Malachi 3

1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.

2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap."

3 "He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness."

These verses prophesy the coming of Christ. The picture portrayed is that of a refiner, a smelter and a purifier. This is a picture of what Christ does when He comes into a person’s life and what He does in His church. When Christ is in our lives and our churches our lives and our churches are refined and purified. If we are not being purified individually and as a church could it be that Christ is not in our life or in our church?"

4 "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years."

5 "Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts."

When Christ is not in the church all kinds of evil is tolerated in it. But when Christ is in the midst of His church He will not allow evil to exist but will expose it and bring judgment against it. In Ac 5:1-11 we see how judgment was swift in the early church. This was because the Holy Spirit was moving amongst them. In many of today’s churches judgment does not occur because the Holy Spirit is not amongst the church at all. As we see in Revelation chapters two and three, Christ rebukes even churches that have a little sign of life.

6"For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed."

7 "From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you say, 'How shall we return?'"

The Lord does not change. He is patient and does not destroy us in our stubbornness. But He rebukes us and desires that we return to Him. He will do His part to help us return to Him. But we need to do our part and take steps toward Him too. He returns to those who accept His rebuke and return to Him. But He cuts off and removes from the church those who do not repent and turn to Him.

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings."

9 "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!"

10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

11 "Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,'' says the LORD of hosts.

12 "All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,'' says the LORD of hosts.

In the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites to give 10% of their income to Him. But they did not. God considered that robbery!

In the New Testament we must recognize that God purchased us. We belong to Him – not just 10%, but 100%. All our time and money are His! When we spend our time and money in ways that are not pleasing to Him He considers that robbery too!

God told the Israelites to test Him and see if He would not bless them if they gave Him what belonged to Him. His message is the same today! If we spend our time and money in the way God wants us to then He will make it very fruitful. We will find that the things we do are useful and lasting. We will find that we don’t spend time in a way that there is nothing to show for. We will find that a little money buys a lot. You will be amazed at what God can do! This is one rare case where God invites us to test Him.

Lk 6:38 reminds us that God gives to us in the same measure as we give to Him. If we are generous to Him then He is generous to us. Pr 11:25 and Pr 22:9 reminds us that the generous man prospers and he who waters will also be watered. But if we are crooked or stingy then God will show Himself the same to us (Ps 18:26).

13 "Your words have been arrogant against Me," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?'"

14 "You have said, 'It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD of hosts?'"

15 "'So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'"

The Israelites concluded that it was useless to serve God. They were half-hearted and God did not respond to their half-hearted love for Him. When they didn’t see God work mightily for them anymore they complained that God allowed the doers of evil to get away with evil. Therefore they didn’t see any point in doing good and serving God.

There are many in the church today that are in the same condition. If you think that God allows people to get away with evil and therefore you have stopped doing good you are just like these people. And just as God, who does not change, called them arrogant He is also calling you arrogant too. People in this condition need to stop being half-hearted and give their lives completely to God. Then God will respond to them.

16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.

17 "They will be Mine,'' says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."

18 "So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him."

To fear God is to hate doing what is evil (Pr 8:13). God notices those who fear Him. In fact, His eyes search the whole earth to see whose heart is perfect towards Him (2 Chron 16:9).

Even amongst a lukewarm church there are those who love God and who esteem His Name. These verses are an encouragement to such people. God assures such people that He takes note of them and considers them His own and that He will spare them when He judges the rest.

When judgment comes and the wicked are removed then a pure testimony will remain and everyone will once again be able to clearly see who were the servants of God and whom God favored and whom God destroyed.

Right now it may be difficult to tell who is saved and who isn’t, who is godly and who isn’t (1 Cor 4:5). But on the day of God’s judgment it will be clear.

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