The text for our subject this afternoon is Malachi’s prophecy. It treats of a revival and reformation such as the world has never yet known. Moreover, the fact that the prophecy is written in such a way as partially to apply to ancient Israel, and yet specifically for the people in the latter days, for those who are approaching the great and dreadful day of the Lord, prove that the reformation needed in Malachi’s day is needed also in our day.
There is nothing so mysterious in the writings of Malachi but what any Bible student can comprehend by studying the book itself. I shall therefore study with you the last two chapters. The first two you can study at your leisure. We shall begin with–
Mal. 3:1, 2 – “Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, Whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope.”
Two persons are here disclosed to view, the messenger and the Lord. The messenger is to precede the coming of the Lord. He is to prepare the way, then the Lord is to appear. And who could this messenger be if not the one whom the Lord names? – He declares, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Mal. 4:5.
This messenger of the covenant (of the promise), antitypical Elijah the prophet shall prepare the way; he shall restore all things. As he prepares the way, the Lord will suddenly come to His temple, to His church. And what is His work to be? To purify or cleanse His people by weeding the unrepented sinners from among them. The question: “But who may abide the day of His coming?” solemnly declares that we had better now get busy and do what it takes to make us stand before the cleansing begins.
Whom in particular will He purify? – Let us read–
Verse 3 – “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
The Levites, you know, comprised the tribe from which came the priesthood, the ministers of the Lord. And since this prophecy is to meet its complete fulfillment in our day, the figure is clear: The Levites, the ministers of the Lord in our day, are to be purified. What then?
Verse 4 – “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”
This verse implies that the offerings which we now bring to the Lord are not pleasing to Him, not pleasing as in times past.
Here we have the glorious promise that not long hence there shall be a pure ministry, a pure people, – a people without guile in their mouths, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (Eph. 5:27). Those who do not measure to this standard will not “stand.” Thereafter no sinner will stand in their midst, for “Henceforth,” says the Lord, “there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.” Isa. 52:1.
This glorious future is, moreover, reiterated by the Spirit of Prophecy in our day. Here it is:
“…Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel’s Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.” – “Review and Herald,” Nov. 18, 1908.
“We have been inclined to think that where there are no faithful ministers, there can be no true Christians; but this is not the case. God has promised that were the shepherds are not true he will take charge of the flock himself. God has never made the flock wholly dependent upon human instrumentalities. But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor.
“The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to ‘science falsely so-called,’ will not be the leaders then. Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent, will now then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and he cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you.” – “Testimonies,” Vol. 5, pg. 80.
In the sifting, shaking time (“Testimonies,” Vol. 5, pg. 80) we shall be better able to know how many are really serving the Lord. Those whom we may think are to lead the church into the Kingdom may be missing, while others entirely unknown to us take their places.
Moreover, it will be found that those who are constantly drilling into the minds of the laity that there are to be no more messengers sent from God, no more Truth needed, and that someone is constantly trying to deceive them; that they should keep aloof from everything that does not meet the minister’s approval, – those who do this are the very ones who have already unwittingly deceived the laity, and are doing their best to keep them deceived. This fact, you see, stands up high like a beacon on a hill.
The only thing their carefulness not to be deceived will accomplish, unless they awake, is to keep themselves deceived forever and away from Truth. These shall not be able to stand when the Lord appears in His temple. Hence, the revival and reformation brought to view in Malachi is the first and the last of its kind, and is indeed to be crowned with the purification of the Church. Those who do not awake now, will therefore sleep for ever.
The Laodicean deception from within should not be news to you, for you well know that the Church has never in any age been deceived by any but by its own ministry, by those who have been as highly esteemed as were the members of the Sanhedrin, those who crucified the Lord, those who kept the nation deceived until it was too late to recover. Thus it was then, before then, and thus it has been ever since, and so it is now. Stop and think this through.
No, I am not telling you something new. You know this to be so, but you never think of it, and that is the main trouble with the entire Denomination.
The Church purified shall nevertheless triumph and march to victory. “‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,’ she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.” – “Prophets and Kings,” pg. 725.
Let us once and forever realize that the Devil is more shrewd than we can imagine. He is not particular what you believe so long as he can keep you ignorant of revealed Truth. This is what he is now doing within the Church, using men of influence, men who can put on the best front, men who are clever, who know how to gain the confidence of the people, men who can easily and quietly lead the Church away from God’s messages for today, the message of the Judgment for the Living – the purification of the church, the cleansing of the sanctuary. Satan is doing as good a job now as he did in Christ’s time.
Is not the knowledge of Malachi’s prophecy, the purification of the Church, the Judgment for the Living, more important to the Church than the Judgment for the Dead? Does it look to you as though you are being deceived by this Bible study, or does it look to you as though you need to reform?
Hear, therefore, what the Lord is about to do:
Verse 5 – “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts.”
These are only some of the sins in the Church in which men are indulging. Speaking of the message bearers of today and of the church’s condition Inspiration further says: “…They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled under foot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.” – “Testimonies,” Vol. 5, pp. 210, 211.
You will receive the mark of deliverance only if you sigh and cry against all these abominations. Ezek. 9:4-6.
To this list of sins the Lord calls attention to the following, and asks us to repent:
Verses 6-9 – “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”
These verses do not blame the individual members of the church for robbing the Lord, but the whole denomination, the “whole nation.” Moreover, you will note that the story of Malachi chapter three begins with chapter two. There you will note that the Lord addresses the ministry, not the laity, saying, “…O ye priests, this commandment is for you.” Mal. 2:1. Plainly, then, the trouble lies in the fact that though the laity as a rule pay faithful tithe and offerings God nevertheless is robbed because the Denomination is taking the tithes and at the same time is fighting rather than accepting and promulgating His message for today – the Judgment for the Living. His money is used to cheat His people from His Truth instead of enlightening them with It – keeping His people in darkness and deception, even barring them from investigating the message of the hour for themselves. What a charge!
Here is what God would have the laity do:
Verse 10 – “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Where is one to look for God’s storehouse? – wherever God’s Truth is for today, from wherever “meat in due season” is dispensed.
The statement, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,” implies that some are already bringing into it, but not all. This, along with the charge that the whole nation is robbing God, positively shows that the tithes are now brought, not to God’s storehouse, but to some other house. To repeat, God’s storehouse has ever been and ever will be where “the message of the Hour” is, where “Present Truth” is, the house from which “meat in due season” is dispensed at the time the tithes are paid.
Since the old message, the “Judgment for the Dead,” is out of date as is the message of Noah’s flood, it is plainly seen that inasmuch as the Denomination as a whole has rejected and is fighting the message of the hour, but is still collecting the tithes of the people, it is indeed robbing God.
His people are, therefore, asked to send their tithes to the “storehouse” whence Present Truth is dispensed, for it is Present Truth that the flock needs now. “There are many precious truths contained in the word of God, but it is ‘present truth’ that the flock needs now.” – “Early Writings,” pg. 63. Those who obey have this promise:
Verses 11-12 – “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Under no other conditions does He promise His blessings. You have hard luck? You cannot make ends meet? Start paying your tithes. Note carefully that God requires not only tithe but tithes; that is, tithe and free will offering. He does not want them spent on something of your own devising. You are to bring them into the “store house.” “…Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared, ‘I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel.’ But in regard to the second he commanded, ‘Thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.’ This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank-offering to God, and a specified portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. Thus provision was made for the thank-offerings and feast at the yearly festivals, and the people were drawn to the society of the priests and Levites, that they might receive instruction and encouragement in the service of God.
“Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said, ‘That they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.’ This tithe would provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality.” – “Patriarchs and Prophets,” pg. 530.
The command is, “…they shall not appear before the Lord empty.” Deut. 16:16.
God does not lie. He carries out His promises. He never fails. There is nothing more offensive to Him than unbelief and unfaithfulness in His Word.
Verses 13-15 – “Your words have been stout against Me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against Thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.”
Here is pointed out another need of reform: We as a Denomination are charged with imagining that the ungodly are better off than those who serve God. Before drawing such a conclusion, let each first examine himself and see if he is really and honestly serving God.
Verses 16, 17 – “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
If we give undivided attention to God’s Word, if we do all He asks us to do, we shall indeed be His people, His “jewels.” Then a book of remembrance shall be written of us and our good and heroic deeds shall be read by the redeemed throughout eternity!
Verse 18 – “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.”
We may not now see the difference between him who serves God, and him who serves Him not, but the day is fast approaching when the difference will be seen by all.
Mal. 4:1, 4 – “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch…. Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”
Here we are asked to remember the law of Moses which God commanded in Horeb – the ten commandments, the statutes and judgments (Deut. 4:10-14).
Verses 5, 6 – “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
The word “behold,” calls our attention back to chapter 3, verse 1, where we are told that the Lord will send His messenger to prepare the way of the Lord for the Judgment for the Living – for the purification.
Obviously, besides preparing the way of the Lord, Elijah, the Lord’s messenger, is to declare that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is at hand.
The work of ancient Elijah, you know, was the closing work for typical apostate Israel – the Church. Likewise the work of Elijah of this day must be the antitypical closing work for His temple, the Church, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (“Testimonies,” Vol. 3, pg. 266.)
Moreover, if Elijah is a messenger, he is to have a message. His message is to be heart-searching, for he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers – the fathers shall long to see their children saved, and the children shall long to see their fathers saved. And this revival and reformation shall in truth be crowned with the purification of the Church, with the Lord’s slaying the antitypical false prophets of today (Isa. 66:16). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Pet. 4:17. “For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many….And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and the shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.” Isa. 66:16, 19, 20.
This slaying, you see, takes place before probation closes for the escaped ones are sent to the Gentiles, to finish the gospel work – to gather all their brethren from among them.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;… Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Heb. 2:1-3; 4:1.