YOOHOO! You made it. Can you believe it? I can't. Honestly, along about April-September, I just didn't know how I could finish. But here we are, truly overcomers in our own right, having overcome the fear and tyranny of the urgent to feast in God's Word this year. And what a FEAST it's been! Wowzers. I am speechless, thinking back over all we've learned. I'm so proud of you and excited as we go forth from here, using what we've learned to make a difference in the way we love God and love people. Kudos to you! And whatever you do...stay in the Word! The treasures have only begun...
As for today, a nice long reading for old time's sake. Aw...you didn't think I was going to let you off easy on the last day did you? We must "milk" it for all it's worth!
3:1 "Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. John the Baptist is referred to twice in Malachi. Here as the one to prepare the way for Christ, as well as in the next chapter (we'll see in a minute). On another level, this could be speaking of Jesus, preparing the way for Yahweh, the messenger of the Abrahamic Covenant!
3:2-3 "But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. This is a powerful picture of one type of judgment. Since it's speaking of the Levites, I believe this is a type of refining for believers later, making them worthy of serving in the Temple (Jesus). As you know, I believe that Christians in the second resurrection will have to go through a refining period (individually, based upon their lives here) for not attaining to overcomer status when offered the chance.
3:5 "At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Pretty black and white—anyone who is guilty of these behaviors does not truly fear the Lord. We see orphans and widows in the equation again!
3:10 (NAS) "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. I think what this is saying is that God wants us to give to His household so that there is enough food to go around—to orphans, widows, the down and out. If all the Christians in the world shared their surplus and bounty, I believe world hunger would have been solved. And that is the complaint that God will have against us on "that day." All He asks is that we each do our part. Either feed souls, or feed stomachs (or both).
3:14-15 "You have said, ‘What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven's Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'" As I've begun to share more of the true character of God with people, the question they always ask is, "What's the point of obeying God then? Why not just live for ourselves now?" Well, I think God's response to this attitude is the perfect answer to these people. Here is His response:
3:16-18 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. "They will be my people," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. "On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Hey, for once, the words "special treasure" or "special possession" is correct! This might be why NLT takes the same liberty in other places. So anyhow...now you see WHY we are to obey and to really set our hearts on loving God!
4:2-3 "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet," says the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Verses like this give me so much hope!
4:5-6 "Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Here is our second reference to John the Baptist. This is prophetic on two levels (I believe). First of all, it happened with John:
"It is [John] who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17
However, I believe it will be fulfilled on another level (as we've recently learned) through one of the last days churches (certain types of believers scattered across the world) who is referred to as one of the witnesses, the lampstand, and the olive tree. This witness can shut up the sky so there is no rain (could be symbolic for God's interacting with mankind but could also be literal), and this witness will be a forerunner to the 2nd coming of Christ!
22:9 But he said, "No, don't worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!" I found it amazing that an angel would put a man on the same level as "just a servant of God." I think of angels as so much higher. I think it will be amazing to someday interact with them! Maybe they come from another Story in the cosmos and they can tell us amazing things.
22:10 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy." Interesting little verse.
22:12 "Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds." Notice it is our "deeds" we are repaid for, not our belief. Rewards follow works and obedience!
22:15 Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. There are other places in Scriptures where it pictures "outside the city gates." I believe it is synonymous with Gehenna, that place many modern translators term "hell," the literal garbage dump outside Jerusalem where homeless people, beggars, and lepers lived and where bodies and trash were burned. It believe it's a picture of being out of fellowship with God, a place of judgment in the refuse pile until one makes his/her amends with God and is "washed clean" so they may enter the city gates. Here are a couple more references to being thrown outside the city into a place of sorrow and remorse.
"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. "Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "For many are called, but few are chosen." Matt. 22:11-14
"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt. 8:11 Notice that it is the "sons of the Kingdom." This again is Jesus talking TO JEWS about JEWS in terms they understood. The Jews were the sons of the Kingdom who were going to be thrown out. Yet Paul reminds us in Romans 11:26: and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB."
22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let anyone who hears this say, "Come." Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. So let me as you a question: We know who the Spirit is. Do we remember who the Bride is? The overcomers ruling and reigning with Christ for both the MK and the Judgment Age. And who are these two speaking to when they say, "Come"? Who is the "anyone who is thirsty" that can come and freely drink the water of life? It is those who are outside the city. They are being invited inside to leave their old lives behind and come to the One who gives LIFE!
"IT IS FINISHED!!"
What a perfect place to end our story this year. Sigh.