The KING ‘Is’ Coming

Scripture: Malachi 3:1-5

1 “Look! I am sending My messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
2“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.
3 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 .
4 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.
5 “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.

INTRODUCTION

If you recall last weeks message, we mentioned the five prophecies that the Jews were hanging their hat on…

  • They would return to the homeland
  • The temple would be rebuilt
  • The LORD Himself would visit the Temple
  • Israel would have a time of prosperity and peace
  • Israel would have prominence in the world

Two of the five prophecies had been fulfilled: [1] The Jews were freed from captivity to return home and [2] the Temple had been rebuilt BUT…

  • Where was the glory? “I will fill this place with glory.”
  • Where was the LORD?
  • Where was the prosperity?
  • Where was the prominence?

In response to the Jews question in Malachi 2:17, “Where is the God of Justice?” Malachi said, “He is coming, the LORD you seek is coming. He will show up suddenly at His Temple. The Messenger and Mediator to the covenant that you eagerly seek is coming.” 

Malachi goes on to say in verse 2…”He is coming but you will not like it when He gets here. Who will be able to stand and face Him when He comes? He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

I want to say three things to you tonight in regards to our text:

I. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Whatever we find in scripture by way of prophecy has either been fulfilled or will be fulfilled. Lets look at one example:

Haggai 2:6-9

6 “For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land.

7 I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

9 The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”


You can see for yourself that Jesus has already fulfilled most of these prophecies.

  • He filled the Temple with Glory
  • The glory of Christ {the Temple} is greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple
  • Jesus has already given us peace with God and someday He will establish peace on earth.

But you and I have the advantage, we are looking back through the lens of history. This prophecy in Malachi 3 was not fulfilled for 400 years, that is 20 generations. I never knew any of my great grand parents so three generations is as far as I can span. Thus 400 years is a long time to us but not to God. My point is: if God says it, it is history, it is going to happen.

One other example: Jeremiah 29:10…This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

Guess how long the Jews were held captive in Babylon? Seventy years to the day. This is an amazing prophecy.

II. GOD GOES BY HIS OWN CALENDAR

The problem with a promise is that we humans expect immediately fulfillment and that is not how it works. In Genesis 3:15, we have the first Messianic prophecy…

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The Messiah would come from the woman’s seed but biologically, the woman does not carry the seed, the male does. So this prophecy of an offspring from the woman giving victory over the serpent is also a prophecy of the virgin birth. Incredible! How in the world could this be done? Well 4,000 years later, God did it: a virgin gave birth to a son and they called His name Emanuel, God with us. If God says it, it is so. You might say it is so simply because He said so.

Eve got excited every time she got pregnant thinking, this may be the one. This Messianic expectation was strong among the Hebrews, then the Israelites and eventually the Jews.

III. GOD DOES EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY MORE THAN WE HAVE IMAGINED

Ironically, when Christ did appear, His presence went unnoticed by the entire Jewish religious establishment. All those years of waiting and then they missed it. This is why Malachi warns them about His coming. He coming but will you be able to endure it when He does? He could have said, “Will you recognize Him when He comes?”

God is not a predictable God. He rarely does the same thing twice. He is the God of wondrous variety and He is full of surprises. Jesus was nothing like what the Jews expected. The last thing in the world they were looking for was a suffering servant or a man of sorrows. Malachi’s prophecy is right on but they didn’t interpret him accurately. 

Malachi used two metaphors to describe the coming Messiah: He will be like a REFINER and like a FULLER. In other words, an intense heat and a powerful detergent. Both the refiner and fuller work to purify and cleanse the product; they just do it in different ways.

The refiner works via the process of heat. The ore goes into the melting pot and the heat is intensified until the ore melts into a liquid. At this point the alloys separate from the pure product {Gold or Silver}and the impurities come to the surface. Once this happens the refiner skims them off and throws them away.

None of us like the heat. We do not enjoy trials. We have been going through a bit of one this week but God has a purpose in it. I know there have been things in my life that I saw no harm in until the Refiner turned up the heat. Under this intense heat, the impure motives came to the surface. I saw them clearly for what they were. I would have never seen them otherwise.

In relationship to verse 3b, we are all Levites, we are all God’s servants. Christ has obliterated the distinction between those who can offer sacrifice and those who cannot. He has made us a kingdom of priest and we can present our own offerings but they will never be acceptable until we give them for the right reasons. Christ purifies our motives to the point that we offer praise for the right reason. We sing for the right reason. We give for the right reason. We do deeds of kindness for the right reason.

But for those who do not fear the LORD [verse 5], there is judgment…


“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.

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Are You Ready?

Scripture: Luke 12:35-40

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,
36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.
37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat!
38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into.
40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

INTRODUCTION

Did you hear the one about the woman who married four times: first to banker, then to a circus ring master, then to a preacher and her final husband was an undertaker. Some one ask her why she married men of such diverse careers and this was her answer. “I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go.”


Today we focus on three and four: getting ready to go.

If you will look at verse 40, you will see these six very important words…The Son of Man will come. Jesus said in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and recieve you unto myself, there where I am, there you may be also.” Jesus has promised to return to this earth and He keeps His promises. Jesus had just finished teaching on the subject of worry or anxiety about worldly things and now He is teaching us to be ready, to be vigilant about His return. In other words, our focus is not to be on this world but Christ return and the Kingdom to come.


In so doing, Jesus uses two analogies: [1] That of a bridegroom and master and [2] that of a thief. From these two analogies, I have extracted three points…

I. FIRST OF ALL: JESUS IS TELLING US TO BE READY

As a matter of fact, note the times you see the word ‘ready’ in today’s brief text:

  • Be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. [v.36]
  • Servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. [v.37]
  • He will reward the servants who are ready. [v.38]
  • You also must be ready all the time. [v. 40]

If you look closely, you will note that the other two verses where the word ready is not used, it is suggested:.”

  • “Be dressed [ready] for service and keep your lamps burning” [v.35]
  • “If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would [have been ready] not permit his house to be broken into.” [v.39]

So Jesus is stresses the fact that servants must stay in a state of readiness.


In the ancient East, the Jewish wedding were held at night and it was the Bridegroom’s prerogative when or what time to come for the bride. He was a waiting game. The exhortation here, is for the servants [you and I] to be ready. The old translations read…Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. The men wore tunics, not pants [thank God for pants] and when they got ready to work, they tucked the bottom, the skirt of the tunic into their belt. This created a mini-skirt which enabled them to move about freely and do their work. Since the wedding was at night, they would need light so Jesus says, have your lamps trimmed and ready. The emphasis is on BEING READY.


The BRIDEGROOM analogy also teaches us two other very important truths.


II. WE WILL BE MORE THAN READY IF WE PASSIONATELY LOVE JESUS

There is no love on this earth that compares with the love of a man for a woman and vice versa. Agape is heavenly love or love from above but I am speaking of an earthly love. Most of you have been in love at one time or the other, some of you may be in love today. If so, you have a passion for the person you are in love with, you might even call it an obsession.

Daddy always referred to romantic or erotic love as being “Moon struck.” The older generations believed the moon had an effect on a persons mentality or state of mind, hence the word “Lunatic” which means madness. Luna is Latin for the moon. Many ancient astrologers believed the moon could cast a spell on a person. When daddy referred to a couple as being moon struck, he meant they were not thinking straight, they were under a spell of irrationality. 

When a woman is madly in love with a man, she longs to see him. Recently I watch a saga on Netflix about a man who married a Morman girl [young woman] because he got her pregnant and he wanted to do the right thing. At first she loved him more than he loved her but in time, the situation was reversed. When things got really difficult due to his long hours and their living conditions, she decided to return to her parents who lived in a very nice home. When he saw that she was leaving, he carried her himself back to her folks but he told her that when he got established, got a better place for her and the baby to live, he would return for her. He kept his word. He got a promotion and was able to afford nice accommodations and so he came back for her but she was gone. He searched for her for months and finally found her just as her life was being threatened by a mad man. He saved her from the serial killer [the madman] but unfortunately for him, she had taken up with another man, lesser in statue and character and in spite of his heroics, she asked him to leave and never come back. When this happened, I told June to cut the TV off, I was not watching anymore. She finished watching the entire thing but I was done because I am an incurable romantic and this story did not end right. Who ever wrote this script was sadistic.

This is how it should have ended: She thinks about her tall handsome husband all the time. She finds herself looking out the window several times a day as she longed for him to return. When he returns, she is waiting and watching and runs out the door and toward her true love as he puts his horse into a fast gallop. They meet head on and he sweeps her off her feet and onto the horse. In full embrace they ride to the house. Both are elated as she shows him how much his son has grown.

You see, I know and you know that had she been madly in love with her brave husband, a man of principle, she would have been watching and waiting anxiously for his return and excited beyond description when he did show up. Do you see the point?


If we are madly in love with Jesus, we will wait anxiously with keen anticipation of His return. Nothing will be more important than His return.


How many us must confess that we love this world more than we love our Savior?


III. THE TIME OF HIS RETURN IS HIS PREROGATIVE

The unique thing about the ancient Jewish wedding was that the Father of the groom told his son when to go claim his bride. In was a patriarchal society and the Father had the final word. The bride and the servants did not know exactly when the Groom would come, they simply knew to be ready.

Could Jesus come today?

Sure, He can come anytime the Father says, “Go get my children and your bride.”

What about unfulfilled prophecies?

My answer to that question would be: we humans are bad to misinterpret prophecy. All the bible scholars in Jerusalem missed the first advent because they misinterpreted the prophecies and we could make the same mistake. So, if I were you, I would listen to Jesus and not some TV preacher trying to sell books. I would be ready today.

There is no doubt about it, God holds the future in His hands and we have absolutely no control and no say in when Jesus returns. He will come like a thief in the night when He is unexpected. His coming will be a shock and a surprise to this world but we His servants should be in a state of readiness, we should be watching, waiting, longing for His return.

Conclusion

I don’t have the perfect story to conclude this message but I have a story. I can’t recall being in the waiting mode at home but I can tell you that I have been in the waiting mode to return home. This has happened to me more than once.

In 1986, I went with a team of Alabama pastors and laymen to Lagos, Nigeria; a place that is restricted today but was open in 86. I was gone a total of 11 days and spent 8 in Africa. Not one time did I ever feel at home in Africa. The people were gracious and kind but my mind was on Danville. I doubt seriously that an hour passed that I did not think of home and being reunited with my family. I can recall that day and moment when we were bused to the airport, making our way home. I was excited beyond belief. We had a layover in Amsterdam and I had the priviledge of visiting the Rijks museum where many of Rembrants master pieces are kept but I was still thinking about home. We had good food, running water and all the modern conviences of western Europe but it was not home and I was ready to come home. I longed for home and when we touched down in Huntsville, I was the happiest person on the planet.

We need this kind of passion, enthusiasm, and excitement about the return of Christ and our going home, to our real home.

Are you excited about HOME today or are you preoccupied with this world?

I encourage you today to fall in love with JESUS. Some of you loved him passionately at one time but your love has grown cold: you no longer have the devotion you once had. Your love for Christ is being choked by the cares of this world. Remember from where you have fallen and repent today. If you have never given your heart to Christ, do it for the first time today. If you need to repent and to return to your first love, do it today.