“the great and dreadful Day of the Lord”

Malachi is another 4 chapter book that ends the Old Testament, the part of our epic story that took place before the coming of Jesus.  In true prophetic fashion, Malachi lists the problems in the relationship between Israel and its God “I AM.”  It is an interesting series of statements followed by the question, “How can this be so?”  Malachi then explains on Israel’s wrongs.

         God has loved Israel as his bride.  How?  He blessed the second born as well as the firstborn.  Respect shown a father or master has not been returned.  The sacrifice system has been defiled by gifts of useless animals.  None of us likes to receive hand-me-downs and broken toys at Christmas.  No one wants to be an after-thought.

         God has been slow to respond to the crying of his people when they pray.  Why?  The Israelites have not only been unfaithful in their covenant with God but they have also been unfaithful with their spouses.  Unfaithfulness is violence against the other and does not produce faithful offspring that is the desire of God’s heart

         The people have wearied God with their words.  How?  God has been accused of injustice but the “day of the Lord is coming” when all will be made right.  Handle’s Messiah sings, “Who can endure the day of his coming?”  We cannot stand in that day but then Malachi gives these comforting words, “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

         God challenges us, “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,’” says the Lord Almighty, “’and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”  Now that is a promise few follow up on.

         The Old Testament part of our epic story ends with the promise that the evil will be brought to justice and the righteous, those who choose God’s way, will be rewarded.  For Christians, we believe we cannot count on our own righteousness or good deeds for we are sinners but that righteousness is found in our faith in Jesus.  But that steps into the next part of our epic story that we will start to tackle next week.

         We are half way through our epic and certainly our epic hero, God, must be looking for a different way to defeat our epic villain, Satan.  The iterations we have read so far have talked about unlikely people given humungous tasks and conquering.  Abraham did have a son and a nation is forming.  Moses did give us the guidelines for living and developing that nation.  The people rejected God’s priests as leaders for a king and David led them to glory.  The fly in the ointment keeps appearing though as the people continually return to idolatry.  But God keeps sending prophets calling the people back to God and promising eventual justice.  Some days it seems like evil has the upper hand and we despair but then the rainbow appears and reminds us that God is faithful to his promises.  The story is not finished yet and we are part of it.  Stay tuned.  Blessings.

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