“The trails out there can be dangerous. There are many that would do you harm. Keep your eye on the back trail and the horizon.”
--Cliff Hudgins (Viejo and the Lost Ranger)
"So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him."
--Malachi 3:18 (NASB)
1 John 3:3, we are told to purify ourselves. In the Old Testament, the Levites were stationed outside the tabernacle to check people as they entered. They needed to be "pure" before entering the court. Legalism would be the cry today, but it was really part of grace. God is holy, therefore those bringing a sacrifice to Him needed to be holy. It was the job of the Levites to check them out--for their safety. It was not legalism, it was a safeguard.
The priests were required to do purification rites before entering the tabernacle. Once they had purified themselves, they would make sacrifice for the people then move into the inner court. Before they could enter, however, they had to wash their hands and feet again. In the walk from the brazen altar to the inner court they would become dirty, they didn't need to purify themselves all over again, but they must wash (purify) their hands and feet before entering.
I want to look at a couple of Scriptures:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "make ready the way of the LORD, make His paths straight."'"
--Mark 1:1-3 (NASB)
"'Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the LORD, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,' says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap."
--Malachi 3:1-2 (NASB)
We read the verse from Mark and we know it is John the Baptist and he is preparing the way for the Son of God to begin His ministry and fulfill His purpose on earth. However, when we read the verses from the prophet Malachi it is seen as a threat. Get your life ready; purify yourselves for the Son of God is coming. Is that not what we see in the New Testament in 1 John--purify yourselves? The Church will be purified--every spot and wrinkle will be removed. The Day of the Lord is coming--purify yourselves.
This world is a filthy sewer and it is building up. Poison is no longer seeping out, it is now flowing out. The world in the days of Noah was sick, evil, putrid, and filthy, so much so that God destroyed it. Now it is the same. God will again, sometime in the future, destroy the earth. This world we live in has rejected the Person of Jesus Christ; it has rejected God's moral law of living and in its place has allowed the sewer to run freely. Man has become defiled and he has therefore defiled the earth. Sin is rampant and is becoming more macabre, more bizarre, more blatant.
When, and where, Jesus Christ is accepted there is cleansing from the filth. It starts in the heart of man, but then it moves throughout all of society. The heart must be changed before society can get better. William Barclay said, "Where Christ is allowed to come the antiseptic of the Christian faith cleanses the moral poison of society and leaves it pure and clean."
The Great Awakening occurred in the early 1700s. There were many results of that great movement of God. One of the most important, yet least mentioned, is that this is the time when the Founding Fathers were living. The time they were growing up and no matter what their final beliefs, they were ALL influenced by the message of Jesus Christ throughout the colonies. Magistrates, judges, lawyers, officers of the law were affected whether they accepted Christ or not. Butchers, bakers, yes and even candlestick makers were influenced by the message of the Gospel.
Malachi closes out his short message with warnings and also hope. There is a dreadful day coming, but the righteous are to prepare themselves for that day. They will fear the Lord and will begin to purify themselves.
"'But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the LORD of hosts."
--Malachi 4:2-3 (NASB)