The Time Of Reformation. Chapter 3:2-18.
There can be little or no doubt that the Spirit of Christ did signify in Malachi, as he searched out the time and manner of the time of the appearance of the Messenger of the Covenant: the dispensation of the fulness of times. Eph. 1:9, 10; Gal. 4:4, 5. This same time (kairos) is called in Heb. 9:10 the “time of reformation.” Generally when we think of the time of the reformation we think of the 16th century. However, the greatreformation was not in the 16th century, but it occurred when John the Baptist came and preached, and when Christ came to rebuild the temple in three days by His death and resurrection. The entire Old Testament tabernacle was imposed by the law of Moses, consisting in ordinances, until the time of reformation. That was the appointed and fit time for the ushering in of the better things, a better covenant, a better priesthood, and better promises through the better and more excellent sacrifice, which was brought about by the blood of the Son of God in our flesh on Calvary. Then the veil will be rent in twain from top to bottom, and the way into the most holy place shall be opened for all the heirs of the covenant.
However, the prophet Malachi speaks of this “reformation” in Old Testament terminology. Since it is “reformation” of which he here speaks he refers to the temple worship, its ordinances, and to the house of Levi. For Levi is the tribe set apart by the Lord to stand and minister before Him. In the narrowest sense Levi is the high priesthood of Aaron as his family line runs back to Levi over Armarn and Kohatb, and forward over Eleazar and Ithamar. Exodus 6:16-18. And in the wider sense Levi is the priesthood of the common priests according to their orders in the temple service. In a still wider sense is Levi dwelling in the midst of Israel in the forty eight Levitical cities. Num. 35:6, 7. The Tribe of Levi formed the hierarchy in Israel. They represented the twelve tribes in the temple worship. Since Levi had no inheritance in Israel, and Joseph has two tribes (Gen. 48:8-21), there are still twelve tribes.
There is a very basic truth which we must understand at this juncture. It is that Israel is God’s firstborn son! This is repeatedly emphasized by the LORD in Exodus. This we read in Exodus 4:22, “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that be may serve me . . . .” It ought to be evident that this being the “firstborn” is not according to the natural birthright, but according to the promise of God in Christ. It refers to the church of the firstborn now in heaven and the entire church according to the election of grace. According to the very genius of Israel’s existence and meaning the firstborn son of each family should have served in the temple of the Lord, representing the family. However, the LORD made a different arrangement in Israel. It was the law of theredemption of the firstborn. Thus we read in Num. 3:11-13: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, And, I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.” How meticulously the redemption was executed by the LORD we read in Num. 3:44-51. And so the firstborn are represented in the temple by Levi.
We stated earlier that Malachi employs Old Testament terminology. Now we add that he also uses the Old Testament pattern of things to make clear what the LORD will do by the Messenger of the Covenant at the “time of reformation.” Levi shall be fully purified, that is, that work of God in the temple for which Levi stood in the type shall be fully realized in its end (telos) in the better and heavenly tabernacle. Such is the “purifying” spoken of here in Malachi 3:3. Such it will be in the day of Christ’s coming. The Old Testament ordinances will indeed be kept by Christ; the temple ordinances will be set straight. Christ will be truly orthodox. It will be real reformation: that which is crooked shall be made straight, and the impure and deformed temple service shall be set according to the pattern of the ordinances of God to Levi and Israel as a perpetual institution. Christ came under the law to fulfill it. But in so doing he will supersede Levi. He will be the Firstborn according to the Promise. He will be redeemed as the first born son by Levi, set free from the earthly temple service, that be may be busy in the heavenly. Compare Luke 2:23, 24 with Ex. 13:2, 12, 15. And in fulfilling Levi’s ministry as the Firstborn son, Levi can not longer redeem the firstborn. And this is set forth by the prophet Malachi in Mal. 3:2-4. Truly, the sacrifices will be like in the best days of Israel, when the temple service was not in disrepute. However, it will rise above this in heavenly splendor and glory. Nothing will stand in that day of “reformation.” Every elect sinner will confess his sins, and the old and unprofitable ministry shall be totally removed. And the end of this is the renovation of God’s people and the earth, and the total destruction of all who love the lie. This shall be realized in the last day, when the tabernacle of God shall be with man. And, even now already, continual sacrifices are brought to the Lord. Heb. 13:15; I Peter 2:5-10.
The Lord is just in all His ways. When He removes the ministry of Levi, He does not do something which was not according to strict and righteous judgment, He does this because He is faithful to His covenant, on the one band. Therefore He sends the Messenger of the Covenant as we saw earlier. He is the LORD. The sons of Jacob whom He loves are not consumed, not even when the time of “reformation” comes; but exactly at that time, they are saved. Malachi 3:6.
It will all be “better” when Levi is removed for its unprofitableness. Ever the Levites and Israel turned aside. This is so masterfully shown by Stephen in his address before the Jews as recorded in Acts 7. The history of Israel is the sorry spectacle of falling away and returning to the LORD and his worship. Never were the offerings fully brought. Read Malachi 3:7-9. The tithes were never wholly brought. The tithes indicated that all belonged to the Lord. And the tithes were such that a tenth was given to the Levites and to the priests, and the Levites and priests gave a tenth of their tenth to the High-Priest. And so we have the truth: all things are of the people, the people are of the Levites, and the Levites of the High-Priest, and the High-Priest is of God! Thus God was to be all in all, and all was to end in, God. Compare I Cor. 3:23.
But that is not the actual history of Israel. It failed miserably. The law could not make alive. It could not write itself in the heart of man. And so Levi perfected nothing, but desecrated it all. But now a better time is in the offing. The Messenger of the Covenant will surely come. It will be a time of reformation indeed. The better covenant and tabernacle, and priesthood will come. The “windows of heaven” shall indeed be opened. Verse. 10. And there shall not be room enough for the blessing. And the land shall be delightsome. It will be the new heaven and the new earth. And “all nations shall call you blessed.” It will be the era in which “all nations” shall be blessed in Abraham in the Seed, Christ. Here the horizons lift before the eyes of the prophet.
It is the time of reformation which has fully come.
It is the time spoken of already by Jeremiah the prophet when he prophesied concerning the last days.Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-12. For this Messenger of the Covenant reads the Scroll of God. In the volume of the Book it is written of Him; “Behold, I come to do thy will, O God.” He is better than Levi. He has received the hearing ear and the willing heart. And He shall surely come. And therefore all will be better at the time of the reformation! Psalm 40:6-8.
The Unmistakably Clear Sound. Malachi 4:1-6.
The “day cometh.” These verses are both an underscoring of what the Lord of hosts had stated in chapter 3, and also a bit more specific as to the details. One gets the impression that the LORD would have us understand both that the clarion gives a clear sound, and also what this sound is.
The great day of the coming of the Lord is sure. The Messenger of the Covenant and His forerunner will come. It will be a day of judgment. Then will be uttered the saying of Christ: Now is the judgment of the world. Satan’s works will be destroyed. All who are of him will surely be cast out, and the righteous will be saved. “God hath given all judgment to the Son.
It will be a wonderful day of the righteous. It will no longer seem that the righteous are less precious in the sight of God than are the wicked. It will then no longer seem as though the righteous serve God in vain. The distinction shall be clear between both believers and unbelievers. Then shall the evil sons of Levi say: stop speaking in the NAME of Jesus. They will be convicted of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. And the righteous shall have great joy, both among the natural descendants of Abraham and upon the elect out of the nations. The righteous shall sit with Christ on His throne in judgment, and, the wicked shall be as ashes under their feet. Mal. 4:3.
Yes, Moses will come to his own. And Israel must remember that not one jot or tittle of the law shall fall to the earth till all shall be fulfilled. Elijah; John the Baptist, shall call to repentance. The statutes of Horeb spoken out of fire and thunder and lightning shall stand. Yet, we shall come to, the other mount, to mount Zion, the city of the living God. And the children of Jacob shall all be saved; the hearts of the children shall be brought to the fathers, and the fathers to the children. It shall be one people and one LORD. And the earth shall indeed be blessed, and not cursed. It will be the blessing upon Abraham, the heir of the world.
Let Israel then give heed.
Behold, He cometh.
It shall be the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the revelation of the mystery and of the glory of God in Him.
For the LORD loveth Jacob. He shall do valiantly when all the peoples are gathered to Judah, and no more to Levi!
It is difficult to find a good ending for this last essay. This is due to the fact that the book of Malachi is a book itself which stands as an open account, awaiting the time when the things therein are accomplished. They wait for the time when Luke can write, “Now it came to pass . . .” Luke 1:8. Zacharias did not know it, but the Lord came suddenly to His temple.