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