A "Suddenly" is Coming in 2018
The book of Malachi Chapter 3 refers to a time when the Lord “Suddenly” comes to his temple. Most Christians would welcome Jesus showing up at his house or our personal lives as many of our discussions talk about spiritual awakening in America and the need for a move of God’s Spirit. However, we may need to re-evaluate what we are looking for in 2018. Malachi says the average believer or church will not be able to endure the kind of "Suddenly" that is coming;
"But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past."
“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies."
This is not a typical word of blessing that we so often hear but one of cleansing, purity, righteousness and holiness. God is sending a fire in 2018 that will burn out of us what offends him and will bring us to the place where we can offer acceptable worship that is not tarnished by our own flesh. He will suddenly identify the sins we don’t want to deal with and will call the people of God to a clear word of repentance or change of mind and actions. Because the Lord does not change, he is asking us to change and return to him;
“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies."
This is a strong admonition that does not fit with most 21st century preaching. We want something that comforts not confronts and that makes it easy to live our lives without the involvement of a supernatural God. Many get offended when they hear teaching that challenges their lifestyle and christianized version of the American dream that has no sacrifice, loves pleasure more than God and results in a powerless gospel that has no ability to change a life and move someone from darkness to light. The people could not understand where they had drifted from God, so Malachi gets very practical;
But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’ Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.”
We don’t really want to hear that our giving matters or is an issue of the heart, yet the most spiritual things of our lives are not up to subjective interpretation but about everyday life. God’s promise is to bring abundant provision if we will simply trust him in this area;
v.10 If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 2018 will be a year of financial outpouring for the global influence of the gospel if we will heed his voice in obedience.
Malachi also identifies an inner doubt people were having about serving the Lord;
You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins?
There is a subtle temptation to look at the present and doubt the faithfulness of God and yet serving the Lord is not about the short term but consistency over the long haul. We think a call to repentance is harsh but it is God’s grace to us if we will listen. In 2018, the Lord will give us a new endurance of faithfulness to trust him in the face of weariness, opposition and temptation.
Malachi will close the chapter with the promise of God;
"Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”
There is a clear difference between the righteous and the wicked. It is simply those who prepare themselves to be sifted by the Spirit of God and listen to his voice. The coming awakening in 2018 will shock most believers as they will not see the judgment on sin as the work of the Holy Spirit because our understanding of blessing is a perversion of purity in the American church. And yet this sudden, 2018 cleansing, will shake the gates of darkness and place the righteousness of Christ back at the center of His church. Because genuine repentance fixes everything, there is hope for all of us. Pray this with me;
Come now Lord Jesus and cleanse our hearts by the fire of your Spirit. We thank you for your forgiveness of our deceptive ways and allowing us again to know the sweetness of your presence and freedom of relationship with you. We humble ourselves in sincere repentance and lean on your grace to restore our fellowship with you. We believe our families will know the reality of who you are and the knowledge of Jesus will cover our land. We believe you for this Lord, Amen.