“The Day of the Lord”
The first Sunday teaching I have any recollection of was a classic “turn or burn” sermon. For those unfamiliar, it is a lesson that focuses on the end times—“Either align yourself with Christ or burn in the fiery lakes.” It may not be very gentle, but it is definitely effective! The late Billy Graham claims to have been saved through a message just like this! And while there is truth to that fire-and-brimstone statement, the Bible tends to focus more on choosing to follow Christ out of gratitude rather than out of fear. But here we are, in Malachi, looking at a passage that sets a perfect scene for a “pick-your-side” sermon series.
As believers, we see in the Bible not only what we have been saved to—a calling to live out the love of Jesus Christ—but we also see what we have been saved from—an eternity apart from God. Both are cause for celebration and lead us to thanksgiving! Let’s keep in mind that this passage of Malachi 4 is that last thing that the Lord says to Israel for roughly 400 years. I think it is safe to say He would consider it noteworthy.
If these are His parting thoughts for a while, why focus on something that is so divisive? Something so hostile? I find this passage to be an urgent reminder to the children of God, almost a plea, to not forget the severity of the gospel. Although Christ has not come yet, the Lord knows the plan—to seek and save the lost, both Jews and Gentiles. We, as Christians, are counted worthy of heaven only by what Christ has done, and it can be all to easy for us to focus only on our salvation and forget the harsh reality awaiting those who are apart from Him. This passage should cause us to shudder and go make disciples with everyone that we meet! The Lord has said that we are to “feed His sheep.” He is pleading with us to tell of His great love for us! While the gift of God was first offered to the Israelites through God’s covenant with Abraham, it is now freely offered to all. May this passage give us a sense of urgency when it comes to evangelism and sharing Christ.
Malachi 4 (ESV):
The Great Day of the LORD
1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”