“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. “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. 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.”
The Church in the Western Hemisphere is drowning in a flood of sentimentality called “The all-inclusive Love of God”. Sinners must not be upset or confronted by being called so. Sin is not even any longer defined in relation to the Person of God. Catalogues of sin all have one basic flaw apart from changing over time, they avoid speaking of Sin and talk only of sins. The sinister fact that all sins are merely the normal offspring of Sin is bypassed in a sea of moral scruples which may or may not have any relationship to the only true pivot for determining what Sin is: The Holiness of God. Until the very clearly declared and ultimate, never changing quality of God Himself is recognized then all talk about sins is merely a matter of humans comparing themselves with one another and since each has an interest in being better in the eyes of others than in the eyes of God, the outcome is always the same.. “I am not so bad after all“. 2 Corinthians 10:12 consequently says
The very moment that any man or woman refuses to stand in the immediate and fearsome presence of the Holy God a dangerous transference occurs. Mankind usurps the place of God and makes itself better than God at being God. It should not come as a surprise since that was the essential sin offered as a triumphant prize by Satan to mankind in Genesis chapter three. You have heard it so often, but bear with me one more time. In one sentence a total sentence for all human beings in all times everywhere is exposed. Genesis 3:4-5
“The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Three statements, all totally false are made in that temptation.
1 “Surely you will not die”. On the contrary! Going against God is the beginning of your freedom, your own independent life. Emancipation is near! Do what you know is forbidden and you will enjoy freedom from the yoke of God for the first time! In Adam we all die.”
2 “Your eyes will open” Up until now you have been blindfolded to your true status, but once you know how to flaunt your freedom from God you be like God in yourselves. Having been made in the image of God, they were now offered to become what they were and as they believed that lie they lost the very thing promised. “You say of yourself that you are rich and see, but know not that you are wretched , naked and blind.”
3 “Knowing good and evil” They acted and soon found out the part of the truth Satan withholds. A lie is best when aligned with truth to almost 100%. You will know the difference but no longer be able to act only on the side of Good. You will have the moral persuasion of what is right and wrong but no longer have the ability to avoid evil in action. You have become not merely someone who occasionally or habitually sins, but you are Sin. Hence: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.“
And the only remedy for that is that someone without Sin becomes sin in our place. 2 Cor 5:21 “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.”
Paul drew the further consequences: Romans 7:15-19, 24-25 NET” For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate. But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me...Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” When humankind thought itself being able to be God it ceased being true humankind and the Man of Sin took the place of the image of God. The trouble in all ages since then is that men refuse to let God be God and refuse humankind to be only humankind.
Whom am I referring to as “the Messenger” in the caption?
I am referring to the last prophetic voice of the Former covenant who was called by name what he was by calling. Malachi (Messenger) is both a description of what he was and the name he was given. He brings a message and he is the message by divine intervention and design. It is as if the entire former covenant is condensed down into these short 4 chapters which summarize the old at the same time as they prophesy what is to come in the next and better covenant between God and mankind.
We meet a grumbling people at the end of their attempts to please God by bringing what He has not asked for, and refuse to give Him what is His by right. It is a heartbreaking conversation between the Father and the prodigal son, while he is still only as yet concerned with feeding pigs. Malachi’s narrative is reminiscent of a brawl between an irate Father and his wayward sons. “If I am your father, where is my honour. If I am your Master where is my respect? The Lord of Heaven’s armies asks you this, you priests who make light of my name!” Go to any “divine service” and ask these questions. What is the answer given by the normal church assembly? God must be forgiven for thinking that his own people show no respect to Him or His name. As it was then under the conditions of the former Covenant, so it became and is still under the new Covenant.
God does not mind?
We are of the opinion that the passing of time must somehow automatically improve humanity and that we are better now than the people were at that time. The theory of evolution has permeated every layer of knowledge to the extent that every generation thinks itself to be better than the previous. And if you question that narrative you will soon be out in the cold or reduced to being seen as reactionary and archaic. “You are not with it, you don’t recognize that we have grown away from your infantile holding fast to the wisdom of the past!” I agree because I am in the best possible company.
In the third chapter and the sixth verse God declares himself to be for ever the same over against his people and his covenant with them. “Since I, the Lord do not (change or) go back on my promises, you sons of Jacob have not perished.” The evidence for God’s unchanging nature is in the very fact of the survival of mankind. It is not the evolution idea of the survival of the fittest, but the survival of those on whom God has placed his mercy and enduring hope that they might still turn to Him away from their ways. “Return to me and I will return to you says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. But you (who believe in a constant upward evolution) say: How should we return?” The idea of going back is obnoxious to those who hail their present state as advancement and the new day dawning. But ‘the Messenger’ called their bluff and what they consider to be their right he calls robbery.
The downward devolution of mankind is evident, only the denier of all available facts believes that what we see today is upward development. Mistaking technological and economic growth in human development to be evidence of true advancement blinds us to the moral decay that goes along with it. The downward devolution is, however, reversible! The offer is always made, even under the sternest warning: you can repent and return. You can, but you must make that choice although it is a painful recognition of wrong being, wrongdoing and wrong going. The hardest of all is the recognition of being a sinner. But that is what happens the moment you enter the presence of the only God who is there. The holy God who cannot bear to even look at the unclean and unholy things. Another prophet shouted that insight with these words: “You are too just to tolerate evil, you are unable to condone wrongdoing. So why do you put up with such treacherous people? Why do you say nothing when the wicked devour those more righteous than they are?” Habakkuk 1:13
In his 2nd letter, Peter the apostle concisely summarized the blindness of our time: “ The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:9-10 Humankind of today does not believe in God but believes absolutely that it will not be held to account. Denying the existence of God is absolutely necessary in order to deafen the conscience as to accountability. And when the preacher today warns sinners he or she is thrown out or jailed in under the misguided banner of “hate-speech”.
A brash and brazen generation
Malachi paints the picture of a people busy throwing off all and every restraint that God had put down for the safeguarding of humankind. Summarized by the phrase: “it is useless to serve God, we have nothing for it.” A pure waste of lifetime to stand up for God’s order for marriage, economy and worship. Giving God our best is bad economy, they say. Upholding marriage between one man and one woman is homophobic at best. The list is extensive. All holiness is degraded and even the Lord’s table is desecrated. “How tiresome it is to obey. You turn up your noses against pure sacrifice.” And the Messenger, Malachi goes on to warn: “Now, you priests, this commandment is for you. If you do not listen and take seriously the need to honor my name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will send judgment on you and turn your blessings into curses—indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart. I am about to discipline your children and will spread offal on your faces, the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it.” Malachi 2:1-3
The most brazen display of no respect for God always comes from having the desire for another God than the God who is. The golden calf was not a one-off event in the history of the people. It is repeated in generation after generation. ‘Serving other gods, gods whom your fathers knew not‘, is a not unfamiliar call. And for sure, all sins emanate from the breaking of the first commandment. You must break the first before you break any of the other. So you do not just steal, but you begin by blaspheming the name of the Lord before you break that command. How tiresome it must be for God to continue to show mercy and reach out forgiveness to people like us!
Having thrown out the God that is we have also lost the moral compass. “ You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?” Malachi 2:17 It is not justice we should ask for, because that would be our eternal damnation, it is mercy we need! Today large sections of the s c Church is calling good that which God calls evil. And there is no fear of the Lord in the land.
All is not lost
From my childhood years in a very rural and agrarian civilisation in the highlands of Austria one very astute piece of wisdom remains with me. It expresses a faith in the mysterious reappearance of things one thought lost. “Bei uns kann nichts verloren gehen, sagte der Bauer, und zog seinen Holzpantoffel aus dem Sauerkraut.” Meaning: “In our place, nothing is ever lost, said the farmer as he pulled his wooden clog out of the Sauerkraut, the fermented cabbage.” And this is a message close to the word of God. There will always be a remnant that has not given up and become like the world around it. At least 7000 that have not bowed before the idols of Baal. 7000 who hold the Lord holy in their hearts. It is of utmost concern that only those will be lost who chose not to repent, not to turn when they had the opportunity.
Malachi describes them as people who gathered together to show respect and honour to God. Such people do not argue the presence of God, they bring it with them. They do not go Church to become Church, they come because they are the Church. They are individually holding on to the head, and by definition that means holding on to one another also. The binding force is the Love of God, this constrains and retains, this encourages and enlivens those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Notice how Malachi describes them and see the parallell in the teaching of the apostles.
Malachi: “Do we not all have one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, thus making light of the covenant of our ancestors?”
And the Spirit enhances that understanding:
Paul: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Malachi: “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination; those who commit adultery; those who break promises; and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the resident foreigner and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Paul: “Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.” And:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.“
Malachi: “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. “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. 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.” Whereas the order of the day in Christendom is spelled Synchretism and obliterating borderlines between the holy and the unholy, the scripture is unequivocally clear on this point: Christ himself will divide and His Father will gather together those who serve him the way a son would serve his Father. The parable of the lost son as told by Luke shows up in the light of Malachi’s prophecy. One son is lost and then regained, one is lost to the riches of his inheritance and sees no joy of salvation.
Peter the apostle preached:
“He commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he (Christ Jesus) is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. About him all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And Matthew wrote: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Individually and Nationwise, judgment and separation will be part of the second Coming of Christ.
We sit down to speak of Him who loved us enough to save us. And God takes note of those who still meet to speak of Him with respectful reverence and worshipful prostration. How odd it is that speaking the truth about God is done within the programme of the service only, but becomes absent the moment the Amen of that meeting has been said. If what the heart is full of is what the mouths speak, then the last thing that fills the hearts of God’s people is God. Just listen to what is, or as the case may be, is not spoken of after the formal acknowledgement of God has been done for that day. Programme over, book and case closed.
So we are asking ourselves now: will our names be in among them who came together to respect the Lord? A lot seems to ride on it. And as the disciples returned from a successful ministry of throwing out demons, they were high on the victories seen. Jesus brought them down to earth with a heavenly proposal: “Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!” So he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Look, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and on the full force of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names stand written in heaven.”
All books will be opened. Is my name written in them? How vital it seems to be that we get together to speak what is true of Him who has given the gift of speech and who will ask us to account for every word spoken. And if, when we are together, we find ourselves tongue-tied and have nothing in our hearts concerning Him to say, then we should be deeply concerned that Christ is not living in us at all. Because that is the acid test of faith.
“Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!”
Please do not be missing when the book is opened!
Teddy Donobauer September 20th 2022