Friday, April 26, 2013

Malachi 3


[1] Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
·         My messenger is a reference to John the Baptist. The messenger is mentioned previously in Isaiah 40:3 “The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare all of you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. “ This is explicitly stated in Matthew 11:7-10 and Luke 7:24-27; but also in Mark 1:2-4
·         He will prepare the way before Me is a clear indication that God Himself was going to come among them, that this was not just a mere man but the God who created them.
·         If this is not clear enough that this is God He says further “The Lord, whom you seek.” So in response to their behavior He was going to personally come among them. That’s incentive to improve.
·         The reason Christ did not come sooner was that all things were not prepared, the time was not right. First the messenger must come, to establish all things.

[2] 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:
·         There are a number of passages that speak to the refining nature of Jesus’ work. Notably Zech 13:9  - “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
And Daniel 11:35 – “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”
·         Jesus came to make right and perfect, not to destroy and annihilate, as He says “For this reason I have come into the world that those who are blind may see.”

[3] And he shall sit as a refiner and purifer 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.
·         He will sit as a refiner. He will sit down and patiently work them over, He will be like a watchmaker with glasses on carefully pouring over the details.
·         He will purge the priests so that they are no longer like this, no longer coming to God in unholiness and evil intent. We are a nation of priests 1 Peter 2:9, appointed to offer up ourselves as living sacrifices
·         Christ’s work will be like whitening clothes, or purifying a metal, He will wipe away the sins of the people, that which causes stains and ruin. See also Ezekiel 22:17-22; Isaiah 1:25-26
·         His purpose was to restore that which was lost, but not to destroy it.

[4] Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
·         This has in mind the faithfulness in the days of Hezekiah or Josiah, to follow God and do what is right. They had not recaptured that blessing.

[5] And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
·         God was going to come near to them in judgment if they refused to repent. After cleansing off the stains of sin He would then burn and discard the remains. This is the answer to Mal 2:17 “Where is the God of justice”
·         Sorcery had always been a problem for them (Acts 7:43) but this laundry list was particularly apt to condemning the priests. This list – adultery, false witness, oppressiveness to the weak, were forbidden in the OT, and yet they persisted in doing it.
·         This caused the work to stop on the wall, and Nehemiah had to rebuke them for this very thing, and here they are like dogs returning to vomit.

[6] For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
·         One of the stronger passages that teach God cannot change.
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
Ps 102:26-27 “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.”
James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
·         Being perfect already God could only change for the worse, which there would be neither reason nor explanation for Him doing.
·         His immutability is the source of our comfort, He cannot change, therefore we are not consumed. He cannot go back on His promises.
·         Israel was complaining that God was abandoning His people, and His promises to them, in response He tells them that they are full of sin, have left Him behind, and do not love Him like they ought to, asking for Him to curse them.

[7] Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
·         This was the same message that Ezra and Nehemiah had spoken to them, that their fathers were unfaithful, it’s the same message Stephen in acts said.
·         If we turn to God He is full of mercy and ready to forgive.
·         The people answer this with “How can we repent when we have done nothing wrong? How can you say come back, when it was you who left?” Even in the midst of being told God’s character they answer this way.

[8] Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
·         How had they done anything they needed to repent of? How about robbery of God. They had taken what was His, and what belonged to Him, and kept it for themselves.
·         Tithes were mandatory to support the religious establishment (Numbers 8), and they promised to do so of their own free will as thank you to God for what He had done in restoring their fortune.

[9] Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
·         The phrase is common in Deuteronomy 27 – Cursed be he who. It gets stronger in Deut 28:14-20, which specifically states that God is going to withhold blessings because they have withheld what is His.
·         It’s easy to take this and ask the question “What if God loved you like you loved Him” but the reality is not nearly so harsh, God wanted justice, and love, and mercy, and for people to do what they promised. Yet they would not.

[10] Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
·         This isn’t speaking to the idea of giving to God to get more back, because that’s a sinful heart that only cares about sinful things. This is about putting your faith in Him and seeing it grow. The issue isn’t with things it’s with God’s character.
·         See Luke 6:38, give and give generously is a theme in the Bible. A good measure pressed down running over will be given back.
·         My favorite illustration, Joe, is currently trying to give up having to pay child support because he doesn’t want to work. He will, and has come to ruin for his withholding of what is right.

[11] And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
·         God is in control of the weather, and the insects, and the thoughts and actions of other people. If He so chooses He can restrain all the forms of devastation and give a blessing instead.

[12] And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
[13] Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
·         Their words were biting, and wrong, and cruel. I hear people say “tell God what’s on your heart, He’s a big God. If you feel the need to yell at Him, go ahead.” No. Wrong. Men are cruel and evil, and this is not a way to address God.
·         These people had complained about how unjust God was, how fickle He was, how uncompassionate He was, and ultimately, how evil He was to act this way and do these things. This is how they spoke of Jesus, he’s a glutton, he’s a drunkard, he cavorts with sinners, he does miracles because he’s the prince of demons.

[14] Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?
·         This is an insult to common grace. “There is no point in doing good because God enjoys evil and rewards it.” Only we are good and we are on our own.
·         They put on sackcloth and put ashes on their faces mourning, yet they did it for their own sakes. “To the pure all things are pure”
·         Those who work for the lord are like mourners, missing out on all good things. This is the same message today that Satan tells believers, there is more fun in sin.

[15] And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
·         This is to deny God’s longsuffering and His justice. The charge is essentially that God is not just. But the whole point of sending the messiah was that He was just.

[16] Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
·         The real worshippers came and took comfort in themselves that God did care about them, and had heard them, and would remember their works.
·         The Persians had books where the deeds were recorded that deserved reward, Esther 6:1, and in the same way God has a book of the people. This is likely the book of life Dan 12:1
·         This is the last section, the encouragement for the people to be faithful, and it goes to the end of the chapter.

[17] And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
·         The people God saves are His elect, which are like jewels. Ps 135:4 “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.” God repeatedly speaks of Israel as a special possession, a treasure for Himself
·         “Spares his own son who serves whim” speaks to the fact that in the new order we will be sons. As it is written in Galatians 4:7 “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Sons that serve God, sons that are cherished and loved. The winds of adoption are now blowing through the Scriptures.

[18] Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
·         It will be evident who belongs to God and serves Him and who does not. Most emphatically because the believers would be put to sword, and death, and agony. The apostles were martyred on behalf of Christ.

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