Monday, April 6, 2009

The Message of Malachi

I will close out the series of blogs with the message of the prophet Malachi since I am still not ready to tackle the book of Hosea. God used this prophet to confront the people of Israel with their sin and again warn of coming judgment. As is His custom, the LORD tempers the message of judgment with hope for the future.

Malachi 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”

This is the first verse that jumps out to me with prophetic implications. The Lord is declaring through yet another prophet that the day is coming when all the nations on planet earth will honor Him as Lord. I believe that this is in reference to the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus will reign as King from Jerusalem for 1000 years before the great final judgment, the white throne judgment that will usher in eternity.

The next prophecy that references the future appears in chapter 3.

Malachi 3:2-4 “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”

In the first verse of this chapter the message predicts the coming of John the Baptist to announce the coming of the Messiah. Then the message jumps far into the future with regard to His second coming. The judgment of the nation that precedes His second coming will serve as a refining fire to purify His people and restore them to a position of fellowship, obedience and service. Specific address is made to the sons of Levi who had been chosen to provide spiritual leadership to the people and who had instead led them into wickedness. He compares these refining fires of judgment to the process used in producing fine gold and silver. When gold is purged/purified, the metal is scraped and the residue treated with acid to see if it disappears; if it does, it is not gold. The application is pretty clear. When silver is purified, the refiner waits to see his image reflected in the silver as the dross is burned off. Again, the application is pretty clear.

When this time comes, Israel will be blessed by all the nations on earth—a concept that seems impossible from current perspective.

Malachi 3:12 “And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Also at that time, the people of Israel will exercise spiritual discernment regarding what is right and wrong, between those who teach the truth from those who teach what is false.

Malachi 3:18 “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”

This gift of discernment is greatly needed in the “church” of today. Many who claim to be righteous through faith in Christ seem to want to mix with the world in the name of tolerance and political correctness. In doing so they are like the lukewarm water that the Lord declares such distaste for in His letter to the church at Laodicea (see Revelation 3). Scripture is clear in stating that we are to be separate and distinct from the world.

2Corinthians 6:14 & 17 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you….”

Chapter 4 begins with a more vivid picture of this refining fire of judgment.

Malachi 4:1 “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”

Words of encouragement again accompany these frightening words of warning.

Malachi 4:2-3 “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Jesus, the Sun of righteousness, will bring both the fire of judgment to the wicked and rays of healing and comfort to His people of faith. His people will be given a new start in life in a new world.

In verse 5 of this chapter the LORD declares that He will send Elijah the prophet before that great day of judgment.

Malachi 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:”

Scripture records that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire hundreds of years before this prophecy. So it seems that Elijah has yet one more time to serve as God’s prophet on planet earth. This seems to identify him as one of the two witnesses God will send to declare His message for the first 3.5 years of that final 7-year period known as Daniel’s 70th week that precedes the return of Jesus as King.

Revelation 11:3 “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”

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