Saturday, December 31, 2016

Malachi 3, part 3

Malachi 3:6-7

6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
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?

God is an unchangeable being; if he were changeable he would cease to be God.[1]  Therefore, what He commanded, taught, expounded and required at one time is true still today.[2] Covenants, blessings and promises He extended in one time period He will extend in ours.  We need to qualify ourselves; we need to be ready for the day when the covenants and ordinances are re-established. The Sons of Jacob are literal descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham.  As such they have a right to the blessings (and the curses) which stem from the covenant God established with Abraham.  In these verses Christ is warning them that they have ALL gone astray from His ordinances, even from the days of their fathers, Father Abraham, Father Isaac and Father Jacob/Israel, yet Christ continues to extend mercy unto them; He promises them that they will not be consumed if they will repent and return unto Him.[3]

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost promised here (2 Nephi 31:17) is given without man’s involvement, comes from heaven, is promised by both the Father and the Son. It is a signal of redemption, purification and holiness. It is included in the “gate” for entering into God’s presence.  For God is a “consuming fire” and those who enter into that presence must be able to endure that fire. (Heb. 12: 29; see also Deu. 4: 24.)  Without the capacity to do so, a person would be consumed by the flames. (Lev. 10: 1-2.)[4]

Jesus Christ wants us to repent and turn and face him.  He is speaking to all of us, but primarily to the leaders of the churches that profess to know his name, those who have transgressed the laws and changed his everlasting ordinances.[5] By changing the ordinances the leaders have led people away from Christ.  Christ is extending the invitation to return to Him; His promise is that once we do so He will return to us.  This is referring to coming back into the literal presence of the Savior and is not limited to feeling His presence in your heart![6] How can we return unto Him?  Is it possible to know, understand and observe, in the correct manner as far as is revealed, the laws and ordinances contained in the scriptures so that we might return unto Him in order that He might return unto us?  Can we do so as an individual, outside of an organized religious institution? Does doing so require courage?  Does doing so require that we choose between the Lord and the leaders of our churches? Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” this invitation is extended to every soul as God is no respecter of persons.[7] 

In Malachi 3:6-7 Christ explains that when this invitation is extended to the church leaders they will reply “Wherein shall we return?”  In their pride and loftiness church leaders presume that they are observing all the laws, rites and ordinances necessary for salvation. 

[1] Jehovah — The covenant or proper name of the God of Israel. It denotes the “Unchangeable One,” “the eternal I Am” (Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; 26:4)
[2] Doctrine and Covenants 20:17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them
[3] Snuffer, Denver “Abraham’s Sons”  April 15, 2014 Last night I was awakened by this: Did not Ishmael and Isaac mourn together and bury their father Abraham? Was not their father’s blood precious unto them both? Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Isaac and Ishmael? Does not the blood of Abraham run in both Esau and Jacob? Let Ishmael today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious still. Let Isaac likewise today find the blood of his father, Abraham, precious again. For Abraham’s sake, let all the brothers who descend from Abraham now mourn when Abraham’s blood is spilled by any of his descendants. If Abraham’s sons do not find his blood to be precious still, there remains nothing between them but the shedding of Abraham’s blood. For all his sons who fail to find Abraham’s blood to be precious will be held to account by God, who will judge between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael, the sons of Esau and the sons of Jacob for father Abraham’s sake, with whom God covenanted. The sons of Abraham will not be permitted to continue this disregard of their common father’s blood without provoking God, who will soon judge between Abraham’s sons.
[4] Snuffer, Denver “2 Nephi 31:17” August 28, 2010
[5]Isaiah 24:5-6 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. (KJV)
[6] John 14:23 (KJV) and Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
[7] Acts 10:34-35: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (KJV)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Malachi 3, part 2

Malachi 3:2-3

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:
 3 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.

This scripture refers to Christ’s second coming.  This verse tells us that when Christ appears He shall be like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap; the refiner (Christ) will use fire to burn off the dross and purify the precious metal (His children). Similarly the fuller (Christ) will use soap to clean the wool and remove the impurities so that what is left is pure.  During the second coming of Christ all that do wickedly shall be burned as stubble.[1]  Who in the modern churches is Christ referring to when he states that he will “purify the sons of Levi”?  If this is referring to the purification of all church leaders in all denominations who claim to have a portion of Christ’s priesthood, how will the purification look and why does it need to be done?  Can it be possible that church leaders of various and sundry denominations have strayed from the ordinances of God and polluted His holy church thereby requiring purification and purging so that an acceptable offering done in righteousness can be performed?[2]

Malachi 3:4-5

 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.
 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers[3], and against the adulterers[4], and against false swearers[5], and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right[6], and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.

Christ alone will be the judge of all mankind.  Christ is the keeper of the gate[7]; no man entereth into His Father’s kingdom but by Him![8]  He alone will judge us.  He will be swift in his witness against those who have done evil in His sight of which they have not repented.  He alone knows the desires of our hearts. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”[9]  This list of behaviors for which we will be judged bears deep consideration.[10]

[1] Matthew 3:12; 13:30; Luke 3:17; JST Matthew 3:39 (KJV)
[2] Isaiah 24: 5-6  The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
Doctrine and Covenants 13: 1 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
Burton, Alma P Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith 1977 “ These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass. It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.”
[3] Blank, Wayne “What is Sorcery?”, 2012
The word "sorcery" originated from the Latin word, sortiarius, which meant one who sorts, as in casts lots with the assistance of evil spirits. The King James Version uses "sorcery," "sorcerer," or "sorceress" to translate a number of Hebrew and Greek words, some of which apply as much to pseudo-sciences (e.g. astrology, alchemy) as other heathen religions. The Hebrew word, pronounced kaw-shawf, means to whisper, or to enchant (to "cast a spell over someone or something; to put a hex on someone or something"), the Hebrew word, pronounced kawsh-shawf, or kheh-shef means a magician or magic, the Hebrew word, pronounced awn-nawn, means to cover, or to cloud over, as in to behave in a hidden manner i.e. occult, from which the word cult originated, the Greek word pronounced far-mak-yoos, means to drug; the present-day respectable words pharmacy and pharmacist originated from that Greek word, which originally referred to people who used drugs or narcotics to poison or control people
[4] Jesus extended the definition of adultery to include sexual relations between a married man and a woman other than his wife (Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18). Other New Testament teachings also understand it that way (1 Corinthians 6:15-16, 1 Corinthians 7:2 ). Jesus enlarged the concept when he taught, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 (KJV)
[5] Willfully and knowingly giving a false statement; this may also refer to taking the name of the Lord in vain which, in part, means to claim to speak for God when He has given you no such errand
[6] This condemnation is to ANYONE, church leader or lay member who “fares sumptuously” while poor Lazarus starves (Luke 16:19-31, KJV); taking advantage of another in any way in order to obtain more for themselves; any church or church leader who oppresses the poor through the collection of tithes; Alma taught that those who have not (the poor) do not need to give but instead that they should be given (Mosiah 18:27)
[7] 2 Nephi 9:41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.
[8] John 14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)
[9] Matthew 25:41 (Holy Scriptures, Inspired Version)
[10] Doctrine and Covenants 76:98-106 includes a part of this list in the definition of who will inherit a telestial kingdom

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Malachi 3, part 1

Malachi 3

2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” (NIV)
“Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary.  At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished.” J.C. Ryle, 19th Century English Writer and Minister[1]
“All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”  Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th century German Philosopher[2]

Malachi 3 is one of the most quoted yet one of the most misunderstood chapters in the Old Testament. It is popular scripture repeated numerous Sundays each year in various congregations all over the world to encourage congregants to give generously, in financial dollars which are called “tithes”, in order to support and sustain their leaders and their church properties.  This is a chapter rich in meaning, rich in warning and rich in blessings and promises.  It is unfortunate that only a small segment is quoted repeatedly when this chapter teaches and expounds some of the greatest blessings the Lord offers to man.

Malachi 3:1

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 his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

What qualifies an individual to act as the Lord’s messenger? What would the message sound like?  How can you test the message and the messenger to know they are from God?[3]  God has given us a litmus test; “by their fruits ye shall know them” [4] What are the fruits messengers need to bear?  There have always been and will continue to be both true and false messengers. It is up to us to study their messages and decide for ourselves if they are sent from Him.  This is worth careful study, pondering and prayer. We should have to choose. We should have to test a messenger and their message.  God has made Himself directly known to prophets of old.  He did so with Abraham in Genesis 15:1; and Jacob/Israel in Genesis 46:2; in numbers 12:6.  God has said that He would do so with any authentic prophet.[5]

God does not abandon His children, therefore, He has either already sent or He will send us the messenger spoken of in this verse.  One of the tests this messenger must pass is that of preparing the way for Christ’s return.  He will accomplish this in the same way John the Baptist did: through preaching repentance and baptism and helping turn us away from following false idols to follow Christ. The verse continues “the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant.” We are the temple of God.[6]  Christ suddenly coming to His temple is no more and no less than His personal appearance to an individual.  Thus, when we are searching for this true messenger and testing their message one of the tell-tale signs will be that this messenger has had the Lord appear to him.  We are promised that through this messenger the Lord will re-establish His covenant.  The message will bear the weight of scrutiny.  It will be a message that all who seek Jesus should take the time to discover, explore, study, ponder and decide upon.[7]

[1]Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices” 2012
[2] Viola and Barna, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of our Church Practices” 2012
[3] Sonntag, Robert “What is a Prophet”, 2014; see the article at this link
[4] Matthew 7:16, 20 (KJV)
[5] Snuffer, Denver “Baptism is Mandatory”, Aug 25, 2015
[6] 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” see also 1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
[7] See