Weekly Word from Bro. David
October 13, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
We've been steadily studying the OT book of Malachi for several weeks now. Today, we continue to look at chapter 3 as we see Malachi 2:17-3:5 and think about the subject, there is coming a day.
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words; Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the Lord, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?” 1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even 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 launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness. 4 “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem Will be pleasant to the Lord, As in the days of old, As in former years. 5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien-- Because they do not fear Me,” Says the Lord of hosts.
Between Malachi 2, that deals with the sin of the people in divorcing their spouses and marrying unbelievers, and Malachi 3, that deals with their sin of robbing God of tithes and other obligations, there is a section dealing with the coming of the Lord judgment. God promises that there is coming a day when He will judge all wickedness, reward righteousness, and set the crooked things straight.
We have seen the fact of His coming and the fire of His coming in verses 1 - 4. Today we will deal with the finality of His coming in verse 5 and following.
Christ has come once but He will come again. He came a first time, but He will also come a final time. The first time He came He was meek and lowly, bruised and battered, scarred and suffering. But the final time He comes He will establish His rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Notice the promise of final judgment here in verse 5:
5 “And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien-- Because they do not fear Me,” Says the Lord of hosts.
What: “I will draw near to you for judgment”
The word for “judgment” here is the same word used by the people in their question in 2:17, “Where is the God of justice?” Thus the people are reminded that the ''justice'' they sought is the very thing that God would bring. The Lord's justice would bring condemnation and punishment against the sins of the very people who called for it.
The verb “draw near” is interesting. In other portions of Scripture we are invited to “draw near” to God and experience His grace. But here, God will “draw near” in judgment. And God says that He will be a “swift witness” against the wicked: literally “a hurrying witness.” When the time comes for God to judge, Malachi says, he will do so quickly, without hesitation.
This list of sinners gives us some idea of the kind of practices that were going on in Malachi's time and will be going on in the end times.
“Sorcerers” is a category that takes in practitioners of the occult. “Adulterers” includes any departure from God's ordained pattern of family life. Next comes “those who swear falsely” this covers everything from white lies to perjury in a high court. The indictment against oppressors of widows and orphans reflects Malachi's interest in treating the poor with love and grace.
All the offenders listed in verse 5 are categorized as those who “do not fear me.” Their sin testified to a lamentable absence of that godly fear that is “the beginning of knowledge” according to Proverbs 1:7.
Missionary Gregory Fisher writes the following:
“What will he say when he shouts?” The question took me by surprise. I had already found that West African Bible College students can ask some very difficult questions.
“Reverend, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says that Christ will descend from heaven with a loud command. I would like to know what that command will be.”
I wanted to leave the question unanswered, to tell him that we must not go past what Scripture has revealed, but my mind wandered to an encounter I had earlier in the day with a refugee from the Liberian civil war. The man, a high school principal, told me how he was apprehended by a two-man death squad. After several hours of terror, as the men described how they would torture and kill him, he narrowly escaped. After hiding in the bush for two days, he was able to find his family and escape to a neighboring country. The escape cost him dearly: two of his children lost their lives. The stark cruelty unleashed on an unsuspecting, undeserving population had touched me deeply. I also saw flashbacks of the beggars that I pass each morning on my way to the office. Every day I see how poverty destroys dignity, robs men of the best of what it means to be human, and sometimes substitutes the worst of what it means to be an animal. I am haunted by the vacant eyes of people who have lost all hope.
“Reverend, you have not given me an answer. What will he say?” The question hadn't gone away.
“ ‘Enough,’ ” I said “He will shout, 'Enough!' when he returns.”
A look of surprise opened the face of the student. “What do you mean, 'enough'?”
“Enough suffering. Enough starvation. Enough terror. Enough death. Enough indignity. Enough lives trapped in hopelessness. Enough sickness and disease. Enough time. Enough!”
As we read the list of sins in this passage, it's very easy to condemn the people of God. How quickly we forget our own sin and rebellion.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.