Agonizomai: Malachi 2:13 - The Deceitfulness of Sin

Monday, August 17, 2009

Malachi 2:13 - The Deceitfulness of Sin

Malachi 2:13 - The Deceitfulness of Sin

Malachi 2:13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.

There is a repentance that God does not hear. It is the repentance of Esau. He did not find repentance though he besought it with tears. Why not? Because his was not a sorrow for sin against God, but a regret that he missed something he wanted. Regret is not repentance. The two are poles apart. Repentance literally turns 180 degrees from the direction it has been going and starts in the other direction. Regret is a carnal emotion that is sorry for itself – sorry that its sinful actions have barred it from the object of its lust, or have brought about circumstances that are unfavourable. The object of repentance is God. The object of regret is self.

Israel had been flaunting God’s precepts in two basic ways. Polluting the nation with Gentile culture and forsaking the marriage laws. It is important to note that no amount of double talk, no excuses - nothing can distract from the fact that they were in abject, willful, carnal, self-serving sin. They had turned their backs on what God had said and effectively made Him either a liar (which is to demonize God and make Him the father of lies, when we know who that really is) or to make him unwise, that His ordinances are not the best and that they themselves knew better than God.

So why are these things written? Why have all this historical stuff and its laws and prophets and admonitions and consequences? What good is it to us in the age of the gospel and of grace? Of what value to the New Covenant? Is it just so that we can sit around and judge Israel for its bone-headed obstinacy? Is it so that we can wipe our brow with a great "Phew!" and go on to bigger and better things? I trow not!

These things were written for our benefit and edification - even in the age of grace. They are words from the breath of God’s mouth. They are spirit and truth. To those who have not the Spirit of God they remain dark, boring, mysterious, uninteresting, dusty old stuff hanging upon a bunch of life-constricting rules that defy comprehension. But to we who are His children, these things are the wisdom of God. Christ is prefigured in so many of them. The things of the kingdom are foreshadowed. It is for we who are indeed the true Israel of God from Adam to Revelation.

These things yield deeper depths to patient and prayerful study, but the child of God surely recognizes His Lord and Saviour and the character of His God in all scripture. God whispers and reveals glowing testimonies of the glories of His Son. A simple taste, a slight parting of the veil here and there, which may be gone in a flash, are nevertheless more than ample to keep us pressing and thirsting to know more of Him.

There is a sense in which we are to recognize ourselves in Israel. The nation was raised for just such a purpose. Their sins are identical to our own. Idolatry is idolatry. Self is always self. Sin has ever been sin. The difference for us now is that we have the Hope of Israel in our hearts - Christ in us, the hope of glory shining brighter as time goes on until that Day. We are citizens of heaven dwelling in the kingdom upon earth. The kingdom has come, is coming and will come. The kingdom is where the King reigns. Yes, he rules all that His hands have made, but He reigns in the hearts of His children.

Therefore, though imperfectly and only partially, where we walk as true believers we carry the kingdom in us because we carry its King, and revere Him as such. This is not Dominion theology. It is God who renders us citizens and He who expands His reign in and through us before the eyes of men and in the hearts of those who will come to faith. What men see is irrelevant. The only question is whether we ourselves are following after Him with a whole heart today - in the present moment. We are subjects and the King knows what He is doing - so the rulership, appearance, timing and results are all safely and properly in His hands. Always were - always will be.


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