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Malachi… last message before total silence Pt. 3
We began the prophetic book of Malachi two weeks ago and ended last week in chapter Malachi 3:12.
When we began the book we saw that the sins God was addressing through Malachi were the exact same sins God had already addressed Judah about through Nehemiah not that long before.
Those sins were:
- The priesthood was defiled (Nehemiah 13:29, Malachi 1:6-2:9)
- Marriage was corrupt in Israel (Nehemiah 13:23-25, Malachi 2:14-15)
- The tithe that should go to the Levites was kept from them (Nehemiah 13:10-11, Malachi 3:8-12)
So the fact that God is having to revisit these same issues, tells you the hearts of the people we are dealing with here.
As of last week we covered all of the specific sins and we will end this week with the attitude behind those sins and how God is going to answer it.
“(13) You have criticized Me sharply,” says the LORD,
“but you ask, ‘How have we criticized You?’
(14) You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped by keeping His requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD of Heaven’s Armies?
(15) So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful. In fact, those who challenge God escape!’”
First thing is – theirs was the wrong question!
The basis of obedience is NOT what I get out of it, but that obedience to established authority is intrinsically right.
It is interesting that this is a near universal truth. Most societies which are either isolated or which have never had to fight for their survival even question such things.
Historically, in most early or what we might call primitive cultures, it is generally understood and accepted that honor and respect are due to our parents, to those older than us and to those in positions of spiritual and natural authority.
Consider our own nation. When America was established, it was founded upon the ideals of freedom COUPLED WITH a devotion to one’s responsibilities to both family and community.
It wasn’t until the first generation after WWI that our nation really underwent a bit of a revolution. The ‘roaring 20’s’ as they are called was a national release of tension. A need to find something to celebrate. The following Great Depression returned people back to the basics and they became driven to acquire and possess.
Following the Great Depression, in the late 1940s, the United States had entered into a period of national prosperity which we had never before realized.
During and following WWII, for the first time women entered into the workforce so that when the men returned from war, they began to enjoy the prosperity afforded by a two income household. From that point the family began to disintegrate while prosperity and selfishness grew. The media was now more national and the news and entertainment were largely available in everyone’s neighborhood and even their homes.
The children born into this society were not the children of yesteryear where a person’s entire world was largely confined to smaller communities. They had access to the entire world in their daily lives.
Teachers began to teach about the wars and opinions began to form.
It was out of this that were birthed the fun, but mildly rebellious 50’s and the following “free love, woodstock hippie movement” of the 60’s and from which this nation has never recovered.
Now every nation’s story is different in the particulars but human tendencies are largely universal.
Typically, it is not until a culture reaches a point of social and economic stability, where most needs are met and more time can be devoted to the pursuit of desires that respect for authority is openly challenged throughout the public at large.
Now what we are seeing here in Malachi regarding Israel is not exactly the same thing. We ARE in fact dealing with a group of people who not even two generations ago were in Babylonian exile and now we’re free to return to their homeland and make lives for themselves.
Human’s rebel against bondage and once a people have been subjected to it, they begin to see it everywhere – even in places where it doesn’t truly exist. Everything is viewed through the subjective lens of the individual and how a thing might affect them and their perceived liberties.
These Jews did not see how obedience to all these religious rules were going to benefit them.
All they saw was the prosperity of the wicked and so came to a conclusion.
They believed that obedience and adherence to Moses’ law sought to regulate their lives and behavior. Furthermore, they did not see any immediate payoff for their submission.
It is out of this sort of selfish, prideful reasoning that such accusations are born. It breeds a contempt for authority, a questioning of values and a deep and pervasive lack of respect for God.
It isn’t how we serve God when things are good that tests the basis and limits of our devotion to Him. Even Job, during his time of afflictions went through a time of thinking and saying things like these.
When Zophar once spoke to him in chapter 20 what he said was mostly correct. Not all of his counsel to Job throughout the book was right, but in this chapter only his insinuation that the wealthy and wicked always reap a harvest in this life is incorrect. Everything else he said is 100% right!you’d be hard pressed to find an error.
In Job 20:1-8; 27-29,
“(1) Surely you know that it has been from old, ever since humankind was placed on the earth, (5) that the elation of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. (6) Even though his stature reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, (7) he will perish forever, like his own excrement; those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’ (8) Like a dream he flies away, never again to be found, and like a vision of the night he is put to flight.”
“(27) The heavens reveal his iniquity; the earth rises up against him. (28) A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath. (29) Such is the lot God allots the wicked, and the heritage of his appointment from God.”
Then Job replies with these words Job 20:7-9; 13; 17-21; 29-34,
“(7) “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, even increase in power? (8) Their children are firmly established in their presence, their offspring before their eyes. (9) Their houses are safe and without fear; and no rod of punishment from God is upon them. (13) They live out their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.
(14) So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us! We do not want to know your ways. (15) Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain if we were to pray to him?’
“(17) “How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished? How often does their misfortune come upon them? How often does God apportion pain to them in His anger? (18) How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff swept away by a whirlwind?
(19) You may say, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his children!’ Instead let him repay the man himself so that he may be humbled! (20) Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the anger of the Almighty. (21) For what is his interest in his home after his death, when the number of his months has been broken off?” “
“(29) Have you never questioned those who travel the roads? Do you not recognize their accounts – (30) that the evil man is spared from the day of his misfortune, that he is delivered from the day of God’s wrath?
(31) No one denounces his conduct to his face; no one repays him for what he has done. (32) And when he is carried to the tombs, and watch is kept over the funeral mound, (33) The clods of the torrent valley are sweet to him; behind him everybody follows in procession, and before him goes a countless throng. (34) So how can you console me with your futile words? Nothing is left of your answers but deception!”
Later when God calls Elihu to confront Job, he reminds Job of his own words and how they were stout against God.
“(5) For Job says, ‘I am innocent, but God turns away my right. (6) Concerning my right, should I lie? My wound is incurable, although I am without transgression.’ (7) What man is like Job, who drinks derision like water! (8) He goes about in company with evildoers, he goes along with wicked men. (9) For he says, ‘It does not profit a man when he makes his delight with God.’ (10) “Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do wickedness, from the Almighty to do evil. (11) For he repays a person for his work, and according to the conduct of a person, he causes the consequences to find him.”
So what we get out of honoring and obeying God is NOT the place to direct our attention. We honor God BECAUSE He is Creator and Owner.
Also Asaph suffered the same inner conflict
“(1) Certainly God is good to Israel, and to those whose motives are pure!
(2) But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. (3) For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. (4) For they suffer no pain; their bodies are strong and well-fed. (5) They are immune to the trouble common to men; they do not suffer as other men do. (6) Arrogance is their necklace, and violence covers them like clothing. (7) Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful. (8) They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence. (9) They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth. (10) Therefore they have more than enough food to eat, and even suck up the water of the sea. (11) They say, “How does God know what we do? Is the Most High aware of what goes on?”
(12) Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like, those who always have it so easy and get richer and richer.
(13) I concluded, “Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure and maintained a pure lifestyle. (14) I suffer all day long, and am punished every morning.” (15) If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your people.
(16) When I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling to me. (17) Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked. (18) Surely you put them in slippery places; you bring them down to ruin. (19) How desolate they become in a mere moment! Terrifying judgments make their demise complete! (20) They are like a dream after one wakes up. O Lord, when you awake you will despise them.
(21) Yes, my spirit was bitter, and my insides felt sharp pain. (22) I was ignorant and lacked insight; I was as senseless as an animal before you. (23) But I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. (24) You guide me by your wise advice, and then you will lead me to a position of honor.
(25) Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. (26) My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability.”
Now I did not just risk the tedium of quoting from these mens’ lives to show this is a common thought among God’s people, but also to show you how God deals with these thoughts in different people.
With Job, he had become bitter under the oppression of the devil and had come to blame God and think the ungodly were better off. But Job still fell short of walking away from God. Though he was angry and hurt he stayed in the conversation and so God sent an advocate in Elihu. The words of this young man set the stage for God’s confrontation and ultimate restoration of Job following his repentance.
In Asaph, it simply took going to the house of the Lord – which you will note he did not forsake. Upon entering and worshiping God revealed the truth to him and he also repented.
Israel on the other hand had been addressed about these things before. They also had the benefit of knowing the stories of Job and Asaph which I just read to you, not to mention the prophet words they now heard from Malachi. Still all but a few persisted in their complaint and their ungodliness and God made a difference between those who respected Him and those who did not as we will now see.
“(16) Then those who respected the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD took notice.
A scroll was prepared before Him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the LORD and honored His name.
(17) “They will belong to Me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “in the day when I prepare My Own special property. I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
(18) Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.”
“(1) For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
“It will not leave them even a root or branch.
(2) But for you who respect My name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall.
(3) You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
(4) “Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey.
(5) Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. (6) He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”
We know that this had at least part of its fulfillment at various times in history already.
When Jesus came He did in fact confront the religious elite of His day as well as the general disbelief of the Jewish nation which would represent the arrogant and evildoers who would be as chaff.
John the Baptist himself made a similar observation regarding the upcoming ministry of Messiah Jesus which also seems to refer back to this passage when he said,
“(1) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, (2) and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
(3) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS: ‘PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD; MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’ ”
(4) Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (5) Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him (6) and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
(7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, (9) and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (10) And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(11) I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:1-12
Then Malachi said, “the coming day will burn them up. It will not leave them even a root or branch.” which John also just indicated in the passage in Matthew we just read. “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Burning is often a metaphor used for God’s wrath. Sometimes the burning may be more illustrative of the all consuming nature of God’s judgment and anger. Other times this burning is quite literal – like at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which Jesus also predicted.
The temple and the then existing priesthood was destroyed in the great fire of Rome in 70A.D. thus the statement, “it will not leave them root or branch”.
We are familiar with this type of wording when the birth of Jesus was prophesied by Isaiah,
“(1) There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (2) The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” – Isaiah 11:1-2
However, even Jesus’ prediction included things that both would happen soon as well as things which have not even happened yet today in 2023. That is the nature of much prophecy, which is why one needs spiritual eyes to see and a heart open to the Spirit of God to discern the meaning and fulfillment of prophecy.
Let’s look at that conversation of Jesus with His disciples and tell me if you do not see, at very least, three different time periods being mentioned.
“(1) Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts, one of His disciples said to him, “Teacher, look at these tremendous stones and buildings!” (2) Jesus said to him,“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!”
Of course this was accomplished in 70AD, but there were other things Jesus addressed at that moment to His disciples which have not yet come to pass. Jesus describes the time of the Great Tribulation as being
In verse 5 Jesus said, “Watch out that no one misleads you. (6) Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will mislead many. (7) When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come. (8) For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines.
These are but the beginning of birth pains.
(9) “You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them.
(10) First the gospel must be preached to all nations.
(11) When they arrest you and hand you over for trial, do not worry about what to speak. But say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (12) Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death. (13) You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
(14) “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
(19) For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen. (20) And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, Whom He chose, He has cut them short.
(26) Then everyone will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds with great power and glory. (27) Then he will send angels and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
So you can readily see that these events all conspire together to define the days Jesus was talking about.
So Malachi prophesying about a day burning like a furnace destroying the evil and arrogant leaving them no root or branch can be readily understood.
Then He promises to show a difference to those who respect His name.
He said the “sun of vindication will rise with healing wings and they will go about like freed calves”.
This is almost certainly referring to both of Jesus’ future returns. First for the church at the rapture at which point the saints will be vindicated regarding their faith in Him before the whole world. More primarily since this prophecy was to Jews, it may refer to the time Jesus returns to establish His earthly kingdom for 1,000 years.
Yet another, possible and minor fulfillment of this perhaps occurred in Jesus’ earthly ministry.
The tassels on the bottom of the garments of Jewish men, meant to remind them of the law and their obligation to keep it, were often called wings.
You may remember that the woman with the issue of blood said in her heart, “If I can just touch His garment I will be made whole”. What she is said to have touched however, was the hem of His garment upon which, as a Jewish man, the tassels of remembrance of the law were sown.
We all know the story that she was healed of her terrible sickness and Jesus acknowledged her faith.
Then he says that those vindicated will trample on the wicked. This also has more than one fulfillment.
In some ways it could be said that the church who in our everyday know that we are vindicated in our faith. That the world, though they look as if they are prospering are in reality being destroyed.
It has a fulfillment for the church on the day we return with Jesus to begin ruling and reigning with Him in His earthly Kingdom. – Revelation 19 & 20
Of course the final fulfillment will be when we sit as their judges at the Great White throne.
He then encourages them all to remember and obey the law of Moses.
He then tells them what will begin all of these events.
“(5) Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. (6) He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”
We know that this was John the Baptist, for Jesus Himself said so.
Matthew 11:7-15, “(7) As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John:“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (8) But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. (9) But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. (10) For this is he of whom it is written: ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’ (11) “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (12) And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (13) For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (14) And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. (15) He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
And later in Jesus’ ministry just after He was transformed before Peter, James and John where they suggested they should build temples for He, Moses and Elijah this conversation ensued.
“(7) But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” (8) When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (9) Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”
(10) And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
(11) Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. (12) But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
(13) Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” – Mathew 17:7-13
Author of ‘Poor Man’s Commentary’ Robert Hawker said,
“I cannot think with many, that this day spoken of, is the day of Christ’s first coming in the flesh. Neither do I conceive, that all the event’s which took place in Jerusalem, after our Lord’s return to glory, can be said to have had their fulfillment of this prophecy. I am much more inclined to refer this day, that is said to burn as an oven, to the same day the Apostles speak of. See 2Peter 3:7-12; Revelation 20:11 to the end. Revelation 21:8.”
Yet as I have adequately demonstrated to you time and again, as well as tonight a single fulfillment is not required and in fact is rarely in view – though ultimate fulfillments are!
Now this began a 400 year run of silence until the angels announced Jesus’ birth.
As I was looking at my LinkedIn account the other day I began looking at which messages received the most traction. I didn’t check them all, but overwhelmingly the message I taught in Daniel entitled, “The final week of Daniel’s prophecy” was viewed the most. This intrigued me so I looked it up. As it turns out it was a very good teaching, but I found that at the very beginning of it I had mentioned the 400 years of silence and how it was likely mentioned by Daniel himself. See –
The last time we met, we got two-thirds of the way through the 70 years of Daniel. By 2/3rd I mean, that Gabriel divided up the 70 sets of seven years into three specific events. The first was to rebuild and restore Jerusalem which we determined would include the proper restoration of the priesthood and temple worship. This was to take place or be completed in troubled times. So applying the 49 years which included sabbatical years and such we came to the date of 396B.C. which just happened to be the beginning of the 400 years of silence – thus, troublesome times.
This began the second countdown of 62 sets of seven years which was 434 years.
We reduced the years to days and made adjustments for all the special conditions such as the Jewish year being about 11 days shorter than a solar year, the addition of an intercalary month every two or three years and that every 216 years the Hebrew calendar falls behind a day, plus sabbatical years…etc.
We came to the conclusion that the 434 years would amount to 173,740 days until just before Messiah was cut off, because the prophecy said that AFTER this the anointed one would be cut off. This countdown ended at Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on April 6, 32A.D. afterwards He was cut off or crucified.