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Last Words of the Old Covenant

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 3, 2020 8:00 am

Last Words of the Old Covenant

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 3, 2020 8:00 am

Malachi speaks with great relevance today. As Malachi reminds the people of his day to remain faithful to God, he also teaches us to keep the promises we make to God and to one another. As you study this series youll also learn the importance of faithfulness, marriage, and why God hates divorce. Malachi will encourage you by looking forward to the great future day of Gods coming, and challenge you by facing new beginnings with faith.

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The Hebrew Old Testament doesn't have the same order book says our English Bibles and they Hebrew. The order is the law. First, and the prophets, and finally the writings given us the word to knock where the T stands for the Torah law and the net AA more profits in the cave of the captivating the writings Jesus seems to have referred to that himself and the 24th chapter of Luke. This means that in the Hebrew Bible, the last of the writings which happens to be second Chronicles and loose the Old Testament or the Hebrew text yet. It's interesting that in the Greek version which is the Septuagint, the Latin version. The Vulgate, the order is the order that we have that's why we haven't we get it from those earlier versions, and this means that if you're thinking in terms of the number of translations are if you're thinking in terms of the number of copies of the Bible that are available in the world. The vast preponderance of translations or Bibles and with this last chapter of Malachi that presents a problem problem, quite simply, our mind suits that the Old Testament doesn't end the way we think it should in anger several reasons for that one is an obvious one. The very last sentence or phrase of Malachi Malachi 46 says or else I will come and strike the land with a curse very last word is curse.

That seems very inappropriate admitting for the Old Testament were not the only ones that are bothered by that the measure eats Sue Davis. Most of the copies of the Hebrew Old Testament that we haven't provided the bowel pointing to the Hebrew text were also bothered by it. So much so that in their text.

They simply repeated the next to the last verse.

After the last person you get verse five. Twice they wanted to and with a blessing rather than a curse. And in the Septuagint that I mentioned a moment ago. The last two verses are simply interchanged is another reason why this seems to be an inappropriate end to the Old Testament offices Marsala, but perhaps it's even a deeper reason As we read this latter portion of Malachi 3 read Malachi 4. What strikes us is nothing new is being said oh it's true there are few ideas here that we don't find anywhere in quite this form. He does speak of a scroll of remembrance being written held in the presence of God, and it speaks of the Sun of righteousness. That's an image we don't find anywhere else. But the main points of these verses are all things that we have seen earlier and so I think that when we come to the sending of the Old Testament, we have the same kind of reaction that our children do when you remind them of something for about the 10th time all remind me of that again. I've already heard it.

I understand it.

I don't want to hear it anymore. Yet obviously, God thinks we need to hear it because here in the very end of the Old Testament, he repeats many of the things of the been said earlier for our benefit. Now as I read this I discover these five different things. God reminds us that obviously wants us to keep in mind the first thing that I see in these verses is God's reminder to the people that the people have still not changed. Same here at the end they were at the beginning of the prophets, and of the centuries when before that.

It's true that there is one point in here earlier in chapter 3, where he reminds them of the way were people who really did worship him and one point as he says in days gone by.

In former years, but those were days along on why in much former years were certainly as long a time as these people could remember and certainly for hundreds of years, centuries, Old Testament history, the people been operating in precisely this way. I think this is suggested graphically, vividly, if you well by the question that occurs here in verse 13 recall from our earlier studies. I pointed out that 1 Possible Way of outlining Malachi is by the places in the book where God says something in the people challenges statement, usually with the word how how have you done this. How have we done that. And in this particular case, verse 13 with the word one with the same word in Hebrew is interesting to review those first time it occurs is in chapter 1 verse two where God said I love you and the people immediately say you love this, I mean our life isn't particularly blessed if you really love this kid. Blessed is more than you have highly obvious they say arrogant challenge God statement verse six of the same chapter. Do priests despise my name they say how we despise your name God saves you place defiled food on my altar they say how have we defined you and then later in chapter 2, toward the end. Verse 17 Malachi and I was speaking on behalf of God. He said you have wearied the Lord with your words and they say we wearied then and is very chapter not far ahead of the verses were looking at now God said return, they say, how are we to return God said you rob me. They say how lovely Roger. Now here God says you have said harsh things against me and they asked what have we said against you. The very fact that that's repeated the seventh time certainly suggests that the people haven't changed, but is significant. Also, will begin to analyze what the seventh objection is that it is essentially the same thing as the fourth and a summary of the ball as God spells it out here quoting now in verse 14. You have said it is futile to serve God when we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty. But I would call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper even those who challenge God escape. This is exactly what they been saying all through the book. The only thing I failed to say is that when they refer to those who challenge God among that great number of the ungodly, who challenge God. They are the prime examples because even as they say, those who challenge God escape they are by that very statement challenging God so people are just the same as another way in which the situation had changed and this is worth noting because it's the first encouraging note that we found in what is otherwise fairly dismal prophecy or assessment of the spirit of the times you find in verse 16.

It's the existence of a remnant to stroke the people for the most part of my change but is a sense in which the situation hasn't changed in this respect, either always been those who, by the grace of God been faithful even in the worst times and they stand forth as an example, that it is not the situation that produces the unbelief and arrogance of man that comes forth out of our own hearts because there are even in the worst of situations. Those who remain faithful to God's oath, referred to here not coming to the end of the Old Testament.

In the judges. They were a remnant we think of those during the days of Elijah the prophet, the 7000 will not bow down their need to bail down to find it here again at the end. The text says those who feared the Lord there were a few those who fear the Lord talk with each other. The Lord listened and heard a scroll of remembrance was written in his presence, concerning those who fear the Lord and honored his name God has at remnant everywhere.

We can see in all situations of this world, we can see or know what's going on in lands where people are oppressed for their faith in the authorities about everything in their power to stamp Christianity out can see that but I'm convinced that even though in the most dismal situations even where Christians have been under excruciating political and economic pressure. God still has those by grace he cultivated himself. I was just reading about one not long ago.

This is a man whose name was Boris Nikolayevich Kornfeld was imprisoned in the Russian prisoners during the Stalinist era when so many political prisoners were there and were treated terribly in those days. Generally they were sent to the prisons, in order that they might die. Kornfeld was straight a little bit better than the others because it was a doctor and they needed doctors even the guards needed doctors because they got sick to know God never wanted to fall in the hands of a doctor that he had truly abused some corn although he was a prisoner was somewhat privileged but religiously he was an atheistic Jew Jewish by birth, but certainly not in terms of the religious faith of his father's and during the days of his incarceration and persecution. The hatred was growing in his heart for those were taking advantage of them. He said as he gave testimony in a way that I'm going to refer to in a moment she would gladly have murdered. Those were in charge of them. If you had the opportunity but he wasn't able to do that. There are Christians in the prisons. Even in those days and Boris Kornfeld met one of these bad man who was patient and who testified to them over a period of time time with one thing Kornfeld was rich in and they had many, many long discussions and as a result of this unnamed patient and prisoners testimony atheistic Jew Boris Kornfeld came to faith in Jesus of Nazareth as his Messiah and the remarkable thing is the changes began to take place in his life. Almost.

It was very fact that he came to faith was itself a miracle.

But to the profession that was then added to change a life.

First thing he changed it was his attitude toward the guards. He had been ready to kill them before, but now we recognize that that was wrong.

That was not in the spirit of the one that was now his Lord and instead of thinking of his hatred. He began to pray for the Garden City began to ask God's forgiveness for the hatred that he found in his own heart and all that hate was taken away at any began to change in his attitudes. One of his responsibilities as a doctor was to certify that certain people that the guards wanted to place in solitary confinement for particularly cruel treatment of generally death were fit to endure that kind of mistreatment and soul over all the forms to be signed. Kornfeld stop siding the form course that got him into trouble.

He wasn't playing ball with the authorities anymore.

Things were going to get difficult for them and then to top it all off he turned in an orderly and other orderlies were prisoners who collaborated with the guards, particularly vicious on these men had been stealing food from the patient's. Those were too weak even to care for themselves and a special diet was supposed to bring them back to health and one of these great big orderlies were just stuffing his face with the food that was intended for the patients and Kornfeld turned men all that was the equivalent of signing his own death warrant because the orderlies had free Wayne in the presence and although the orderly was himself imprisoned punished for a few days everybody suspected that as soon as the orderly got back out. He would try to kill the doctor.

Boris Kornfeld took two sleeping in the hospital, rather than the barracks because he was relatively safer in the hospital while he was there in the hospital.

One night he had a patient who had had the cancer operation.

He had cancer of the intestines.

As managers recently had the operation. He kept drifting in and out of consciousness as Dr. Kornfeld spoke to him, but Kornfeld kept all of this within up to this point of this was the first time he really gave testimony and it all came pouring out of the boat of his faith in Christ and his's analysis of the situation in this world. He said you know I I have decided that when you get right down to it, when you think about it. There is nothing that ever happens to us in life to matter how horrible that is not in some sense well deserve. I don't mean he said that you could make a direct linkage between the suffering you have some particular sin that you've gone that if you dig deep enough of you look deeply enough in your heart you will find your guilty of things every bit as bad as those were taking advantage of you gave this testimony.

This patient does cancer patient pardon finally fell off to sleep that night with the doctors words and his body woke up the next morning to the sound of feet running in the corridor. Nobody would tell them at first what happened but soon became clear what happened is that during the night while Dr. Boris Kornfeld was sleeping. Somebody had slipped in the hospital and had smashed his skull with seven or eight blows of the plasterers balanced doctors and try to save his life, but that been unsuccessfully was dead, resizing that tragic thing.

There's a man brought the faith by God, perished in a Russian prison.

Nobody even know nobody ever heard his testimony, except that one man, but it's interesting that one man was Alexander Solzhenitsyn and it was through that testimony that Solzhenitsyn himself came to faith in Jesus Christ.

You see, even in the worst of times.

Even in the midst of the rank unbelief even under the cloud of terrible persecution.

Those who fear the Lord talk with each other and the Lord listens and hears and the scroll of remembrance is laid out before him concerning those who do well. The second thing we find in these verses is that not only have the people not change the situation change but not is not changed. This is not spelled out in so many words, but certainly it's here in the verses I read them over carefully, I see a number of the attributes of God brought in again here at the very end of the Old Testament.

Certainly the omniscience of God because God knows righteous and the wicked. He knows those who fear him, and those who do not get missed that the holiness of God is involved. He speaks later on of his law bodying his righteous standards, his faithfulness, his promises all of that is there all the attributes of God to find them in these verses, and it's as if God is saying look I have not changed and therefore the ultimate situation has not changed, and regardless of what you may want or desire. Ultimately, I'm the one with whom you have to do all I would like to get God to change bad enough that God is sovereign and omniscient way.

Just something we don't like his love, particularly because it's a holy love bad enough, the gods, all those things but to think God isn't changeable in any of those things that's what's worse when we gone is limited. If God would change bad enough now, but sometime maybe God will change. We could endure his sovereignty of the time would come when he wouldn't be sovereign.

We could lower his holiness of the time the company would no longer be holding we could do what we want, we could lower his knowledge of the time would come when God would forget. We could even endure his love for God is just said verse six. I the Lord do not change here in these last verses we see many of his attributes in a reminded that is true, we simply have to come to terms with God.

As God is God reminds us that, lest we forget the third thing we find here we find it, especially in the last chapter is that God's judgments are unchanged, is emphasized, you find it in the very first verse and even the first word.

Surely God sensed the day is coming. I said it before the day is coming the day of the Lord is coming day of the Lord is coming quickly, Lord of the day of the Lord is coming suddenly upon man, all that is that you find all through the prophets. Here the end you find it again and God reiterates it for our benefit. He says shortly.

The day is coming judgment is coming.

All judgments postpone the grace of God. We live in an age of grace here and there renovations of God's judgment because sin is often punished in life, so we don't always see it.

It's not always punished completely.

There's a judgment yet to come. But we live in a day of grace. God's is surely the final judgment day ultimate reckoning is coming and he tells us that in order that we might prepare for it. I notice here that an image reappears.

We found earlier in the second and the third chapter verse two and here it is in the first verse of chapter 4 exist image of the furnace earlier it was the refiner's furnace is is a little furnace in which the war was put melted down in the draw's scraped off so that it lasts. The refiner could see his face reflected in the service of the molten metal. This is an image applied to God's work with his saints, God works through tribulations and suffering to refine us to get rid of the drops to build out a reflection of the character of Jesus Christ in sorest people is not the way the images used here in chapter 4 God says. The former escrow but listen, this is true also. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day is coming and will set them on fire, not a root or a branch. We left so God says that in order we might turn from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ. Even here in this very last chapter, we find the same kind of slight but hopeful sign that we found earlier earlier even when those who were ungodly were challenging God we space we read was nevertheless a remnant here you have the same thing. Even in the day that final judgment when the ungodly are going to be burned up. It says, but as for you who revere my name, that is the remnant those we found in the chapter before is for you. The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you go out and leap like calves released from the stall and trampled on the wicked is been quite traditional in the writings of the fathers to take that image sun of righteousness applied to Jesus Christ. It's very easy to see how that's been done with her specially did it did it very effectively.

He saw this as the sun or light of the gospel in Jesus Christ and many of the other fathers of done that as well. I think however that in the context a great Old Testament commentator keel was probably right when he said that though it depends upon the work of Christ what's in view here is not Christ himself, but actual righteousness. Righteousness is what heals holiness is what brings healing and he says in that day, my judgment, when the ungodly are destroyed, and righteousness emerges again righteousness itself will bring healing just as the sun rises in the warmth of the sun bring forth new life from what was really a barren ground that's going to happen in the last day.

That's what needs to happen now when healing in your life the way he is not by personal self seeking, but by righteousness. Righteousness is what draws a life together honors God allows God to pour out the fullness of his blessing well to more things, not only of the people unchanged. Not only is God unchanged. Not only are God's judgments unchanged.

God's law is also unchanged.

Verse four.

Remember the law of my servant Moses.

The decrees and laws. I gave him at Coram for all Israel returned to the law.

The heart of the law. The book of Deuteronomy and you find that verb.

Remember 13 times in the book. Remember, remember, remember, God says generally Deuteronomy it refers to the acts of God, remember what I did when I brought you out of Egypt. Remember my power member how I drove out the people of the land before you remember remember hear word is applied not to the acts of God, but to the law of God. Remember my law.

Some people live wanted to put one against the other. This is happened in theology and happens in a personal way as well.

Some people say what we want to remember the law and forget about that personal involvement of God and the individual will likely become legalistic mother say well know, we don't care about the law. What we want is a personal relationship with God, and they become subject to this day they go off of all sorts of flights of fancy fancy you can have one without the other. And the reason for that is the God who is also the speaks was active in Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sin is the God who gave the law and sale take one, and I reject the other speaks is the God who acts in it we remember one we must remember the others entirely appropriate. Here the end of the Old Testament the verses that come just before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The next page in our Bible when it begins to talk about is coming these last verses talk about the laws they remember it, remember it. Remember, this is the standard of God.

I suppose at that point we could be dreadfully discouraged, we could say yes, but who can keep the law would be right. Nobody can part the grace of God in our lives, but at this very point, we come to the last the fifth of those unchangeable items send it simply has to do with the promises of God there unchanged as well. God's laws unchanged.

Yes, but also God's promises. God doesn't reiterate all the promises here buddy reiterates one verse 5C.

I'll send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. That's the same thing.

We found the beginning of chapter 3 of send my messenger who prepare the way before me. As Elijah was John the Baptist the one for whom we prepared was Jesus Christ. I know that John the Baptist himself denied that he was Elijah, but I Lord said the 11th chapter of Matthew. As you recall that Don fulfilled the function of Elijah and that he was Elijah people would sell habits and in that same chapter he actually quoted this verse and the link to the first verses of the third chapter and applied both of them to John so were right in saying that fulfillment in John and in Jesus Christ, and recognizing that here. The Old Testament closes, God reminds us of the greatest of all the prophecies from the Old Testament. A sample of the law.

What we do with promises like that. What are we to do when God says this is what I'm going to do this is the way of blessing if you come in my way. I will bless you, I will pour out a blessing when we do things like that is only one thing to receive the right to stand up on the underside and demand what God says. First of all, this is what Paul talks about certain the chapter verse 20 he says for no matter how many promises God is made, they are all yes in Christ, and so through him the Aman is spoken by us the glory of God. That's an interesting word, that word amen through Hebrew word means true or truth. That's why sometimes in our Bibles. It's translated truly, truly, or sometimes, verily, verily, sometimes it's found on the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ quite often when he was going to say something particularly weightier, particularly monumental in a particular situation.

He was a verily, verily, that he would say her. Amen. Amen. And then he said he meant to say is something you should pay particular attention to its fro messenger would pay attention. Amen. Amen.

Say then quite often those who heard and in a more general way people of God throughout the Scriptures when they hear God say something respond with their amen that's to say yes Lord I received what you've told me as true.

I recognize that it is true that you speak the truth and so I take my stand on what you said think of some of these promises in Deuteronomy 27 after God given a large portion of the law that dealt with the curses of God upon those who broke his commandments, those who dishonored their parents remove boundary stones are committed a variety of sexual sins. After all, those laws were given and reiterated before the people.

The people bonded by saying a man amen first Chronicles 16 after a great prayer of David in which the acts laws the promises of God are rehearsed in the hearing of the people. The people responded by saying amen when Ezra the scribe read the law before the people we read and Nehemiah 86 all the people lifted their hands and responded Aman a man then they bow down and worship the Lord with their faces to the ground. Psalms 4172 89 and with the words amen and amen.

Jesus said, amen, amen. I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin and we hear that in our hearts echo. Sadly, amen, amen.

Jesus said a man amen I am the gate for the sheep. We hopefully echo a man amen amen said Jesus, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned is crossed over from death to life.

Amen, amen. He set a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God and those who hear will live our hearts here that an we echo joyfully. Amen, amen.

Then we come to the very last words not of the old covenant which ends with the curse, but the end of the new covenant the end of Revelation. Then we here last great promise. He who testifies to these things, that is Jesus says yes I am coming soon and we say amen, Lord Jesus. Very last verse of the Bible says the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with God's people. Amen. All the people said a man is pray our father, we have nothing to add your Revelation, we sometimes fondly wish there were fresh word there were something new.

Above all, our sin, we often wish to change. We know that you do not change, and therefore your law does not change in your word doesn't change your promises. Do not change, and therefore all we are able to do and all we can rightly do is say our amen to what you have already spoken so father that's the way we receive it.

Give us wisdom, grant that we might become wise by applying our hearts to the truth of your word.

The end of our days even as we die and go to be with Jesus find that we are able to say amen amen every word falls from his mouth is through lasting a firm foundation for the saints of God our father granted a maybe so, to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. You have been listening to the Bible study our production of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals the alliance of confessing Evangelicals exist to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of Reformation theologians from decades, even centuries gone by. We seek to provide contemporary Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

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