The Prophets

Malachi – Part 4 of 5

God’s Just Judgement

Malachi 3:1 – Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare 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.

In this one verse we have the foretelling of two messengers and three comings. The first messenger refers to John the Baptiser, who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus. The messenger of the covenant is of course, Christ, the Messiah. At first glance, this verse seems quite positive and yet it came because the people had wearied the Lord with [their] words and by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”  Ironically, they believed that everyone around them were doing evil things and getting away with it. It is no wonder that when Jesus came, he admonished the Jews for noticing the speck in another’s eye and not seeing the log in their own.

In speaking of the Messiah in the second half of verse 1, God declares both the first and the second coming. The people delighted in the promise of their coming King who would govern from ‘the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore’ (Isa9:7). The King who would come to save his people would come again to judge all mankind. Because of this, Malachi warns them to be aware of what they are delighting in:

“For who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and he will sit as a purifier of silver… I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, says the Lord of hosts.”

In effect, Malachi was saying, be careful what you wish for, just as Amos had said a couple of hundred years before – ‘why you do desire the day of the Lord? It is darkness and not light.’ The day the world is judged will indeed be a dark day and it is something that my mind cannot even begin to comprehend. I often wonder if the Lord’s return will happen during my time on earth and I do think of it as glorious, to be taken from this dark world into the presence of Yahweh. However, there is a ‘but’, for when I go through the fire on that day, will my work on earth survive? Did I build with gold, silver and precious stones, or with wood, hay and straw?

The messenger of the covenant is coming back and we will all make an account of our love and faithfulness to God ‘but for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings’ (4:2).

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