THE TIME FOR SPIRITUAL CLEANSING
3. What development among God’s ancient people led to the choosing of “the Israel of God”?
3 Some five centuries after Malachi’s time, Jehovah, represented by Christ (God’s “messenger of the [Abrahamic] covenant”), came to the literal temple in Jerusalem to judge His covenant people. In general that nation had proved unworthy of continued favor, so Jehovah rejected it. (Matthew 23:37, 38) You can see proof of that in what occurred in 70 C.E. You can be just as sure that God chose instead “the Israel of God,” a spiritual nation of 144,000 taken from all nations. (Galatians 6:16; Romans 3:25, 26) Yet, that was not the final outworking of Malachi’s prophecy. It also points to modern times and has a direct bearing on your future prospects for “a blessing until there is no more want.”
4. What needed to be answered after Jesus was enthroned in 1914?
4 The fulfillment of Bible prophecy confirms that in 1914, Jesus Christ was installed as King of Jehovah’s heavenly Kingdom. Then came the time for Jesus to identify a group of Christians who merited divine approval. Who would stand the test of spiritual purity? You can find the answer indicated in Malachi’s words: “Who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner.” (Malachi 3:2) When and how did Jehovah come to his “temple” for judgment?
5, 6. (a) When Jehovah came to his spiritual temple for inspection, what did he find among the majority of professed worshippers? (b) What did God’s spirit-anointed servants need?
5 Obviously, God did not come to a temple of stone and mortar. The last such literal temple for true worship had been destroyed in 70 C.E. Rather, Jehovah came to a spiritual temple, the arrangement by which humans can approach and worship him on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:2-10, 23-28) The churches of Christendom certainly did not constitute that spiritual temple, for they were part of a religious system guilty of bloodshed and spiritual harlotry, one that promoted false teachings rather than pure worship. Jehovah became “a speedy witness against” such, and you know that his adverse judgment was just. (Malachi 3:5) However, after God’s Kingdom was established, there was a group of true Christians serving in the courtyards of God’s spiritual temple who demonstrated their allegiance to God through severe trials. Nonetheless, even those anointed ones needed some purification. The writings of the 12 prophets pointed to such, for they contain heartwarming promises of spiritual and physical restoration among God’s servants. Malachi foretold that there would be a people whom Jehovah would “clarify . . . like gold and like silver.” They would “certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness.”—Malachi 3:3.
6 According to substantial evidence available, from 1918 onward Jehovah provided the needed cleansing for anointed Christians, purifying their worship, practices, and doctrines.* They and the “great crowd” who later joined them have greatly benefited. (Revelation 7:9) As a united group, they continue to present “a gift offering in righteousness” that is “gratifying to Jehovah.”—Malachi 3:3, 4.
7. What can we appropriately ask ourselves about our standing with God?
7 That is true of God’s people collectively, but what about each of us individually? You might ask: ‘Are there aspects of my attitude and actions that still need refinement? Do I still need to refine my conduct, even as Jehovah has refined his anointed?’ We saw earlier that the 12 prophets highlighted negative views and conduct as well as positive traits and deeds. Their doing so has put you in a better position to know what Jehovah is “asking back from you.” (Micah 6:8) Note “from you.” That emphasizes why each of us should analyze whether some more refining or cleansing on a personal level is in order.
1, 2. (a) What beneficial choices can each one of us make? (b) The fulfillment of what prophecy has a bearing on the blessings we can enjoy?
OURS is a time of judgment and of blessing. It is a period of religious decay and of spiritual restoration. Surely you should want the blessing as well as the present and future good effects of the spiritual restoration! But how can you be assured of these? The answer involves a prophecy that had its major fulfillment soon after “the last days” began in 1914. (2 Timothy 3:1) Malachi foretold: “‘There will come to His temple the true Lord [Jehovah], whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”—Malachi 3:1.