Wednesday, December 27, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 25: "FIRE, SOAP AND A BOOK"

"Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name". (Malachi 3:16)
After some of the Jews returned from their exile (538 BC) to Babylon, for disobeying the Laws of God, they were a powerful and devout bunch under Ezra the Scribe and Nehemiah. But in very short order, once these great Godly men had gone home to be with the Lord, the remaining residents of Jerusalem turned rogue. Even the Levite priests went over to the dark side and began to serve two masters. While mouthing The Almighty and preaching the Law of God from the Torah (first Five Books of the Bible), they lived like the devil and the rest of the sinful world, following after the lusts of their dark hearts and even the strange gods of the surrounding nations.

So the Lord gave them one final prophet - Malachi (who proclaimed during and after the passing of Nehemiah). In all chapters of the final prophet of that Age, Malachi hit the wide-ranging sins of the people in Jerusalem and hit them hard. But, as God always does for His Remnant - He left Good News for those who love and follow Him, as we see in Malachi 3:16. However this is a small oasis in a desert of destruction and despair! To get to this cool, eternally-satisfying supernatural "water", we MUST educate ourselves why we even need an oasis, when everything around us seems to be going well.

Today, most people are well-off - in Europe, South America, the UK, Asia and across North America. Most do not even see a need for God in their lives, far less allowing Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Master of their lives. To them, Jesus is the cute baby in the manger at Christmas time. They even know the words to Silent Night or Joy to the World. To them Easter is about a man on a Cross and then Easter Eggs and ham dinners. But do not bother them with what the 33 years of the Life of Christ means to their eternal souls.  They recoil at the thought.


Whether billions of people believe it or not, from when Jesus lived on Earth and preached the Gospel to the present and the final act at the End of the Age, the Truth remains the Truth and God will continue with His Work. Malachi was the last the Jews heard from God for over 400 years! Yes, FOUR HUNDRED years. God did not speak for those four centuries but He told them exactly what was going to happen here - from Malachi Chapter 3:
   -  He is sending His messenger before Him (verse 1). Four hundred years later, the final prophet of the Old Testament - JOHN THE BAPTIST - appeared preaching Repentance and the Coming Messiah, who actually was his cousin, Jesus! John was sent by God, as a voice crying in the wilderness, literally saying He was preparing the Way for the Lord. Promise Kept.

   -  Prepared to be stunned in the very NEXT verse- Malachi 3:2a! What God is foretelling here is not the baby Jesus in the Bethlehem manger, but the Second Coming of Jesus! It is generally agreed to and gleaned from Scripture that Jesus will land in Jerusalem when He returns in fire and glory to first wipe out the heathens of this world, and then reclaim His Property on the Jerusalem Temple Mount. Everything in those Hills of Jerusalem belong to Him NOW - He is only coming back to reclaim. God says, and other Bible passages confirm - no one will stand. That means - no one on the earth. The followers of Jesus will already have been removed before this, so that the Armies of Heaven will have one final 100% house-cleaning to do.

   -   What confirms that what verse 2a is talking about is not the baby Jesus is this statement from verses 2b-3. The returning and conquering King Jesus is going to destroy and clean house by fire. Fire also refines and removes impurities and this is what is going to occur on that fearsome day of the Lord's return. The fullers' soap signifies and washing of the clothes of the saints or the redeemed believers in Jesus. But what the Lord is concentrating here is the Refiner's Fire.

There is no such thing, in this current world, as 100% pure gold or silver. If you go to a precious metals dealer, they will always inform you that the silver is 99% pure. So it is with Gold. It just proves that the only perfect entity in this entire universe is God. On His Return, His Fire will be both literal and figurative. His fire will separate the pure from impure and the dross that rises to the top will be skimmed off and thrown away. Judgement is coming, declares the Lord.

God does not just make wild statements and let them stand. Over and over, in both the Old and New Testaments, He tells exactly what the indictments and charges are, from the Grand Jury Room of Heaven. In Malachi Chapter 2 and in all previous pleadings with people to get right with Him, God teaches about sins in family life (from adultery to divorce and more). He talks about how to raise children many times. He talks about how to live within our communities and on and on. He then talks about how they were not paying their temple tax duties and tithes which they were supposed to under the Law. They robbed God. This particular teaching is used by some churches to teach a certain version of tithing which was actually only meant for the Jews. We still recommend Christians take 10% off the gross income (or more) when paid, and give it towards the Lord's work. But, as an aside, there is no tithing formula set by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament, except that God loves a cheerful giver. It is better to be wise and deduct your 10% when paid, and watch the other 90% bless your family.

God not only had the indictment of the people and their priests robbing Him of the 23% of income which supported His Temple and the poor, but He added the following charges from Malachi 3:5 -
1. He is going to punish them for witchcraft. Today, we have more dark arts and witchcraft than ever. They too will fall under this Judgment.
2. He is going to punish adultery and sexual immorality outside of biblical marriage, which He ordained in Genesis 2:24
3. He is going to punish them for perjury (lying under oaths made before God).
4. He is going to punish all who exploit the poor, widows, orphans and today, all who persecute Christians and promote abortion and other decadent lifestyles.
5. He is going to punish those seeking legitimate refuge.
6. He is going to punish them - MOST OF ALL - for the sin of Unbelief and refusing to recognize, honor and respect God because every previous sin listed and unlisted, stem from the act of unbelief. Too many do not fear or believe God....to their own eternal peril.

When the Lord sent Malachi to tell these people the coming divine charges and felonies they committed, they reacted with fake outrage. In fact, they act just like the Lost do today who say to each other and the evangelist "I'm a good person....I never robbed a convenience store....or killed....or stole another man's wife....or....or...." and on and on, we hear the list of why a person without Christ, thinks he/she is going to heaven, based on nothing else but "i am good enough...and not as bad as Hitler or Stalin or Mao and Castro....or that guy down the street". We recognize these people as hopelessly lost in their self-deception because those people used to be us, before we were brought face to face with our sin and eternal future and had to make a choice, a decision.

Malachi 3:13-15 describe the modern lost soccer mom, librarian, IT manager, stockbroker, construction worker or local official perfectly. These next three verses tell the state of man, during the time of The 400 Year Godly Silence before John the Baptist, as it does in the 21st Century. Here is what God says: "13 “Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’”

Many will complain on Judgment Day because they lived their lives with this lie. Some of them know it is a lie, (that we are "okay" and "everything will work out in the end") but they foolishly go along anyway. When Malachi prophesied this, in essence, from verses 13-15, EVERYONE got scared! This included God's Faithful Servants. Today, that would be the same as the Saved and True Christians being really scared that they too are under condemnation when we hear of the coming destruction of those who hate Christ. This is only natural and attributed to human nature.

But, God - in His love, grace and long-suffering, reminded His faithful and loving followers this way...as we read in Malachi 3:16 that He has their names written down in His Book. In the New Testament, this Book of Remembrance is called the Book of Life, meaning all whose names are written in stone to get into heaven! Please take note of this portion of Malachi 3:16 here "Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name."

You and I have this blessed assurance, that when we are faithful and true and forgiven and redeemed and have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior....HE PAYS ATTENTION to our cares and fears!He really and truly cares for those who love Him! Our names are in His Book of Remembrance/Life. He "has our backs", so to speak. He is for us - NO ONE is against us! Glory to His Name!

But not just this one promise about names in a God's Book but here is the rest of the Promise from Malachi 3:17: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 

Here are some major promises from God the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. They are to be trusted, believed and acted upon by serving Him. While the fate of the wicked is as sure as the Second Coming of The King, God has this loving promise for those who love, honor, obey, trust, serve and proclaim Him....from Malachi 3:18: “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 
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