“Behold, I will send My messenger and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. Gut 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 fuller’s soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:1–3. The same question is asked in Psalm 15:1. “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?” The answer is then given, “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is condemned; but he honoreth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” Psalm 15:2–5.
Of what coming is Malachi speaking? Is it at His Second Coming that the Lord will purify His people? No. It is the coming spoken of in Daniel 7. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hairs of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” “Daniel 7:9, 10.
“Cast down” is an old, English term. The New Kings James Bible correctly translates it, “The court was seated, and the books were opened.”
Do you notice that the Ancient of Days was sitting? If He was sitting down, what position was He in before He sat down? He was moving. Before something is set down, it is moving; and the throne of God moved into the judgment phase of the sanctuary in heaven.
“I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was lain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for q season and time. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” Verses 11–13.
We see that, it is while the little horn is speaking great words against the Most High that the judgment is set and the books are opened, and that Christ does a work of purifying His people. Returning to Malachi 3, we read of the result of this work of purification. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in the former years.” Malachi 3:4.
It is with reference to this cleansing process that we read, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. This great work of cleansing, as we all know, began at the close of the 2,300 prophetic days that ended in 1844. For one-hundred and fifty years this work has been going forward; and the questions that I want each of us to consider are these: When this work is completed, who will be left standing? Who can abide in the temple of the Lord when He appears? Do you have clean hands, a pure heart? Are you free of the sin of backbiting against your neighbor? We cannot collectively be a pure people until we are purified individually.
Paul picked up the same theme in Ephesians 5:25–27. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or say such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” As verse 25 points out, the Lord wants to change us by love. He gave Himself for us that He might cleanse us by His Word. Are you deep in His Word? This is where the cleansing comes from. If we are not deep in the Word, we will not be found without spot or wrinkle.
“Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.” The Great Controversy, 482. Friends, we are not living at the beginning of the Investigative Judgment; we are living at the close! We need to pray that the Lord will show us things in our lives as He views them, now, before it is forever too late to change. Ask Him about the reproofs and warnings that you have neglected. Ask Him to show you if you have wasted moments that you need to confess, if you have unimproved opportunities, or if you have lent your influence in the wrong direction.
The good news is that He will reveal to us, as we can stand it, the areas of our life that need to be changed. “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:8. Jesus’ greatest desire is to be the Lord and Saviour of your life. His promise is that, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” I John 2:1. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous!
The Lord has not kept a record so that He can condemn us, but so that He can save us. You see, friends, if you or I have unconfessed sin in our life, it would destroy all of heaven; so the Lord has kept a list of the things in our lives that must be corrected if we are to be made safe for heaven. If we ask Him, He will not only forgive us, but also work in our lives to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession them.” Hebrews 7:25.
Regardless of how we perceive our experience, if unconfessed sins are a part of our record, all of the right things that we have done will be of no consequence. “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” Ezekiel 18:24. It is not our names, however, that Jesus wants to blot out. “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isaiah 43:35. What He longs to blot out is our sins. John 3:17.
You see, we have a choice. We can either plead with the Lord to reveal our faults to us now, while we can confess and be cleansed of them, or we can choose to go on in our spiritual pride, blind to our deficiencies, until it is forever too late. Satan knows that there is grace to conquer even pride, so he “invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful Mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.” The Great Controversy, 488. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12.
Salvation is free, but it costs me something. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17. This is the only thing that we own that God will not despise. Everything else, friends, has been corrupted by sin. There is no other offering that He will accept. There is a time of probation granted to all; but the time is coming very soon when the opportunity will be gone forever. It is the nature of sin that, if allowed to remain in your heart, it will harden your heart to the point that the gift of a broken and contrite heart will forever be out of your reach. “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22.
Jesus is all-powerful; and the devil knows that if your mind is totally surrendered to Him, He will save you. There is nothing that can stop the work of your salvation aside from your decision to not avail yourself of the power that Jesus makes available to each one of us. But Satan is an opportunist. He knows that each day that he can divert your mind from the great work that Jesus is desiring to accomplish in your life during these closing hours of probationary time, brings you that much closer to failing to make a decision in favor of accepting the cleansing in your life, that must take place before Jesus comes. Satan realizes that which we must never forget, and that is, that to put off the time of our decision is, by default, to choose to be lost; so he has invented unnumbered schemes to divert our attention, to take our minds off of the great theme of the Investigative Judgment, the atoning blood of Christ.
“Satan has many devices whereby he holds us back from rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience to God. We have often had strong promptings and conviction of duty, but have shrunk back from fulfilling them. Yet Jesus says, ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.’ How many have been deeply stirred at times, yet because duty demanded a sacrifice, they have tampered with their conscience, seated themselves in the enemy’s debating chair, and have not made the decision that God sought to have them make. They have not broken away from the associates whose seductive influence for evil, led them to follow their own carnal reasoning, and because there was not evidence of any immediate danger, they have rested in their false security. They have debated in their minds, saying, Shall I obey the voice of God that bids me shake off the lethargy of the world, and escape from the world as did Lot from Sodom, or shall I listen to the voice of the world that cries peace and safety to my soul? Shall I wait for a more convenient season? All the sophistry of Satan is bound up in that one word, ‘wait.’ O that those who are now moved by the Spirit of God, would make a decided stand for God and for the truth…