Reader: “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says,”
Response: “The day of judgment is coming.”
Scripture: Malachi 4:1-6
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
These are the last words of the First Testament. It’s interesting to me that the last word is “curse.” That word actually summarizes the first thirty-nine books of the Bible very well. “In the beginning God created . . .” And then Adam and Eve rebelled against God, were expelled from Paradise, and we all entered a world of death. The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of men’s and women’s unsuccessful, continuous struggle to overcome sin in this fallen, cursed world where evil reigns under Satan, “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31).
In yesterday’s passage, God’s people were concerned with God’s failure to punish the wicked, many of the people not realizing they were the wicked ones! Well, severe judgment is coming for the wicked in the words of Malachi. In the meantime, continue to obey the Law of Moses. The Old Testament then ends on a glorious note with “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” bringing justice to the wicked. Judgment is surely coming, led by the Son of Righteousness! This Savior will bring freedom and healing from the plague of sin to those who have honored and feared the Lord of heaven.
Having grown up on a farm, the image of having “joy like calves let out to pasture” is something non-farmers most likely miss completely. When our calves were little, they were put in little, individual pens during the winter. When the days get warmer in the spring, we would open the barn door and let them out in the pasture to run freely. They would leave the only pen they had ever known and gingerly go out the barn d
oor for ten to fifteen feet literally with their whole body shivering with excitement. At that point they realized they were free and leapt for joy like little lambs and ran everywhere until they were exhausted. This is a picture of the joy described in gaining freedom from sin. It no longer binds and confines. Malachi closes his book and the Testament with the admonition to look for Elijah, the prophet who will foretell the coming of the Messiah and preach repentance. Live this day in joy and freedom for sin has been forever defeated. Try to jump and click your heels together, but don’t hurt yourself! We have a great Savior.
Music: “Joy to the world” JEHOVAH SHALOM ACAPELLA GREAT new group! from Zambia Don’t miss them!!!
Our Father in heaven, who has given the world a Redeemer, the Sun of Righteousness, to set all creation free from the wages of sin. May we never become dull to the joy of having been set free from the grip of an eternal death. Through birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and the glorious enthronement of our Savior, we have escaped the clutches of the evil one. He is eternally crushed in defeat and confined to hell for all eternity. Praise be to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies and in his name we pray. Amen.