The final sermon in our journey through the book of Malachi, under the overall heading of – “From the ashes of failure to the anticipated future” The practical application of the teaching will be worked out in the house groups.
Have you ever longed for someone or something to arrive? The Old Testament prophets longed for “the day of the Lord” with such a longing being compressed in their writings into the first and second comings of the Messiah who would bring both justice and judgement. Here we have what that day will mean to two distinct groups of people:-
1 – The Godless (v1.)
They are referred to as – “the arrogant and every evil doer” and on the “day of the Lord” (second coming) they will be destroyed by fire. This raises a couple of difficult questions:-
A – How can a so called God of love condemn people to such destruction?
This is not what God desires (Ezekiel 33 v 11 & 2 Peter 3 v 9) and so in Jesus he has provided a rescue package (1 Thessalonians 1 v 10.) But if people reject God and chose to live independently of him, then why would they want to spend eternity in heaven? So God in his mercy respects their free will and sends them elsewhere (2 Thessalonians 1 v 9.)
B – Will the Godless be destroyed by fire or will they suffer eternally?
Some argue that they will be instantly annihilated by the flames (Psalm 145 v 20 & Isaiah 1 v 28); while others interpret literally the passages that speak pictorially of eternal punishment (Matthew 13 v 42 & Revelation 20 v 10); while yet others split the difference and opt for the middle ground, saying that although hell is not a torture chamber, the punishment will be to be relationally separated from God for all eternity.
2 – The Godly (v 2 – 3.)
They are referred to as – “those who revere my name” and on the “day of the Lord” (first coming) – “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” On that day Jesus will bring light to the world’s spiritual darkness (Luke 1 v 78 – 79) as well as righteousness and healing. The response of God’s people will be to joyfully celebrate, like a calf prancing and gambolling in the spring sunshine after a long period of darkness in the stalls of winter.
Also on the “day of the Lord” (second coming) the Godly will share in Christ’s triumph and conquest and they will be avenged and vindicated with the wicked being placed under foot (Psalm 110 v 1.)
So how are God’s people to prepare for the “day of the Lord?” (second coming – v 4 – 6.)
Malachi points them back to Moses – “Remember the law of my servant Moses” (Exodus 20.) But they are not merely to mentally reflect on the Word of God, they are to obediently act on what they have remembered. They are to be living expectantly, watching and waiting, so that when he returns they will be found faithful (1 John 3 v 3.)
But Malachi also points them forwards to Elijah – “I will send you the prophet Elijah” He had already come once, but had been taken to heaven without dying (1 Kings 2 v 11) and so the common view was that he would return to herald the second coming of the Messiah. Others see this as a reference to John the Baptist who exercised an Elijah type ministry; while others speculate that it will be someone with the spirit and power of Elijah who will turn the heats of people towards the Lord, and towards one another, thus avoiding the “curse” of disobedience.
Challenge –The “day of the Lord” is sure and certain. Are you dreading it, or will you be delighting in such a day?
Theme: “Longing for the day!”
Reading: Malachi 4 v 1 – 6
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes