“And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that He regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” (Mal. 2:13).
We’ve looked at this before in an earlier post. But I’ve run across some new scriptures to reinforce this topic.
There is real sorrow and there is fake sorrow. There are God-given, natural tears and there are humanly manufactured, imitation tears. And the human heart which “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) cannot discern the difference and believes it to be genuine.
And thus, as truth and error appear so near akin, minds that are not guided by the Holy Spirit will be led to accept the error and, in so doing, place themselves under the power of Satan’s deceptions. In thus leading people to receive error for truth, Satan is working to secure the homage of the Protestant world. Christ Triumphant, p. 324.
The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error. Review and Herald, October 22, 1903 par. 2.
“O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16:3). “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor. 2:14). But, while we don’t realize the self-deception, Christ sees it all and His word will reveal it to us as we open our heart to Him. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb 4:12,13). “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:14). “We are not ignorant of his [Satan’s] devices.” (2Cor. 2:11).
Mary Magdalene had the true, repentant, humbled heart. Jesus cast seven devils out of her and after that she was Christ’s most trusted follower. So when she wept for her dead brother Lazarus, her sorrow was true and acceptable to God. She didn’t cry just to make herself feel good, to look loving toward her dead, to do her duty to mourn, or to pretend that she was a moral, godly mourner; nor did she weep to prove to herself that she was circumcised at heart. When she went out of the house and the mourners saw her leave they surmised that she just went to cry about her sad state of affairs, her poor self. But instead she went to see the Lord; something that hadn’t crossed their mind.
In Jesus’ presence, where trust was never offended, she could unburden her heart, which she couldn’t do surrounded by all the clamor of the hired and voluntary mourners. And in response to this He was overcome with sympathetic grief. “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping…He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,” and “Jesus wept.” (Jn. 11:33,35). The Son of God, the Word from the Father and our great Intercessor before the Jehovah, is the quintessential empathizer and personification of the principle, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another.” (Rom. 12:15,16). He did more for her than she could ask or think; before she called, He answered her.
The pagan mother of the girl possessed by Satan wept and pleaded with Jesus in perfect faith. Her genuineness outshone the best faith the pharisaical Jews could conjure up. But the disciples just thought this Canaanite was being light and weepy rather than strong in true consecration to Jehovah. “He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.” (Matt. 15:23). They called her a cry-baby. Jesus tested her faith because He knows them that are His, and she passed His test with flying colors. So He honored her faith and her request. She sought Jesus in a faith which she had received through experiencing the horrors of her daughter’s captivity. Her faith was the gift of God; it was genuine. It was heard by Jesus even before He walked those 40 miles to help her.
Those who receive the seal of God will also pray and weep in true faith because they “sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the land. (Eze. 9:4). Their tears will be heard because their sorrow will be born of a love for truth and displeasure toward unrighteous-ness, as iniquity abounds around them.
But could it be said, that to conjure up tears, to fake repentance, is to lie to God and to conjure up Satan? Based on scripture, yes. That is what the rest in Christ precludes. If we will come as we are, helpless, sinful, dependent, Christ will give us the gift of true sorrow, selfless sorrow. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.…
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works.
And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest….
For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:1,3-6,10,11).
The grief displayed by the unconverted, whose hearts have never been humbled, whose sorrow never recognizes their character deficit, is a grief that has no holy, spiritual sincerity from a personal acceptance of God’s authority as loving father and wise dispenser of justice on our desperate sinfulness. It comes from a heart that refuses to submit to God’s power to condemn and to surrender to His righteous love.
“But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.
Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD
our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” (Jer. 5:23,24). “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel
, saith the LORD
A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel
: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD
Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto Thee; for Thou art the LORD our God.
Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD
our God is the salvation of Israel
For shame hath devoured the labour of our fathers from our youth; their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters.
We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us.” (Jer. 3:20-25).
Their weeping was a perversion of the genuine sorrow. Sorrow for sin and the renunciation of sin had no part in their tears. True sorrow repents, either for its own faults or for the abominations being done around them. And true repentance sorrows for sin and turns away from it. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2Cor. 7:10,11).
“We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us.” Confusion set in because their grief was self-made, thus they expected God to hear them and relieve them of the bitterness of serving self and Satan. But not a single word from heaven came to them; the peace of the Holy Spirit didn't visit them. Therefore, this self-righteous imitation sorrow was the product of spiritualism, which God can never honor with any answer to prayer. “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (Jas. 1:7).
The horrible angry presence of Satan through separation from God that results from false religion, or–in Old Testament terminology—serving other gods, which Moses accurately likened to bitter gall and wormwood. “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;
And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse [warning], that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:
The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.” (Deut. 29:18-20).
“For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
For their vine is of the vine of Sodom
, and of the fields of Gomorrah
: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.” (Deut. 32:31-33). And this very warning to ancient Israel still bears repeating to our generation, because nothing has changed: Satan hasn’t changed his tactics to draw us away from God to trap us in his service, a subtle, look-alike Christianity.
In the 3rd
angel’s message Moses’ fearful warning to Israel
is repeated again to the last generation before this great controversy ends and Christ returns. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).
While we spurn the submission under the almighty hand of God through the power of His Law and testimonies, our religion is spiritualistic, occultic; “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9). Satan has stolen away our heart. “We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.” (Isa. 59:11).
As we saw in the gospels, the counterfeit weeping aspect of false religion so resembles the true, that it insidiously deludes the half-hearted devotees into believing God is blessing this unholy behavior, when it is the god of this world that visits them with peace. This is the trap of New Age Christianity and praying to the “Holy Spirit”. They are stuck in self-deception. “Her wound is incurable.” (Mic. 1:9). “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living [rather than] to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Isa. 8: 19-22).
They are sealed in service to the devil, “a great gulf fixed” between them and the Spirit of God. (Lk. 16:26). “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto Me, even to Me?
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Should ye not hear the words which the LORD
hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem
was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?” (Zech. 7:5-7).
By disregarding the wholesome and righteous words of the prophets of Jehovah, even after their return from Babylonian captivity, when they attempted obedience to the Law of God, the unconverted hearts could not escape the façade, the pretentious, works-oriented religion of the ancient Baal religion that they believed they had overcome. Thus, the opening verse, “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that He regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” (Mal. 2:13). This kind of religion, which compares today with the veneration of Mary, only perpetuates the most ancient form of vainly serving God. “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made…. And they cried aloud….
And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” (1Ki. 18:26-29).
But God has a remedy for this imitation crying from rebellious human hearts—trouble, lots of trouble. Jeremiah informed the Jews, “And the LORD
said unto me, The backsliding Israel
hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah
.” (Jer. 3:11). A century earlier Assyria had taken the house of Israel
captive and dispersed them throughout the empire. Jeremiah said the northern ten tribes had justified themselves because they finally got what they needed—a spanking of heavenly proportions. God gave them something to cry about. A self-absorbed, pouting child will often be calmed down when the parent gives the youngster a good paddling on the behind. Pain. Then the child will have something to really cry about until the pain subsides, and the self-centered pouting ends with the real crying.
This is what the Lord did for the house of Israel
and what He would do for the house of Judah
if they didn’t heed His warnings through His messenger—real weeping and wailing. “Therefore the LORD
, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Have ye offered unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel
But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus
, saith the LORD
, whose name is The God of hosts.” (Amos 5:16-27). “And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.” (Amos 8:10). Celebration churches are soon to reap this same destruction from the Lord for their disregard of the just condemnation of the Law of God.
And this is what He did for Israel
and Judah He will do for us to get our attention again if we’ve ever sought Jesus and found Him after searching for Him with all our heart, and then departed from Him. He still remembers our love for Him and knows He can reclaim that love, so He sends us trouble. This is what He did to His disciples when they tried to force Him to be an earthly king. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king,” “straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.” “And He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them.” (Jn. 6:15; Matt. 14:22; Mk. 6:48). Once the twelve were sufficiently humbled, and feeling their total helplessness and need for Him, then He came to them.
“About the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea.”
Yet there is an easier, less painful way, and preferable to the Lord. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). Our own self-invented faith Jehovah cannot accept. The kind of hearing acceptable to Him is the kind that accepts faith in response to the convicting word of God. As we read earlier from Zech. 7:7, “Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets
, when Jerusalem
was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?”
“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.… But the way of transgressors is hard.” (Prov. 13:14,15). “Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire.” (Isa. 30:27). “Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.” (Isa. 46:1). The paths of transgression is hard and the service of Satan is heavy; but, Jesus’ yoke is easy and light and all who are heavy laden may come to Him and find rest under His direction and help.
Will we not hear the strong language of Ellen White, our former prophet, which Jesus cried to us through her? Won’t we genuinely come to the Lord by coming to His word and His Spirit of Prophecy? Or will we avoid what He has so graciously provided for these last days, and turn to the world’s Spiritual Formation, seeking peace without first facing the Lord’s chastening? Will we be found crying empty tears and end up with the Mark of the Beast as the third angel warns, having no rest day or night? “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). “The Lord GOD of hosts is He that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn.” (Amos 9:5).
Rather, let’s dispense with false emotional religion, the ritualistic Jezebel-“Bloody Mary” papal service to a modern Ashtoreth-Diana-Venus, “Queen of heaven”. (Jer. 7:18;44:17). Let us open the books of the Law and patiently let truth have her perfect work, no matter how painful it gets for our willful, stubborn hearts. If we will bear up under the fire of the Lord’s presence in our conscience, He will seal us for Himself ; He will heal us and give us the peace that comes with His forgiveness and acceptance.
“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah
, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.” (Hos. 6:1-5).
He wounds to heal. It’s the only working formula for salvation. And we must believe this.
“But 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 fullers’ 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.” (Mal. 3:2,3).