Judged by “the True Lord”
18. (a) Of whose coming does Jehovah warn? (b) When was there a coming to the temple, who was involved, and what was the result for Israel?
18 Jehovah through Malachi also warned that he would come to judge his people. “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come.” (Malachi 3:1) When did the promised coming to the temple take place? At Matthew 11:10, Jesus quoted Malachi’s prophecy of a messenger who would prepare the way and applied it to John the Baptizer. (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 11:14) So in 29 C.E., the time for judgment had arrived! Who was the second messenger, the messenger of the covenant who would accompany Jehovah, “the true Lord,” to the temple? Jesus himself, and on two occasions he came to the temple in Jerusalem and dramatically cleansed it, casting out the dishonest money changers. (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:14-17) Regarding this first-century time of judgment, Jehovah prophetically asks: “Who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears?” (Malachi 3:2) In fact, Israel did not stand. They were inspected, found wanting, and in 33 C.E., they were cast off as Jehovah’s chosen nation.—Matthew 23:37-39.
19. In what way did a remnant return to Jehovah in the first century, and what blessing did they receive?
19 However, Malachi also wrote: “[Jehovah] must sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and must cleanse the sons of Levi; and he must clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3) In harmony with this, while most of those claiming to serve Jehovah in the first century were cast off, some were cleansed and came to Jehovah, offering acceptable sacrifices. Who? The ones who had responded to Jesus, the messenger of the covenant. At Pentecost 33 C.E., 120 of these responsive ones were gathered together in an upper room in Jerusalem. Strengthened by holy spirit, they began to present a gift offering in righteousness, and quickly their numbers grew. Soon, they spread throughout the Roman Empire. (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14) Thus, a remnant returned to Jehovah.—Malachi 3:7.
20. When Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, what happened to the new Israel of God?
20 This remnant of Israel, which came to include Gentiles grafted, as it were, into the rootstock of Israel, was a new “Israel of God,” a nation made up of spirit-anointed Christians. (Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:17) In 70 C.E., a “day . . . burning like the furnace” came upon fleshly Israel when Jerusalem and her temple were destroyed by Roman armies. (Malachi 4:1; Luke 19:41-44) What happened to the spiritual Israel of God? Jehovah showed “compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him.” (Malachi 3:17) The anointed Christian congregation heeded Jesus’ prophetic warning. (Matthew 24:15, 16) They survived, and Jehovah’s blessing continued to make them spiritually rich.
21 What a vindication of Jehovah! How, though, is Malachi 3:1 being fulfilled today? And how should a Christian respond to the encouragement at Malachi 3:10 to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse? This will be discussed in the next article.
1. (a) In the fifth century B.C.E., what invitation did Jehovah give his people? (b) In the first century C.E., what resulted from Jehovah’s coming to the temple for judgment?
IN THE fifth century B.C.E., the Israelites had been unfaithful to Jehovah. They had withheld tithes and brought unfit animals to the temple as offerings. Nevertheless, Jehovah promised that if they would bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, he would pour out a blessing until there was no more want. (Malachi 3:8-10) Some 500 years later, Jehovah, represented by Jesus as His messenger of the covenant, came to the temple in Jerusalem for judgment. (Malachi 3:1) Israel as a nation was found wanting, but those individuals who returned to Jehovah were richly blessed. (Malachi 3:7) They were anointed to become Jehovah’s spiritual sons, a new creation, “the Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:16; Romans 3:25, 26.
2. When was Malachi 3:1-10 to have a second fulfillment, and what are we invited to do in connection with this?
2 Almost 1,900 years after this, in 1914, Jesus was enthroned as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, and the divinely inspired words at Malachi 3:1-10 were due to have a second fulfillment. In connection with this thrilling event, Christians today are invited to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. If we do so, we too will enjoy blessings until there is no more want.
3. Who was the messenger preparing the way before Jehovah (a) in the first century? (b) before the first world war?
3 Regarding his coming to the temple, Jehovah said: “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me.” (Malachi 3:1) As a first-century fulfillment of this, John the Baptizer came to Israel preaching repentance of sins. (Mark 1:2, 3) Was there a preparatory work in connection with the second coming of Jehovah to his temple? Yes. In the decades before the first world war, the Bible Students appeared on the world scene teaching pure Bible doctrine and exposing God-dishonoring lies, such as the Trinity and the hellfire doctrines. They also warned of the coming end of the Gentile Times in 1914. Many responded to these light bearers of truth.—Psalm 43:3; Matthew 5:14, 16.
4. What question had to be settled during the Lord’s day?
4 The year 1914 began what the Bible calls “the Lord’s day.” (Revelation 1:10) Momentous events were to take place during that day, including the identifying of “the faithful and discreet slave” and the appointing of that one “over all [the Master’s] belongings.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Back in 1914, thousands of churches claimed to be Christian. Which group would be acknowledged by the Master, Jesus Christ, as his faithful and discreet slave? That question was to be settled when Jehovah came to the temple.
Coming to the Spiritual Temple
5, 6. (a) To which temple did Jehovah come for judgment? (b) What judgment did Christendom receive from Jehovah?
5 To which temple, though, did he come? Clearly not to a literal temple in Jerusalem. The last of those temples was destroyed back in 70 C.E. Jehovah does have, however, a greater temple that was foreshadowed by that at Jerusalem. Paul spoke of this greater temple and showed how grand it truly is, with a holy place in heaven and a courtyard here on earth. (Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24; 10:19, 20) It is to this great spiritual temple that Jehovah came for a judgment work.—Compare Revelation 11:1; 15:8.
6 When did this happen? According to substantial evidence available, in 1918.*