Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. Malachi 3:1-18

Part I

God Does NOT Change
Let's concentrate on the sixth verse of our scripture text for just a moment: For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. We are living in a world where radical changes are taking place. Some folks have actually lived the span of time from the horse-and-buggy days to the space age. The laws of this great land are undergoing change, too. Sadly, many many of these laws are fulfilling prophecy by turning sin and ungodliness loose in a greater way. Much of this is because of the impact that false doctrines have had on the lawmakers! All of the time, many of the things which God's Word definitely speaks against are being condoned today. People are WRONGLY being taught that there is nothing wrong with sin.

In the midst of this condition, many are changing their minds. The flood tide of this change has been so great that far too many try to make us feel that God has changed His mind about sin. Hence, our text draws us back to the fact: FOR I AM THE LORD, I CHANGE NOT....

We all know that Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets. Israel had drifted far from God time after time after time. Because they did not want to hear from God, God hushed. There were four hundred years from Malachi to John the Baptist, when man never heard from God. God could have simply cast them away or even consumed them, but because He is the Lord and He changes NOT, He remembered His covenant with them.

Now think about this for a moment: 400 years. That encompasses a number of generations. Just consider the vast number of folks who were born and died during that time that may well have NEVER even heard the scriptures taught. While the "Dark Ages" describes another time and period of human existence, this was certainly a "Dark Age" for the children of God.

You know, some people do not feel that God would consume or punish anyone, that He is a God of love. He is a GOD of LOVE--He loves us so much He has extended mercy countless times towards us! Yet, think about it: only a parent who doesn't love their child would never discipline or correct that child. Discipline is applied in many ways, for many reasons. The discipline of warnings: "Don't touch--it's hot!" or "Don't go into the street". The discipline of "Do your homework so you can learn the lessons". The discipline of "Go to your room and think about what you did." The correction of, "You don't hit people", or "You don't call people bad names". It is NOT love to allow a child to do as they please--it is neglect. Even moreso, our Heavenly Father, through His perfect love, disciplines us. Yet, this 400-year period was a time in which the people had turned away from God--they had rejected Him. Even so, because He had promised that He would make a new covenant with them, He did not consume them as He could have.

I want you to understand: Our God is the same God who drowned millions. He is the same God who sent fire and brimstone out of Heaven and destroyed cities with thousands of people. Yet, here, God was telling Israel, "I am the Lord and I change not. I promised that I would make a new covenant with you."

Through Jeremiah, God told Israel, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a NEW covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake... Jeremiah 31:31,32 (uppercase is mine). Did you read it there: "which they broke"? God didn't go back on His Word to Israel: it was the people who went back on theirs! Still, He did not consume them. And there are those who say God is not merciful???

Malachi 3:1 speaks of John the Baptist coming as a forerunner of Christ and of Christ suddenly coming into His temple. He was NOT speaking of the temple laid of stone and mortar, but he was talking about God's original temple: do you know where that is? Where is God's original temple? The heart of man (and woman). Through this new covenant, the Lord was going to suddenly knock on the door of this temple: But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap, Verse 2. Fullers' soap was made of grease and lye--it was a very STRONG cleansing agent. As Malachi began to talk about Jesus coming to the heart of man, he said, "...Who may abide the day of His coming?" Even today, so many cannot stand to have Jesus come into their heart and life!

People are standing today with MANIFEST tokens of sin in their lives and professing to be Christians. No, no, no, no, no! When Christ comes, He is like fullers' soap and He is as a refiners' fire. When you allow Jesus to come into your heart, there is going to be a housecleaning as never before.

There is a "type" of this kind of cleaning when Jesus went into the old temple in the city of Jerusalem. There they were worshipping, but in the midst of the temple, they had a lot of things which did not belong there: money changers, dove sellers and other merchants, etc. The first thing Jesus did was to clean house. He took a whip, ran them out, and upset their tables. And I want you to understand this right now: His disgust and hate for sin is just the same today. WE may have lowered the standards, but God hasn't. He is the Lord and He changes not! Sin is sin is sin. In the multitude of those who claim to be Jesus lovers, there are those who cannot stand even the message of salvation, let alone His REAL appearance into their hearts.

I want to reiterate this: the FIRST thing Jesus does when He enters a heart, is to clean it up. Just as bitter and sweet cannot come from the same vessel, Jesus and sin will NOT co-exist in a life. There will be one OR the other, but not both. Oh, let me tell you, the enemy of your soul will come at you with every doubt and confusion he can, trying to make you think you are not saved, not cleansed, you've done too much, why "everybody knows". Let me tell you, he is a liar and the father of all lies! When Jesus enters the temple of your heart, it is made C-L-E-A-N. You have been blood-bought and set free from the bondages of sin. You are a cleansed vessel, to be filled with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life!

God Keeps His Promises
The text says, For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. How can we apply this today? If you are yet living in sin and rebellion, you need to realize something. First, you are living on the mercy of God, because God has spoken some things about you. He is standing behind those promises and you are still alive. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22,23.

Just as a child will try the bounds of a parent's love, so do we as children of God. Oh yes, many of us try to see what we can "get away with". We defend our sins with, "But God loves me. He is a God of mercy. He would not let harm come to me." You need to understand this: God never ordained for people to live in sin and rebellion against Him! He has given a covenant and signed it with His precious Blood whereby you can be delivered from a sinful condition. The faithfulness of God is great when He shows forth such mercy as He does. It is NOT God's will that ANY perish--He has NEVER changed His mind about that: ...As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways... Ezekiel 33:11. God does not want people to die in a sinful, lost condition! Read this VERY carefully: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. II Peter 3:9. Did you read it? ...Not willing that ANY should perish but that ALL should come to repentance!

Let's consider some of the attribues of God. When He said, "I am the Lord, I change not", just what did He mean? First of all, God's love is unchanging and everlasting. The scriptures have witnessed to the fact that God's love is everlasting. Jeremiah 31:3 tells us, "...I have loved thee with an everlasting love..." The golden text of the New Testament, John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Please note: it does NOT say that whosoever should believe in Him, but whosoever believeth (believes), PRESENT tense. There are those who try to persuade people that if they ever believed on Christ and born again, that they would never perish. However, the Bible teaches that we must KEEP believing--it must be kept in PRESENT, not PAST, tense.

Read this very carefully--take special notice of it: too many are deceived into thinking that God loves them with an everlasting love. Because of this, there are countless millions who do NOTHING about their soul, and others who live carelessly, not bothering to follow the Lord and allow the witness of Him to shine through in their lives. Why? They are trusting the everlasting love of God. Now the Bible does say that He loves us with an everlasting love, but we need to understand how to rightly apply this to ourselves and the manner in which we live our daily lives. It is just ONE part that fits into a greater picture.

There is more which we need to understand when we think about our God Who never changes and His everlasting love. Right while God loves the world with an everlasting love, it IS possible for you and I to get beyond the limits of the effect of God's love. In this condition, God's love will not be able to have the effect on you which He ordained for it to have. The Bible tells us, Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, IF thou continue in his goodness: OTHERWISE thou also shalt be cut off. Romans 11:22 (bold and caps are mine). All of these together make up God, but if you are not careful, the devil will run off with just one of the attributes.

There are those who believe we should only preach "love". However, you need to remember this very IMPORTANT fact: no one is saved by love, but by G-R-A-C-E. Grace, Grace, God's marvelous Grace! Grace is NOT love. God loves everybody, but not everybody has received Grace. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8. God has an everlasting love, but you can put yourself in a position where His love does not affect you the way He desires it to.

God's Love Brings Blessings or Condemnation
As an example, let's look at the prodigal son. The father still loved his son, just as much as he ever had, while the son was away from home. Nevertheless, the son could not feel a bit of that love. He was in a remorseful condition in the hog pen. The father loved him, but in order for the son to feel that love, he had to have a "right relationship" with his father--he had to return to the father. God hates sin, but He LOVES SINNERS. He doesn't love what they are doing, but He loves them.

There are those who say the two are inseparable. WRONG! Just as a loving parent does not quit loving their child because their child does wrong. The parent may well hate what the child did, but still love the child! Yes, God loves sinners, but they will NEVER know the effects of God's love and blessings until they obey HIm and come in sincere, heart-felt repentance to Him.

We feel the effects of God's love when we are in the position where God can pour it out on us. He desires to bless each and every one of us, but there are those who will not allow Him to do so. When we insist on staying in sin and rebellion against God, we are in no position to receive God's blessings. You may be bound with sin and feel that no one loves you, that no one cares. However, if you will meet Christ at an altar of prayer, you will find the love of God is just as strong as it ever was in any other period of time.

It is also possible to feel the presence of God's love and suffer ill effects by it. The more that God pours out His love, if you refuse to submit to Him, the more condemnation will come upon you. If you want STRONG reassurance that there is no escape from God, just read Psalm 139. Even people in hell are not hid from God. Their knowledge of the love of God strengthens their condemnation.

Therefore, do not believe that you will never be lost if you continue to live carelessly. It won't be God sending you to hell; it is strictly your decision to go that way when you rebel against God's goodness, love and mercy!

We can depend upon God's Word. Isaiah 55:11 tells us, So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. God sent His Word to put us on the highway of holiness, which the unclean cannot pass over. He sent His Word that you and I might go out with joy and have victory over sin, the flesh and the enemy of our souls, the devil.

God's Word is FOREVER settled in Heaven. Let's read that one more time: God's Word is FOREVER settled in Heaven. Men cannot change it, despite all their efforts to do so. There is no need of forming a committee to re-translate and change it. God's Word has not changed because of anything men or women have instituted on this earth, either.

We have been carried to the far edges in this day and time in which we are living. It is time for us to realize that God's Word is FOREVER settled in Heaven. The purposes and promises of God are not without effect to those who believe. The Bible PLAINLY teaches us that God is a BOUNTIFUL rewarder to every one who diligently (fervently, with your whole heart) seeks Him. The SAME Bible tells us that He is a revenger: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19.

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