day for you.
The vine in the field will be productive and yield everything you need for your comfort and keeping. The field, of the Lord is never fallow, and His bounty is for all who eat of Hid fruit.
The Lord will always provide for His people and no one who lives Him will ever be in need. This is the providence of God and ultimate outworking for he Salvation procured by Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. May we simple rejoice at His love, joy and grace that culminate in the hope set before Him and in the coming kingdom, on earth and in heaven we shall truly enter into our fresh, exciting and holy rest.
All God’s ransomed people will be blessed in all the nations. There will be praise from all quarters for the way they live their lives and the peace that emanates from their daily chores and nightly love feasts. There will be no want. The homeless will have homes and the destitute will be provided for, so that everyone has what they need to thrive and survive.
The land will be blessed, and the world will become a garden of delights. The God of the old and new will rejoice to meet the needs of the godly and the unruly, and the families of God will be knit up in everlasting joy. All questions will not be answered, because the knowledge of all things resides in the mind and heart of God. All who trust in Him will never be put to shame.
If you are one of the lonesome ones, you are privileged indeed, for God Himself will be your portion, and you will be mighty in the land. Do not look to man, for the corruption is vile. Look to the creatures around you that God has given into your hand. Raise your eyes to the skies, and rejoice with unspeakable joy. God will fill you, permanently with His gracious and beautiful Holy Spirit, and you will find rest for your soul.
This is the beginning of the Victorious Christian lIfe. Do what He says.
V13 “Your words have been stout against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against you?’
We return again to the mindless quibbling against God and the people of God. The constant carping and refusal to repent. The rebellious maintain their accusations and their words are rude and ignorant against the righteous. They remain insensible and cannot stop the torrent of abuse that floods the human mind until eventually it comes out in a flood of criticism and ill will. Repentance is necessary.
What if the complaining is founded on truth, truth of sight and sound. Truth of perception and godly knowledge of the Word of God? What if there are people who have been awakened to the power of God and have been overcome with the filling of the Spirit of God?
God will not be mocked and to pour scorn on the people who express their love, will not be over looked. The criticism of the people of God will not go unnoticed, and the repeat into days of the past, will bring fear and dread of each other. The Christian knows nothing of dread – only life and peace. The power of the love of God holds them fast and will provide a way of escape when the time comes.
God is not mocked…
The spiritual blindness that bites like a vice, is almost impossible to get rid of. It takes open heart surgery to separate the true from the false; the love from the hate; and the sinner from the Saviour….
Our love must be like God’s love – strong, sure and passionate about anything to do with God. The Christian’s Believer is consumed with God, burns passionately for God; the knowledge of God; and the rescue of never- dying souls into the company of the redeemed. Make no mistake, God is no debtor to anyone, and He will decide who His people are. Those who remain unmoved are eternally lost, with consciences seared with a burning poker.
When God commands us to “flee from the wrath to come..” we must do so. Don’t look back run a find shelter in the only Saviour, the rock; the high tower; chief cornerstone, so that no one will be lost. But we know from the Scripture that there will be lost people, who will never inherit eternal life. They will get what they choose – a life forever without God. Destiny is too horrific to be spoken about any further.
God grant wisdom to your precious lives that you have redeemed and set apart for salvation. There is no other way. His grace is beyond all telling and His joy cannot be hidden or explained away by any mood, mindset or medication.
“Jesus answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s seed, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father.”
John 8: 34-38
It can be difficult to recognise sin, if you have spent a life-time running from it, and wanting to be free from it. The test is as follows…
If you are doing something that does not upset the spirit-filled life, then you cannot be doing wrong. If you are grieving the Holy Spirit, then you are guilty of the unforgivable sin. You will not mind it or recognise it, because your heart is hard. If you have been grieving over something that you think, but do not feel is wrong, take it to God. Lay it our before Him, like the godly king Hezekiah, and the Eternal God will show you what to do. Do not be afraid, because you belong to Him and He requires that we love life and see long days in His bounty and care. Why would a loving God required His beloved child to suffer loss; or disappointment; or pain?
Jesus paid it all and we trust in Him. This is not the attitude of the complacent who trust in false doctrine, wrongly applied and foolishly presented.
Death. The last enemy. For the Christian there is nothing to fear, but fear itself. We might be swimming in the sea, and our destiny is to drown, and we might drown, if God’s will is so. But we will not suffer. God will separate the body from the mind and soul before any discomfort is felt.
If you fall off your horse, you will not feel the pain of impact.
If you crash the car, you will rise out of the wreckage, soul and mind in perfect union with Christ, which is far better.
If you are not the Lord’s then this is not your heritage.
“The people who sat in darkness saw a great light, to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, to them light has dawned.” From that time, Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4: 16-17
For too long, the redeemed people of God have been sitting in the dark, discouraged and downtrodden by the oppression of the world; our human appetites; and the, fatalistic enemy of our souls. Do not forget that all power belongs to you. You cannot fail, because all things are yours and you are Christ’s. God will work everything to your good and you will live triumphant lives to the glory of God and enjoying everything He bring your way.
This is the heritage of daughters and sons of the eternal kingdom of Christ. There is no other, and we look for no other, but always with eyes lifted to the the skies, from whence comes our redemption…
V14 “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God;’ and ‘What profit is it that we have followed his instructions, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of the land?”
Those who reject God see no purpose in anything and refuse to acknowledge the meaningless nature that appears to hound our planet. The wicked seek reward where the reward is in God alone. To know Him is our great and everlasting reward. The profit they seek is earthly, and do not enjoy following His instructions.
The ungodly see their Christian walk as a trouble to them, and are full of sorrow about having to obey the Lord. Their life is sorrowful because it is following the way of Christ. They walk before the Lord, but with no joy. They will eventually show their true colours and leave the pathway to follow something they like better. This is the pattern of the ungodly life. The ungodly person is in a constant state of chaos and lives to find some kind of structure and meaning in the day-to-day scheme of things. They will eventually fade away with no power or authority and no future to hold on to.
The people of God are not so. They are full of life, ideas and willingness to make sacrifices, that will result in future glory. This is not a constant motivation, but the daily walk of faith with Christ and His people who are in their lives. There is no sorrow, because the Lord of the harvest knows what to do to encourage them and not allow them to be cast down by the hateful.
Those who walk mournfully are clearly not the Lord’s people. How can anyone be sad about sharing the good news of faith and love? Anyone who sets themselves out to make a sacrifice of their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ will never suffer loss. Those who give everything will walk the high planes of heaven, even in this troubled world and they will have a whole string of those precious pearls – the children of God to adorn their person. The crown on their heads will be so bright that even the angels will not be able to look at it. The pearl of great price, the rarest of black pearls, will be their constant companion, as the bride of Christ takes her place at centre stage. All will gasp in amazement at her beauty, and none will be there who have found fault with her, or caused her a moment of hurt.
So we see the certainty of a life lived for God and the delight of the coming kingdom ever before her eyes. She is the mighty One, the altogether lovely women of highest renoun, and all who see her will rejoice. The dowdy, unkempt and slovenly will be banished from the kingdom forever, the power of love will prevail and we shall, serve everlastingly and with total joy.
A personal note: I can’t wait to be there.. but not yet, because my family are not yet gathered into the kingdom, at least, they are not living rightly. One is lost forever, but the others have some semblance of a testimony. I have prayers unceasingly, and have now hesitated, because I am hurt and alone, in human terms. But the promise yet remains…
Whatever the outcome I know God will honour me and check my obedience, as He does every day. Because I love Him, it is not a burden, because He has bourne my burdens and carried them far away, through making me a burden- bearer, and a Warrior Queen in His everlasting kingdom.
The bride says “Come” the Lamb says “Come” why would we turn away?
V15 “Now we call the proud happy; yes, those who work wickedness are built up; yes, they tempt God, and escape.”
So, we have here a situation where the evil practices of the world, are regarded as good. The proud and arrogant have been lifted up to high office and are decimating the leadership of the land. The media portray them as capable, attractive and great personalities, but when the tide of trouble breaks across the borders of the countries, all the seeming factions meld together as one. Reluctant friends will return and the days of peace will attend the people of God.
When wicked people rule the land, there is unhappiness for all who live there. The unbelieving go to ruin and the godly remnant are oppressed and suppressed, even by their own. They play fast and loose with God and forget who He is and what He is capable of. They seems to escape, but the sovereignty of God cannot be escaped from.
We think that the proud outlook for this world, will promote the cause of God and truth. We think that we can manipulate people, emotions and situation for our own pleasure and benefit. It is sad to see Christians who should know better from their teaching and upbringing, give way to the satisfaction of this life, and not turn to God and His Word for strength and wisdom. Every Christians walks the same road, and we cannot do it without Christ and the power of the Spirit within.
So, let us demean humble servants and tread the pathway to glory with the company of Christ and the fellowship of the saints of God, forever.
Tempting God is a big problem. We try to hoodwink the Almighty and think we can cover up His judgment. We sit safely under the presumption that once saved, always saved. We think we can never be lost and we presume the salvation of God is for us. We prayed the prayer, we lived the life, we keep the rules, but we do not obey the command to rejoice in all circumstances, and to live a life of Liberty and victory over sin and self.
The Calvinistic testament reassures us that it all ok. We have never read Calvin, but still hold onto the comfort it brings that we will be saved, even if it is by fire alone. There is no actual grace in the life, and no repentance for wrong deeds and attitudes, so we embrace legalism and false religion that looks good and promotes our ideas.
We will not escape the falsehood that dwells in these fake promises and the twisting of salvation in our minds and hearts. God is sovereign, and He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Let us persevere to the end, so our salvation is real and true and and we are truly the children of God.
V16 “Then those who feared the Lord of heaven, spoke one with another; and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of memory was written before him, for those who feared His name, and who honoured his name.”
When Christians fellowship together, it is like sweet water to drink and healthy food to eat. We do all things for the glory of God, and rejoice to fear the Lord, who rules the heavens. Without this godly fear, there is no relationship, and so also with our relationships. There is no friendship without the fear of respect towards that individual and a daily coming to the cross of Christ for repentance and faith. There is not just the one “coming to Jesus” but a daily walk of reading, meditation and living faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
In these precious times, the Lord comes close and His ear is always attentive to their cry. He remembers every request, every desire and every pain we share with Him. The prayer of the saints of God rise up from the pages of that book, and the fear turns ot love and joy and peace. This is the experience of the Bi Polar person, who is joined to God in a unique way, so that they will teach and encourage the people of God in dark and light days.
We dishonour our God when we refuse to obey, or stop the holy desire of another person to share their gifts and grow in the grace and knowledge of the experiential and experimental joy of the Lord.
Many get cast down, but God will reveal his will at the right time.
“And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in dry places, and make strong your bones; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters don’t fail. Those who shall be of you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy people of the Lord honourable; and shall honour it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking you own language words: Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father:” for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
Isaiah 58: 11-14
V17 “They shall be mine,” says the Lord, “my own possession in the day that I make, and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Everyone that the Lord calls to Himself will surely be saved. When you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, but repent and believe. God has commanded that these redeemed people are set aside for Himself. He will not permit them to be destroyed, but will save them in times of trouble. These people, God’s redeemed church, are His possession and will not be troubled by the wicked forever. God will make a way of escape for them, and will spare them from the slights of the wicked, just like we, Christians believers, who spare each other as we serve the Lord together. Men and women in a holy union of love and filial bond, giving praise to the King of all kings, here and forever.
Even as the children of God, we tend to go wrong and easily slip into sinful thoughts and feelings. Our peace disappears quickly and we get angry. It may be laudable anger, a righteous anger, but we can barely handle it in these frail human shells. Sometimes we need God to deal with us and get us out of that mindset. His ways with His people are not harsh and all the things do dove- tail together for blessing and not cursing.
God is the Father of all living, and especially of those who are marked for grace and favour. His own children are His choice possession and He will allow no usurper to take their belongings. But we must be fully involved in the family of God and in constant fellowship with our Heavenly Father. To be part of the family is life and peace and we all have our calling to fulfil all godliness and service for Christ. We ask daily for God to show us what to do and in what way we can serve Him best. We relish the idea that we belong to Jesus, our Saviour and Lord, and also the gracious Spirit, who directs us.
When the time of testing and chastening comes, we are ready, because we know that God will never leave us and always keep us close to Himself. There will always be those who are careless about their spiritual lives and allow themselves to be duped by the world and therefore suffer loss. That loss may be irreparable, or it might be the outworking of a life lived for self, counting the cost of every sacrifice and finding it to be too much.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith..”
Romans 12: 1-3
The sacrifice is physical at first, with the business of the new believer. It is the service of helping others, and preaching the Word and the deepening thought processes of a mature Christian. It is not seen and is often mistaken for something else. As life passes and time teaches and motivates us to greater sacrifice and praise, so we have a hold on Christ that does not slip. Nothing is worth this relationship, even our nearest and dearest on earth. It is hard to accept that the Christians life is not necessarily in the pattern of our families or friends, but in the total resting of the soul and mind on the Lord.
The spiritual life grown and the soul flexes it’s spiritual muscles, which progresses to emotional discipline, and thought patterns like the mind and will of Christ. The Christian’s life is always a progression, and leads further and further into the love of God.
“You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin; an you have forgotten the exhortation which reasons with you as with children, “My son, don’t take lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn’t discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children.”
Hebrews 12: 4-8
If God permits you to run on without showing you your faults and all the ways of dealing with your sins in a personal way, you are not His child. This is the prime feature of the Christian life, that we endure hardships and suffering for the sake of ourselves and others.
There are those who have been so long in the company of their Saviour that they have become like Him. This is a situation asked for by the believer, and one which God will truly promote and sanctify in the world in which that person will live. There are those who hear His voice amid the clamour of persecution and oppression by the ungodly. They learn His love and propagate His joy and pleasure everywhere. The strength of God the Lord is truly theirs and all they do will prosper.
V18 Then you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who doesn’t serve him.
This refers to the coming Day of the Lord. One day, the Lord Jesus will come back in His physical body, full of power and victory for His waiting people. They will rise and not look back. They will go to be with Him with such joy unspeakable and full of glory. No troubles will follow them, or hurtful memories to jog them back into the world they have left. They will be employed with such tasks suitable for their redeemed minds and souls, and with bodies washed in clean water. No need for soap again, no filth shall follow them into their state of bliss, bliss like the fullness of true love, that never leaves and empowers them throughout endless aeons of eternity.
The righteous judge shall sort the evil from the perfect. He will assign tasks to His people, and raise up judges in the Lord of Zion, not to condemn or punish, but to provide comfort and healing for those He loves. In this world, you will have trouble, but do not fear, for I have overcome the world.
Will you be one of them? Will you miss this? There is little else to say in this regard, but my prayer is that all will come, somehow, those living and those gone, but God is perfect and faithful and will bring His will into play. He will decide and not us, with our imperfect desires that sometimes get the better of us. Our true prayer is that all the people of God will say, Amen, and rejoice in the finished work of the Saviour, Jesus. This is our bliss and our high renoun.
“Lord, do not yet come, that we may see the salvation of the Lord, fully shown in sinful hearts, redeemed forever, every skin colour, ever religion, every tribal group, and every precious world language. Lord, Amen”
Malachi chapter four
V1 “For, behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all who work wickedness, will be stubble; and the day that comes will burn them up,” says the Lord of Hosts, “that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”
This is a searching. When judgment comes to will, purify every part of our world. The fire will not completely destroy, but will clear the ground of the filth that has grown over it. This form of human sin and it’s effects, lie the raging forest fire that seems to bring destitution, so it will, but from the depths of the ground will grown the shoots of the eternal life of God. It is already with us and we see it in films and forests and beaches. Life in all its glory, and even the spectre of death will be gone in that great day. All those appointed to eternal life, will get their bears desire, and no gloom will ever take hold again. The Spirit and the spirit will be rampant, and the glory of God will be revealed in every corner of the globe.
The fire may rage, but not eternally. There is freedom for the people of God and an eternity of burning for those who deliberately refuse. Gone will be the memory of them, and the redeemed people of God will never be troubled about the sinful ways of stagnant hearts. They will be forgotten and left to wrestle with their heightened memories and consciences, which they allowed to be seared with a hot iron of unbelief. They heard the precious Word, but it meant nothing to them personally. They rejected the Lord of Glory, and swapped the truth of God of lies.
All their works, whatever they are like, are sin and death, and therefore will be destroyed, all their have worked for, sacrificed for and enjoyed, will be vaporised – the roots and the branches, nothing but leaves will be left, as the delicate remains of a life that once was.
Can we loose our salvation? No we can’t, but we all work out our lives to please the Lord, or to please our selves. We are all alone without Him, and better to be alone, than to live with the unrighteous works of darkness aver before us.
Psalm 24: 1-6
“The earth is the Lord’s, with its fullness; the world, and those who dwell therein. For he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the floods. Who may ascend to hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully.He shall receive a blessing from The Lord, righteousness from the God of his salvation.This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face—even Jacob.”
We don’t need to fret about our situations, because the Lord is right there. All His purpose are yes and Amen. The endless ages stretch on and on. Thought will take us to any point and the power and love will transport us far or near. There will be no space travel, aeronautical travel, nautical travel, train, bus car, but we instantaneous flip from one side the other. All things that destroy, the black holes; the folding of space that mares the balances; the deterioration of fuel, will be no more. Early will again flourish, and peace will stand to attend at the gates of God. The kingdom is now come. We await the arrival of it’s eternal King, Lord of Glory and that innumerable throng of the Alive, once dead, and now enjoyed of the inheritance of the Saints.
Our precious planet will not burn to a crisp, but will be reborn for the daughters and the sons of God. The physical elements it is made from will reach a liquid state and will be remoulded and remade according the the designer. The people of God will gain access into their eternal homes, specifically built for them and the way they will each live their lives in the eternal city.
Heaven will be everywhere, and there will be righteousness beyond our dreams. No hurt, no sorrow, no want of any kind, will ever disturb our peace. At the end of this book, we have such words of love and comfort. Take them and treasure them as jewels, until the end shall come.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up…”
All that is paltry will simply vanish from the clutches of time and space and the iron rod of the second law… ( second law of thermodynamics – dynamics) will acquiesce to love and truth, so that every trace of the shoddy, the half- truthful, the contaminated source of all evil; will fall out of reasoning.
Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
2 Peter 3: 10 -13
Out of the heat will come the new world. No place will ever compete with this majesty. No creation will be greater or more prolific than this majestic place. Words fail.
We wait for the appearing or our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and give Him all praise, laid and honour until time immemorial betrays the glory that is eternity.
V2 But to you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings. You will go out, and leap like calves of the stall.
Here is the final comfort for all who love Jesus. It is the unending promise made to all who fear the Lord and have pursued wisdoms ways, right to the very end of their lives. To pursue God is to love Him entirely and rest completely on His power to sustain us and keep us in the right and out of the wrong. It is a power that never sleeps and will never leave off it’s purifying effects on the human soul. The fear of God makes us clean, for we would not dare to enter His presence in our filthy clothes. The heavy curtain of separation has gone and we are free to enter in, ripped apart by the death of our Saviour on the cross. Everyone has free assess and the way to God could not be more plain.
However, nowhere does God leave aside His purity, glory or holiness. We approach Him and the Father of all living, and the one who holds our lives in His hands. We cannot skip in foolishly, or enter the mercy seat, with filthy sins around our feet. We enter as forgiven children, who love their Father and await His commendation and blessing.
The sin of righteousness, in this verse, referee to the authority and purity of Jesus Christ. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and power, and He will keep His own people and Forever rise on their perpetual day, and the constant sun-rise and sun-set. The glory of the skies is His and by imitation it belongs to His people also. Jesus rises as the last great and noble bird, spreading His wings as protection against the heat and storms of the day. His majesty had no comparison, and His being is almost consumed by the glory that belongs to Him.
These wings bring healing from the scorching of the day and the many hurts that infest the night. He will not allow His treasured possession to be in pain or doubt, that is outside His sovereign will. This is peace. This is the rest from torment. The body and soul can lie down together so that the angle wings of the mercy seat touch in agreeable joy. They mend souls who rest in its hiding place, away for the gloom and negative effects of life in a world not yet ransomed.
The conscience rests in peace, because the prices of its sin is paid, and the holiness that God requires is lived each day in the presence of the triune God. No one is ever alone. No one is passed over and left to work it out for themselves. The longer we tried the pathway, the wiser we become and the work of God is not obvious in our lives. There are those who must be wiser than serpents, who walk a tiresome road with Christ only, as their companion.
But they will leap like new- born calves, who have left the shelter of the mother’s womb and launched themselves out into the ever greater unknown, to live for God and enjoy His presence and power every day. The picture is not just for the day, but for the night also. There are bands of Believers who will stop at nothing to reach the need out there, and bring dignity and power to them who have temporarily lost their way. It doesn’t take much. A cup of coffee; a warm blanket, of a small book of love and faith and help.
Why would we not have courage to strike out, to give it all we are asked to do?
There is no loss in this service, no pain in the giving and no sickness that can ever overcome. The old live on and pass the skills down to others. Do not despise our calling, as the world might, but we show Christ in proportion to our love for Him. Love burns. It burns day and night and will never fail.
“The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.”
Exodus 13: 20-21
What a picture for the people of God and the reality of the felt, seen and known presence of God.! He is the fire within, the burning in the lives of people touched by that fire. Those who are the over-comers, and who will reign in that City of Gold. No one will, touch them, offend their them or a word fo blame be raised to trouble their stillness.
They will serve many and bring many to righteousness. Do not offend them the people, of God, for they are peerless and harbingers of grace above all others. Different generations have called them different names. The “recluses” for the sake of Jesus Christ; the “anchorites” who give the whole selves in holy sacrifice; those who live with passion, who are misunderstood, and suffer so much loss. Those who hold no earthly thing so dear and gladly give all away.
These are the people of Christ. All who love them, are loved, and all who hate them are cast out.
“Daniel, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and on the palms of my hands. He said to me, Daniel, you man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright; for am I now sent to you. When he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, Don’t be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I have come for your words’ sake.”
Daniel 10: 10-12
So the response to the prayers of the Seer. He will see God’s purposes and will rejoice to watch the outworking fo His holy will. All are safe. Not one of His people will be lost. Do not be discouraged when it seems that people do not understand. This is the plan already. Watch and see the salvation of the Lord. It will come quickly from the East and no force will, stop it.
V3 “You shall tread down the wicked; for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I make,” says the Lord of Hosts.”
This the absolute certainty for the people of God. Those who oppress them and suppress them, will be walked over and made to feel low and disregarded. There are people, set apart for God, and there are the wicked. The wicked will have no part in the inheritance of the godly, and the godly will enact these purposes of God at His determinate council. This is no “kangaroo court” but the steady outworking of the legitimate council of the most high.
The burning reference is again alluded to here, that the wicked will be burned like the the weeds in the gospel of Matthew. They are bundled up and cast into the flames without ceremony. No one cares, and no one remembers them. They are the castaways, who made false confessions of faith, and refused to give up the cultural mores of this fallen life, and cling to the Lord.
The ashes are cold, and the judges tread them down and the powdering of the soles of their feet turn them white. They are purified and continue walking into the day that they Lord has made. Ashes are curious materials, as we consider them “dirty” and only the burnt out embers from the fire that once was. These ashes are one of the components of the sorrow of repentance, and signify the contrition of the sinful soul that is seeking forgiveness. They are rendered pure by God and only serve to remind the wearer that they are made free from the fires from which the ashes came.
Sackcloth and ashes was not a shame, but the humility of those in whose hearts the kingdom has come.
The day of the Lord, is not the coming of Christ, but the world- wide movement of the grace of God, that will sweep into the kingdom, many many, who believe. We have seen evidences of it, but the Spirit of God is waiting for the Christian Believers to be ready for such blessing that there will be not room enough to contain it. It is not. A manufactured display of spectacular show, but the quiet and soulful, and song orientated praise and worship of the Redeemed.
How are these rejected ones to be part of the day of grace? What pace have they on the soles of the feet of the redeemed?
They act as warning to those who are tempted to turn away. We turn away once, our souls atrophy and we cease to feel our need or any spiritual warmth. There is no way back for these.
“Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection—not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This will we do, if God permits. For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame. For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it, and brings forth a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
Hebrews 6: 1-8
There are people who look so like Christians, that no one asks them searching questions to test their testimony of faith. They pass unremarked into the Christian fellowship, and seem to carry on in an acceptable fashion. Eventually, they will slip into gross sin, and their poison will infiltrate and destroy the work of God. But not forever. They will be dealt with, not necessarily by other Christians but God will protect His people, from ultimate harm.
There will be those who will suffer loss. In the mercy of God, they will become the burden- bearers for those with deep troubles and gaping wounds. God will lift them and honour them on every side and nothing will stop them, or hinder them from their chief desire.
Jesus will be with them always, bolstering them up and making them strong to face the enemy and conquering thousands.
How long, Lord Jesus, must we wait?
“Haven’t you known? Haven’t you heard? The everlasting God, The Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t faint. He isn’t weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak. He increases the strength of him who has no might. Even the youths faint and get weary, and the young men utterly fall; but those who wait for The Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31
The waiting becomes a glory. The quietness is strength, the pathway is peace.
We will wait, Lord Jesus. We will enjoy your love and give you praise. Amen….
V4 “Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances.”
For our Assurance, we look again at the law of God. For the children of God have no fear of these holy requirements. We rejoice to obey and long to walk closer in His ways. We can read it, or recite it and remember that every saint of God obeys this command. It is crucial that we remember the events of life that mark our progress through this world. God has a purpose for each of His people, and has laid down the commandment to protect and encourage them.
The entrusted person with God’s commands, was Moses, the friend of God. Moses saw the glory of God and submitted entirely to Gods care. God knew He was trustworthy to pass on the message and deliver it safely into the hands of His people. Horeb is a dry and thirsty place and stands for the arid wasteland where life was not easy and very difficult to sustain. It is of interest that Moses was there with God to receive the most blessed gift that has ever been given to human kind and our social settings.
Out of the arid comes the thirst- quenching water. Our of the dust comes the possibility of life and the rising up of the most incredible creatures that were ever made, a band of women and men of high renoun, who loved God and each other. Despite all the troubles of the human family, we remain glorious and powerful and eternally tied to our maker. There are those who refuse, but who will spend their precious eternity in silence and darkness, through choice. There are millions, billions, trillions, who will walk the countless tracts of eternity and enjoy their God forever. This is the point of these laws. They are for everyone, and we are all accountable for our application of them in our life.
Mentioned here is the commandments and also the statues and ordinances. There will always be those who need the support of the minutea of the law, and who do not trust themselves to make righteous judgments. They would rather limit life than offend the Lord, and so they bind themselves to fuels and regulations. Some call it “legalism” because the life of faith does not live here.
Some are so free, that the Spirit of God is their constant companion, and His fullness will drive their lives right on heaven. Heaven will, be no surprise, since the presence of Christ is their chief delight.
“Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, and not as Moses, who put a veil on his face, that the children of Israel wouldn’t look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away. But their minds were hardened, for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, because in Christ it passes away. But to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3: 12-18
V5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”
Just before the end of time and as the signs of the times appear, there will be a prophet revealed to inaugurate the coming King of all Kings, Jesus the Saviour of the world. This truth is so difficult to bear, to explain and to meditate on, that I cannot explain it fully. I feel there are things we must not delve into and truths that must remain in the heart of God. We trust in Him, and therefore leave it there. God raises up, who He pleases, and He will reveal His will and purposes for the changing generations.
God says, “Behold” We must be looking for the hand of God in our lives and societies, to teach us what He is like and what His purposes are. All events are channeling toward this one great event, the final destination of the Christian Believer and the revelation of the kingdom to come. The seeds are already sown and the death knell of apathy is being expunged. Minds are switching on, hearts are leaping in joy, for The King is coming.
The last Elijah points to John the Baptist, who was a cousin of the Lord Jesus Christ, and was regarded as the promised prophet reincarnated, or at least his spirit in a new body. He was not a prophet, but more than a prophet, as the forerunner of the eternal Saviour. John knew who he was and who his cousin was, yet remained the most humble and befitting man that ever lived, apart from Jesus Himself.
Jesus called Him, “the greatest.” This is because John realised that and yet remained “ low,” in terms of this world. We see leaders today who are not like that, and boost their reputations and positions in every way. They want acclaim, and they get it, and it is a stumbling block. They fade out, weak and without vision or message.
So, who is Elijah? Who would want to be Elijah, the patrician prophet, with the power and might of God at His disposal, calling down fire for heaven, and cursing the evil, so they died in a way that all could see. Elijah, who lived a wild life, eating fruits and berries, and being sustained by the animals and birds. A kind of hermit, who roared and prayed that the land would be in famine, and it was. People died. He was blamed. They sent stern hunting parties out to murder him, but God hid him in the mountains, alone, perhaps afraid. Would you want this for your self or your family? What if you lost everything in order to find Christ? Would you do it.?
What if everyone was against you and afraid of you, because they could see God’s hand on your life?
What if God requires you to behave in a way that will help others, but may be detrimental to your surface life? What if God takes away your reputation in some way, and you suffer huge personal loss? What if the fellowship you belong to turns against you, or is turned against you for some reason you don’t understand?
Will you still love Him and follow Him.? These are difficult questions and each heart must face them at some point. But the God who fired Elijah, will fire you too! Elijah was always safe, and always at peace, whatever his mood. The Lord can draw us aside at any time and He will keep us in perfect peace, as we rest our selves on Him. And when we can’t rest, He will provide a way out.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
What is more than this? Who can see this except the people who God chooses to see?
Sometimes it is easier to remain blind and deaf, than to accept the truth and rejoice in it. We are not meant to be gloomy, and we are not meant to suffer. Some suffer a lot, but the day arrives when the “chickens come home to roost..!” Understanding takes the place of fear and sorrow, and these two imposters fade away, never to be seen again. Then we are free to choose and obey and concede and jump up and down with glee!!
The others who reject the Lord, will remain blind and will never see. Their lives will fade away and they won’t even notice. They will have crossed that fatal line between life and hope, and because they do not value their skills, they will fail.
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don’t confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist. Watch yourselves, that we don’t lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and doesn’t remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this teaching, don’t receive him into your house, and don’t welcome him, for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.”
2 John 1: 7-11
“I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven; and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” Then he commanded the disciples that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.”
Matthew 16: 19-20
The power of the Christian believer is huge. Look on it and be very afraid.
The love of the Christian believer is extraordinary. It will hold you with bonds as strong as death.
V6 “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
So the conclusion is also the purpose of it all. That God’s nearest and dearest should remain happy. Happiness is the purpose of life after all. All that huffing and puffing was pointless and only served the enemy in his oppression of the creature woman and man.
God will turn human hearts to Himself, but the enemy who sows those weeds, or tares, will be frustrated and excluded. Those who are jealous will gnash their teeth and be left salivating over the treasures of the righteous. God is a jealous a God, and He will put to flight those who are jealous of His Treasures.
The earth will suffer a curse. Unless there is spiritual peace, there will be continual conflict and this is not acceptable. It is peace in our time, or no peace. It’s a very straightforward concept and logical agenda.
Love or hate
Peace or war
Plenty or poverty
Satisfaction or disappointment
You choose which one you will be and have…
If you should decide to impose your choice on others, you automatically choose hate, war, poverty, disappointment..
God will not be mocked….
A man sows what he reaps. If you reap the whirlwind, your children will sow only wind.
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