Lest We Forget (Malachi)
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #13
"Lest We Forget (Malachi)"
June 29, 2013
The secret of the LORD [is] with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. Ps. 25:14 NKJV
Malachi 4:6 contains the last recorded call to receive the gift of repentance (“turning”) in the Old Testament prior to the coming of the Messiah. Malachi carries a special weight, much like the book of Revelation, with its special message to Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21). Both Malachi and Revelation are illuminated by the rest of scripture, and especially by the book of Daniel.
Ever since the fall of man, God has been calling all back to an intimate communion with Him - one founded in reverent appreciation of His covenant promise to restore all things through His own ultimate sacrifice.
The Messenger of the covenant in Malachi 3 is the Prince of the covenant of Daniel 9 - Christ Himself. In Daniel 9:24 we see the surety of the fulfillment of the everlasting covenant:
"Seventy weeks [fn] are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of [fn] sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.”
Just as in Daniel 8 and 9 we see both the mareh vision of Christ the Messenger of the covenant and the chazown vision of the end-time judgment and final desolation (9:27), so in Malachi we have the delight and healing found in Christ (3:1, 4:2) as well the desolation that comes with rejection of His healing rays of righteousness (4:1,3,6). The curse of Malachi 4:6 is a determined, ultimate desolation, much like the final desolation of Daniel 9:27.
What are the entanglements of God’s people in Malachi’s day that were placing them at risk of being caught up in the coming destruction? What are the similarities to us in our Laodicean churches today?
- Irreverence in worship, defiled sacrifices (1:6-8)
- Sneering at the food and fruit of God’s table (the Word) as boring (1:12-13)
- Corrupt teaching of the law and the covenant with ideas foreign to the gospel (2:7-12)
- Emotion-based worship as a cover for immorality and treachery (2:13-16)
- Blurring the lines between right and wrong with a permissive gospel (2:17)
- Spiritualism, adultery, lying, exploiting the weak and denying the gospel to others (3:5)
- Withholding tithe (3:8-9)
- Idolizing the proud/wicked (3:15)
The remedy for them and for us?
- Let the Messenger into the soul temple to do His work of purification (3:1-4)
- Tithe faithfully in belief that all we are and have are already God’s(3:10-12)
- Believe and share that God values us and will complete His work (3:16-17)
- Reverence the character of God and accept His healing righteousness (4:2)
- Keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (4:2,4)
- Repent of our hardness of heart (4:6)
The prayer of Daniel (9:4-19) is a good template for the ground we need to cover in our repentance as a people. Perhaps if we enter in to the “secret place of the Most High” (Ps 91:1) we will be be “found written in the book.” Dan (12:1)
May God show us His covenant today.
-- Todd Guthrie
As the end approaches, the testimonies of God's servants will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy. The Lord has sent us messages for this time, that will establish Christianity upon an eternal basis; and all who believe the present truth, must stand, not in their own wisdom, but in God's wisdom, and raise up the foundations of many generations; and they will be registered in the books of heaven as "repairers of the breach," the "restorer of paths to dwell in." In face of the bitterest opposition, we are to maintain the truth because it is truth. God is at work upon human minds; it is not man alone that is working. The great illuminating power is from Christ; the brightness of his example is to be kept before the people in every discourse. His love is the glory of the rainbow encircling the throne on high.
The Lord has said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. . . . And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh." In the rainbow above the throne is an everlasting testimony that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Whenever the law is presented before the people, let the teacher of the truth point to the throne arched with the rainbow of promise, the righteousness of Christ. The glory of the law is Christ; he came to magnify the law, and to make it honorable. Make it appear distinct that mercy and peace have met together in Christ, and righteousness and truth have embraced each other. When you look to his throne, offering up your penitence, praise, and thanksgiving that you may perfect Christian character, and represent Christ to the world, you abide in Christ, and Christ abides in you; you have the peace that passes all understanding. We need continually to meditate upon Christ's attractive loveliness. We must direct minds to Jesus, fasten them upon him. In every discourse dwell upon the divine attributes. (1888 Materials p. 1079)
Whoever reads the book of Malachi entirely through will see that while it is addressed to all Israel, the priests are especially singled out. The people had departed from the Lord, but it was the priests that had led the way. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts." Mal. ii. 7, 8. A great responsibility rests upon religious teachers and leaders. Apostasy begins at the head, rather than at the foot. It is the elders that draw away disciples after them. Acts xx. 28-30. If the people are going astray, be sure that the priests are still farther astray. Christ said that He sanctified Himself, in order that His followers mighty be truly sanctified. John xvii. 19. That is the true way, but it is seldom done. All reforms among the people have to be carried out in spite of the leaders of the people. The people are ready to follow the light, but they are hindered by the teachers of the law, who take away the key of knowledge, and will not enter in themselves, nor allow others to do so. If a religious teacher or one in authority in the church is not far ahead of the people, leading them along, then he is far behind them, dragging them back. (November 30, 1899 EJW, PTUK 758)
And from ATJ:
One provision of that everlasting covenant is. "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts." And that provision will not be accomplished in its fullness until, by the Third Angel's Message, men are brought to the actual keeping of "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus;" so that the Lord, looking down from heaven upon them, can say, in perfect truth: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Another provision of that covenant is: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." Heb. 8:11. Although we are now living in the times of the new covenant as really as was Abraham, yet neither the world nor we have attained to that point where it is not necessary any more for any man to teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, Know the Lord. And this part of the everlasting covenant will not be met in its fullness until, through the blessing and power of God in the Third Angel's Message, the mystery of God shall have been finished. Col. 1:26, 27; Rev. 19:7. (March 13, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 169)
In the new covenant it is God who is the worker. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:13. It is "through the blood of the everlasting covenant," that "the God of peace" makes "you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ." who is the "surety" of this "better testament." Heb. 13:20, 21; 7:22.
The only way in which the people come into this covenant is passively: they must submit themselves unto the righteousness of God. Rom. 10:3. They "yield" themselves unto God and their "members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Rom. 6:13.
Thus, whoever is partaker of this covenant in any way whatever, is partaker of it wholly by the promise of God; and so becomes, "as Isaac was," a child of promise. (July 24, 1900 ATJ, ARSH 473)