Lord's Day Evening Meditations January 25, 2004

Malachi 3:1-6

"The Lord Shall Come"

May the Lord help us to learn more of Himself and His ways in these Scriptures. At the end of chapter 2 the people had said, "Where is the God of judgment?" The Lord replies to this in the beginning of chapter 3, telling them that He would come "suddenly," and it would be in judgment. Firstly let us identify who would be coming. He says, "I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me saith the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts." Also, "The Lord (Adonai - Master) shall suddenly come to His temple." The messenger would come first, and then Jehovah, the Master would come to His people and to His temple. The messenger was John the Baptist, and who came after him? Jesus came. This identifies Jehovah, the Lord of hosts in the Old Testament, with Jesus in the New, and thus presents us with a most important foundation truth of Christianity - the deity of Christ.

The enemy has attacked this truth from the time the Lord Jesus came to the earth. If your Saviour is not both God and Man, then you have no Saviour at all. John wrote, "The Word was with God, and the Word was God and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:1, 14), thus identifying the Eternal Word with the Lord Jesus as a Man. The Jehovah Witnesses who come to your door may be very sincere, and might say that they believe in Christ, but they have a false Christ, because the Christ they believe in is not God - according to them He is a creature that God made. The Lord Jesus Christ was truly God and truly Man, in one Person. There are many Scriptures that teach this foundation truth, but we will only look at one for now: Heb. 1:5 - 8. The apostle quotes an Old Testament Scripture addressed to the Son which says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." He calls the Son "God," which is exactly according to the truth of His Person. May we ever hold this wonderful and all-important truth.

"The Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple." His coming wasn't sudden in the sense that He suddenly appeared without forewarning. John the Baptist announced His coming, and the Lord presented Himself progressively to His people. But they weren't ready for His coming, because they didn't want Him to come. So when He rode into Jerusalem on "a colt the foal of an ass," exactly according to the prophecy of Zechariah, "All the city was moved, saying, Who is this?" Matt. 21:10. They weren't ready for Him, and they didn't want Him, but He came!

However, if verse 1 speaks of His coming according to the account we have in the four Gospels, verses 2 - 3 speak of His coming for judgment: "He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Did He do that when He came, such that none could stand before Him? No, we see Him going about in all humility and meekness, helping, healing, teaching and forgiving. So what we have here is another truth, very basic to the understanding of the ways of God. The Lord has come according to the account in the Gospels, but He didn't carry out the judgments predicted here in Malachi. He will come again; He will appear in glory (not the Rapture) and carry out the judgments spoken of here, but that is still future, and still waits to be accomplished. What Malachi didn't know, and couldn't know because God hadn't revealed it yet, was that there would be a period of time of approximately 2000 years between His first coming, and His appearing in judgment and power.

This is the time that we are in now. John the Baptist's witness was rejected and he was beheaded; the Lord Himself was rejected and crucified; and so, instead of setting up His kingdom, He accomplished the work of redemption and returned to glory. There He waits, while the Holy Spirit down here draws to Him those who are to be members of His body, His bride. When that is complete, He will call His bride to meet Him in the air, taking her away from this scene altogether, and then He will again take up dealings with His people Israel. Malachi 3:2 - 3 will then be accomplished when He appears. "He shall purify the sons of Levi," and once again their offerings will be in righteousness and "pleasant unto the Lord." But, as we said, that is all future.

Meanwhile, the Lord has a people down here that He is preparing for eternal glory. We are far more privileged than Levi ever was, but like Levi, there are things in our hearts and lives that should not be - things that spoil the purity of the silver and gold. Note that the Lord likens His people to silver and gold, thus showing how precious we are to Him. But He looks for practical purity in His dear ones, and that is the reason for the "refiner's fire." I know nothing about metallurgy, but I have read that silver was purified by subjecting it to intense heat. The refiner would sit by the crucible and watch the process, heating and heating the silver while the dross came to the surface and could be removed. When he could see His own reflection in the molten metal, then he knew that the process was complete and he removed it from the fire.

Do you see an application of this to ourselves? We are very precious to our Lord, but He sees things in our lives and ways that should not be. An aged brother asked me once, "What is the purpose of God?" I thought that was a very hard question, but I never forgot his answer: "To be conformed to the image of His Son." Rom. 8:29. That's it. God wants to have us just like His Son, and He will accomplish that purpose.

And is it so, I shall be like Thy Son;

Is this the grace which He for me has won?

It is only when we get to be with Him that we will be fully like Him, but the process required to accomplish this is going on now. That is why the previous verse in Romans 8 says that "All things work together for good to them that love God." He allows all the trials, the sorrows, the sicknesses, etc. because they are the "refiner's fire," needed to remove the dross and make us more and more like Christ. We need to keep in mind, also, that if we would identify and remove these things ourselves, He wouldn't have to do it, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." 1 Cor. 11:31 - 32.

The use of trials to purify our lives is what we might call the negative way. There is also a positive way in which we can become more and more like Him; it is found in 2 Cor. 3:18. "But we all, with open face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory." Occupation with Christ in glory by means of His Word is a sure means of becoming more and more like Him.

Verse 5 lists some things that He will deal with in judgment. It shows us something more about the heart of our God - He feels for those who are oppressed, who are in sorrow, or who are afflicted. It also shows us a great difference between the time we are in now and that coming time when He will come to judge. Today, He calls by means of His servants, "Be ye reconciled to God," wanting to reconcile the lost to Himself. 2 Cor. 5:18 - 21. When He comes in glory and sets up His kingdom, He will not allow any form of disobedience or resistance to His authority. It will be a reign of perfect peace, but also of righteousness, for He "shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Matt. 13:41 - 42. Today grace reigns through righteousness; then, righteousness will reign.

Verse 6 is very remarkable: "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." The New Testament equivalent is Heb. 13:8 - "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." We don't realize how much depends on the truth of those verses. Our Lord does not change! If He did, Israel would long ago have been removed from the map. But "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance," for us as well as for them. S.L.