TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- MALACHI 1:1-2:17
The name ‘Malachi’ means ‘the messenger of the Lord’. As a prophet, he is a messenger, and he speaks of ‘a coming messenger’. As the last book in our Old Testament, the Book of Malachi bridges the 400-year gap until the beginning of the New Testament with the dangling prophecy: “I will send my messenger” (Malachi 3:1). In the New Testament Gospel of Luke, we read that John the Baptist is the sent messenger Malachi referred to (Luke 3:3-4; also John 1:23).
Malachi was a reformer. He offers rebuke and encouragement. He presents God’s verdict on their long history of rebellion and exposes their present callousness towards their Covenant-Keeping God, who chose to rest His favor upon them and grant them many privileges.
Sin is not only a breaking of the Law of God, but it also breaks the heart of God. Malachi’s responsibility is to call the nation to repentance. It has been 100 years or more since the exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. The initial joy and enthusiasm that came with the rebuilding of the temple under the governance of Zerubbabel, the repair of the walls under the leadership of Nehemiah, and the reform under the leadership of Ezra, the scribe, had faded away. A spiritual malaise had settled in. There was a spiritual indifference among the people, and a dangerous negligence to heed the Word.
Malachi contrasts God’s role as a faithful lover, and Israel’s role as an unfaithful covenant partner.
The Lord says, “I have loved you!” (Malachi 1:2).
Israel answers, “How?”
The Lord responds that He has clearly shown His intentions, by providing favors to them that He did not show to others, including Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. Whereas Esau was allowed to experience the just deserts of his actions, Jacob was shown unmerited favor. Even when Esau (Edom) applied his own efforts to earn God’s favor, or to build again on the ruins incurred for his own sins, God sovereignly superintends, to make him an example of the human futility. Whereas Jacob is an example of someone undeservedly blessed by God’s sovereign grace.
God would use both His blessing of Jacob (Israel) and curse upon Esau (Edom) to manifest His righteous mercy and justice.
Malachi 1:5 5 Your eyes will see this, and you will say, “The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”
The Lord has loved the people of Israel and is continuing to do so, despite their continued indifference towards Him. He kept His covenant promises and persisted in loving Israel as His bride, patiently waiting for her to respond from the heart. Yet her love for the Lord had dropped off to the degree that she questioned His love.
In Malachi’s day, the people of Jerusalem were enjoying prosperity and still observing their Temple worship services, yet their affections were cold. Their morality and piety were mere external conformities to the traditions. Sinfulness and boredom plagued their hearts.
“I have loved you, but have you honored me?”
Malachi 1:6 6 “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’
Here is one of the rare instances in the Old Testament that likens Yahweh to a Father. The Fatherhood of God will become much clearer in the New Testament. Indeed, God is the Father of creation and the Father of those whom He has chosen to redeem and adopt into His family. But in this case, God is saying that they show God no greater respect than they do towards their own fathers and masters.
The people have shown dishonor (1:6) and disdain (1:7), trivializing God’s role in their lives by offering weak and sickly sacrifices, polluting the temple’s altars with unworthy sacrifices.
Malachi offers Israel the Lord’s stern rebuke. Your burnt offerings are ‘useless fires’. Their temple should be ‘shut down’ due to their failure to offer God the heartfelt worship that is due Him.
Malachi 1:10 10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.
The Lord should be made much of, and the prophet declares that He will be made much of.
Malachi 1:11 11 “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.
Sadly, the people of Israel show contempt for both the common grace and the special grace that their loving Covenant-Partner has showered upon them.
They find temple worship ‘tiresome’. The tribute that they bring to the Lord is either taken by robbery, or they offer the poor and sick animals they want to be rid of, and that are of no use to them (1:13).
In Chapter 2, Malachi warns the people of Israel that their blessings will be turned to curses if they do not take God’s Word to heart (2:2). This is a summary of the Old Testament.
Malachi gives a contrast between the perfect Anointed Priest (a type of the Messiah) and the failed priesthood of the Levites. In Christ, we see the priest that God had in mind.
Malachi 2:6-7 6 “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
The obedience of the perfect priest will bring the promised results of ‘life and peace’ (Malachi 2:5; Romans 8:6). The disobedience of the unfaithful priesthood brings a curse and causes others to stumble.
The Creator God has the affections of a father towards His children (2:11) and a husband towards His bride (Isaiah 54:5). But He has been a witness to their unfaithfulness. His bride has dealt treacherously against God.
The Lord states His dilemma. He hates divorce (2:16), but He also hates betrayal. How will the problem be resolved? He cannot ignore treachery.
The careless attitude that the people of Israel have towards their own spiritual infidelity is reflected in their accommodation of evil.
Malachi 2:17 17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”
The cross of Jesus Christ is the only solution. It is the only hope for the restoration of the broken relationship between the holy God who cannot tolerate sin, and those who have dealt treacherously with Him. He desires to show mercy and not cast off His covenant partner.
Only through the cross of Christ can justice be satisfied and mercy released so the sinner can be pardoned and reconciled.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – REVELATION 21:1-27
J.C. Ryle, a nineteenth-century British theologian, said, “I pity the man who never thinks about heaven.”
We could also say, “I pity the man who never thinks accurately about Heaven.” It’s our inaccurate thinking, I believe, that motivates us to think so little about Heaven.
Revelation Chapter 20 we see a city of heaven coming to earth. We are introduced to the new heaven and the new earth.
We heard the prophet Isaiah foretell of this event in the 8th century B.C. (see Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).
Isaiah 65:17 17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.
Some 800 years later, the Apostle John has a vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:1 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
When we read that there is no longer any sea, it does not mean that there will be no more large bodies of water. It means that there will be a different arrangement of water. Currently on the planet earth, roughly three fourths of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Apparently, this will not be necessary in the Eternal Kingdom. In ancient times, the sea was a symbol of evil. It meant danger, storms, and isolated from civilization. Many who went to sea, were drowned or shipwrecked. It could be that John is referring to the fact that water will no more be something to fear! There will be no evil there.
Revelation 21:2 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
In this heavenly city, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has been perfected and the covenant promises of God have been fulfilled.
Revelation 21:3-4 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
In this day, the problem of human suffering has been solved. The wrongs have been put right and all things are being made new.
Revelation 21:5 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
He who sat on the throne said, “It is done!”
God the Father announces that He is the Eternal God, the Alpha and the Omega, and as we will see once more in the next chapter, He is the Tri-une God (Revelation 22:13,16).
The Lord Jesus has won for us access to the spring of the water of life. We can drink freely, without payment, because Jesus paid in full for our participation in eternal life.
The Lord clarifies that those who have been born again, made thirsty, and made new, are not in any way like the unrepentant who dwell on the earth and are bound for eternal punishment in hell.
Revelation 21:8 8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
One of the seven angels who had been given the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, invites John to be carried away by the Spirit to a great, high mountain, where he is shown the holy city Jerusalem coming down from heaven, from God. The same angel that poured out judgment on the Great Harlot, Babylon, shows John a contrast- the sparkling white of the bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem. In contrast to the harlot who was adorned for seduction, dressed in purple, scarlet, gold jewels, pearls and impurities, the bride is adorned for her husband, and clothed in all the radiant splendor that reflects the glory of the bridegroom.
The city is radiant, walled, with 12 gates, three on each side, and named after the 12 tribes of Israel. The wall of the city had 12 foundations, and on them were the 12 names of the 12 apostles. We can see here that God has a plan for the distinct placements of the church and Israel.
The number 12 is consistently used to reference God’s people. The dimensions of this city all have a factor of 12. The city’s length, width and height are equal, measuring 12,000 stadia (about 1,380 miles- a stadia was about 607 feet).
The literal interpretation is favored when we consider that John explains the detail that the human measurement of the wall (144 cubits- 12 x12), is also the same as the angel’s measurement of the wall.
The walls were 216 feet thick.
The translucent and transparent construction material of the city enabled it to receive and transmit light. In our world gold is opaque. Not here. The wall was built of jasper, and the city of pure gold, yet like clear glass. The foundations of the walls were adorned with every kind of jewel.
Each of the 12 gates were made of a single pearl. The city will speak of salvation. There will be reminders of God’s redemptive work in history. Reference will be given to the story of Israel (the 12 tribes) and the story of the church (the 12 apostles). The foundation is the New Testament revelation of the Person and work of Christ. The pearl is the answer of the oyster to that which injured it. It is formed by the oyster when a foreign element is introduced to it. It gives of itself to cover the irritation and make it into something beautiful. What a picture of our redemption! These are gigantic pearls. This is a reminder that our entrance into heaven is made possible by the gigantic suffering of Jesus, who took our punishment upon His flesh, and not only removed the source of irritation, our sin, He transformed us into that which can absorb and reflect light- a beautiful pearl.
There was no temple in the city because the Lord Almighty and the Lamb were the temple! And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and its lamp is the Lamb of God.
All the nations will walk in its light and bring their glory to it! There will be multi-ethic tributes to the glory of God, a true worship celebration of diversity in unity and unity in diversity!
It will be an Eternal Day. There will be no night there. The gates will never be shut.
Christ’s presence is what will make heaven, heaven.
Everything that is antichrist will have been done away with and will never be given entrance.
Revelation 21:27 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 149:1-9
Psalm 149 and Psalm 150 remind us that if we are walking with the Lord, everything ends up in praise!
We cannot help but praise the Lord. The devil is allergic to praise.
We who have come into a personal relationship with the Living God have much to rejoice in! We can be glad in our Maker, rejoice in our King, and sing a new song!
We can praise Him with dancing, and musical instruments (tambourine, lyre).
We can praise Him in the morning and the night upon our beds (v.5) and as we face the battles of the day (v.6), entrusting world events and its leaders to His watchful care and righteous judgment (v. 7), for vengeance is the Lord’s and He will repay (Romans 12:19).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 31:10-24
Today’s proverb makes you think about a proverb we read earlier, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:11). This woman exemplifies the graceful dignity, industry, propriety, energy, alacrity, mental, emotional, and spiritual vitality of a godly wife.
Proverbs 31:10-24 10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies belts to the tradesmen.
PRAYER: Father, we thank You for this heavenly vision and all that You have done to bring lost sinners home to Yourself in Christ Jesus. We ask that this vision of what is in store for us in our eternal future will have a purifying effect upon our hearts and minds. Help us to continually set our minds on things above, so that we never get deceived by that which is deceitful, temporal, or illusory. May we never be confused about Who You have made us to be in Christ Jesus. Help us to set our hopes, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are not seen. May we be reminded that we are Your redeemed people, citizens of heaven, who are on our way to the Celestial City. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.