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speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
The spirit of God by Malachi, reproves the people for the
way in which they were carrying on the worship of God. Those who had come up from Babylon in answer
. to the call of God, had in the midst of much weakness reared the temple; and their sin was not that the doors of the temple were closed, but this:“Who is there among you, that would shut the doors for nought? neither do you kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of Hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.” They were not rebuked for not offering sacrifices. “But ye have pro faned my name, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even His meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! ... and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord.” They had their priests, but the word to them was, " The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of Hosts. Therefore, have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.”
The judgments of God had interrupted the idolatrous course which Israel for so many generations had followed. Those judgments had cleared the land of its idols. The people, on their return, had started afresh; and, alas! this is what they had come to—the form of godliness without
Their conscience had fallen, too. When the prophet charges all these things home upon them, they do not own their sin, nor bow before the word of God. It was a tender way in which the Spirit of God spoke. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of Hosts unto
you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?” and when the word of mercy was spoken to them—“Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord,” they said "Wherein shall we return?” It was the conscience of Israel in the midst of such corruption, that left their case hopeless. 6. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Self-justification and self-righteousness widen the breach between God and man. The pride of the human heart dislikes to be told of sin; it dislikes, still more, to own it: acknowledgment of sin must precede blessing. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord : though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Prov. xvi. 5). This state of things in the sanctuary had its fruit in the character of the people. “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
tempt God are even delivered.” Bad religion, bad conscience, and bad walk are linked together. Israel had got away from God; they were not walking with God. The light of God's glory--manifested when Nadab and Abihu died before the Lordthey were not walking in; therefore all this evil. It is by the fear of the Lord that men depart from evil”
“ 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.” 6. The condition of Israel at this time necessarily threw those that regarded the honour of the name of God outside." Those, who with the Psalmist could say—“ How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord
" of Hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King,
(Prov. xvi. 6).
my God. ... For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness"could have no fellowship with that cold heartless service which was around them. “Who is there among you that would shut the doors for nought?" and how true is all this in our own day! How much of the religion around us would fall to the ground, were it not upheld in the same way:
"Dotli Job fear God for nought?" is Satan's taunt. This is not the case with them that love God. There is something truly lamentable in the condition of Israel. How must those who loved and honoured their God, have mourned to see his table rendered contemptible! What special regard had ever been paid to the sacrifices which God had required—the firstlings of the flockthe lamb without blemish. Even Saul attempted to justify his sin, when he said, “ The people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord thy God;" but now the torn, the lame, and the sick were offered unto the Lord. Our hearts shrink from the thought that God's name should be thus dishonoured; and yet how much this resembles the evil of our own day, too. Where do we find the full appreciation of the character of our God? The divine holiness of His name, that perfect righteousness, which could rest satisfied in no offering-could accept no ransom—but the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. The heart that is true to God will be sensitive to all that would dishonour His holy and ever-blessed name -alive to aught that would lower the dignity of the person and work of the Lord Jesus : every thing that is dear to the Lord is dear to him;—that which glorifies Christ his heart unites in, in the spirit of the apostle“Whom having not seen we love." There are evils so gross, under the name of Christ, that even the world can expose them and war against them. This is a day of strife-system against system ; but, amidst it all, how little tenderness is shewn as to what is well-pleasing to God. The priests of old were alone entitled to bear the ark of God. Broken hearts healed by divine grace, through the precious name of Jesus, and in-dwelt by the Spirit of the living God, are they alone that can appreciate what is acceptable to God. When gross corruptions, abominable cruelties, and idolatries were prevalent, as in the days of Ahab and Jezebel, the rough hand and stout heart of Jehu were used of God. But the place of testimony required tender hearts, hearts in communion with God, when Malachi prophesied. Right thoughts of God will regulate His worship; communion with God gives an elevation to those who realise it; walking with God will keep us out of the world's religion. Nothing else will. The Lord keep His children-those whose hearts have been brought out to bear peculiar testimony for Him--and strengthen us to hold on.
May we remember those words, If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” We live in a day when self-complacency in evil, is as strikingly manifest as at this period of Israel's history. There seems little or no conscience towards God left; men struggle with evils, but not as those who sought, in the fear of God, to please Him, but as those who have their own objects to obtain, their own systems to uphold.
Jealousy for God's honour, and for this alone, is true testimony in an evil day;" and where the Spirit of God leads on the testimony, it will take its character according to the state of things against which it is borne. The comfort of those who feared the Lord was, that they were owned, fully owned in their service by God; and that when the day of reckoning came on that which they had left, the word of the Lord to them was, “they shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels.” • Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
. with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall.”.
"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 iii. 16--18.
Daniel, Chap. v. It is no uncommon weakness in the child of God, that the non-reception of the truth by others leads him to question it.
Aroused to the apprehension of the coming of the Lord, he is chilled by the torpor and indifference of those about him. This sensibility to external impression may arise, because walking too little in the power of individual communion. The Spirit's witness through the word is the fullest persuasion; and we depart from His guidance when the heart asks for collateral testimony. But the word of God has obvious teaching in this respect. “ All scripture is given by inspiration.” The antediluvian world was heedless of the preaching of Noah.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” So in Sodom, when Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, “Up! get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law” (Gen. xix. 14). Indifference to the testimony of God, and the warnings of His word, betokens the proximity of judgment. We who believe in the speedy advent of our Lord, will do well to take heed that nothing from without, or even from within, distract the attention from the solemn cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!” The warning brought many into active service, and drew them outside the camp, bearing the reproach. The word reached their consciences. They sought to be prepared. But fellowship has its snares as well as its blessings. Much of joy, and no little of danger. Individual energy may give rise to corporate fellowship; but the latter may decline into individual apathy. Association may deaden, as well as revive. The position which God gave to many of His people in