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the MESSAGE OF MALACHI
When you see the flowing flocks of birds, like waves in the light, their pirouettes like ballet of complex ingenuity, their liberty like on site dance creators, fluid with variation, expert in interpretation, in their hundreds, eclectic in energies, free in exuberance while deft in thrust and vital in grace, moving up to the heavens as if they were for joy to be found, and down like those who go to the seas, to find joy in their grandeur: then you can only realise afresh, if you think, the grace of the Lord who made them. His brilliance we have often seen, in our own incapacities to match His marvels; as in their nature; but His grace is seen in such things as these.
Like the grey wolf, who stoops and as it were shrugs, relaxes and hunches to indicate he wishes to play, so the birds played in and with air, their wings in ecstasy of motion, their bodies aerial triumphs. In the studied acts of bird parenthood, you see it, in the careful assignment of duties between male and female, to patience mixed with tutelage as in bringing up the magpie, in sacrifice in endless sea flights or swims with penguins, to bring home for the young the work from afar. You see it in the sheer exuberance of the snow flake patterns, hidden but there, a glory to be found out by inspection, in the select and spectacular efflorescences of orchids, here delicate in painstaking artwork, there showy with panache, but delicate in construction and colour, here with slender perfume to match the attenuated architecture, mazes and masses of marvels, requiring the cultivated mind of man to appreciate their full extent and staggering forms, formulae and formulations, by which they are directed; in the art work in a million sunsets, always giving wonder for a Turner or inspiration to the poet, works of delicate artistry, grand design and seemingly effortless composition.
You find a not dissimilar same sensation in the delicate mockery along with rapt appreciation of Beethoven as he gives his variations on this and that theme, as if music were but a form, and fancy were at home to receive all that wit could offer, with effusions of delight.
Grace is however not the only thing we find. Disgrace is also to be seen. It is seen in slavery, it is seen in butchery for cheap gain or wilful expansionism, in mistreatment of women, taking human life as a format for personal pleasure when its potential majesty and meaning soar above the sordid, like U2 aircraft, above the beaches; you find it in pornography, where some phase of human life is cheapened and love is laid waste in miscarriage of means. You find it in prostitution, where despite the excesses of sometimes almost lordly feminism (perhaps a reaction to very lordly masculinism), women can be treated as if mere procurers of pleasure, and love is tainted by an abuse so horrid, that it is a mockery.
In this, we rejoice that South Australia has at last done a thing in Government which is noble, refusing to allow the legalising of this disdain for females, even though it was a lady who reportedly objected so strongly to the refusal, that her desire was to "get" the men who stopped it. When a thing is wrong, you do not need legislation to protect its wickedness, but fortitude to remove it.
if we go to Malachi, we find on the one hand, that we have little
to do to follow in the patterns of the past in this art of disgrace; and
on the other, that grace has been given in a PERSONAL BOUNTY which in their
ways, the birds echo, the glories of light display and the depths of beauty
MALACHI THE MAN OF GOD
has in Ch. 3 a delicate message. If flows and overflows with grace. We
find that the LORD is to send a messenger, and that this very man on mission
will make a preliminary preparation for the Lord's own coming, in Person.
That will be accompanied by such a demand for purity, that He will be like
a human refiner, with not metals but men to be made clean.
"But who can endure the day of His coming ?There are two Messengers to be sent. One is the preliminary, and the other is the Lord as man (as in Isaiah 40:10, Psalm 45). It is the Lord, whom they seek, who Himself will come suddenly to the Temple. As such He is also the "Messenger of the Covenant in whom you delight", precisely as in Isaiah 11:10, where we perceive this:
And who can stand when He appears ?"
"In that day, there shall be a Root of Jesse,while Psalm 72 shows some of His glorious trait,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious" -
But you say, He in Isaiah is for the Gentiles, and this is for the Jew.
Yet He is more. Thus in Malachi 1:11:
" 'For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,'
Says the LORD of hosts."
The message to the people of the day, it is clear. Sloppy performance, inept misconstructions, sleazy pseudo-spirituality, ungodliness in the very midst of ordinances from God, half-hearted sneering, queasy questionings without quietus, theological confusion, carnal effusion: it is all a pit of corruption, for so many in so much in Israel at that time.
God will not stop His action because of this.
Instead, two things, yes three are to happen.
Thus, firstly, the GENTILES, or the non-Jewish, the other nations will be reached just precisely as Jeremiah 16:19:
Secondly, the Messenger of the Covenant in whom you delight, as we saw, was to come, even the LORD Himself, exactly as in Psalm 102, where again you see grace overflowing like the snow laden stream, which rushes to convey downwards, the gifts of its purity.
we there learn, "will be written for the generation
So that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD" - 102:18.
But WHAT is it, so to be written ?
THIS (Psalm 102:19-22):
He looked down from the height of His sanctuary:
From heaven the LORD viewed the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death,
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion,
And His praise in Jerusalem,
When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD."
From the heights of heaven, that illimitable domain of the LORD, He gave attention to the call and the cry of sorrow, pain and pollution, and listening acted to find deliverance for the oppressed, and to declare His own name in the very midst of these actions, so effectively that in His own Person He would arrange for this, their liberation. That is the message in the context of Isaiah 11, 61 and other places, dotted here and there in Holy Writ, like berries on the bush.
Indeed, in Isaiah 61:1ff., we find:
It is HE who has heard from heaven and come to earth TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE DISGRACE, the disaster and the decline. The Messenger of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 18) has come in person, and the One who is above has visited below (Isaiah 48:16), God Himself sending from Himself of Himself to the earth (Micah 5:1-3), so that it is the Lord who sends and the Lord who comes (Isaiah 40:10).
This is the Messenger of the Covenant, who must be heeded, from the days of Moses predicted, and followed, who made a New Covenant in His own blood (Matthew 26), as predicted in Isaiah 53.
THAT, it is grace. Why is this so ?
It is not an envoy; it is not a secretariat, not a mission, not even a missionary who comes. God looks down and sees, and proclaims His own name in Person. There is the exuberance of the birds, the grandeur of the ocean, the artistry of the sunsets, the tender tendrils of the dawn, the suffusion of grace, the inevitability of the day that does not cease, the light that does not for so long, turn to darkness, of the energy which arises in the Christian heart when power ebbs low, and is renewed by an inspiration that is awe-inspiring (Isaiah 40:28ff.).
In a little, we shall see more of the responsibilities the LORD assumes for this mission to earth.
That however is the SECOND step He delivers to Malachi, in the midst of the muddied, muddles and declivities of his generation.
The THIRD is just this further parade of divine splendour, this process of correction taken to its end: JUDGMENT.
It is NOT the case that the Lord is unkind, not that He is careless, unconcerned. On the contrary ,
"to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings...." (Malachi 4:2).
MERCY AND JUDGMENT
(as in Psalm 85, where they kissed)
Indeed, there is more as we see in Isaiah 63:
"I will mention the loving kindnesses of the LORD,In all their affliction, He was afflicted! Bear that into the innermost resources of your heart...
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
"For He said, 'Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.'
So He became their Saviour,
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them.
In His love and in His pity,
He redeemed them,
And He bore them and carried them...
"As a beast goes down into the valley,
And the Spirit of the LORD causes him to rest,
So You lead Your people..."
THAT, it is grace. There is the source and resource of parenthood, of friendship, and there the torrent of grace that liberates.
The liberation is in its height when He is in our depth, as it is written of those to be healed:
"On Him was laid the iniquity of us all" - Isaiah 53:6.
Judgment, then, comes in two domains.
The tenderness of the LORD which provides is seen in Malachi 3:16-18, as also the purification as result, in Malachi 3:18. The Lord HATES insincerity, PROVIDES purity and EXPECTS its practice as PART of the domain of His liberation. It is in Malachi precisely the power of evil and the confusion of heart which results from its pollutions which He is acting to overturn. In tenderness and healing is one part of the judgment; but how, you ask, is that so ? Are not tenderness and judgment at the very opposite poles ? How then is it apposite to join them ?
The junction is in this: it is HE WHO BEARS THE JUDGMENT DUE, ultimately in the work of becoming the sacrifice for sin. It is HE likewise who in TENDERNESS is WILLING to do so, so that He mercy might engulf the stranded, like a huge submarine platform, coming up from beneath the lost, struggling in the waters, and giving them base (Isaiah 28:16):
"Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,What then ? Isaiah here is showing the new foundation, given in and by and for grace (Isaiah 61:13), in the manner of the grace so often displayed in the past (Isaiah 63:14). NOT INSTEAD of being just, but in the deployment of justice, God so acts in mercy to prevent what follows in Isaiah 28, the rampant exposure of rampant injustice which will not receive His mercy. It is one thing or the other. But it is mercy that provides the one thing; and justice, which if not interrupted by mercy through folly, continues as ever to provide the other.
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
Whoever believes will not act hastily,
And I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the plummet:
The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies ..."
Malachi now in Chapter 3 specializes in the JUDGMENT ON SIN ITSELF. Again, after showing the blessed Messenger of the Covenant, there is a parade of evil, of its intransigeant exposure and judgment to come, "against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit ..." it comes, a "swift witness", so that "who can endure the day of His coming!"
Priests likewise suffer for their showy substitutes for spirituality, and gaudy alternatives to godliness, yes more, their straight disobedience to the very laws of God to which they were supposedly so committed (Malachi 3:6-7, 2:6ff.). Yet they are not alone. Even in the elementary matter of tithing, giving to God that small fraction of 10% of net income, so clearly defined from and before Moses (Hebrews 7:9-10, Genesis 14:18, Leviticus 18:21), there was gross and prodigious carelessness and dishonesty in Israel (Malachi 3:8-11). The blessing that comes with faith in this sphere, is here also addressed, the outpouring of divine liberality; and now in the New Testament time, this provision of tithing is not so much revoked as replaced with a liberty which sees it not as some mechanical necessity, but rather a path for love, in essence, scarcely less now than then! (I Corinthians 16:2).
Needs for the gospel and compassion, to be met in Christ's name are not dismissed by oversight, but met in faithfulness.
It is then in Ch. 3 that we find exposures of sins of disinclination, distaste, and spiritual dyspepsia.
Yet it is in Ch. 3 that we find that "the Messenger of the Covenant in whom you delight", the One whom the faithful, having believed always, now find come, looking down on the earth and proclaiming His name (cf. Isaiah 52:7ff., 40:10, Psalm 45, 72, 102, 110). In straight clarity and directness of truth, it may be hard to endure. Peter found it so, when the LORD rebuked him most sharply, when this disciple sought in a kind of friendly concern, to deter Him from the cross, as we see in Matthew 16, where the imaginary papacy was at once unfrocked! Peter found it again when, despite his bluster about NEVER leaving the Lord, he still went when the pressure was great (Matthew 26:33-58, Mark 14:47-50).
Yet when it is God, the glory is so far surpassing the
trouble of growing and integrity, themselves a delight, that the light
of His shining makes any other course appear as it is, mere formalised
CHRIST AND COMPASSION, with a JUDGMENT
to be borne, by Him, or by the sinner
this same combination of tenderness and severity against unspirituality,
the Christ asked Peter, the three time disowner of the Lord, three
times whether he loved Him! (Mark 14:66ff., John 21:18-23).
It was a delicate restitution for the fallen disciple, one of place by grace, and the commission for the apostle at once followed, to feed His lambs, to feed His sheep, so well executed in the years to come, with such humility and grace, courage and character, and despite any minor blemish, heartiness and holiness. Grace does not, then, displace purity, but is a mode of ensuring it! It precedes, however, performance, succours and follows it, so that if sin abounded, grace did much more and does, not in alliance with sin, but in its cover first, and purgation second, through the action of the living God, in ONE sacrifice (Hebrews 9-10), and MANY cleansings (I John 1:7ff.), which are ready for ALL uncleanness as we the read.
Hard to bear, then, the coming of the Messiah ? Purity and holiness always makes its exaction, as any athlete knows in the merely physical parallel. Life is not sloppy, slippery, but real and rigorous, demanding vigour and hatred of vice. "He will purify the sons of Levi" (Malachi 3:3), and indeed
"He will sit as a refiner, and a purifier of silver... and purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the LORD
An offering in righteousness" - Malachi 3:3, exactly as in Romans 8.
There is no escape. To be a bird you need the right aeronautical dynamics. It is no use if you are like an elephant in your construction. You need to be regenerated if you are to fly (cf. Ephesians 1:3, 2:6,12-13, 4:22-24). He is like a "refiner's fire" and a "launderer's soap". What says Paul, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound!" Of course not, certainly to the contrary, he declares in answer to his own rhetorical question.
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus
were baptised into His death ?" (Romans 6:3).
The essence, then, has escaped you ? he asks.
Thus we see in Malachi just what we see in Romans, and in Christ's word, "Go and sin no more!" (John 8:11, cf. 5:14). NOT in the multitudes of fake faiths which would make you prosperous in this world as a signal of your 'faith', when Christ was crucified in it, do we find the truth of God; nor with those who make you arbiters of the Bible, when Christ in deed and declaration, showed that "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God" - Matthew 4:4.
is it to be found in short-circuiting these words as in Iberalism, in redefining
them as in neo-orthodoxy, in side-stepping their demands as in neo-evangelicism,
in doting on priesthood as in sacramentalistic 'faiths', for the very priests
had to be purified, indeed it was this caste which plotted the crucifixion
of Christ (John 11), and demanded it! just as to them not least, were the
exhortations of Malachi directed likewise (Malachi 2:3ff.). It is the LORD
HIMSELF who comes down, and who sits in His temple. What need of sinners
then! for priests (cf. Hebrews 7-10).
By ONE OFFERING He has justified and sanctified for ever those who are His! declares the book of Hebrews.
"A swift witness" will He be
It was in such tenderness that He sought a godly offspring (2:15), not this oppression.
The grace of the Lord, then, is against all oppression, including that of priests, husbands, employers, and religious frauds, who oppress in their abusive testimony the ears of the faithful, saying,
" 'Everyone who does evilThis is the way of the artful, the knowing, those who trust in themselves, be they churchgoers as often in this case, or not. They do not really trust in God; they do not expect that He expects faithfulness like a song, grace like a torrent, though He gives it
Is good in the sight of the LORD,'
Or, 'Where is the God of justice' " (2:17).
Indeed, as to the recklessly religious, or the ruinously irreligious, either, who do not seek His word from His mouth: they imagine foolish things and perform their own works, as if their doings had their own song, their own praise and their own merit, receiving thus honour from one another in ways which are merely an alternative to the love of God . Thus we see from the mouth of Jesus the Christ, the stinging repudiation of hollow self-help among men instead of the holiness of the reality from God Himself, in John 5:42ff. - e.g. v. 44:
"HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE, WHO RECEIVE HONOUR FROM ONE ANOTHER,Mutual praise is not the criterion, but the word of God. Men love, often, to err, and this is the disposition of their own sinful natures (Romans 5:1ff.); but when this love is reinforced by mutual esteem, and self-esteem, it becomes a sort of spiritual holocaust of resurgent ungodliness, presuming often to use the very name they thus abuse.
AND DO NOT SEEK
THE HONOUR THAT COMES
FROM THE ONLY GOD ?"
The message is always the same, and God is never mocked, merely removing the lampstand as in Revelation, from the church which chronically dishonours Him, so that it becomes a blasphemous pretence and a deserted folly.
Evocative, provocative to the flesh, the words of the prophet Malachi strike like arrows to the deadened heart, which, being dead, feels little, but when it begins to awake, knows that it has been hit.
As to the "lips of the priest", it is there that knowledge should be sought and found (2:7). Yet in the sinning Israel of Malachi's day, although "people should seek the law from his mouth", this is not so. The clergy is not the saviour, but may even add their follies to those of the people to whom they should be giving the unadulaterated word of God: as in Ezekiel 34:1-11, where in consequence of endemic sin, God announced HE personally would come and to the PASTORAL WORK as the case required!
is the same message as in Hosea 13:14: "Death
I will be your plagues!" HOW ? By redemption,
paying for justice the redemption price, being sacrificed Himself, the
just for the unjust to bring us
to God (I Peter 3:1;8 cf. 2:22ff.).
" 'But you have departed from the way;
You have caused many to stumble at the law.
You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,'
Says the LORD of hosts.
'Therefore I have made you contemptible...' " (from Malachi 3:7-9).
Christ exposed such serendipitous substitutes for spirituality, in Matthew 23 in one of the foremost piercing declamations in history! The case did not change the principles; the principles were to be received, or those who rejected them, it was they who would be changed. As to God (Malachi 3:6), HE DOES NOT CHANGE! It is for that reason that man can continue; for without the covenant of mercy, who could find release; in self-help is only delusion. In God the Creator, is the only Salvation, coming from the same source, fit for the same product, mankind.
So in our days have many in the clergy gone back to idols, to Rome (2:11), having "married the daughter of a foreign god" (2:11), forsaking the simple and ample purity of the truth, found only in the word of God (Proverbs 30:6), violating it with the traditions of men (Mark 7:7, Jeremiah 23:31ff.), as likewise condemned by Christ. Yet if they HAD
"stood in My counsel,
And had caused My people to hear My words,
Then they would have turned them from their evil way
And from the evil of their doings" - from Jeremiah 23:21-22.
So too in our days, the same Christ in just the same way gives just the same restoration for just the same race, as one by one, each comes to Him (John 1:12) and follows Him (John 8:24), being so begotten (John 3), that this is the nature of the case, just as waterfalls flow and clouds drift. This is what they are. The children of God are such; and as children, must learn, be disciplined and grow; but they are not forsaken either to sin or to trouble, but in all things, are as His, and taken upon Himself as His own (Hebrews 12, I John 3:9, Romans 8:29ff.).
Without release, the continuity is there (as in Psalm 32, where the justification comes as now); it is the same in Romans 4:24ff., for Abraham with the ram depiction of the sacrifice required, and for us with the Christ now openly having become the ransom Himself! In eternity it was clear, His own were known, and in time, His does not waver, nor do His ways change (Habakkuk 3:6: "His ways are everlasting!", "Thou are the same!" Psalm 102:27).
Sins have their exposure; their types remain; they solution remains; the prophets speak and their words continue to be edifying, the people sin, and their ways continue have the same salve, balm and deliverance, when they come to the same Lord, the same from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103), always gracious, never duped.
TIMELY FOR THEIR TIME, AND FOR OUR OWN LIKEWISE
The days of yore, of ancient times, the ancient words, they are found in modern deeds, then, and this is fully in accord with the structure of Malachi. Thus, having made these denunciations of theological, social, personal, domestic, religious and ceremonial matters, he indicates more of this THIRD STEP which the Lord is going to take: the one of JUDGMENT.
It is to come to the world, and hence to the Gentiles, who, as we saw, are going themselves to be the recipients of the Lord's grace, as well as the Jews, as shown from the words of the prophet Malachi 1:11. In Ch. 4 accordingly, we find this:
" 'For behold, the day is comingSo it reads from ancient times for now. The whole world is facing the one judgment, though from the land of Israel came the first covenant, now fulfilled in the New Covenant. It is one for all, in this time; and all for one.
Burning like an oven
And all the proud, yes all who do wickedly will be stubble,
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,'
Says the LORD of hosts."
The word of God at all times for both covenants is promoting cleanness of heart, purity of spirit, dedication of life, magnitude of morality, godliness in sincerity; it rebukes superficial theologies that pawn God for current pleasure of the mind, soul or spirit, and insists on the purity which sees in life the reflection surface for the glory of God, not the sodden results of merely formal religion, which in effect, does not believe God, because it does not receive Him, but rather with proud words acts as if He were not, for practical purposes, there at all!
for practical purposes, we ourselves would not be here, if He were not;
and since He is, for practical purposes, purity is as important in living
as tone in song and truth in theology, and indeed it is a critical reality
of God, for life is from God (John 14:6, Isaiah 45:18ff.). In fact,
theology, the systematic study of the word of God, has only one thing to
say: BE PURE you who keep the vessels of the Lord, and DEPART, from the
evil as in Isaiah, yes, and the Lord KNOWS who are His, and let those who
name His name quit evil (Isaiah 52:11ff., 1:18ff., II Timothy 2:19, Romans
Chs. 6 and 8).
THE WORD OF GOD DOES NOT CHANGE, NOR DOES THE CHANGELESS VARY, BUT HE CONTINUES AND HIS ATTESTATION IS CONTINUAL, CONTINUOUS AND DECLARED
The message is always the same. That is one of the attestations and verifications of the fact that the Author is always the same, and that in two senses: HE IS ALWAYS GOD, who inspires it, and GOD IS ALWAYS THE SAME, whose it is (as in Psalm 102:23ff.). A million heresies of heart and voice may occur, but He will purge His people, and the dross will be cast away.
|A million hopeless misconfigurations of grace, disgraces of lip and life, will occur;|
|but truth and eternal life do not alter.|
In JUDGMENT He came as predicted, first to purge the temple, as when Christ turned over the invasive commercialism of the day (John 2:13ff., Psalm 69:9), deploring its inveterate and impudent intrusion into the temple; in judgment He will come, yes, in utter judgment, to relegate to hell or delegate to heaven (Acts 17:31, John 3:16,33-36, II Thess. 1, 2:9ff.)*1.
He does not change; His message does not change.
It is grace that it does not do so, indeed that HE does not vary (Malachi 3:6), for otherwise where would we be ? Having committed Himself to grace, He shows it; but it is to be found only in Him, in the Messenger of His Covenant in whom we delight. It has always been so, whether in prediction of the One who, being God, was there all along, who "in all their affliction was afflicted" (Isaiah 63), and WOULD COME, or later, in Him who having come, returned, and was STILL THERE!
His word has ruled, does rule, does not change, and has the power of operation to rebuke, realise its content in life, and refine what has come to Him. What would you expect ? His words of construction through symbolic logic are inscribed in each of our living cells, in a profusion of semantics which makes us like walking libraries; and still some have managed to clear their minds enough to disbelieve. His speech is not only IN the mind, that it might work at all, but in the book, the Bible, alone attested (SMR Ch. 1), so that the mind might read, and reading find relish and repentance in Him, discarding sin like radioactive waste, detesting it like Chernobyl: yet not building over its remains a mere roof, as in Chernobyl, but casting it to the One who Himself became a castaway, that we might find the cast of kindness in life everlasting, through the acceptance of His gift, and the renewal of our minds in His grace (Titus 3:5).
So ancient words have the same content, earlier ones declaiming truth, later ones explicating further: but all as one say one thing from One Being, God (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 2 and 3 ). Modern sins are like bugle echoes down the vale of the years, but the blast grows stronger as the time grows longer and the final phase, the redemption of the body draws near, when Christ comes to call HALT! as when an armistice comes.
The correct time to call
halt! is at once (II Corinthians 6:1-2). Otherwise the slender hands of
mercy may be missed, and the time of coming lost (Isaiah 55:6-7). God makes
no mistake (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.). Let man make none in this;
that when He calls, you come. There are still changing rooms on earth,
through celestial compassion (II Peter 3:9); but the time to change will
pass (Matthew 25:1-13). Its season is not for ever; but the results, they
are for ever (John 3:16, 5:11ff.).
On the way, we find in Malachi 3:16-18, a marvellous indication, then as now, of the necessity of fervent brotherly love (Philippians 1:27-28, I Peter 1:22, 3:8), true fellowship BEFORE THE LORD, in which the people of the Lord, seeing the decline, the decay, the degenerative dynamics in many churches, in society, the cracked tail lines and the metal fatigue of what is not ordered aright, but flies askew, SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER (Mal. 3:16). They do not isolate in ones, nor do they congregate with the decline. They move together and as one then they act as they should. These are they who FEAR THE LORD, as you find in the New Testament likewise (the fear of God is not dead, but the deadness of spirit does not fear God), in I Peter 2:17, II Corinthians 7:1..."perfecting holiness in the fear of God".
God was delighted in this, and "a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name."
This congregation, separation and concentration was just like that of the early Christians as in Acts 4:23ff., who, being persecuted by the fallen church - the residue of the church in the wilderness (ekklesia) of which Stephen spoke (Acts 7:38), that discard movement against its own Lord, which discarded even the LORD Himself - did not linger in its unlovely rebellion. Nor did they loiter in its passion in pollution, one which departed from the far better passion of the Lord.
Instead, as we read in Acts 4, they "were of one heart" and they
"lifted up their voice to God with one accord and said,What power and privilege came to these suffering saints, who fearless in exposure of the evil, dedicated themselves together with one accord, and continued as one Christian body, outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-13). In the former days, of the theocracy in Israel, they did not forsake the land, but in the New Testament opportunities, they could and did forsake the rebels in religion, though they wrongly kept the name, just as now, in the 21st century, those who love the Lord cannot continue where the word and work of Christ, the Bible and the power of God are not acknowledged, or if acknowledged, are nevertheless in practice sacrificed.
'Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea,
and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things ?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the LORD and against His Christ.
For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word ... ' "
Alas frequently these godly things are forsaken times almost without number, either to the 'survival' of a denomination or sect, or to the 'needs' of the people, who have their own ideas, not limited to the word of God in doctrine, but only by their own imaginations, retaining but a "form of godliness" that condition which Paul so clearly condemns (II Timothy 3:1ff.). This instead of the power of God makes compromise essential, and lassitude assured.
The time has again come when the people of the Lord must talk and walk together, not as if they could move in some other boat (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 5, esp. Part II), with some other destination, some other dynamic and some other water on which to sail, and "do good"; for the boat of Christ has Him at the helm, not some airy assembly or pope or prelate of any kind: for "ONE is your Master, the Christ, and all of your are brothers" (Matthew 23:8-10), as He said. . Only UNDER and FOR and BY Him are any good things to be accomplished, now as before; and now it is once again necessary to pay for the privilege. But again, if you are 'crucified with Christ' (Galatians 2:20), the pain is perfectly tolerable, the major event being already wrought to the uttermost (Luke 14:27ff.).
HE is not worth it, why call Him Lord (Matthew 7:13-21)! Since He is, rejoice
with Him and with His people. (Cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms1-3,
21, 25, Tender Times for
The laboratory of history is the testimony of truth, but also the laboratory of experience and of power, and in all these things, the joy of Christ, His peace and presence, His provisions and action are seen. On the screen of the heart and daily events and episodes, or on that large screen of history, on which all make look as one, He is demonstrated daily, just as in logic in the mind (Repent or Perish Ch. 7 , Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 and 7 e.g.), He is demonstrated continually.
The spirit of man is made BY and FOR God, and it is only when man walks with the living God, that he lives.
When he lives, the triumphs, tokens and truth of life declares itself (cf. I Peter 4:14ff., 1:8, Acts 4, John 16:8ff., II Peter 2:19, Romans 1:17ff., II Corinthians 10:5ff.). "Taste and see that the Lord is good!" He is.
Thus in Malachi, speaking of those who "fear the LORD and spoke to one another", it continues in 3:17:
A MINI-EXCURSION IN A MAXI-MATTER
Let us simply pursue the glint and the glory in Malachi nearer the end of it, in some aspects not as yet sufficiently considered, so that, like vanilla essence in a banana milk-shake, or the nutmeg which may adorn it, the full and fulsome flavour may be found from the word of God here. It is indeed delicious! as is the Lord Himself of whom it is with clinical certainty written,
Power incorruptible, probing inexorable,
penetration impervious to resistance or relay:
these are the qualities.