Impartial Grace: “400 Years of Silence”

Malachi closes the Old Testament history, but its history is not dead. The doctrine of Impartial Grace is defined in those sacred scriptures. The OT scriptures declare God is Sovereign over all that He creates. He is love and He is immutable. He is a disciplining Father. He has a plan, in fact, He is the plan of salvation. New Testament scriptures lean on what is old to usher in the new. The doctrine of Impartial Grace is affirmed in it.

The period of time from the closing of Malachi to the opening of the New Testament is called “The 400 Years of Silence.” The scholars at the “Got Questions” website provide a brief history of those 400 years. Israel may not have heard directly from God in those centuries, but there can be little doubt Israel was not ignored by Him. Israel was occupied by Greeks, Egyptians and lastly by the Roman Empire. Non-Jewish persons occupied the positions of authority and ruled as directed. The Jewish faith was watered down or abridged by authoritarians. Traditions took the place of sound instruction. “Got Questions” explains 1:

Between the time of Malachi and the coming of the Messiah, several prophecies were fulfilled, including the 2,300 days of desecration between 171 and 165 B.C. (Daniel 8:14). However, the people did not put to good use either the fulfilled prophecies nor the 400 years the nation was given to study Scripture, to seek God (Psalm 43-44), and to prepare for the coming Messiah. In fact, those years blinded and deafened the nation to the point where most of the Jews could not even consider the concept of a humble Messiah (Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40).

The Gospels give accounts of Christ Jesus unsettling the traditional authorities and expressing the Truth to the people. The Gospels give account of Divine love being explained, but rejected by the traditionalist authoritarians. Theirs are the doctrines established to elevate themselves over others and to establish personal kingdoms. Theirs are religious edicts passed with the blessing of sitting governments.

Christ Jesus sets the record straight.

1“What Were the 400 Years of Silence?” Got Questions website. https://www.gotquestions.org/400-years-of-silence.html. Date viewed: 4/10/2021.

Impartial Grace: Malachi 2

Don’t we all have one father? Hasn’t one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers?

(Malachi 2:10, emphasis added)

Malachi is led to speak these heaven sent words. The Levite priests lost their first love and were pursuing worldly passions. They were using their authority to make rules for themselves that were against the Word of God. There was marrying and divorcing. The Levites were taking foreign brides. Malachi is warning them of a punishment to come and that the people must turn away from the ways of the world.

God is the Father and Creator of all. His love for us is part of His creative purpose. He loves us before we love Him. The beauty and the peace in these words leads us to confidence that the Lord’s will is being done and that He wills all to be saved.

What are we to conclude from these scriptural references from the Old Testament? Will we say with confidence or surety that there is a place of eternal torment? Will we say that God will sentence any person to that place? It is impossible to conclude God will do any less than reconcile all that He has created to Himself. He says so in theses verses from the OT. That is “The Blessed Hope.” This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Malachi 1

For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Armies.

(Malachi 1:11, emphasis added)

Malachi is reaching out to men in the priesthood. Matthew Henry provides this insight. “1The prophet is here, by a special commission, calling the priests to account, though they were themselves appointed judges, to call the people to an account.” It is necessary that God’s ordained priests stand for what is right in God’s sight. It is necessary to remind God’s priests to Whom they are accountable.

The Priests were taking their position and authority for granted. They had an obligation to teach the people of Israel. The Priests rose in stature. They did not pay proper respect to God’s Word. They used His Word and their commission as Priest to advance themselves. God speaks through Malachi to the Priests. He chastises them for their failures to worship Him. God points out the love these men have for themselves. He also tells them they are unable to save themselves much less save those under their charge.

The hearts of the Priests were involved in their own gain. They were disrespectful of God. It was He Who appointed them to be Priests and Judges of the people. It is God Who sets the matter straight. There is no place in the world where the Name of the Lord will not be known. There is no place in the world where the Name of the Lord will not be revered. There is no place in the world where an unrepentant rebel can flee and avoid God’s reach. “For My Name is great among the nations,” says God.

These verses show the beauty of God’s unending and immeasurable capacity to love even the most wicked. He chose Israel as His favored nation not because they were great, but because they were small. He did not choose Edom, that is to say Esau’s family. That nation of people were swallowed up in conquest. God did not favor Esau, but He did favor Jacob. Our Father reaches down to the least and makes them great. He humbles the great and subdues evil. He protects His people from harm. Edom is no more, but Israel is alive. To where did all the peoples of Edom go in death? Their bodies went into the grave and their spirits returned to God Who gave them. That’s Gospel! This is Impartial Grace.

1 Matthew Henry. “Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Bible; Malachi 1.” Publication date unknownhttps://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/malachi-1.html. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.

Impartial Grace: Zechariah

Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion; for, behold, I come, and I will dwell in your midst,’ says Yahweh. Many nations shall join themselves to Yahweh in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that Yahweh of Armies has sent me to you.

(Zechariah 2:10-11, emphasis added)

Zechariah is a prophet of God. He is an encouraging force for God’s chosen nation and pushes them to complete the building of the Temple. God gives Zechariah visions of what will soon take place. Israel’s enemies will be defeated. God will draw them to Himself and they will know He is Lord of all. Zechariah preaches for clean living worthy of God. He pushes the people to maintain purity.

These verses affirm God’s Sovereignty and Power. “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord.” This is not an alliance between nations. These are nations allying with Him. There will be many nations that will see God’s glory and make a determined return to Him. His grace, His mercy is new everyday.

Which nation will not turn from the world and to God? There is not a power greater than God. There is not a glory greater than God. There is not a love greater than God. There is not a person unaffected by His power, glory and love. It is God’s will that all be saved. He works everything out according to His Divine purpose and counsel. That is a Gospel message that rings truer and is “The Blessed Hope.”

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow will be cut off; and he will speak peace to the nations: and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

(Zechariah 9:10, emphasis added)

These are beautiful verses of prophecy. Zechariah preaches the Word given to Him by God. He preaches about a King of a different kind. He proclaims God’s Word and describes the King that comes into Jerusalem on the back of a colt. The King “will speak peace to the nations.” What a day to come! What a day that is already come! He speaks peace into the hearts of those who believe. He is working peace in His Bride today.

There will come a time, indeed has already come, when “His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” This is not a dominion of a few nations, but a dominion of every nation “from sea to sea.” His Dominion will be absolute. It is absolute. He is the River. He is Living Water. He is the giver of life. He is Jesus, God saves, and His Water will flow “…to the ends of the earth.” No one will turn away from Him. He is love. He is mercy. He is God. This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Haggai

For this is what Yahweh of Armies says: ‘Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations. The precious things of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says Yahweh of Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ says Yahweh of Armies. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says Yahweh of Armies; ‘and in this place will I give peace,’ says Yahweh of Armies.

(Haggai 2:6-9, emphasis added)

These are prophetic words of chastising. Haggai is speaking as a prophet of God and extolling the Jews to get their priorities straight. They had been released from captivity and had been in Jerusalem for about 15 years. Their primary command from God was to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. But, the people were more motivated to prepare homes for themselves. God is assuring His people that He is Sovereign over all nations. All nations will gladly gather all their wealth and place it into the Hands of God Almighty. God will fill the new Temple with unimaginable glory. The glory in this Temple will be greater than the glory that filled the first.

There is not a distinction given in this prophecy to any person being excluded from witnessing God’s glory. There is affirmation that all persons will know true peace. God says, “…In this place I will give peace.” He shakes the world. He calls the nations and kingdoms together and in His glory He gives Divine peace. That is a Gospel message that resonates in the world. This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Zephaniah

Yahweh will be awesome to them, for he will famish all the gods of the land. Men will worship him, everyone from his place, even all the shores of the nations….

(Zephaniah 2:11, emphasis added)

“Therefore wait for me”, says Yahweh, “until the day that I rise up to the prey,for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that they may all call on Yahweh’s name, to serve him shoulder to shoulder.

(Zephaniah 3:8-9, emphasis added)

My Life Application Study Bible (p.1893, NIV) describes the “Blueprint” 1 and underlying message of Zephaniah’s prophesy. This is a warning to “the people of Judah that if they refused to repent, the entire nation, including the beloved city of Jerusalem, would be lost.” Israel would lose the cherished city. It is not “ merely punishment for sin, but also a process of purifying the people.” Our lives are lived in a fallen world. The chaos and confusion, the violence and distrust among the people will come to an end. “We can hope in the perfect kingdom of God to come.” It is good to be disciplined by God now so that we are purified from sin.

This “Blueprint” unintentionally leans into universal reconciliation. Bible scholars who prepared this statement believe the people of Judah knew they “would eventually” be blessed. It’s as if their blessing is an expected, yet unmerited favor. The people of Judah have to do nothing, but wait. God will eventually bless Judah.

Zephaniah’s prophecy warns the people of Judah that before the blessing from God there must be discipline from God. The authors of this commentary suggest these verses have a two fold purpose. The first to satisfy the need to atone for sins. The second purpose is to burnish, purify, strengthen,and discipline the people of Judah.

“Believers” in Christ Jesus we are confident in both steps. We understand His Salvation is based purely in His grace and mercy. God will indeed discipline us, after all the Father disciplines those He loves. Those who do not believe, will. They, too, will experience His relentless love and they will be disciplined accordingly.

These scriptures reveal God as loving and just. He will gather all the nations. All the kingdoms will come together at His command. All will bow to Him and worship Him. In the same way the fire purifies the “Believers” it will purify the “Not Believers.” God does not offer a distinction here that the whole world does not mean the whole world. God is telling us that His authority and His sovereignty cannot be supplanted. Satan cannot defeat Christ, in fact, Satan has already been defeated. Satan cannot usurp God’s authority. All of them will call on the Name of the Lord! This is Impartial Grace.

1Zephaniah’s Prophecy Blueprint.” Life Application Study Bible (p. 1893, NIV). Zondervan Press. 2005.

Impartial Grace: Habakkuk

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh’s glory, as the waters cover the sea.

(Habakkuk 2:14, emphasis added)

The Lord instructs Habakkuk to hear the prophecy and to record it in plain language. God wants us all to understand the degree of His authority. Judah is in captivity. The Babylonians were particularly harsh to the people of God who were enslaved. God speaks about the arrogance of the oppressive ruler. Judah had brought this on themselves. They had again fallen away from their first love. They forgot Him and remembered themselves. They left worshiping Him to worship false gods Baal and Ashtaroth. They were worshiping false doctrine.

It is God Who establishes kingdoms and governments. It is God Who set the Babylonians over Judah. God gave power and authority over Judah and gave over Israel to Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Greek and Roman kings. God’s purpose is to discipline His children. The power and authority used by the cruel rulers will be taken from them by God. The people persecuted will be given the power and authority and will use it against the oppressor. All the spoils taken by the cruel ruler will become the spoils of those he oppressed. God, however, is going to set the world straight. His glory will be known to the whole world. Nothing will escape its notice. This is not an experience only, but “…knowledge of Yahweh’s.” Imagine the magnitude of His mercy and of His grace because we truly know Him in His glory. Not just a few, but “the earth will be filled…” with that knowledge. God’s creation restored and reconciled to Him. All have knowledge of His glory. His promise is fulfilled. It is true; God is love. That is the Gospel. That is “The Blessed Hope.” This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Micah 7

Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity, and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage? He doesn’t retain his anger forever, because he delights in loving kindness. He will again have compassion on us. He will tread our iniquities under foot; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob, and mercy to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

(Micah 7:18-20, emphasis added)

This is Israel’s confession. They are responsible. They fell away from their first love and the consequences were dire. But, now the heart of His people is turning back to Him. The world around Israel is harsh and demanding. It is a world of pain and imprisonment. Theirs is a life of chaos and tribulation. Even so, Israel sees the glory of their Savior and turns to Him. Israel repents.

It is the Lord Who makes the remnant. Earlier in Micah 4 God makes it clear that He makes the remnant of all those He afflicted. He heals them and He lifts them up. God’s anger is not eternal. That is what is being told to us here. “He doesn’t retain His anger forever….”

Give glory to God for the clear teaching and intent of His Holy Word. He is not angry into eternity. He says, “He delights in loving kindness.” His love overwhelms any anger He may hold. He is not angry forever because He’d rather love us into Himself. Not only does His anger fade away He will not hold repetitive sins against us. His love is steadfast and by His Word we know He prefers to glory in His love. The sins we commit are abolished from His memory. He blots them out. He forgets them. He buries them under His feet so far as into the deepest sea.

God’s love is affirmed in these verses. There is not a sin that God will not remove, put under His feet and bury in the deepest sea. It’s His promise fulfilled. It’s the promise He gave to Abraham. This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Micah 4

“In that day,” says Yahweh, I will assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted; and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast far off a strong nation: and Yahweh will reign over them on Mount Zion from then on, even forever.

(Micah 4:6-7, emphasis added)

Micah has already offered God’s Word regarding God’s wrath against Israel and Judah. Wealthy oppressors are doomed and Micah’s prophecy points to Divine restoration. Micah has taken aim at oppressive rulers and false teachers. Micah warns and then shows the world the promise God has made. In these verses Micah is pointing to God’s glory and a Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus. The Word of God will be compelling. All nations will gather in Zion to hear Him. Jerusalem will be a place of honor among all the people.

Micah exposes idolatry as evil and offensive to God. All idols, including the “traditions of men,” will be forgotten in Christ’s reign. He “…will reign over them on Mount Zion.” We long for the Millennial reign. We want to see Christ’s return. All Christians look forward to the Day of the Lord. Those whom God created with afflictions and those He burdened with disability will be a “strong nation.” People He “cast out” and were “driven away” He restores and makes a great nation. God is love and His Holy Word is evidence of that. This is Impartial Grace.

Impartial Grace: Joel

You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed. It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.

(Joel 2:27-29, emphasis added)

These are Old Testament promises that apply to the New Testament world. God is speaking through His prophet Joel. Israel will suffer. He lets His chosen nation know that He will always be with them. He will always hold them. He will end their oppression and He will end their shame. God tells Joel to tell the people that He will “pour out my Spirit on all flesh….” No person will be exempted from this great display of His Sovereign grace, His limitless mercy, or His overwhelming love. His Spirit will be poured out on all flesh.

Israel is who we are. As believers in Christ Jesus we have been grafted into the vine. The unproductive branches have been cut away. The fruit we become is His fruit. The sons and daughters of Israel will experience His unmatched love; His unconditional love. His Spirit will not be poured out on us only. His Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. He will pour out His Spirit on “…male and handmaids in those days….” These people are not Israel, that is to say, they are not necessarily believers in Christ. These are people who are “the least of these.” These are people who serve Israel. They are captives.

The orthodox doctrine of eternal conscious torment discounts that “all flesh” is truly “all flesh.” John MacArthur is a gifted preacher. He is a prolific writer and is an expositor of God’s Holy Word. Dr. MacArthur is a leading authority in orthodox traditionalist doctrines. Dr. MacArthur preaches this about these scriptures in general and the book of Joel specifically. 1 He says, “It is a day when judgment is poured out on sinners that subsequently leads to blessings on the penitent, and reaffirmation of God’s covenant with His people.” Dr. MacArthur tells his audience “clearly Joel is referring to the final terrible Day of the Lord.” Dr. MacArthur tells us the account of Pentecost in Acts “was not a fulfillment, but a preview and a sample of the Spirit’s power.” The Spirit’s power will be poured completely during Christ’s reign. Dr. MacArthur teaches “…the pouring of God’s Spirit onto all flesh….” is better thought as a pouring of judgment on all flesh. But that is not what we are being told in these verses. These scriptures mean God “…will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” There is no person who will be untouched by God’s Holy Spirit. God will become “…all in all.” This is Impartial Grace.

1 Dr. John MacArthur. “Joel” Grace To You, Bible Introductions. July 26, 2010. https://www.gty.org/library/bible-introductions/MSB29/joel?term=Joel 2. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.