Old Testament: Malachi 3:1-4:6
Malachi 3:1-4:6 Here Comes The Sun
In Chapter 3, the opening verses (vv. 1-3) are used in Handel’s Messiah. They sound pretty cool being sung by a full choir. Jesus will purify Israel when He returns like a “refiner’s fire” (v. 2 as well as 3-4). Verses 5 – 7 were meant to be an encouragement to the people to clean up their lives. The Millennium will be pure but at the time of the second temple the people were involved in sorcery (cf. Exod. 22:18), adultery (cf. Exod. 20:14), lying (cf. Lev. 19:12), cheating employees (cf. Lev. 19:13), taking advantage of widows and orphans (cf. Exod. 22:22- 24), and mistreating strangers (cf. Deut. 24:17). Yahweh calls them Jacob to connote His mercy to that patriarch (v. 6). He tells them that He doesn’t change. It is one of His main attributes. He never changes. The message is that He is always merciful. If they will return to Him, He will re-establish His relationship with them (v. 7, James 4: 8).
Malachi contains dialogues between Israel and God. In verses 8 – 12, God calls them to account for not tithing like they should have been. As a result, there was not enough funding for worship. Tithing was the system used in the Old Testament to fund the priests and the upkeep of the Temple and other things associated with worship. God was going to curse them for their disobedience but if they changed their ways, He would reward them (v. 12). (Normally, three tithes were collected. One was only every three years and two were annual (for the Levites, Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:21; a second tithe was brought to Jerusalem for the Lord’s feast, Deut. 14:22; the third tithe was kept in the family’s hometown and used for the poor, Deut. 14:28, cf. Ryrie).
The people were arrogant enough to accuse God of not being faithful in blessing their obedience (vv. 13-15) with prosperity. Yahweh promised to bless those who had remained faithful to him and weren’t like the others (vv. 16-18).
In Chapter 4, Yahweh promises to judge them (v. 1). For those who are faithful, the “sun of righteousness.” You might think that this is a reference to Christ in the Millennium but it is a reference to the sun that will bring healing universally just as the sun gives it light to all. Since Christ is reigning at that time, it is an indirect reference to Him (v. 2). On the other hand, those who asked in 3:13-15 about the value of serving the Lord are answered in 4:3. They won’t be “ashes under the feet” of those who do serve Him. That seems like a “big plus” as opposed to those who serve the Lord and keep His commandments (v. 4)
Yahweh promises to send “Elijah” before the “day of the Lord.” As we’ve seen, the “day of the Lord” is a time of punishment, ultimately its fulfillment is in the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” the terrible Seven-Year Tribulation (cf. Jer. 30:7). Jesus explained that John the Baptist was Elijah who came to warn the Israelites to repent and turn to Christ (Mt. 17: 11). The Israelites did not repent and so things proceeded as they did. The nation rejected Christ, the church age was ushered in as a result, there will be a time of Jacob’s trouble and punishment of Israel, followed by Christ’s Millennial kingdom. The kingdom was offered by Christ to the nation but they rejected it (John 19: 15) so it is being delayed. That story is told in the following book, Matthew, and the rest of the New Testament.
Walvoord links this last verse to the witness of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-13. Many will repent and trust the Lord at that point of the tribulation fulfilling the ministry of Elijah and John the Baptist. They will not be curses as the others will be. They will live eternally with God which is the purpose of the Bible, to restore mankind’s relationship with God that was broken at the fall (cf. Gen. 3). Rebellions against God leads to death, a relationship with God leads to life.
New Testament: Revelation 22:1-21
Revelation 22:1-21 The Nuts Don’t Fall Far From The Tree
The angel next shows John a river of living water issuing from God’s throne (v. 1, cf. John 7:37-39). It flowed through the middle of the street suppling sustenance to the “tree of life” which was bearing twelve kinds of fruit, the leaves being used to heal the nations (v. 2).
The curse of the Fall will be removed with the “bond-servants” of the Lord serving Him before His throne (v. 3). They will be in His presence wearing His name on their foreheads (as opposed to those who served the Antichrist had “666” on their foreheads, Rev. 13:6). The Lord will light everything so Edison will be passed. This will continue forever (v. 5). It’s a sure thing for all those whose goal is to serve Christ (v. 6). It’s going to happen soon, all believers will be blessed (v. 7). John tried to worship the angel who was talking to him but the angel wouldn’t let him. The angel said all believers and angels were all just together servants of the Lord (vv. 8-9).
In contrast to the message of Daniel which was to be sealed until the end times (cf. Dan. 12:9), John was told that the information in Revelation was now to be presented so that everyone could understand its contents (v. 10). No one will be able to change his or her destiny at this point. If they rejected Christ in favor of immorality, they will be stuck in Hell. Those who trusted Him will be in Heaven forever (v. 11).
If John was living in the end times, where are we now? He is “coming soon” (v. 12). The book of Revelation is about how all things are subsumed under the feet of Christ so that He might reign supreme. He is the summing up of all things (v. 13, cf. Eph. 1:8-10, NASB).
Those who have clean robes are the ones who are dressed in Christ (v. 14a, cf. Zech. 3:1-5; Rom. 13:14). They are the ones who will be able to eat from the tree of life and can enter into the gates of the city (v. 14b). Adam and Eve were allowed to eat from the tree of life but then were banished from the garden (cf. Gen. 3:22-24). Those who had the character of Satan but refused to wear the robes of Christ will not be in the new kingdom (v. 15a). They are those who would not put away their sorcery, immorality, murdering, lying and idolatry (v. 15b). The reference to dogs does not necessarily mean there won’t be animals in Heaven, it means that those who want to act like animals won’t be there.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to Israel that a descendant will sit on the throne as king, He is the “bright morning star” (v. 16). Every morning He will exude His grace in Heaven (Lam. 3:22-23). As the “root” of David, He preceded him and through Him David was created but He is also the descendant of David through the flesh. He is God and man, the only way He could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins to please God’s holiness and His love.
We should live every day in the expectation that Jesus could come back at any moment (v. 17a). Anyone who wants a relationship with the Lord can be close to Him. All God’s favorites are all those who want to be His favorites. He excludes no one. All can obtain eternal life through Him who want it (v. 17b, John 6:37; 2 Pet. 3:9).
If anyone distorts John’s message, or by way of extension, anything in the entire Bible, he will be cursed (vv. 18 -19, cf. Deut. 4:1-4 for an OT version of this warning). The first chapter promises a blessing for reading this book (v. 3), here in the last chapter is a curse for eviscerating the Word (vv. 18-19).
Someone once said that we should live as if Jesus died yesterday, was risen today and coming back tomorrow (v. 20).
The book ends on a note of grace. It is only through grace that can have a relationship with God. We can not have it on the basis of works, doing our best or hoping that our good works outweigh our bad. Some of the worst sinners who ever lived will be in Heaven (1 Cor 1: 26-31; 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:15). We can only have a relationship with Him through grace. That is the theme of the entire Bible:
REBELLION AGAINST GOD LEADS TO DEATH.
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD LEADS TO LIFE.
May God’s grace be with YOU. Amen.