The Adult Sabbath School lesson quarterly closed for the second quarter with a brief sweep over the last book in the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. Although some acknowledgment was made that many of the prophecies of this minor prophet have some major lessons for us today as Seventh-day Adventists, their pressing impact regarding the soon coming judgment for the living which first begins at the church was not addressed. Specifically, the great and dreadful day of the Lord as outlined in the first three verses of the third chapter showing the sudden coming of the Lord to His temple to purify the sons of Levi (the ministry). When asked about the timing of the unexpected coming most Sabbath School teachers and leaders attempt to apply it exclusively to the second advent of Christ in the clouds of glory. However, closer scrutiny of the texts under view reveals that the perfect fulfillment of these verses must apply to an event that takes place prior to the second coming, even prior to the close of probation for the world!
Does this sound remarkable as something you have never heard before? The reason is because this coming of the Lord is not to take His saints to heaven for 1,000 years, but rather to purify the church to make her ready to give the Loud Cry of the third angels message in what is known as the judgment of the living. Below is a more thorough and detailed explanation of these verses that will make clear the reasons in a fresh unfolding of present truth the flock needs now.
The “Messenger Of The Covenant” – Who Is It?
Please explain how to harmonize “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 2, p. 240, par. 2, with “Gospel Workers,” p. 42, par. 2, – subject, “The Messenger of the Covenant.”
To the surface reader “The Shepherd’s Rod” and “Gospel Workers” appear to be in direct opposition to each other, but when the subject is well studied, then they will be found to be in perfect agreement. Such apparently conflicting statements are not found only in these two publications, but in “Gospel Workers” itself, for while Christ is named the “Messenger of the Covenant” on p. 44, this same title is applied to Moses on p. 20. Here follows the comparison:
“When Moses was chosen as the messenger of the covenant, the word given him was, ‘Be thou for the people to Godward.’” – “Gospel Workers,” p. 20.
“Christ the Messenger of the covenant, brought the tidings of salvation.” – “Gospel Workers,” p.44.
If we conclude that “The Shepherd”s Rod” is wrong by saying that the promised Elijah’s message of Malachi 4:5 is the “messenger of the covenant,” and the “Gospel Workers” for applying the same title to both Christ and Moses, then we might as well infer that Christ likewise misapplied the same scripture, for “Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John…But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matt. 11:7, 9, 10, 14.)
Here we see that Jesus applied the message of Malachi Three to that of John the Baptist, and named him the Elijah that was to come, but when the Jews, priests, and Levites asked John saying, “Art thou Elias?…he saith, I am not.” (John 1:19, 21.) Shall we here conclude that both Jesus and John violated the truth? What then?
Moreover, the “Gospel Workers” applies Malachi 3:1 to Christ’s first advent, but the same author in “The Great Controversy,” p.424, par.3, applies it to Christ’s coming to the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary in 1844; and on p. 425, is applied to the soon expected purification of the church. Again, on p. 426, the author states that “…Dan. 8:14; the coming of the Son of man to the Ancient of days, as presented in Dan.7:13; and the coming of the Lord to His temple, foretold by Malachi, are descriptions of the same event; and this is also represented by the coming of the bridegroom to the marriage, described by Christ in the parable of the ten virgins, of Matthew 25.”
If only one of these applications could be right, then which one should we choose?________ When the questioner harmoniously unifies the above scattered periods to which Malachi 3:1 is applied, then “The Shepherd’s Rod” will prove to him to be in perfect harmony with “The Great Controversy” and “Gospel Workers.” Though one statement seems to contradict the other, yet we are compelled to conclude that every one of these inspired applications must be correct. Says the great apostle, “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.” (Rom. 3:3, 4.)
The trouble does not lie in the statements themselves, but rather in man’s limited knowledge of the truth therein, which proves that we are in the period of the Laodiceans, – “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” But the worst part of it all lies in that the Lord is saying to the church of today, “Thou knowest not” your great ignorance in not understanding rightly the Word of truth, and she does not believe Him! The apparent contradictions being discussed in this article are harmonized, in short, as follows:
Any fair Bible student will, without difficulty, perceive at a glance that the perfect fulfillment of Malachi Three is yet future, and is directly applicable to the imminent “purification of the church,” – “temple” – for saith the Lord, “Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope.” (Mal. 3:2.)
Though Christ and the “Gospel Workers” apply this scripture to Christ’s first advent, any student of sacred history knows that it did not meet its perfect fulfillment there, for the Jews did not “delight” in Him as prophesied in Malachi 3:1, but instead, they hated Him. Neither did Christ at that time purify His church as described by the prophet. But by the fact that Christ applied Malachi Three to John the Baptist’s message, and as this scripture did not meet its fulfillment at that time, it proves that John was a type of the Elijah that is to come before the coming of the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5), at which time the prophecy will be fulfilled in its fullness.
Therefore, as John was a messenger to God’s own people at that time, just so at this time the Elijah of Malachi’s prophecy represents a message which is to be delivered not to the world, but to the professed people of God. As John was their last prophet, his message was their final means to fit them for the Messiah’s appearing, for which cause said the Master,
“If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” (Matt. 11:14.) Likewise, Elijah’s message of today must be to the professed people of God, and is to be their last means to fit them for Christ’s appearing at this time.
Thus as John “…declared that those who claimed to be the chosen people of God were defiled by sin, and that without purification of heart and life they could have no part in the Messiah’s kingdom” (Desire of Ages, p. 104), just so the Elijah’s message at this time will denounce the denominational corruptions – “the abominations in the midst thereof” (Eze. 9:4) – rebuke the prevailing sins, and exclaim: “What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong!…They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God….The message to the church of the Laodiceans is a startling denunciation.” – “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 3, pp. 252-3.
The above proves that the cleansing of the ancient temple in Jerusalem was a type of the purification of the church, which will take place at a time when the house of God is made a house of merchandise by selling denominational publications and raising goals (8 T. 250), for when Christ “had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers” money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence: make not My Father’s house an house of merchandise.î (John 2:15, 16.)
The “Great Controversy,” p. 424, applying Malachi Three to Christ’s coming to the heavenly sanctuary in 1844, and on p. 425, to the impending purification of the church at this present time, to which the parable of the ten virgins refers to, must now be harmonized.
The fact that Malachi Three is again applied to two different periods, – the one of 1844 and also to the one in which the church is to be purified – proves that Malachi’s prophecy apprehends both the judgment of the dead and the judgment of the living. Consequently, there are two such comings of the Lord “to His temple” and two purifications, – first, the cleansing of the temple (sanctuary) from the wicked dead (the investigative judgment), and second, the purification of the church (temple) from the living wicked, at which time Malachi 3:1-3 will meet its perfect fulfillment. The parable of the ten virgins is applicable to the latter. See “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 2, pp. 180-186.
Here follows the explanation of the “messenger of the covenant.”
As Christ was the “Messenger of the covenant” at His first advent; also Moses, while leading Israel out of Egypt; in like manner, John the Baptist’s message; and the one to the Laodiceans – all four were compared to the message of Malachi 3:1. Here we see that the title, “messenger of the covenant,î referred to by Malachi, is applied to more than one person, in the same manner as the promises which were made to ancient Israel are now applicable to modern Israel – the 144,000.
Says the Spirit of Prophecy, “…It is necessary now that the minds of God’s people should be open to understand the Scriptures. To say that a message means just this and nothing more, that you must not attach any broader meaning to the words of Christ than we have in the past, is saying that which is not actuated by the Spirit of God.” – R. & H.,Oct.21, 1890.
The word, “covenant,” means nothing more or less than an agreement, – promise. This being true, Moses was a “messenger of the covenant;” namely, the promise God made to Abraham that He was to deliver his posterity out of Egypt by a prophet – messenger. John also came in fulfillment of prophecy as he himself declared that Esaias had prophesied of him (John 1:23), and according to Christ’s own statement (Matt. 11:7, 9, 10), Malachi had also prophesied of John.
As God had made a written covenant with His ancient people that He was to send them the Messiah, Christ came in fulfillment of that covenant, and having brought a message by His teachings, He was the “Messenger of the covenant.” But the words of Malachi in chapter three, verse one, make plain that before the Lord comes “to His temple,” He will send a messenger to prepare the way, at which time He is to purify the sons of Levi, – those who minister in “His temple” – the church. As he that “is filthy” at the moment probation closes must remain “filthy” (Rev. 22:11), it follows that this work of purification which the Lord is to perform at His coming must be accomplished in probationary time, and long before the gospel work is finished, for He cannot finish it with the impure “sons of Levi,” – ministry. This particular coming of the Lord is also predicted in Vol. 5, pp. 80, 690.
In view of the fact that Christ at His coming to purify the church will not in person preach the message as He did before the crucifixion, but send someone other than himself, how could He at this time be the “messenger of the covenant?” There is but one answer to this – the one who brings the message must be the “messenger of the covenant,” and when the Lord sends him he will fulfill the promise of Malachi 4:5. Having prepared “the way,” the Lord will “sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Mal. 3:3), “and it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem; when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion.” (Isa. 4:3, 4.)
Furthermore, though the title, “messenger of the covenant,” is applied to more than one messenger, it rightfully belongs to the Holy Spirit, and only for the reason that the Spirit of God is in them are they designated by that title. For example, we call the reader’s attention to 1 Pet. 3:18-20. There it is stated that Christ went and preached to the antediluvians by the same “Spirit” Who “quickened” Him. Being stated that He went by the Spirit and not in person, it proves that Christ accomplished this by that same Spirit through Noah. Hence, Christ being the “Messenger of the covenant,” and He being in Noah by the Spirit, compels us to acknowledge that the title, “messenger of the covenant,” belongs not only to those mentioned in this article, including Noah, but to all God’s chosen messengers in whose message is Christ, by that same Spirit.
It is for the fact of this union – the Spirit in the messengers that the Word says, “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:21.) Briefly summarized, the words, “messenger of the covenant,” mean nothing more or less than to say, The Holy Spirit in Heaven’s visible representative, or the invisible Christ in the message.”- Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 4-6