The Ultimatum of the LORD—continued
Yes, the LORD will make a finished and completed work upon the earth as pertains to His temple in the earthly land of Immanuel. In this strain the prophet Isaiah had already written some three centuries earlier than Malachi. We refer to the passage quoted in Romans 9:27. Here Paul says that “Isaiah crieth concerning Israel. If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that shall be saved: for the LORD will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short.” Here in the verses 7-14 we see this same awesome perspective and prediction of final judgment upon the apostate house of Israel which are out of Israel, yet are not the Israel of God!
The question has been answered differently as to exactly who the LORD has in mind here. Does he refer here to the people in Israel, the fathers and mothers, the sons and the daughters? Or is this a word directed toward the leaders, the priests? We believe that this is written primarily for the priests and directed to them. In so doing, all who give heed to these priests and to abhor the sacrifices are included. In a word: this is directed to the reprobated Israel as represented in these apostate and anti-Christian priests. For these priests are the Old Testament anti-Christs. They are against Christ as He was depicted, portrayed and revealed in the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Law.
It may not be superfluous to point out that the characteristics here given of these priests and this people are those of the apostate church at any time during the Old Testament,—as well as during the New Testament dispensation. Whenever the Gospel is not preached, or another gospel is preached, which is not another (Gal. 1:1-6), the thunder of God’s anathema comes upon such desecraters of the Gospel of Christ, while they stand in the pulpit promulgating their antichristian teachings. During the time of the early history of Israel it meant that the true prophets were killed, and the worship of the Balaam and Astoreth was instituted as in the days of Jezebel, who caused Elijah to cry out: all the prophets have been slain, and I alone am left. (Rom. 11:2-4) Later, after the Babylonian captivity, there was no return to worshipping of idols; yet the idol of Greek philosophy as seen in the Sadducees of Jesus’ day, who knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God, and the legalism of the Pharisees, who had no need for the propitiatory work of the sacrifice, became the denial of the temple sacrifices; and they are the antichrists of Jesus’ day. Today with all forms of Pelagianism, Arminianism, and the Modernism of our day which parades under the high-sounding titles of Neo-Calvinism, neo-Evangelicalism, denying the Deity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, vicarious atonement, efficacious grace, we see these same antichrists. For who is antichrist, but he, who denies that Jesus is the Son of God, who came into this world?
Upon such Paul thunders his anathema!
Be such, then, ministers of influence and might in the present World Council of Churches, or be they deniers of these same Gospel truths in some lone, outlying, country church, they are under the ban of the great Apostle’s anathema. Yes, though they should be an angel from heaven!
And they are under the ban and curse of the “burden” of the LORD by the hand of Malachi! Do we not read the following shocking and terrifying words in verse 10-b, “I have no pleasure in you, saith the. LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand?” This is indeed an ultimatum! It is in essence what will be told by Christ as stated in Matthew 7:23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.” Such will be told the false prophets and all who love the lie. To be true, they will plead that they are good men. They make this world a better place to live in; they are very religious; they build schools and seminaries; they give scholarships for education and help students for the ministry; large sums of money are expended for hospitals and insane asylums and even prisons. And in all of this humanism and false humanitarianism they are branded by the apostle John as being the “many antichrists” who are already in the world, who went out from us because they were not of us. I John 2:18, 19. Wherefore the Masonic Lodge, the teachings of Mohammed, Christian Science, the Unitarianism of the Latter Day Saints, Jehovah Witnesses, etc., etc., are all antichristian. And of all these the LORD says: I have no pleasure in you!
The negative, “I have no pleasure in you” positively means: I have an abhorrence of you! When the Lord has no pleasure in a religion and in religionists, it is because they are an idolatrous abomination!
Strictly speaking, the LORD has all of His good-pleasure in the Son of His love. This Son He called out of Egypt, and He is present in the elect remnant of Judah, as to the flesh, and He will be born in the fulness of time. God has no pleasure in this apostate and denatured priesthood of Levi. He would rather see the temple closed!
It is interesting to note that in verse 10 the King James, Version reads, “Who is there among you that would shut my doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought.” However, there is also a translation which reads as follows: “Oh, that there were some one among you that would lock up the doors (of the sanctuary), that ye might not light up mine altar for nought.” According to the former translation (KJV), Malachi accused the priests of being mercenaries who are not satisfied with their temple stipend of the tithes. They work for gain, are mere hirelings. According to the latter, the Lord laments that it would be far better to close the temple altogether and’ remove it far from before His face. And, in the light of the sequence, there is much in favor of this translation. For the next sentence is, “Neither will I accept (in favor) an offering from thy hand.” Compare Isaiah 1:11.
Oh, the good-pleasure of the LORD shall indeed prosper. Truly, it does not come to its intended end here in these priests. It will come to pass in the Man of Sorrows, as depicted in Isaiah 53. Levi, at his best, can perfect nothing. At his best, Levi is but a servant in the shadow and type of better things to come. The first temple was fashioned after the pattern of things which the LORD showed Moses on the mount of God in Horeb. Of this the writer of the Hebrews says, “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shown thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5; Exodus 35:40;Numbers 8:4. But Malachi is not addressing Levi at his best; he is speaking to Levi as they have made the house of God a house of merchandise, a den of thieves. And this Levi does not simply not perfect anything; he corrupts all the pattern of things which point to Christ, and upon him comes the judgment of the LORD of hosts.
Here we are placed in the climate of the tenfold “woes” which the Lord Jesus utters upon Jerusalem, which “killeth the prophets.” It would lead us too far afield to go into all the details of these expressed “woes” recorded in Matthew 23. Suffice it to say that these were uttered by the Lord on the last Tuesday, the last day of his public ministry in Jerusalem. It was the day in which he shut the mouth, the contradiction, of sinners, such as the Herodians, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees and all the chief priests. And he links them with all who, had killed the prophets from the days of the righteous Abel to the horrible murder of Zachariah the son of Jehoiada the high-priest! They are the spiritual sons of these prophets. Matthew 23:31. They are thus veritable vipers, serpents that cannot escape the judgment of God. They are the unthankful ingrates as in the days of the righteous Abel to Zachariah, son of Barachiah, who was slain in the very temple of God between the holy place and the altar, where he stood to reprove those who had turned from the service of God to that of horrible idolatry! II Chron. 24:20, 21 This is the Jerusalem which never would gather the true children of Jerusalem under the shadow of the Almighty in the most holy place of the mercy-seat. How often had they not been sent to do this very thing in the temple—only so to distort the temple worship that the true people of God could not lay hold on the promises of life as shown in the temple sacrifices in their spotless purity and blamelessness!
And to these Malachi announces that the temple doors will be closed. And Jesus, picking up the announcement of the LORD already to Solomon at the occasion of the dedication of the temple, and that which was uttered by Jeremiah the prophet, announces, to this denatured house of Levi, these apostates in the temple, “Your house is left desolate to you!” Compare I Kings 9:6-9; Jer. 22:5; Jer. 25:9b. This house will be an astonishment, a hissing and perpetual desolation. It will never be rebuilt, but it will be a testimony of the judgment of the Lord. Instead of the temple and its mercy-seat will be the curse of the law and the wall of wailing—forever!! Matthew 23:38.
Such are the perspectives which are shown us in their broad outline here in this first chapter of Malachi!
These priests treat the LORD and his temple sacrifices with contempt. No earthly monarch and governor would accept such disrespectful gifts from the hands bf their subjects! “Present it to thy governor, will he be pleased with thee: will he accept thy person, saith the LORD of hosts?”
The time has come for the pleasure of the LORD to prosper. The time has come that in Abraham and His Seed all nations shall be blessed. A better temple is in the offing. Here there will be a better and more excellent priesthood after the order of Melchizedec. Yes, here there will be a better Covenant based upon better promises. It will be the covenant which the LORD will write in the heart of all his elect saints, the true Israel of God: Jacob have I loved! It will be better sacrifices, the blood of him which speaketh better things than Abel.
The LORD is jealous of His Name!
The LORD’s Name must not forever be blasphemed because of Israel among the nations!
What a glorious panoramic view is here disclosed by the LORD of hosts. From here on the scene will unroll before the eyes not only of the prophets, but angels shall stoop down in wondrous amazement and intense worshipful interest at the sight. It shall be the unfolding of the manifold wisdom of God, that the Gentiles shall be fellow-heirs and fellow-partakers with the saints of the Old Testament. I Peter 1:12; Eph. 3:1-11. Ah, it will be the unfolding of the eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ. The middle-wall of the partition shall be broken down. It will be the one new man in Christ.
(to be continued)