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Translation of Texts

in Joel and Malachi

Includes in order:

 Items  24, 29-30


JOEL  2:23

24) Joel 2:23 is a fascinating one since it is in a matrix of development which enhances the lucidity one can readily find in the progression. For this, see Teacher of Righteousness, in Barbs, Arrows and Balms.


Joel deals with a tough time. It is like the present in this, that the stabilities of righteousness are departing, the country was asking for doom, and though God waited a long time with some of the most tender appeals, at times leading to a truculence which would awaken almost the dead, then with prodigious offers of mercy: it came. Yes the end came. It came first for Israel in the North, with its frankly appalling idols meaningful put in place of the true worship, in order to deter people from simply going down south again to Judah and the temple. Witless follies of "survival" routinely blight those who instead of losing their lives for the Lord, slavishly in servile immorality of heart or head, seek to save them (Matthew 16:25).

Meanwhile the perfectly extraordinary plague of locusts had been a disaster in advance, a parable in insects, an enactment in entomology, enough to alert the most "canny" casuists as they led their wilful ways in hoped for oblivion from any Lord or God. Joel showed the relentless foraging of these all-devouring insects in terms of a blight deserved, a ground of reminder to seek the Lord, "Call a sacred assembly, gather the elders" - Joel 1:14.

He proceeds to the spiritual end of things - a day of judgment, darkness and gloominess. Flickering like flames here and there, from the temporal to the spiritual, from the present to the future, from the fact that this is already a judgment in insects to the thrust of divine judgment itself undeterrable and coming without stopping when the time is ripe, to the coming consummation of this terminus to mercy on the endlessly sinning souls of men who will not respond, the prophet appeals and warns.


In 2:10-11 we thus move from the present cloud as it were over the sun to the shaking of the very heavens (Hebrews 12:25-28, Haggai 2:5-7, Joel 3:16, Psalm 102:16), when He who executes His word shall act.

"The LORD gives voice before His army,

For His camp is very great;

For strong is the One who executes His word.

For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?" - cf. Malachi 3:2, 4:1-3*1.

"Rend," He says, "your heart and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,

Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
Who knows if He will turn and relent..."

"Blow the trumpet in Zion,

Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly,
Gather the people,

Sanctify the congregation,

Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes...
Let the priests, who minister to the LORD,

Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, "Spare your people O LORD..."

Thus in this temporary acuteness there is help to be found... 2:18-20.


On the other hand, the final judgments are presaged, prescribed, indicated for their time with this as a trailer episode. The scope goes from the temporary to the final, from storm-clouds of devouring locusts, to energetic soldiery at the end, and indeed, to the actions of the Lord proceeding at that time, leading at length to that convulsion of the whole universe predicted in Isaiah 24, and its eventual removal dramatically, as seen in Isaiah 51:6 II Peter 3:9ff.. (See Joel 2:10-11, 3:2,11-17, cf. Habakkuk 3:3-16 and p. 164 supra.)

THIS is that day of the Lord. As Keil puts it in his Old Testament Commentary,

THE day of the Lord is often indicated, but only once will it reach as it were, terminal velocity.


Meanwhile, there is a need. It is of faithfulness, loyalty, stability, earnestness, sincerity.

In Joel 2:23 we read of the former and the latter rain being sent, and the Teacher of Righteousness who beyond all the words of Joel, will Himself produce that final warning, ultimate rescue system, total salvation which is so needed. As Keil translates this verse:

The temporary judgment is removed, the final court of appeal is preceded by the arrival of the Judge Himself, strangely however robed in teaching toga, to deliver His people before the end so strongly indicated in the preceding vastness of THE DAY OF THE LORD, in its finality.

There is of course a play on words. The term for the rain and for teacher are such that the translation can look at these as options. However, the rain for righteousness would be a strange procedure when the people had forfeited all but the ground for judgment. A rain in mercy, surely, would seem apt and even appropriate; but a rain in righteousness to come when the DESERTS were deserts, this will not do.

Hence the TEACHER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, the call, the need, the base for reform and redemption, this is the way. As Keil says, most of the rabbis and early commentators have followed the Chaldee and Vulgate, and taken 'moreh' (the word in view) in the sense of "teacher". He notes that later people often did not, but proceeds "although moreh is unquestionably used in the last clause of this verse in the sense of early rain; in every other instance this is called yoreh (Deut.xi.14; Jer.v.24)." In fact, we may add, in this very verse, 'moreh', THE TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS APPEARS with the definite article, while the use for rain, later in this same verse, lacks it. As we shall see, this omission is what is found for the rain usage.

Thus, right here, both the early rain and the latter rain, one of them the SAME word, appear according to idiom, WITHOUT the article, as normal. The earlier use, appears by CONTRAST, with it. That is precisely the sort of warning for a pun, accompanied by the usage of no article for this rain...

Keil, then, notes that it thus seems most reasonable to take it that the word moreh in the last clause was selected there, precisely to echo the previous occurrence in this sentence of moreh meaning teacher. In other words, it would be a strange rarity to introduce this term without ground for the rain; but not at all strange if its use were conditioned on an intentional play on words, just as the article similarly would be strange. TEACHER first, and THEN RAIN. This is exactly what many teachers do both to alert their (sleepy?) students and to help them remember. To the student mind, this can act rather like a pneumatic drill, and quite often this may be what is needed!

In particular, Keil stresses that the definite article "the" is placed before the term translated as "teacher" whereas this is never found for the 'rain' meaning, and as he indicates, "no reason can be discovered why moreh should be defined by the article here if it signified early rain." It is however "decisively confirmed" by the phrase 'for righteousness' which follow the term rendered 'teacher '. This, he states, is "quite inapplicable to early rain," since it cannot mean either 'in just measure' or 'at the proper time', or 'in becoming manner' as 'righteousness', in the term here chosen, is never scripturally used in the physical sense. To 'the teacher' however it is eminently applicable.

But why would a pun be used at such a point ? Surely it would be to link the teacher and the rain, just as is done in Psalm 72, where of the Messiah, the son of David to come, it is said:

"He will bring justice to the poor of the people:
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.

They shall fear you,
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.
He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing,
Like showers that water the earth.

In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more."

(Cf. Item 16, esp. pp. 92ff. above.)

The pun then would be perspicuous, granted it is indicated: it applies, is apt, follows an earlier usage concerning the Messiah in His righteousness in practical things.

Further, our verse in Joel is in a vein of exultancy (Joel 2:21-23):

§"Fear not, O land:

Be glad and rejoice,

For the Lord has done marvellous things!...

Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God:

For He has given you the teacher of righteousness,

And He will cause the rain to come down for you,

The former rain and the latter rain ..."

It then proceeds, exactly as in Psalm 72 to specify the emblems of flourishing.

The so-called prophetic perfect is in use: the Lord "HAS DONE" marvellous things, while this is in fact to come, being seen in His mindful eye as present, and placed before the prophet thus graphically, vividly, as if here now.

The 'marvellous things' remind one of Isaiah 29:14 (cf. SMR p. 788), which Paul refers to the coming of the Gospel: it is a passage showing the work the Lord will do to open the blind eyes. It is quite parallel to the preceding passage in 28:14-16, which ends with the laying of

"a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation",

adding this:

"whoever believes will not act hastily."

Indeed, in that context, Isaiah proceeds (29:17ff.) from the foundation stone, to the detailing of the specific functions in healing body and spirit, to be performed by the Messiah:

"In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.
The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord,
And the poor among men shall rejoice
In the Holy One of Israel."

This then is the phase of marvellous work, and it corresponds like Psalm 72, precisely with our present passage in its similar exultancy. Just as Isaiah 28 brings in the Messiah in 28:16, the sure foundation, and declares an "awesome work" in 28:21, expanded to "a marvellous work and a wonder" so that the wise lose their knowledgeable pretensions in the face of it, in Isaiah 29:14, and hypocrisy is exposed (as in Matthew 23!), for those who draw near with their lips, their hearts yet obdurate: so here. The Messiah is first seen, in this case the teacher of righteousness, and this is MARVELLOUS just as His name is "wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6, and great things are done (as in Isaiah 29:18 cf. Ch. 35), seen in Joel 2:25-26, and the Spirit is poured out of from on high: Joel Jole 2:28 cf. Isaiah 29:19, 32:15. Thus there is perfect and indeed intimate parallelism of presentation of Isaiah and Joel, in word, phrase and substance.

Further, the intense emphasis on the  wonder of things in the sequence is more than merely verbal (signal as this is): it shouts from both contexts (as in Joel 2:21,28ff.) and its vibrant echoes bore into the heart, as one reads the various throbbing and impactive attestations of the world-shattering, spirit exposing, evil rebuking freedom and power with which the Lord in astonishing fashion, is to act (as was the case in those predictive days, leading up, in due course, to the coming of the Messiah). Everything is a turning upside of established sin patterns, a subduing of specialised follies with a liberality of love and splendour of mercy, that moves from Isaiah's child who is to be called wonderful (Isaiah 9) to Joel's "wonders in the heavens and in the earth" and "marvellous things" that surround the events of such substantial ultimacy. Paul captures and expounds further, from the Lord, in I Corinthians 1.

This rendering in Joel, "teacher of righteousness",  moreover prevents a four-fold reference to rain, which otherwise occurs in Joel 2:23. It likewise means that "the teacher of righteousness" with the idiom appropriate is used, followed by the generic reference to rain, and then the division of rains into former and latter.

It balances and all is thus explained, but not otherwise.

The pun, let us stress, is moreover explained; for it is a large part of the script that the bounty is mercy, the Messiah is the ground and the result is in blessing. The link is didactic, educational, inspiring, and ... needful. It is not some flick of feeling, but a well-grounded mercy which proceeds at enormous cost, that of the Messiah, as elsewhere so often shown; and here, as to emphasis, with wonderful input of real righteousness, the enduring and close relation of exuberant joy in the mercies of God.

Let us however return to Keil's own point to the effect that there was no way that this rain would be a rain of righteousness, if that rendering were given. It would not fit; indeed its non-fit would be quite as conspicuous as the fit when it is rendered teacher of righteousness. "THE RAIN FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS" ... that is what it would be.

However, the people were seeking compassion not righteousness, and to render the rain as for righteousness when drought would be the proper assessment, would invade mercy and cloud the whole doctrine of scripture. It is not in STABILITY and FAITHFULNESS despite sin that the rain comes; it is in mercy to cover sin that it is sent. Righteousness is NOT the point. It is contrary to it, and evacuates it, for rain. For the TEACHER however it is His intrinsic nature, and their absolute need. Thus negatively and positively, idiomatically and contextually, grammatically and intensively in the sentence itself, we find one thing.

We conclude on these many grounds, then, that it is a ... TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE STRONG TRADITION OF RABBIS HELD, and not doubtless without reason; and as the Chaldee and Vulgate present. A... ? No, "THE" TEACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. The results will be proportionate!

What then do we learn from this Messianic marvel: the arrival of this teacher?

That this is part of the apparatus of mercy, and a large part. We have moved from the preliminary judgment to the final one in Joel 2, and we move similarly to the first advent of the Messiah in 2:23 to the second one in Joel 3, making yet one more parallel (3:14ff.). And this Messiah, HOW spectacularly HE teaches, yet not sensationalistically at all: Isaiah 11:2-4, 32:1-3. Indeed, it will be the sort of speech with strength and savour, unique and splendid, which though filled with mercy, holds scent of judgment to come (Isaiah 11:4, cf. John 7:46ff., Matthew 23, Luke 19:41ff.) And it holds rest, a resting place indeed, on which souls may rest from the tempest (Isaiah 11:10, 4:1-6, 32:1-4), the rest which comes from imputed righteousness (Psalm 32:1-4), which comes from the purchase of all time (Isaiah 53:4-11).

We now proceed to what follows in the text. Now it comes with the force of relish. The Messiah having come, there is naturally a profoundly powerful consequence, and this theme, the vital force of the New Covenant proceeds just as it does so often in the Old Testament (cf. Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 11, Isaiah 54-55). The Messiah first, and then the fruits that extend like showers that water the earth. What then do we find?



"Afterward" (Joel 2:28-32), there is what came to be quoted at Pentecost, that description of dream and vision, power and wonder, calling upon the name of the Lord and the rapid approach of the final crisis and juncture with judgment itself. There is here what we realise to be the whole reign of the church age in the New Testament format following the incarnation.

The meaning is clear. After all this, first the removal of temporary judgment and then the coming and work of the Lord as Christ, the Messiah, the crucified, mourned for in due time as shown in Zechariah 12:10, there is to be an epochal wonder leading on to the end of the entire Age. In this is to be, then, the outpouring of the Spirit of which Joel speaks in  terms of such scale, in 2:29. They are epochal in three dimensions: 1) the power 2) the revelation and 3) the judgment looking down at the end, coming precipately as the Age comes to its closure, without further ado. It is post-Messianic, pre-judgment. Let us look further at this Age.

The Lord does indeed send His rain on the just and on the unjust, but on the unjust, it is IN MERCY. Thus the chapter 3 goes on to it tempestuous ending, reminiscent greatly of Habakkuk 3. War is dramatically indicated (3:10-11) in an irony not without pity, as the foolish fastheads amongst men do their utmost to be their own salvation, so slaughtering inordinately in their falsity, and flashly bungling.

The Lord, we learn , will "utter His voice from Jerusalem"; and indeed, will "roar from Zion". It is time people began to realise that He means it, and that Jerusalem the burdensome stone par excellence since the 1947 UN folly of trying to internationalise it (Zechariah 12; SMR Ch.9), is not for that dire insult to God and trying to imagine that He really does not know, or does not care (Psalm 50:21-23, Malachi 3:13-15, Psalm 73:11).

More than locusts will come in the trepidatious onslaught, but as to the drama of the former things, leading to the ecclesiastical hyperactivity in the slaughter of the Lord - in human form as Jesus Christ, as it were by mistake.... along with the sacrifices intended to show worship! - it will be reaped in an ultimate which is worthy of its preliminaries. There have been so many preliminaries; and there will be so many consequences. The case is drastic. The means are no less, but tempered with that patience which is not indulgence, but grace. There is a set of believers (Isaiah 53:1), and there are kept.

says the Lord in Joel 2:27. Thus is the gift of the Messiah (cf. Isaiah 28:16). He who trusts in Him shall NOT be ashamed.

and we come to the Book of Acts.


This now produces a lively and marvellously straightforward scenario.

1) The temporary judgment on Israel comes complete with dashing locusts, set in so heightened a form as to constitute an allegory (Joel 2:1-9); and

2) this early judgment rises in a crescendo of vision to the ultimate judgment also spoken of in Isaiah 24, where the earth and heavens are indeed shaken (Joel 2:10-11) cf. Hebrews 12:26, and Haggai 2:6), and

3) This is followed by a call to repentance, followed by the exposure of the Messiah as Teacher for Righteousness - His is the role on behalf of righteousness, in righteousness and for it, "I am the Truth", as He said, and "But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth ..." (Joel 2:12-23, John 8:40)

His role is emphasised in its mercy by the pun-mode impact in the Hebrew language here (Joel 2:23), of relating Him, as differently He is related in Psalm 72, to showers of mercy, of rain, heightening content, productivity and gentle.

4) This exposure of the face of grace in the Messiah is aptly followed  by the exultant glorying in the splendid acts of the Lord, "For the Lord has done marvellous things" (Joel 2:26), in entire accord with the similar procedure in Isaiah, when he is revealing the similar acts of mercy an interposition, of the Messiah.He will rainHis resplendent mercies (Psalm 72:6, Hosea 6:1-4),

So do they wait for Him (Proverbs 8:34), and find Him, for now He has shown Himself in heightened form, once for all time. THEN COME THE SHOWERS TO START AND TO BRING THE SPIRITUAL CROPS TO FRUITION (Joel 2:24), and then indeed, God will

This poignant and deep challenge to the heart shows, following the great call to repentance and the manifestation of the Messiah (v.23), the Lord's willingness set aside sin as far as the East is from the West, so that

to use the New Covenant terminology (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8)... For now the "new man" is "put on", even the one who "after God is created in righteousness and true holiness", and the "old man" is "put off", for they are 'renewed in the spirit of your mind' (Ephesians 4:23-24).

5) Now those many Jews, such as the apostles  - and indeed others "not of this fold" (John 10) - who are called by the Messiah, and who come, receive the summit blessing, as the vision moves through the open window of what then is actually  present, to the consequences in the Messiah (cf. Colossians 1:27), whose people shall NEVER BE PUT TO SHAME (Joel 2:27).


I am the Lord your God, and there is no other,
My people shall never  be put to shame" - Joel 2:27.


Thus Joel 2:27 leads into the wonders of widespread revelation shown in Joel 2:28ff.. Now AFTER the Teacher of Righteousness, the Messiah of such blessing as shown in other scriptures in the figure of rain, now there is  to come something also quite epochal. It is the aftermath of the Messianic mission.

Precisely as, in Isaiah 28:16,  the Messiah as foundation is first revealed, with attendant blessings, in the ultimate sense, and then vast consequences accrue. So NOW the believing Jews and their brethren (cf. Isaiah 32:1-4, 33:17, 42, 49, 50-57, 60-61, 66) are involved in the most prodigious restoration to the heavenly Jerusalem, through the Gospel, and are a tide of salty water to the shores of the land, with many fish.

Now there will be the monumental revelation of the Lord.

Here, heaven's heart has already opened (2:23) and shown its love in the massacred Messiah, arisen and triumphant. Now we find the heart of believers is set to receive of that glory by understanding within, as "Christ in you, the hope of glory" makes His wonderful presence felt (Joel 2:28-32). The revelation and the foundation, with the inspiration which provided the stable Scriptures (Isaiah 59:21, 53-55, 34, II Timothy 3:16, I Cor. 2:9-13, Psalm 12,111),  meet in beautiful harmony in the lives given to the Lord, Jew or Gentile in this period.

6) Thus the  story sweeps on to the fuller consequences of the Messiah (Joel 2:28ff.). There is the  outpouring of the Spirit, there are the prophetic extensions on His now solid base (Isaiah 28:16, 32:15-17), in that new situation, a freedom mounting surely, with the solidity and stability of the base ( cf. I Cor. 3:10-11). Now the call is to all, there is no limit:

This Gospel call proceeds on the coming of the Messiah, the teacher of righteousness who NOT ONLY offered Himself as a sacrifice, but presented Himself as THE teacher (Matthew 23:8-10), to which in His place, none could be added! It was thus that He declared in the Great Commission before His departure to His Father from whom He came,

(from Matthew 28:18-20, caps. added, to indicate the point in view). To Him, so incarnated, so come, so crucified, so raised, so ascended, and with such commands about His teaching which presents Him in the true light which came into the world, there is now this open door of ready access to all, for He has paid for the ease of the opening, and made Himself plain to all, that none need be hindered and all may be free.

7) That in turn surges on to the ultimate judgment already touched in the preliminary soaring from the pad of earlier trouble, a warning of the nature of the end to be for the whole earth. Here the meteorological and indeed astronomical happenings are exposed in more detail. So great will this convulsion be, that the (then) apt call comes to "Beat your plowshares into swords" comes! (Joel 3:10).

8) The multitudes in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14) are not, contrary to what Billy Graham has indicated, those involved in "making decisions for Christ" in such contrariety to the clear teaching of the Lord in John 15:16, but those being ravaged in devastating conflict (Joel 3:12,16) or "reaped" as in Matthew 13, when wheat and tares in the end were to be reaped. The "wheat' is already then gone (as in Matthew 24:30-31), and the residual reaping of weeds is woeful. When the Lord anoints this situation with His voice roaring, then actions happen, presumably as in Zechariah 14, and the investing of Jerusalem with its rightful king proceeds.

9) It ought to be noted that the large bloc, the nation indeed as such, of the Jews who did NOT receive the Lord, of whom He stated that they would not see Him again until they should say,

Where then do we find nurture from this prophecy, for the soul, knowledge for the mind in its reflections, stimulus to the spirit?


What then is the barb or balm in all this, or what the arrow?
It is this. MANY are the warnings we have all had; both personal and national, international and historic, as a race, as a people. Judgment indeed must first start at the house of God; for the churches are being corrupted in significant percentages of their totality, and many great edifices are failing and falling in this end of the Gentile Age, as they did in the end of the Jewish age, as the Old Testament waited for the New, and the due time awaited the Teacher of Righteousness who had to come (cf. Isaiah 11, Daniel 9).

Let us then rend our hearts and not our garments. It MUST be said that there is a strange seeming disinclination to do any rough stuff even with garments these days; and if harrowing hypocrisy is thereby reduced for the ostentation, the evidence of any realisation at all of the gravity of the world and its race of mankind is appalling recessive. Few will wake up.

They sleep, but not the sleep of the just, and many like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25, continue as if the form of godliness were the knowledge of God! Forms will not save; but the JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH. Thus -

Joel 3:21.

Rejoice in that, and being born of God, believing in Him whom you receive, rejoice in that acquittal and in the mercy that lies back of it, as in the Cross which procured it for those who believe (Romans 8:32, 5:1-11). Do not tarry, do not 'subside' into faithless instability and vagueness. The judgment is not vague, and truth is not vague, nor is your income tax. Be thankful and receive the gift (Romans 6:23), for it is fitting to thank God for His unspeakable gift ( I Cor.9:15), the gift of that speaking word, the Lord incarnate Jesus Christ, and coming to Him as a ship to harbour, live in Him, your eternal resource.

And further, consider HIS nature of whom it is said,

- II Cor. 8:9.

And those riches are these -

- Ephesians 3:8., Philippians 3:8).

There now, THAT is a teacher and THAT is righteousness, so abundant that it may be attributed vicariously to those whom it redeems.

How happy is the book of Joel in its clarity, precision and power; moving like a jet to its target, it leaves a vapour-trail that lingers, and lingers until it points like an arrow at the heart of this our day, and of those within it, who will be wise if in this their day, they repent and seek the Lord, knowing that great is the day which comes, and great is the teacher of righteousness, whose teaching met the fiery trials of the laboratory, and constituted that acme of all teaching, the personal performance which not only stimulates, inspires and leads, but in this and for Him, which opens the very doors of heaven.


For more on allied areas:

See THE FLASHING FALLS OF FREEDOM, in A Spiritual Potpourri, and CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM in The Kingdom of Heaven... together with Ch.4, LOVE THAT PASSES KNOWLEDGE. See also SMR pp. 1174B ff., The Poor Environment, and pp. 1163A ff., The Suffering of Creation and the Longsuffering of God.


Malachi 3:1-2 Here is the coming of The Messenger of the Covenant, whereby the Lord shall "suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant , in whom you delight: behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire, and like a fuller's soap."

So Christ, author of the New Covenant and crux of the everlasting covenant, indeed, "given ... for a Covenant" (Isaiah 42:6, cf. Matthew 26:28), purged the temple suddenly (Matthew 21:9-13) in form, as later will be met with this consuming fire, the rebellious living temples in fact! (Malachi 4:1-2). The brilliance and shining cleanness appeared in the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2-3). What is to be found? In salvation, beauty, in judgment, burning (Malachi 4:1-2). The grace for those of the covenant covers judgment.


  MALACHI 2:12,15

 Items  29-30,


  29-30) For these, Malachi 2:12,15, see More Marvels from the Majesty and Mind of the Almighty Ch. 1.  The relevant section of that Chapter follows. For the rest of it, which comes between the present end and the NOTES section, see the hyperlink above, at "Ch. 1". Some of Chapter 3's exposition is added for the sake of harmonious inter-relation with the earlier part.

Part of


Marvels in Malachi

Malachi! the last book in the Old Testament, with lustrous references to the coming Messiah, both to save and to judge, and interrogatory dialogue exposing hypocrisy in a way suggestive, like foothills, of the X-ray words of Christ to the Pharisees, it is easily categorised  - amiss!

In fact it has depths of beauty.

One verse of these has had translation almost sufficient to transform the hair into erect, bristle like structures!

It is to be found in Ch. 2:15.

To translate, in general, you need the words, any idioms, the sense, the flow, the direction, the message, the logic, the felicity, the beauty or thrust of aim. With the Bible, you need ideally, a love of the Lord in order to understand the more intimately the character of His utterance. Love tends to understand!

Let us look at Ch. 2 as an approach to verse 15.


After the excoriation of Ch. 1, we find in Ch. 2 various applications of a message. The PRIESTS first, these are found most lax, slack and disinclined even to give the GLORY to the name of the Lord which is its due. Spiritually nonchalant ? too fat ? too professional ? they "do not take it to heart". The results of this are to be bitter; but the beginning of it all is mused upon. In verse 5, we find that God said up a covenant, a solemn agreement at His divine initiative, and calling the priesthood, He looked upon its operation. "My covenant was with him, one of life and peace..."

In fact, "the law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity" (2:6).

We turn to the requisite: "the lips of the priest SHOULD keep knowledge, and people SHOULD seek the law from his mouth" (v. 7).

There is a stabilising, clarifying, inculcating, distilling function from the priest. He does not invent, but represents what is to be given, for what it is.

Quite the contrary was the practice. It tended to be very much like that of the Sadducees, rebuked by the Lord in His own day on this earth (Luke 11:52), and small wonder (11:54). Vehement and unruly, they hated the Lord they seemed to represent! You have DEPARTED from the way; you have caused many to STUMBLE at the law, and "therefore I have made you contemptible". Such was the charge in Malachi. That is perhaps one reason why the prolonged TV show, Dad's Army made the Church of England clergyman a butt for unveiled satire.

Malachi then moves to the national level. Even Judah, the southern section of the divided nation, where the temple indeed was, itself "has dealt treacherously". This nation has PROFANED, secularised religion (rather, perhaps like that Anglican Primate who made it unnecessary, really, to have Christ as the only way to God, indeed, felt this not now permissible!). This too is quite like the case in New Zealand, where the author participated in the confrontation with rank unbelief, duly sanctified by the apostasising church. There, a Principal had felt that the physical and the supernatural were not quite amenable as too distinct, to the modern mind; hence, the bodily resurrection was deemed best ousted.

Bare-faced as all this seems, then in that place, where intolerance of truth bloomed like desert cactus, we heard in debate ludicrous irrelevancies, such as this, that it would be too bad to be still legless or lame in heaven! What in the world has a NON-bodily resurrection scenario, to do with a bodily resurrection transformation. However, when the tides of unbelief roar, it is hard to be heard, but not to be assailed for the merest fidelity to faith, logic and truth, and this above all, to Christ.

With such nearer to contemporary cases in view, it is not hard to imagine the divine displeasure with the extraneous, the imperious and the unfaithful, strutting in clothes of authority. Small wonder too that we hear the metaphor, that many were married to the daughter of a foreign god. It appeared as heartless disloyalty, pretence and pretension all in one blighted broth. That then was the situation in the Israel of Malachi's day, in no mean measure.

To them, it was too much to see the sacred place in the heart of God, of the sublime, divine covenant, and all its specifications and revelation. It was one, nevertheless,  whose unbounded cost was such that its requirement  was covered only when it was all consummated in Christ. Assuredly, this covenant, this sacred preliminary to the finale in Christ, was a "holy institution which He loves".

This reminds us of the fearful penalties, due and spiritual, which relate in the Bible to tampering, toying and trifling with the objective truth of the word of God, while still maintaining some sort of semblance of relationship to Him. Whether it is radical liberal neologians, in their intoxication, or inter-religious congratulations, as with PM Blair and President Bush of late, whether it is WCC amalgams of religions, or social, psychological or other 'interpretations' of religion, which subordinate it to culture and culture to man, so making God not there, and man divine: it all tends in but one direction, and to be one thing. (See Lord of Life Chs.  8,  9, and Chs. 8 , 13 of Red Alert ...)

That ? It is this: they are a mockery of the God whose revelation has been given as authoritative, actual and final.

(Malachi 2:12).

This is italicised, since there is some variation in this translation also. However, what is given is literal, and obviously you could INTERPRET it to mean teacher and student, or guard and challenged and so on. These would be sub-categories. However, as we shall see later, one rule in translation must surely be this: translate what is THERE! Interpret ? yes, afterwards.

Thus in this case, ALL are involved in this stricture, whether in authority, or under it, whether engaged in teaching, or learning from those who propound, whether those who query, or respond and so on. It is reminiscent of Isaiah's great word in Ch. 24:

Such attitudes of slack spirit, then,  exemplify TREACHERY (Malachi 2:16-17). Small wonder there is the scene of judgment, of being cut off, for those who make a practice of such things.

Man against man, fails in HIS part in the covenant; and man versus GOD so universally fails to fulfil what is divinely in force. The folly is seen, then,  in the national pastime of "marrying the daughter of a foreign god" (2:11). This then leads us to the concept of execution, removal of this presumptuous humbug, which formally comes to the LORD, and yet oils with words, caresses with comfort, gives succour and comfort to the ENEMY, to the NOT-GOD (Deuteronomy 32:21), which we have seen before, is that searing insult to God from a failing people.

They turn from Him who is, to what is not, and worship the shade, the nothing, like misled physicist or vacant pantheist. It is an abomination, the LORD declares. What would one expect if a husband or wife began adoring and making love to a maiden or young man not in existence, while continuing to perform the farce of being married to a real wife or husband. Increase this infinitely, by the factor that that is HUMAN, and this is DIVINE, and you begin to realise the abomination in all the intensity which God gives it, repeatedly in His word, as here.

We are then pursuing the flow and thrust of this passage, on the way to 2:15.

Now it turns to strictly inter-personal human relationships. However these are here viewed from the divine perspective, which oversees, superintends and understands. HOW can God accept offerings from those who bring grief to the tender wife of their youth, the loved maiden, sweet and tender who gave herself in marriage, bore children and has worked hard, now thrown away in the pursuit of some sexual fancy or fantasy, as if she were a mere dream, and lust were lord!

The thing is appalling.


We are now in a position to feel the waters of the exact passage in mind.

Let us then see the fast and vigorous incandescent lightning thrust of verses 13-15, by paraphrase, itself lodged securely in the terrain preceding, and to follow.

This is the second thing you do, because the very temple, the environment of the altar is covered with a dew not so sweet. The tears of those once so loved, so tenderly, now with callous disregard, subordinated to a current flame of sexual lust, or romantic recrudescence, these mock the reality of your worship. How can you so treat your wife!

You would even interrogate the LORD further on such a topic ? Why ? you ask! It is because the LORD is not dead or deaf party, but is intensely aware of you, and He witnesses precisely what are your deeds. HE KNOWS! There is a case in existence, pressed at law or not, before the LORD. It is one between you and the damsel you married, now much older. You have deceived her, become playful with another, or others, and so are a treacherous being.

Political treachery is poisonous ? can lead to war ? What then of this! The wife is your friend, your personal companion, your fellow, and yet you do THIS to her ... But did not God make ONE when it came to marriage! Did He perchance make three or four for choice, for use at different age categories as the brutal male got older, and felt playful ? Was THIS what He did ? Or did He not make one!

There was a remnant of the spirit, and God did not stop at the male, but made the female, also a person, also endowed with spirit, and JUST ONE did He make.

Can you not see the ONE for ONE relationship from the first, and take account of history at all!

Why, then, do you imagine, He made just one ? It was of course so that in the holy intimacy of one father and one mother, one pair, one procreative partnership, one fellowship of souls of the one procreative part and of the other, there should be a delicious unity and simplicity, this providing an inter-personal linkage about the child. So might they have reared a godly offspring, not some social construct, some alliance product, some spawn in some nursery in some situation with some parties or other in some way or other having connivance with the thrust of lust, and no concern at all for the physical, psychological, moral, historical and spiritual realities. Gone are these in such token affinities, and gone for parent and child the nurture of the truth in the nature of His design.

SO, He made one, and not exhausted in enterprise for this undertaking, He gave it duality of complementarity, not a two-headed monster but a diversity in unity along the male-female line. It is this which makes divorce so disruptive, and not merely disturbing. It is in effect to cancel what He did with the "residue of the Spirit." It is clear that this the sense, because the "one" made with the residue of the Spirit is directed towards a "godly offspring", this being the defining parameter for the one in view. The residue of the Spirit appears thus to have been towards not only complementarity but its use in multiplication of man, and specialisation of partnership towards that end*A.

BE ASHAMED! You have broken covenant with God ? You have broken it likewise with your wives, you men of Israel, in adultery. AS the explicit comparison is made of 'marriage' in taking on board another god (Malachi 2:11), so here there is the literal fact  - for you are also adulterous in lust, as well as in spiritual adventurism. What horror it all is!

(Now we proceed to the context after 2:15, in 2:16ff..)

Divorce, that tipsy topsy-turvy dizzy thing of lust and sorrow, of grief and rupture, the LORD hates it! It is not the way of peace and delight, the fitting outcome to two godly lives such as should be lived at all! It has a sense of brutality, like ripping out an organ.

Therefore be aware, and do not be treacherous, to God or to your spouse.

Indeed, you are becoming lawyers, wearisome in language (and here the parallel with Luke 11 and the strictures on the Sadducees is intense), and you will even ask more after all this, HOW are we becoming wearisome ? That is your unabashed question, is it ?

It is then well  to listen now: You are actually concocting blasphemies in your tired, virtue robbed spirits, attributing in your materialistic and pompous pretensions, happiness to the ungodly, even  daring to suggest that they are the real favourites of God, since you estimate their lives in their own terms. What an unspiritual assemblage you become, like mathematicians who find it too much to add 1 and 1; for spiritual things become as foreigners to you, while in spiritual and social ways, you act the thug, the deprived, the unaware (Malachi 2;17).

Of interest is just one point in this strongly connected, forcibly presented, divine exhortation and rebuke, each part of which is set with the next as jewels in a star of beauty, an engagement ring of distinction. When it says, "Did He not make one, having a remnant of the spirit ?", is the reference to a residue of the SPIRIT OF GOD, as it were, seen as dynamically proceeding to make one more soul and spirit assemblage, in the person of Eve; or does it mean, that He already had one more human spirit to dower, in readiness and prepared, so that it needed simply to be despatched to Eve, so that there be ONE, to match the ONE man, so that the ONE on ONE combination might produce the godly seed ? or does it simply mean as first noted above, that His imaginative construction was not sated in man as one, but diversified the production to make parents as one unit in engendering, children under their joint care and supervision to be led in, to and through the Lord to a blessed maturity in turn.

This last is taken because it assumes NOTHING, being a minimum interpretation in terms of results and upbraiding.

The One who makes the design is the One offended by its abuse; so that the capital H is warranted. Since He is speaking in terms of His creation, as in Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 45:12,18, where we learn not only that He created earth and man, but earth to be inhabited, this is highly relevant to the present point.

While choice of interpretation in these limits, may not vitally affect the argument being made about divorce, design and divine deliberation; yet in this very book we are seeing the importance, and it is essential, to GIVE GLORY to God, and hence never to intrude into what is not revealed in unwarranted assumptions... When it comes to actual translation, one would not DARE to present the first option. One does not wish to presume as if one knew whether the Lord was as it were, storing up this creative surge ready for exemplification and consummation in the making of a spirit for Eve. As to the second, nor does one wish to presume in the affair of assuming a ready spirit, for despatch. These are to intrude into the creative realities of divine procedure.

His desire for further creative enterprise, however,  to complete the specifications in their wholeness, is clear in results. Further*A, such a thought does fits well with the thrust of the passage.

Thus, the concept of the spirit of Eve ready for despatch, already as it were, batched and prepared with that of Adam, a human totality in the divine mind and power, already of ONE, and as ONE, with the first instalment for the man, given, the other to be given to the female, this stresses most greatly the unitary emphasis of the passage, and the sense of the utter depravity of the rupture of this created unity, which was one from the start.

The passage,  we might add, has NOTHING to do with what someone's supposed intelligence might see, since it is a MORAL issue; and such an insertion into the thrust of the passage would not merely be forced, with no background, but grotesque, with a departure from the contextual phase of consideration. Further, it would even interrupt the indictment, built from the first, and proceeding to the last. Again, to take another case, while Calvin is on the right track, it is not so much what God in His divine power COULD have done, which is the emphasis, as what God in His intimate wisdom DID do; not a question of the delimitation of His power, as the exhibition of His meaning in design, not a cessation of possible multiplication so much as a robustly simple, designer beauty which in its elegant sufficiency, moral integrity, balanced mutuality was WHAT HE DID!

In fact, the overview, the perspective is covenantal to the core. The covenant was BROKEN in Israel and in husband-wife relationship, metaphorically and literally, both. The covenant at the START (2:11) was something God loved. Right at the first in the covenant, the priest was of the nature described. From this, we moved to the nation, thence to husband-wife relationship, and in all this, COVENANT is the construction. So we go in covenant relevant to the institution not of Israel alone, as relevant for the priest, or for the nation, but also to that pertinent to marriage, and all this, it is a continuity and emphasis not hard to find.




The NKJV adds ‘them’, inserted, without warrant, and with intrusion to limit  the sense and flow of thought: "Did He not make them one ?"  The ‘them’ is NOT in the text.

The KJV has not added in this needless and in fact misleading way (a principle well applicable is this: Do not ADD without necessity for the sense, and even then only as idiomatically required). Nevertheless, it sets it out like this: "And did not he make one?  Yet had he the residue of the spirit" (bold added). Again the ‘yet’ removes or blurs that causative element which is precisely the thrust of the argument. It reads: "and did He not make one ? and a vestige of spirit for him."

Again, the movement from additive to contrary with two cases of the same conjunction here would be, to say the least, a strain on the sequence (i.e. ‘and’ and ‘yet’ as in bold type above). In the Hebrew, while the conjunction used MAY have varied meanings in context, its primary use is ‘and’, and when you want to vary the translation, there are normally  limits if you want clarity. Here the limits are strong. The text is terse, dramatic, and not available for filigree work.

If then you take it simply,

§Did He not make one, and did He not have a residue of spirit ?

you are taking no liberties, and assuming clarity. Since this ALSO brings out a deep thrust of unified argument, it is doubly assured. He made one, and having a residue of spirit, He made it a singular duality adapted for joint production of children, in such a schema giving glorious opportunity for the rearing of godly offspring. Such was His creative thrust, desire and attainment; but to MAN there is requirement not to abuse the delicacy of the design, by being  boorish or self-indulgent. Rather should he respect the issuance of godly offspring by keeping to the appointed place, not joy-riding in wife-renegacy as if God had not made him for another type of project with a better result!

It is always dangerous to insist on this or that translation vehicle, like the KJV or NKJV. This is wholly unscriptural, there being no assurance whatever concerning any such particular effort. All things must be tested, and idolatry or at best emulousness can arise when one attributes to some one translation, the values which are brought in various inspirations of understanding and talents, through many. To be sure, many translations there are which do violate various clear principles, take liberties and so forth, as noted in detailed work  in The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7.

Nevertheless, to assume all things, cannot be and is not the same as "test all things". Testings do not generalise: they are particular and take every aspect as it comes. While our testings indicate excellent work in both the NKJV and the KJV, in various key studies and regards, they also indicate that neither is perfect. We cannot be arm chair nonchalants, but must study to show ourselves workmen who need not be ashamed (II Timothy 2:15). God has not authorised the use of some king’s authorising, nor has He proposed a principle to limit oneself to one. The true limit is what is written, not what is translated, and wise is he who makes no other.


Similarly it is to the MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT that we now turn in 3:1.

This sequence of thought is important for understanding what now follows, indeed.

With so much of covenant now exposed, each one in its site and program, each with its breach and failure, we come to the Messenger of the Covenant. He is to come SUDDENLY to HIS temple. This is exactly the language of Christ in its emphasis on import, which He used when taking whips, He drove out those who abused 'MY FATHER'S' house (Luke 2:16), by arrant commercialism.

Again, in the episode in Matthew 21, we find Him not only coming as the One "having salvation" (and that indeed in Himself, Isaiah 53:6-10),  and lowly, as in Zechariah 9. We find Him relaying in this purging of the Temple, the spiritual exposure from Isaiah 56 and Jeremiah 7,  "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves." The total appropriation of the rights and authority of a SON are demonstrated quite unequivocally, and the indignation concerns the HOUSE which is HIS Father's as distinct from anyone else's relationship. Lowly as He is, His authority concerning the Temple is entire, undimmed, utter and original.

In this way, Christ in the actual historical events figures PRECISELY as the Messenger of the Covenant of Malachi 3, as indeed the "one in whom you delight" (cf. Isaiah 11:10, Haggai 2:14), Himself the rest and sufficiency for man (Isaiah 26:1-4, 32:1-4, 11:10, 28:16, Matthew 11:28-20), the Saviour in whom one should trust (as in Psalm 2, John 6:47, Luke 14:27ff.): though NONE should trust in man (Jeremiah 17), but in God only. Yes, it is so though GOD ONLY saves the soul of man (Isaiah 43:10). This Messenger of the Covenant makes His presentation is as deity, both in prophetic forecast and in historical fulfilment.

Most naturally, therefore, the question arises: WHO CAN ENDURE IT! when He comes (Malachi 3:2).

Purifying priests, purging souls, He will enable a pure offering since He Himself purges what He accepts (Zech. 3:9), and bears the travail of sin (Isaiah 53) as only God can! (cf. Psalm 49:7,15). There is no limit as is always true of God, and just as ONLY GOD can know the heart of man (Jeremiah 17), so HE, the Messenger of the Covenant,  wholly knows it as He purges it. So is the covenant stretched before our watchful eyes, from the initiation in Eden, with marriage the topic, to the Mosaic law, to the consummation in Christ. The very purging which so frightens the heart of sinful man, is on the other side, the very preliminary to the cover, which removes the fear and presents the joy. The whole is available, extended before our sight in Malachi.

Here in Malachi is a thrust and completeness, a vigour and a victory, a coverage that is aeronautical spiritually, looking down on man with a comprehensive perspective that has both a simplicity and a grandeur of majesty. Nor is this all. He will act "like launderer's soap", not only purging the dross, but cleaning the basis, and we are reminded of Matthew 17 and the transfiguration, where "His clothes became as white as light" and (Mark 9), "like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them", and "His face shone like the sun" (Matthew 17).

Being infinitely holy, the One whose goings forth have been from eternity (Micah 5), encapsulated in flesh, indeed incarnated from infancy, He brings back the pleasantness of holiness, its natural beauty, showing man as He should be. It is no strange excursion which brings forth fruit in new planted trees of righteousness, to the Lord in His redeemed people (Isaiah 61:3); rather it is restoration to what life is about: fellowship with God and understanding in heart of what one's place is, one spiritual race, with one scope in serving and one sparkling delight in the Maker (cf. Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10).

In Malachi 3:6ff., we find that it is the very unchangeability of the Lord which is the deliverance of His people. If He were to break contract, to go off on binges or flirtations, did not know all and hence could decide in the new light of discovery on this and that, what would become of those who had relied on Him! But with God, it is not so. HIS is not a creation's status, for He confers it, but He is the Creator Himself from everlasting to everlasting and knowing the end from the beginning (Psalm 90, Isaiah 46:10, Acts 15:18). He IS alpha and omega (Isaiah 44:6, Revelation 2:8 with 1:18-19, 22:13), being there and not developing at all; and indeed it is since this is so that He has already chosen His own people, and did so before He took occasion to found the earth so that it existed at all (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.).

"RETURN TO ME!" He cries (3:7), "and I WILL RETURN TO YOU!"

We then  move through laxity if not parsimoniousness at divine expense, towards His work (3:11). Thus the liberality and wonder of God is stressed in the entire gamut of works, in praise, in love*L, in reliability, in purity, in sincerity, in loyalty, in heartiness of worship and depth of praise. Then, with love of heart and liberality of action restored to the Lord and to His work,  not only will the windows of heaven be opened so that they cannot contain the provision and blessing, but (3:11-12) 'I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground', and 'all nations will call you blessed. For you will be a delightful land,' says the LORD of hosts." It is the same case: return to Me, and I will return to you!

However far is this from being the case with the Israel of the day, it was and is to come, this millenial perfection of testimony, when the sun shines in the revelatory sky! (cf. Matthew 13:40ff., Isaiah 65:20ff., Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Habakkuk 2:14). In fact, in 3:13-15, we have the interrogatory dialogue extended 'Your words have been harsh against Me,' says the LORD".

In what way is this so ? they ask.

What sort of exclamation does the LORD hear among them, in their talk ? Things like this:

"It is useless to serve God.
What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance ? ...
So now we call the proud blessed,
For those who do wickedness are raised up;
They even tempt God and go free."

This snide cynicism, a product perhaps of two major causes, materialistic evaluation which does not treasure spiritual things, and debasement in the land, which exploits religion and seeks for self, is recorded in heaven. What then ?  If the place is degraded, is this cause to become so oneself! Is one a piece of wood to be carried by the tide!

Thus "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).

As John 3:16 has the kernel of salvation, so Malachi 3:16 has a kernel of sanctification.

The people who, horrified at the debasement of truth and courage, devotion and reality in spiritual things, talked about it, gathered together and sought concert in holiness and sincerity before the Lord, were noted by God. Their yearnings and seekings were not lost. Indeed, this response of heart was dear to God, and listed in heaven were those who in the face of contrary currents, continued active and valiant for the truth (Malachi 3:16-17).

" 'They shall be Mine,' says the LORD of hosts,
'on the day that I make them My jewels.

And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him' " (Malachi 3:17).

It is in such a light as this that knowledge of realities will flourish. When ? It will be when the tares, it will be when the weeds removed from the land,  that the duplicities of those who merely abuse the name and ways of God for their own profit, will appear in all their desolate denudation (Malachi 3:18, Matthew 13:40ff.).

So have we travelled from Eden to judgment, from the start to the millenium. We move through the conversion of the Gentiles in significant slices (Malachi 1:11,14 cf. Romans 11:15-33).

Before we move to Malachi 4, however, let us reflect.

Those who SAW the evil corruption of heart and perception in their nation RESPONDED. Some had merely reacted, saying that they could not see the God of justice, and this, that the wicked are blessed; for such speakers are blinded to spiritual realities, destinies and character. Others however, alive, responded with heart and enthusiasm, to seek the Lord and for themselves to find the living waters and the purity of His solace, comfort and care, since He does exist, and manifests His way to those who know Him. They refused the drain. Unbelievers, however, get exactly the light which blindness might expect. As to the Lord, until you believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, their shield and stay, you fumble and grope, like someone trying to find the keyhole in the dark, for an unknown door (Hebrews 11:6).

One thing was happening, one thing was being said, but some DID NOT FOLLOW THIS. Their minds had appetite, and in analytical precision, they looked past the rubbish bin to the feast, the drain to the spring (cf. Jeremiah 2:13, 18:14). Not to them was the profanity of spirit, of preferring pollution of heart. How vain is such a thing:

"Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon,
Which comes from the rock of the field?
Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?

"Because My people have forgotten Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,
To make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing;
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished
And shake his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;
I will show them the back and not the face
In the day of their calamity.”

Without grace or light, those trusting in their own polluted waters, bathe in much and call it cool, civilised or culturally apt! It is not so, and the truth is not bound, though they tried hard enough to do it to Christ. As to Him, EVEN DEATH could not hold Him (Acts 2:23-24). Life is like that, not the squalid waters of spiritual drains, but the inspiring torrents of divine grace and power, which surge into one's life for the living.

Of course, there is penalty both ways. You fear God or you fear man. With God, the 'fear' is clean, for His life is lovely. Yet you may pay for the privilege in the jaundiced jealousies of man. Listen to the reaction from those in Jeremiah's day, to his fidelity and love of truth, of the word of the Lord:

Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”

The world is at war with God (John 14:30, James 4:4).

Yet the friends of God are at peace with Him.

Then, in Malachi's day, those who feared the Lord acted. They sought the company each of the other, they refused the evil, and applied themselves to the good. Their parallels do so today. .

Their minds were active, valiant, not obscured, with creative thought and percipient power. Their spirits surged into the land that is very far off (Isaiah 33:17), but into the life of the God who is very near at hand, to those whose faith has embraced Him. It is then, as with much else that involves personal knowledge and acquaintance, that the multitudes of His mercy and goodness, power and glory are realised.

Photos do not talk. They cannot open the prison door.

Here was that invisible component in man, his spirit, alight with grace, surging like the great waves of the ocean into the land, coming happily and brimming onto the beach, sparkling with joy. Here was its handmaiden, his mind, distinguishing, realising and combining, moving past the apparent to the actual, past the rind to the core, the superficial to the underlying, the corrupt to the cause, the aridity of abuse to the wonders of truth itself.

It is well. The time is coming when the things so obvious when you look where they are, are coming to find what has not looked, as well as what has done so, what has disgraced grace by sullen misuse and what has received it by the divine grant of mercy. So we move through 3:16-18, to Chapter 4.

Mercy precedes, judgment follows.





See also Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 11, The Kingdom of Heaven ... Ch. 4, Stepping out for Christ Ch. 3, Lord of Life Ch. 6, SMR Appendix B.