Malachi:  What Side of the Fence Are You On?

Malachi: What Side of the Fence Are You On?

Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

What Side of the Fence Are You On?

“But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings;
And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

Malachi 4:2

After three chapters of blistering rebuke towards the people and priests of Malachi’s day, the Lord now begins to wind down the book of Malachi and the Old Testament in general with a question and a choice.  The question is simple: Where will you stand on the great day of judgment, on the great Day of the Lord?  And the choice is simpler still: What are you prepared to do about it right now?


The Day of the Lord

Four times in the last eight verses of Malachi we find that great and powerful day referenced (Mal. 3:17; 4:1, 3, 5).  The Day of the Lord is a day of judgment, of wrath, and of great calamity and describes some horrific events that take place at, or near, the close of history.  Zephaniah describes it as “a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:15).  But it’s also a time of great rejoicing when God fulfills His promise to true, believing Israel and ushers in His Kingdom.  It’s a time when “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26) and a time when God will forgive their sins and restore to Israel the land He promised to Abraham.  In other words, the Day of the Lord is the time when God will punish evil, disobedience and unbelief but also a time when He will fulfill all His promises to those who are “called by His Name” (Isa. 43:7).

It will be a day of great dread and fear or a day of great joy and rejoicing— and all that depends on what side of the fence you’re on when the Day appears.

After God encourages His faithful remnant by reminding them “they shall be Mine on the day that I make them My jewels (or, special treasure)” (Mal. 3:17), God then begins to unpack exactly what the Day of the Lord will be like for those on both sides of the fence.


That Side: The Lost and Unbelieving— the Crowd

For those on the lost, unregenerate, unbelieving side of the fence, the Day of the Lord is described as a scorching, consuming fire, much like a furnace or great oven.  So intense is God’s judgment fire that it “will leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1), no present and no future.  It’s a frightening picture of the total destruction of those who speak harshly against the Lord (Mal. 3:13) and defile and despise His Name (Mal. 1:6-7).  Jesus speaks of it as a “furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42).  Paul says that day will come “as a thief in the night” (1 The. 5:2) and Peter concludes by stating, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).  Get the picture?  Intense fire, scorching heat, wailing and gnashing of teeth, a massive furnace, a red-hot oven, great noise, consuming flames, total destruction.

And those on that side of the fence?  What does God say about them?  He calls them the “proud, yes, all who do wickedly” and describes them as “stubble or chaff” (Mal 4:1).  They are the short dry stumps of grain left in a field after harvesting, highly combustible, ready to be thrown, discarded, consumed in the great fire of His judgment.  It’s not a pretty picture for those on that side of God’s fence.


This Side: Those Who Love and Fear the Lord— the Remnant

Note what the Lord says to those on this side of His fence, to those who fear Him and offer to Him “an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3).

“But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Mal. 4:2).  They will rejoice when they see the wicked judged and God’s Name held high and glorified.  They will sing for joy when the righteous are brought into the Kingdom and they hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).  And they shall praise His Name when God exalts His people over the wicked who have oppressed and persecuted them for so long.  The Day of the Lord will be a day of great rejoicing, a day of singing and dancing, for those on this side of God’s fence.


The Question: What Are You Prepared to Do About It?

That’s right, what are you going to do?  What’s your plan, your next move?  The Lord has revealed two great groups of people (Mal. 3:18), two separate and distinct paths (Matt. 7:13-14), two options, two destinations, and only one choice.  What will you choose?

Joshua told the people in his day to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15).  And the words of Malachi are telling each of us to do the same: Choose.  Choose whom we will serve?  Choose what side of God’s fence we want to live on.  Choose heaven or hell, life or death, blessing or cursing— just choose.  Why?  Because all eternity rests on that very choice.  So choose wisely.

And to help us choose correctly, the Lord ends the Old Testament with these words of warning and encouragement.  First, the look back into His Word: “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb (or, Mt. Sinai) for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Mal. 4:4).  Remember the Word of God, the Law, the promises, the prophecies, the foretelling of the Messiah, the blessings and the warnings, remember all God has done for you and how much He loves you (Mal. 1:1).  Stop what you’re doing, turn around, look back and remember.  This is the same God who says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  He has loved you then, He loves you now.  Remember.

Then, look forward to the day of His promise, to the day of the coming of His Son, Jesus. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.  And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).  Before the Day of the Lord dawned it was promised that Elijah would first come and preach a message of repentance to prepare the way for the Messiah (Isa. 40:3).  That day has already come.  The promise has already been fulfilled.  John the Baptist, according to Jesus, was the very fulfillment of that promise and, for those who “have ears to hear,” was the “Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14-15)  And who was this Messiah?  His name is Jesus.

So now, it’s your choice.  Do you remain on that side of the fence, the easy side, the sinful side, laughing along with those who arrogantly reject the sacrifice of Christ and strive to be a god in their own eyes?  Do you throw your lot in with them?  Are you part of the massive throng— blind, yet so proud, traveling aimlessly on the wide path that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13)?  Is the cross of Christ, the only way to escape the curse, foolishness to you (1 Cor. 1:18)?  If so, Malachi has clearly told you what your future holds, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Actually, it’s dreadful, gruesome, and terrifying.  Or, are you one of the elect, the chosen, the few, the faithful remnant, the blessed beneficiaries of an incredible inheritance in Christ (Rom. 8:17) that is beyond description (Eph. 3:20-21)?

Which one are you?  Which side of the fence are you on?  And how will you describe the coming Day of the Lord?

Will it be a time of great blessing, of continuous rejoicing and singing, a time of childlike wonder and awe?  Or will you, like so many others, try to run and hide, foolishly thinking you can somehow escape the burning, scorching, all consuming red-hot fire of His judgment?  Will you be one of those that cry out to the very mountains and rocks to “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).

Which side of the fence are you on?  And what are you prepared to do about it?

Choose quickly.  Because time is short and He’s coming soon (Rev. 22:12).  The clock is ticking.  Time is running out.  Choose today.

Come Lord Jesus.

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Podcast 268:  Two Questions, One Life, One Choice

Podcast 268: Two Questions, One Life, One Choice

The book of Malachi ends with the description of two groups of people that will respond differently when the day of the Lord comes.  One, those who fear the Lord and long for His appearing, will see the “Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2).  The other group, those who do not know or love the Lord, that Day will be a day of “burning like an oven” (Mal. 4:1).

Question for us is this:  Which group are you in?  And what are you prepared to do about it?

To find the answer to these eternal questions, keep listening.

The following is a study on Malachi 4:1-6.

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This is the video played at the end of the sermon. Be blessed and encouraged in Him.

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Malachi:  The Book of Remembrance

Malachi: The Book of Remembrance

Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

The Book of Remembrance

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them;
so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name”

Malachi 3:16

For the seventh and final time the priests in the days of Malachi demand God be more specific in how He was chastising them for their apathy, disrespect and sin.  First, God said He loved them.  And, like spoiled, ungrateful children they responded to His love by saying, “In what way have You loved us?” (Mal. 1:2).  From there, six more times, God lovingly corrects His priests and people and yet they have the arrogance and gall to call God’s hand and demand He provide them proof of what He was saying about them.  They said:

“In what way have we despised Your name?” (Mal. 1:6).
“In what way have we defiled You?” (Mal. 1:7).
“In what way have we wearied Him (God)?” (Mal. 2:17).
“In what way shall we return?” (Mal. 3:7).
“In what way have we robbed You?” (Mal. 3:8).

Finally, God says to His servants, “Your words have been harsh against Me.”  And they quickly reply, “What have we spoken against You?” (Mal. 3:13).  In effect, we reject what You are saying about us, God, and demand You produce evidence to support Your claim.  Really?

So God, gracious and loving, ever patient and forgiving, presents the evidence they demanded.  He has heard what they have been saying to each other about Him.  He knows their demeaning words spoken in the shadows, in silent whispers, in gossip, about His love, His justice and His faithfulness.  He knows all and hears all.  And their words about Him have been harsh, cutting, and hurtful.

It began in Malachi 2:17 where God’s sense of justice and fairness was questioned and condemned by the people and priests. But God heard their talk, their hushed conversations to each other, and was wearied by their words.  “Everyone,” they claimed, “who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord.  And He delights in them.”

Ouch.  That’s calling the very nature and essence of God into question.  And that’s not a very wise thing to do

Then, they continued in the next chapter by saying, “It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts?” (Mal. 3:14).

Excuse me.  Let’s just get a few things straight before we go any further.  First, you haven’t kept His ordinance.  Not one little bit.  Have you been listening to what He has been telling you about robbing Him (Mal. 3:8), breaking covenant with your wives (Mal. 2:14), offering defiled food on His altar (Mal. 1:7), and despising His very name (Mal. 1:6)?  And second, saying you are walking around like mourners at a funeral makes one want to laugh.  There’s no mourning over your sin or over the disrespect of your God.  None.  You’re knee deep in guilt and self-delusion thinking God doesn’t know your heart and hear your words.  He is, after all, God— the always-present, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.


But What About Those Who Do Right?

But what about the others?  What about those who have stood firm in their faith, those who have presented themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2), those who, like Paul, have fought the good fight (2 Tim. 4:7)?  What does God say about them?

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name” (Mal. 3:16).

The other group, those who feared the Lord, the remnant, spoke to one another and the Lord heard what they were saying (Mal. 3:16).  In fact, He was so taken by their words and their devotion to Him, in contrast to the harsh, hurtful words spoken by the priests and people, that He had their words written in a book of remembrance and set before Him.  Did you ever wonder why?


The Book of Remembrance

What is the book of remembrance that was written before God? (Mal. 3:16).  And what was written in it that needed to be remembered?

Several places in the Scriptures we find a reference to God’s book (Ex. 32:32; Ps. 56:8; Dan. 7:10; Rev. 13:8, 20:15).  Some of these references speak of the book of the living or the book of life, but they generally mean a book of righteous people or righteous deeds.  In fact, the Persian kings kept such books that recorded services rendered to the king so those services could be rewarded in due time.  Remember King Ahasuerus, Haman, Mordecai and Esther for example (Esther 6:1-3).

As with Mordecai, often rewards are delayed.  And sometime they are delayed to the point they seem like they will never happen, like they’ve been forgotten or intentionally overlooked.  When that delay continues indefinitely discouragement, depression, rejection and despair often occur.

But the Bible also teaches that faithfulness to God will never go unnoticed and will be rewarded in due time.  The book of remembrance is God’s way of telling those who might grow weary in doing well (Gal. 6:9), those who faithfully suffer alone in trials and tribulation (Jas. 1:2-3), those who may become discouraged or depressed, that God remembers and He sees and “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).


Are We Written in His Book of Remembrance?

God has a reason for His book of remembrance.  It’s to show the world the distinction between “the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:18).  It’s much like the plagues on Egypt, during the days of Moses, where the Lord made a clear distinction between His people and those who were cursed, the Egyptians (Ex. 9:6, 26; 10:23).  Or, in I John 2:19 where it says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”  Again, the goal is to show a crystal clear distinction between “the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:18).

Hence, the book of remembrance.

But there’s also another reason for God to write the names of His righteous children or their righteous deeds of faith in a book of remembrance.  It’s not to help God remember because He is, after all, God and remembers all— but it’s to help us remember that God never changes (Mal. 3:6) and He will not forget those who don’t forget Him (Mal. 3:16).  And for those whose names and deeds are written in His book and not to be forgotten, for those who “feared the Lord and spoke to one another” God has a special promise.  A special promise He doesn’t want us to forget.

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I make them My jewels (or, special treasure, personal possession).  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him” (Mal. 3:17).  Did you read that?  Can your mind wrap around the glorious, indescribable, uncontainable blessings He has for those who are His?  Just think, those who love the Lord with all their heart, those who serve and revere Him above all others, those who are called by His Name, those who live in the awe and wonder of who He is will be His personal possession and He will make them His own special treasure, His own jewels.  Can you think of anything more glorious than that?

Is your name written in the Lord’s book of remembrance?  Has He recorded your service rendered to the King of Kings so He can reward you in due time?  Is there anything in your devotion to the Lord Jesus worthy of remembering?  If so, praise to the Lord.  All glory belongs to Him.  But if not, why?  Why waste another second of your finite life living for the trinkets and toys of this fallen world when you can live for the praise and adoration of the King and be called His special treasure.

After all, God does not change and His Word is true. Always.

And this is the promise to those whose name and deeds are written in the book of remembrance.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).

Come Lord Jesus.

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Podcast 267:  God Listens and He Hears

Podcast 267: God Listens and He Hears

Malachi 3:16 says:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.

Did you catch that?  A book of remembrance was written before Him.

Is your name written in the Lord’s book of remembrance?  Has He recorded your service rendered to the King of Kings so He can reward you in due time?  Is there anything in your devotion to the Lord Jesus worthy of remembering?  If so, praise to the Lord.  All glory belongs to Him.  But if not, why?  Why waste another second of your finite life living for the trinkets and toys of this fallen world when you can live for the praise and adoration of the King and be called His special treasure.

The following is a study on Malachi 3:13-18.

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Malachi:  Are You Part of the Remnant?

Malachi: Are You Part of the Remnant?

Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

Are You Part of the Remnant?

“”Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them.”

Malachi 3:16a

In the last part of Malachi 3 God shows us a clear distinction between two groups of people: those who complain and speak harshly about the Lord (Mal. 3:13-15) and those who fear the Lord (Mal. 3:16).  And the difference between the two groups is profound.  So profound, that the Lord took a book of remembrance and recorded the words of those who feared Him, those who held Him and His name in reverence, respect and awe (Mal. 3:16).

This second group, this faithful minority about whom God has written in the book of remembrance, is the remnant of God.  Are you part of that remnant?

A remnant is defined as a “small, remaining quantity of something.”  And that something could be food, or materials, or people— almost anything.

Biblically speaking, Noah and his sons were a remnant saved from the great flood.  They were a “small, remaining quantity” of the population of the earth (Gen. 6).  Lot and his family were a remnant saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19).  God told Elijah He had reserved a remnant, “seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18).  These are just a few examples of the remnant of God.

In Scripture, the faithful in Israel are also called a remnant.  Paul, quoting Isaiah 10, says: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved” (Rom. 9:27).  This means a small portion of believing Jews will be taken, by the sovereign grace of God, from the great multitude that makes up Israel and be saved— literally, a “small, remaining quantity” of Jews will come to faith in their Messiah, in their Christ.  This again is the remnant of God.

But for us, the church, there is also a remnant that will be saved and redeemed.  That’s right, just a remnant.  Why?  Because Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  Note, that’s not everyone who says— but everyone who does.


Who is the Remnant?

They are the ones who “count the costs” of following Jesus and give all to Him (Luke 14:28).  They are those who “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him” (Matt. 16:245).  The remnant are those who consider everything in this world rubbish, except knowing and gaining Christ (Phil. 3:8).  They are the ones who are singly focused on Jesus, totally devoted to Him, and do not want to know anything but “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

Are you part of the remnant?

The remnant is the seed that sprouted some 30, 60, 100 fold and not the seed that fell on the path or in the shallow, weed-infested soil (Matt. 13:1-9).  The remnant endures to the end (Matt. 24:13; 1 John 2:19).  The remnant bears the spiritual fruit of God (John 15:1-8) and also bears the brand marks of Christ (Gal. 6:17).  The remnant proudly proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Are you part of the remnant?  Or are you simply a member of a church?

There is, like the distinction God made in Malachi 3, a huge and profound difference between the two.  One is the wide road that leads to destruction and the other is the narrow gate that leads to life.  And Jesus said, “there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).


Choose Today Whom You Shall Serve

Which road are you on? Both have signs, bright flashing billboards that say, “This Way to Christ!”  But only one leads to true salvation.

Are you part of the mass, the unbelieving crowd, the deceived multitude of those who “have a form of godliness but no power”? (2 Tim. 3:5).  Or, are you part of the remnant of God?  Are you a child of His, “and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

Which are you?  Because the answer to this simple question is the difference between eternal life or eternal death.  It’s not something to trifle with, to ignore, or to blow off.  You must “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Jos. 24:15).  And you must “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Why?  Because all eternity is at stake!

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Jos. 24:15).

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