Sunday, July 25, 2010

Malachi 4

"The Sun of Righteousness shall arise" (vs. 1-6)--The last chapter of the Old Testament points 400 years ahead--"the day is coming." It will be a day of judgment--or at least the beginning of such--for "all who do wickedly." Jesus brought God's final law to mankind, the Word which will judge us all (John 12:48). Those who reject it will suffer the consequences. "But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings" (v. 2), one of the loveliest verses in the Old Testament. They will grow fat on the blessings of God (v. 2), and trample the wicked. God's vindication (which is basically what the Day of Judgment will be) will also be the vindication of His saints. In verse 4, Malachi speaks to his fellow Jews. Until the Messiah comes, "remember the Law of Moses"--be obedient to those precepts which Jehovah gave you. And then, be on the lookout: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet" (v. 5), another reference to John the Baptist (Matt. 11:14). Some Jews were looking for the literal return of Elijah, and some thought Jesus might be him (Matt. 16:14). But Jesus' statement is unambiguous. John's coming (mentioned at least three times in the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1, and here in Malachi 4:5) was a sign, an indicator that the Messiah was soon to follow. One last time, before the Old Testament revelation closes and 400 years of heavenly silence descended upon mankind, the Lord God points to the coming of the Messiah. When you see "Elijah," then know that "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" is coming. A great day for those who were looking for it, a dreadful day for those who weren't. John will turn (convert) men--all men, fathers and children--or, for those who will not turn to the Lord, there will be a curse upon the land--punishment for rejection. One last time, blessings for obedience, damning for disobedience.

The great prophets have finished their work. There will be no more message from God for 400 years. But He has said enough. Sufficient information has been proffered to point man to the coming Savior. The Old Testament closes with the same theme with which it opened, at least since Genesis 3 and the fall of man: Christ, the Savior, is coming. All through the law, psalms, and prophets God tells whom to look for--here's who will precede Him, here's when He will be born, here's where He will be born, here's His character, His work, His life, His death, His resurrection--and countless other prophesies, the life of the Messiah, in effect, written hundreds of years before He ever arrived. What else could God have done, short of taking away man's free will and forcing him to believe? No, if we miss the Messiah--and the Jews certainly did--it will be in spite of everything God had said and done. The Old Testament closes open-ended, in other words, with a full indication that something is yet to be. And 400 years later, God speaks again, through His Word, Jesus Christ. There will be none other after Him.

I have not even begun, of course, to exhaust the messages found in these erroneously-called "minor" prophets; indeed, at best, I've only touched the tip of the iceberg.  There is wisdom in these books that we will not discover until eternity, and hopefully, over the months and years, as my studies procede, I will reconsider, revise, revamp, and rewrite some of the things I have written in these posts.  Until then, I only pray that the Lord has been pleased with my efforts, that I have never strayed too far from the truth, and that the readers, now and in the future, will be blessed by my comments.  Readers will be far more blessed, however, by meditating directly on the words of the Holy Spirit through these great men, men "of whom the world was not worthy."  To God, His Son, and His Spirit be all the glory.

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