Malachi 3: 17-18
Right at the beginning a question: Do you believe that God is watching over his word? Now perhaps you will answer: What a question, of course I believe that, and in the inner dialogue you look for the reasons for my question. But are we really convinced that God is working behind the scenes and believe with all our hearts that this is so?
The prophet Malachi is divided into three chapters today. It hasn't always been that way since, for instance, I think it would be the 13th century, the Prophet had 4 chapters. One or the other will ask himself: What does he actually want, it doesn't matter at all. The chapters and division were made by humans and were not inspired, a friend reacted in a similar way and said: "Some mystics who have nothing to do with the Bible would have made the division." He had not at all wanted to take note of my references to certain conspicuous features, but reacted in such a way as we all react when something comes to our ears that is foreign to us and does not fit into our scheme either, because we did not learn it at all or learned it differently.
Why am I writing to you?
Because I want to do what is praised by God in the prophet Malachi. The prophet writes: "Then those who feared the Lord talked to each other and the Lord noticed." This is my wish that Jesus would prick up his ears, so literally for paying attention, and listen to us. Why do I want that? The Lord has prepared a special book and writes in it. He writes down what he hears and, above all, who is talking. For what purpose are his notes made? This will be revealed to us in verse 17: The talkers will be the possession of the Lord of hosts. When will it be? On the day that the Lord will make. What day is this? The text hints at it when God says: "I will spare them". God here speaks of the Day of the Lord. From a temporal point of view he will first make the talkers his property and then comes the day that the Lord. On this day already the talkers will make their "property"; those who are recorded in his memorial book will not come to judgment. In the middle of verse 17 it changes from plural to singular. First it says "you", then the speaker changes and speaks of his son.
What is behind it?
The word "you" refers to a group of believers consisting of individuals, the word "son" refers to the unity of the group represented in a son. This is what the Lord has addressed to Pharaoh through Moses: My son, my firstborn, is Israel. Genesis 4:22: By the way, in the last plague the angel kills all the firstborn of Egypt (). If in Malachi 3 two sons are alluded to, then we must look at the stories of the brethren. There are for example the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh or the sons of Isaac, these are Jacob and Esau and, to give a third example, the twins of Tamar, Perez and Zarah. God spares one son, the firstborn, because he serves him and the other son, who does not (yet) serve him, must go to the third round. (See: Structure of the Bible, on Simson-project.com). One son is spared, because he has proven himself, the other has to repeat the test. "The fact that Malachi 3 speaks of two sons can also be recognized by an attentive reader by the fact that the son of verse 17 is separated from a larger group by God and is spared by him. The Son of verse 18 is not spared and must suffer the day that the Lord will make, for he is tested by God. Also in verse 18 the separation of the one from the other is hinted at, but even more so. Two separations are told in the same sentence. Let us listen carefully to what God says: "And I will again ...". With the word again God wants to express that I have spared the Son from verse 17 and now I will also spare the righteous one from verse 18 by making a distinction between the righteous and the ungodly again.
What has happened to the second Son
on the day that God will make? What has changed? The second recognizes the difference God has made between him and his brother, and finally he serves God with all his heart and with all his mind and with all his soul and with all his strength. We know such distinctions from the Bible. God had made a difference between Enoch and Noah.
Enoch points to the son from verse 17 and Noah to the son from verse 18. God does not lose many words about Enoch, but the few we hear of him have it in them. Enoch walked with God. Literally translated we hear it even more clearly: And Enoch walked to the joy of God. On the surface, Enoch's way of life did not differ significantly from Noah's way of life. What was the difference between the two? We have heard from Enoch that he lived for the joy of God. In Genesis 6:8 we read about the other: But Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh. This verse also contains astonishing things and will be an explosive for many "truths" that have become dear to us, but which are not. Now it is not a matter of damaging the brothers, but of showing God's perspective. The Lord has hidden things and is now not only revealing them, but describing and explaining them. It is not enough just to look at a revealed thing, such as Revelation, only superficially; it requires intensive contemplation in order to get to know the object. And what must we examine thoroughly, the Lord of course, is clear or not? The Hebrews failed to do this. Paul encourages them to do so. When they contemplate the Lord, they will find grace before the Lord.
What is grace?
"How often did I have to hear the sentence: All only grace! The emphasis was then always on the word "only"; and it came over me like a steamroller. Then I was always afraid that he would not know what he was talking about. Also in conversations and in books this original sound can be heard again and again. Threatening message instead of good news? No wonder people turn away from us. No, that is not mercy.
Let us take a closer look at the word, at least once. If Noah found grace in the eyes of God, what has Noah done before? The answer is quite simple: Nothing! Noah did nothing. Before his highly dramatic story is told in Genesis 6:9, there is a succinct sentence: "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." The Hebrew word used for grace - חן - (Chen - H2580) means kindness, preference, beauty. If we translate the sentence from Genesis 6:8 with one of these words, the opening verse sounds completely different: And Noah found kindness in the eyes of the Lord. This is what is happening to us today. We are polite because it so deserves. But we are not friendly. The people out there feel that we make a difference and wave politely away. At last we should not be polite, but show everyone our friendliness. What is that, friendliness? The word derives, who would have thought it, from friend. The word comes from the Indo-Germanic with the meaning "to love".
And because I love my friend, I talk to him freely and naturally. I also don't need to hide behind a front in his presence. I always take time for my friend. We should behave the same way towards strangers. If God has been kind to Noah, then we can take God's nature as an example. That the Lord has become a friend to Noah will become important for prophetic interpretation. Let us look at the second variant that we can form with the verse: But Noah found a preference over the Lord. If God could choose, whom would he prefer? The answer has a name: Noah. We already know that God prefers him, but why?
In the history of Abraham,
the reason for the preference becomes apparent. Abraham is busy and unexpectedly three wanderers pass by. He quickly lays down his work and dedicates himself to the men, forcing them to eat and rest with him. Noah reacted in the same way. God approached him friendly and Noah proved to be friendly and turned towards him as well. That is the reason why Noah found grace because he gave the friendly talking God a place to rest. God rested in the heart of Noah. "We still have one." Our third variation is: Noah found beauty in the eyes of the Lord. What kind of beauty was that? We think it is the sum of what we have described in the two other variants and can be expressed in one sentence: A person comes to visit and finds a friendly welcome, there he can relax and rest and, as is usual among friends, they also talk about very personal things and their plans for the future. That's a beauty we didn't expect, right? Hospitality, a big theme in the Bible. When the Lord came into the garden in the cool of the day, the garden owners were hiding. But the Lord is so bold and enters the property and calls for the occupant of the property. God forces himself up, friendly and patient and in the end Adam and Eve experience reconciliation with God.
It's not like that in Laodicea.
There the Lord stands in front of the door and knocks. One of yours runs to the door on tiptoes and looks through the spy, is frightened and then sneaks quietly away from the door again. But the Lord knocks again. Strangely enough, Laodicea calls himself the church of Jesus and simply doesn't let the man, after who they are named, in. Why do they leave the Lord at the door? Because they have separated themselves and love to stew in their own juice. Today we call communities and groups of this kind sectarians and rightly so.
What are the general characteristics of sectarians?
The Lord explains to us the most important characteristic in John 9:40 when he is addressed about these things. We read there about a group of Pharisees who are with Jesus from the group of Pharisees. So they belong to those who were constantly with Jesus. They were where Jesus is. The Greek verb for "were" means "to be there". The root word explains to us in what way the Pharisees were constantly around Jesus, it means "I am here". The Greek expression, note it, is in the present tense. The Pharisees want to say to the Lord through their presence: "I am here." Is that enough? Now we take a closer look at the word Pharisees. The word should actually be written literally in our Bible, so that we can recognize the meaning ourselves: Pharisee means more separate. The separated ones are always there. The authors can testify to this, they are always there when it is necessary to visit the church meetings. We also see this in the other groups, such as the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses and many others, they are always there too. With the latter two, however, this is not always entirely free. If one of them is missing, he is "visited" and "admonished", whether he likes it or not.
We have now become acquainted with the most important characteristic of the separate ones and can also observe this. They go faithfully and well-behaved to their meetings. And it is precisely these apart ones who ask the Lord: Are we blind too? One thing should be clear, they not only ask the Lord, but also themselves, because this is how the question is formulated: Are we also ... Because they are insecure, they want clarity. Jesus does not reject them. He answers the questioners, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, We see, your sin remains." The denial of one's own blindness is classified as sin by Jesus. And this is the problem of the church of Laodiceas, and this is also the difficulty of the Son of Malachi 3:18. They are blind, but deny it. Sin is symbolized in the Bible with leaven. And bread, a symbol of the body of Christ, should not contain leaven. But because the church remains in sin, it must spit out the bite of the bread, because it has become unclean, because even a little leaven spoils the whole bread body.
Many of those who are separated claim that the Lord does not spit out bread, but water because it has become lukewarm. Is that true? Let us take a closer look at the water of which the Lord speaks. What does water stand for? In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Word of God is called water (Eph 5:26). If then the water is the word of God, how is it possible that the Lord spits out the water, especially since he himself is the living word of God and the living water? If God's Word is living water, what happened to the water in Laodicea? The Lord says it is lukewarm, literally it means warm.
What water temperatures can we think of?
We think that it has reached room temperature. Imagine we take a glass of water from a spring and let it stand for a few hours, then the water has lost its refreshing effect because it has become lukewarm. Jesus does not only want refreshing water, but also warm water. The Greek word for warm that is used here is zestos - ζεστοσ - and must be translated as boiling. It is bubbling boiling water and is a metaphor for passion. It marks a person who burns for the Lord. These are the two things that the end-time church lacks. Water contained in your vessel does not refresh the brothers and sisters and the water does not boil in them, does not burn the passion for the Lord, which would almost infect others of its own accord. Their condition is similar to that of stale water, which has remained unused in the vessel for many days and now becomes a danger to others when they drink from it. Stale water makes you sick and can lead to death in the worst case.
The Lord will spit out such vessels.
Why spit out vessels that water is spoiled or not? That is correct, but we are thinking: If the water is spoiled, hasn't the vessel also become impure, afflicted with all the bacteria and viruses and impurities that the water also contains? And that is why the Lord comes here to speak directly to the vessels and says: "Because you, Laodicea, have become lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. The church forms a unity and always does, the Bible uses various images for this purpose. One time it is represented as a body of bread and the other time it is symbolized as a son. The Lord speaks here of the Son whom we met in Malachi 3:18. The Lord has spat out the second-born in Malachi 3:17 and has thus brought him back to his original element, the sea. In the depths of these waters he will be saved. Noah can testify to this and Jonah the Separate was also allowed to experience it.
If we die the death of a sinner and make our death one with the death of the Lord, then the Lord can spit us out again and we reach the saving shore of Japho (meaning: beautiful). Again back to the stale water: How did it become undrinkable? We have already said it, it is stale. What do you do with stagnant water? It must be returned to the water cycle to be purified. Then we also have to clean and disinfect our vessels properly. Once we have done this, we can refill our vessels and supply people with the new and refreshing water. Everyone can and must do this for himself, but also the whole church. If Laodicea does not repent, the Lord spits it out, Jonah must go to the sea. And because the Lord makes a difference again on his day, only a Jonah will be saved.
Now we can give a qualified answer
to the question of whether the object the Lord spits out is water or bread. It is not just a matter of bread or water, but, now comes the fine difference, it is a matter of both bread and water. Both things form a unity. If the bread is pure, then the water is also pure, and if the water is pure, then the Lord can knead a new mass from both. After the kneading the mass is brought into shape and pushed into the oven and finally baked. Bread must always be put in the oven, otherwise it is not bread. The sufferings of the present time represent the baking process and at the end, perhaps an hour, the bread is ready. What then do we receive? A fresh body of bread. Not only for God, but also for those living in the house, the smell of this sweet bread already tastes good. By the way: The maze of Jewish bread that is eaten with the Passover consists only of water and flour. And that is why the supper that the Lord wants to eat with Laodicea can only refer to the Passover. Not only our logical conclusions testify that, even the word supper. The Greek word is only used in connection with the Passover. And so we have to say to the separate ones: If you do not understand the Lord's Supper as the Passover that God had celebrated for the first time in Egypt, not as a continuation of the Passover, then your bread is leaven.
Do not teach ye nature, wrote the apostle of the church in Corinth. The authors of these lines have internalized Paul's words and examined the nature of things. With our descriptions we confirm: Nature teaches us in many ways. In the created, when we examine things thoroughly, we see and hear about God's teachings. That is why we should come back to the water that Jesus said was lukewarm. Not only the water itself, but also the church is a reflection of the stagnant water. And so they constantly drink of the corrupt and have become ill from it. Contaminated water is the cause of many diseases. The Lord speaks directly about one of the diseases and confronts the patient with the diagnosis: "You are blind."
For most Laodiceans, it is probably not the eyes themselves that are the cause of the illness, but the spoiled food has caused a clouding of the eyes. A layman will never recognize his favorite food as the cause of his eye clouding, he will rather consider the reasons given to him so absurd that he even denies the doctor the competence to judge correctly. Why does Laodicea behave like this? As a patient he gets into an inner dispute: "I ate it all my life - so it's my own fault? - and only now - that's impossible, should I have become ill from it? A good doctor knows such a reaction and is prepared for it. If the attending physician has opened the diagnosis to the patient, then he is shocked at first, and that all the longer if he has not been carefully prepared for the announcement of the examination result beforehand.
Well, in one thing the separate ones of all denominations agree: Jesus, our doctor, is honest. And honesty was and still is the basis for confidence-building measures. And the Lord formulated this in advance in his introductory words of his diagnostic report. "This is what the Amen says." We all know the Amen. After our prayers it is regarded as confirmation. We affirm what has been said before and also express that it really is or should be like this. Our beloved physician takes the opposite path and places the Amen at the beginning of his report. In this way he builds up tension in the patient, because he now needs the utmost concentration from the listener if what is said is to reach the listener and be understood. And because the patient is aware that he is sitting in his family doctor's consulting room, he also feels that the introductory words are unpleasant. But like a good doctor, Jesus immediately provides some relaxation when he adds: I am faithful. Such words are balm for the soul, aren't they?
Because Laodicea can also look back and recognize 2000 years of church history: Yes, the Lord is faithful. Throughout the centuries, he has healed his Church again and again, dressing its wounds, alleviating the pain of the heart. Contrary to all resistance, Jesus has received them until now. And because he was faithful until now, he will also be faithful here and now; and even tomorrow Jesus will not let go of his faithfulness. And so the patient remains tense and listens strained. The physician sums up the professional career, then outlines the private and here in particular the family environment. He sums up the preface with the sobering sentence, the content of which we already know: "Mr. Separate, you are lukewarm". There he is, as if moved by thunder. But let us not forget that Jesus already expressed his hope for the patient with the words: "Oh, that you would be cold or warm", and offered the only effective therapy already at this time. At the same time, he showed us what happens when the medical advice is thrown to the wind. The Lord leads over without a break and now comes to the point. In short and understandable words he names the deficits and explains his anamnesis and presents the healing plan.
- wretched: bad; general state of health;
- miserable: the word expresses the feelings of the doctor, is at the same time his accusation against those who are jointly responsible for the health of the patient; today this is defined as dangerous care and is punishable (in Germany);
- poor: the Greek word indicates a beggar; not only sectarians beg, but one should come to them; the members are begged into poverty;
- blind: the Greek word literally means: opaque; this applies to all denominations; beyond that even to all religions;
- only naked; whether Laodicea knows why the Lord gave the advice to pray that the flight of which he speaks in Matthew 24 might not happen in winter?
A good physician will always orient his planned measures to the fact that the patient experiences healing.
The therapeutic measures are:
1. buy gold; it must first be purified in the fire;2. white clothes, so that the deeds of fornication are not seen naked;3. eye ointment so that the film on the eyes dissolves into air.
Prerequisites and framework conditions:
1. prove or disprove the untruth, refute it with their own words;2. practicing the new, in habitus, in thinking and acting;3. be friendly (in love with the truth); set a sign of tenderness with a kiss.
Important! The Compliance, i.e., the agreement of the patient must be present, if the physician is to begin with the therapy.
If you, dear reader, have managed to endure the text nervously so far, then you have taken the first important step, you have leaned out of the window of your fence and left the house of your isolation with your eyes and ears. In order not to now succumb to the danger of turning your enclave into a Trotsky Castle, talk to the Lord personally. Study his word with him.
Nowadays one is afraid to use the word healing at all, instead one issues prescriptions or treatment certificates. Everyday language always reflects the spirit of the times and so illnesses are no longer cured but treated. For the World Health Organization (WHO), the deviation from health is not a sufficient reference point for the classical definition. Do we now understand why we are no longer patients, but only customers or clients? And so people are simply treated somehow, some coldly polite, others with warm money.
Elisha: God of prayer knocks!