Jesse Tree: Day 19 Malachi (Malachi 1:6-14)
In the dusk that is settling on the long history of the Old Testament, one last prophet stands. Malachi decries one last time the faithlessness in which God’s people stubbornly persist, and which precipitates the breakdown of relationships throughout society. Civic, legal, religious and moral life lapse into chaos. No-one can be trusted. Ironically, Israel then presumes to question God’s faithfulness to them! A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord (Prov.19:3). The problem is not that God has wavered in His commitment to His covenant. It is rather that ‘…you have not followed my ways … Judah has been unfaithful’ (Mal.2:9 & 11). Hypocrisy, idolatry, injustice, immorality characterise the ways of the people of the God.
Has the Church made any real progress? In the ruins Malachi offers hope. The Word of the Lord comes to Malachi (meaning: my messenger / angel) to prophecy His own coming in the flesh. ‘I will send My messenger who will prepare the way for Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger (Angel) of the Covenant, whom you desire, will come’, says the LORD Almighty (Mal.3:1). He will purify and refine His people so that they might learn the art of worship (3:3-4, see Jn.4:23-26). At last, the Lord will have a people for His own. ‘They will be my treasured possession’ (3:17). This had always been His heart, and His desire for the Church (see Ex.19:5; Dt.7:6).
As the darkness deepens there is the promise of a new dawn: ‘the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its rays’ (4:2). At least, for those who revere His Name... By contrast, ‘all the arrogant and every evil doer will be stubble’ (4:1). But for those who revere His Name, the promise stands that the darkness will finally be driven back, and the sickness that has so long paralysed the body of Christ will at long last be cured. And as we have seen throughout the generations, it hinges on the coming of Christ Himself.
Jesus has a way of describing His nativity that sounds strange to our ears. He tells us Christmas will be ‘a great and dreadful day of the LORD’. We have probably used many adjectives to capture the ‘spirit of Christmas’. ‘Dreadful’ hasn’t been one of them. But He is clear that eternal destiny hangs in the balance as He breaches humanity. People will either be reconciled to Him and to one another (4:6, with the fifth commandment in mind), ‘or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction’. That is not a message we are used to hearing even in the midst of Nativity Plays, and Candlelit Carol Services. But with those ominous words echoing throughout the Theatre of God’s Glory, the curtain falls on the dress rehearsal… and the stage is set for the true Drama to begin.
But for you who revere my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its rays…
Ideas for Family Devotions:
Jesus tells us a messenger to prepare the way for Him. With less than a week to go until Christmas, what do you still need to do to prepare? What do you think we would need to do to prepare for the coming of the Lord at MIE?
On a very different note… the sun is a star; stars are made of plasma, and you can make plasma relatively safely with a grape in your microwave at home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGX289yjew8
There are other, more dramatic ways of doing it, but by all accounts you can trash the microwave - so I’m not recommending that!