We're turning to Malachi chapter 4, Malachi 4, and our subject tonight is 'Malachi's Message on the Future'. We have dealt with, if you've been with us over these studies, 'Malachi's Message on Love' in verses 1 to 5 of chapter 1, in verses 6 to 14 of the same chapter his 'Message on Service', then in chapter 2 verses 1 to 9 his 'Message on Discipline', then in verses 10 to 16 of the same chapter his 'Message on Marriage', verse 17 of the end of chapter 2 to verse 6 of chapter 3 his 'Message on Messiah', in chapter 3 verses 7 to 12 his 'Message on Stewardship' - and last week we considered chapter 3 verses 13 to 18, his 'Message on Faithfulness'. His final message tonight that is for our consideration, verses 1 to 6 of chapter 4, 'Malachi's Message on the Future'.
So we begin to read at verse 1: "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse".
Malachi gives us in chapter 4 and verses 1 to 6 not only his last message, but the last Old Testament description of judgment - the judgment that God will bring upon this earth in what is, for us, yet a future day. It is the last vision in the Old Testament that we are given of the day of apocalypse. Sir George Adam Smith claims that it is an unequaled description of the day of judgment in all of Scripture. I don't know whether that's the case or not, but certainly it is a very graphic description of what it will be like in the Day of the Lord, when the Lord Jesus Christ will come to judge this world. George Adam Smith describes it like this: 'The apocalypse of this judgment is one of the grandest in all Scripture. To the wicked it shall be a terrible fire, root and branch shall be burned out; but to the righteous a fair morning of God, as when dawn comes to those who have been sick and sleepless through the black night, and its beams bring healing - even according to the popular belief of Israel, that the rays of the morning sun distil the dew. They break into life and energy like young calves leaping from the dark pen into the early sunshine, and to this morning landscape another grim figure is added: they, the children of God, shall tread down the wicked and the arrogant like ashes beneath their feet'. It describes the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as being the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings.
What a description! There's no other metaphor like it in the whole of Scripture, describing the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ as the 'Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings'. Matthew Henry, the great puritan commentator, says: 'This figure of speech is like the pillar of cloud and fire to the Old Testament people of God as they exit Egypt. For the pillar of cloud and fire has a dark side that was turned toward the Egyptians, the enemies of God that fought against Him, yet it also had a bright side that was towards the faithful, to the people of Israel who followed Him'. That is exactly the same as this figure of speech concerning the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He will be the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings; and that is a message, a savour of death, to those who do not believe, and yet it is a savour of life to those who can call themselves His children.
I'm sure that you know that light can be a benefit, and it also can be to our detriment. If you can take one of the purest forms of light, which is a laser, you know that it can be used to destroy or it can be used to heal - and some of you have been party to that in a medical sense. In the same way, when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again as the Sun of righteousness, He will come not just to smite but to heal - but He will come to smite! He will come to judge the nations, the enemies of God, the enemies of God's people - with a rod of iron He shall smash His enemies as a potter's vessel. What a message, Malachi's final message to us is this evening, the message of the future! He says: 'The day of the Lord cometh'.
Look at that verse, the import of it, verse 1: 'For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven'. You could almost read that: 'Behold the Lord cometh', for the day of the Lord speaks of how the Lord will come, and what a day that will be! We as believers are so familiar with singing 'What a day that will be, when my Jesus I will see...', and it will be a wonderful day for those who are saved - but what will that day be for those who are lost? You remember Judah asked the question in this book: 'Where is the God of justice? The righteous seem to be downtrodden, the wicked seem to be exalted and blessed, perhaps', they said, 'even by God Himself! Perhaps God is pleased to bless the wicked, and it seems', they say, 'that the proud are those that are happy' - but here we have the answer. Where is the God of justice? 'Behold, the day cometh, saith the Lord'! Their sarcastic scepticism is answered: 'Behold, the day of the Lord comes, and it shall burn as an oven'.
I want to speak to you tonight from Malachi's message on the future on this day, the Day of the Lord, and what we can learn from it. Here's the first thing: it will be a day of burning. 'Behold, the day cometh, the day of the Lord', Malachi says, 'and it shall be a day of burning'. Verse 1: 'it shall burn as an oven'. It is the day of God's wrath, it is the day of His indignation, His fiery indignation. It was foretold as being Messiah's day in Psalm 21 verse 9: 'Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them'. An oven! That's what the Day of the Lord is going to be like for some! Albert Barnes, in his commentary, states of the ovens in Malachi's day that it was a large hole that was dug in the ground, in the earth, and the sides of that hole in the ground would be plastered. Then a very fierce fire and furnace would be made at the bottom of that hole in the ground, and grass, thorns, twigs, you could call it 'stubble', would be placed there and lit. After the embers had flamed, they would be taken out and that oven would just be left, and flat cakes of bread would be stuck against the plastered sides of the oven, and very very quickly they would cook. That oven is the picture that Malachi is giving us tonight of the fierce heat, the swift destruction that God will bring upon the earth in the Day of the Lord. The specific figure is the materials that are used at the bottom of this earthen oven, the stubble and the sticks, as they are quickly consumed so will the unrighteous be in the Day of the Lord.
Now you will know if you're familiar with the Old and New Testament that divine judgment is frequently represented by the figure of fire or the figure of burning. I'll give you a couple of examples: Isaiah 4 and verse 4 'When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning'. God judges by a spirit of burning! We know from the New Testament that our God is a consuming fire. Isaiah 47:14: 'Behold, they shall be as stubble', the unrighteous wicked, 'the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame' - it will be impossible for the unrighteous to escape the Day of the Lord, the day of His fiery indignation.
Hellfire and brimstone preaching is not popular today, but this fire that is spoken of concerning the judgment of God's wrath is a greater fire than ever consumed Nero's Rome, it's a greater fire than consumed and destroyed London town, it's greater even than the fire that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah, it's greater than the atomic fire that consumed Hiroshima or Nagasaki - this is a fire that is second to none! The Bible says 'Jehovah will roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem with this fire'. So fierce and terrible it is, that Isaiah in his day urged people, in light of that day, to flee. If you turn with me for a moment to Isaiah chapter 2, just to show you the fearful picture that is conjured up by these Old Testament prophets concerning the Day of the Lord. Isaiah 2, beginning to read at verse 10, Isaiah exhorts them to flee: 'Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low'. Verse 19: 'And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth'.
It will be an awful day! Revelation says that the kings of the earth, the great men, the chief captains will cry for the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the wrath, the fiery indignation, of the Lord. It is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion, the scripture says. The stars of heaven will be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up, Isaiah says in chapter 34, like a scroll - what a vision! What a day this is! No wonder Malachi tells us, exhorts us, captivates us to 'Behold!' - such a day is coming, and will be unleashed upon the face of this earth. What a vision. Can you imagine what it would have been for Malachi to have seen it? One expositor put it like this: 'There is something very forcible in these abrupt exclamations of Malachi, as if the prophet was elevated on some mount of vision and actually beheld this terrible power come rolling off the distant skies on a reddening pathway of fire and blood'. Can you see it? Behold, the day is coming! Can you hear the cries of those who are without Christ in this day of burning? Oh! What it would be if we could see, if we could get a glimpse, a vision tonight of what the Day of the Lord will be like!
There are some questions we must ask about this day. The first is: against whom is such wrath directed on this day? Who is God venting His fiery indignation against? Well, it is those who, we have learned in previous weeks, spoke stout words against the Lord. Specifically those who have been rebellious to the Lord even in Malachi, but right throughout Judah's and Israel's history - indeed, all the sinners of the earth that have rebelled and shook their puny fists against the face of Almighty God, those who are proud in themselves. Those that we find in New Testament context who say: 'We will not have this Man, or this God to reign over us!'. We read of them in the book of Jude, you don't need to turn to it, I'll read it to you: 'Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him'. God comes on the Day of the Lord, in Christ, to judge the ungodly! Malachi says in verse 1 that He will burn them up in this oven of His wrath just like stubble!
We have seen the figure of the oven, what it means, the fiery heat of God's wrath - but what does this figure of 'stubble' mean? Well, you know what stubble is, that dried-up hay or grass, and stubble burns easily doesn't it? A little spark and it is completely consumed. Malachi is saying: those, who right throughout all of time have accused God, who have stood against God's word and God's ways, those who have spoken stout words, given ungodly speeches down through all the eras of time; God easily, on this last day, will wipe them out. What a sobering thought. As the stubble is easily consumed, so will the wicked on this day. But there is another thought, because stubble is utterly consumed, nothing is left, not even ashes. On this day there will be an utter consuming of the wicked, none will be left! You might think that this is something very unjust or callous with God, but the fact of the matter is: it is their fault! They made themselves stubble, they stood against God, we see it right throughout this book - the sinful nature of even those who called themselves God's people. They accused God, they questioned God, they asked God to prove Himself in His attributes and in His ways. Because of their wilful sinfulness against Him, He will consume them easily and utterly as stubble - and if you read verse 1 it says that 'neither root nor branch will remain'. We use this now as a modern expression: 'root and branch', to describe completeness - an utter cutting off! The wicked, the ungodly who have rebelled against God, who have been proud against God, there will be an easy, utter, complete, root and branch judgment of them on the Day of the Lord.
You remember that the people of Judah said that they were coming to the place where they were now going to call the proud happy - where are those now on this day, who call the proud happy? Where are God's accusers? God has righteously judged them, so that every mouth is stopped, every guilty sinner is dumb in their guilt as God judges them! Those who called the proud happy are now made completely miserable, as the fire of God's jealousy burns against them, as Zephaniah 1:18 describes. It doesn't matter who they are or what they have, 'Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land'. What a day, what an awful position to be in, to be counted among the unrighteous and the ungodly when Christ appears.
Then a second question is not just against whom is this wrath directed, but when will this Day of the Lord take place? I'm not going to go into a lengthy prophetic discourse, but save to say that this will be the time when God directly intervenes in human history. You could call the period that we are in now 'man's day', the day when man seems to think that he controls his own affairs politically, and even to an extent religiously; but there's a day coming when Christ comes, when God is going to intervene visibly. Of course, as the book of Esther teaches us, God is behind all the affairs, even though He may not be mentioned at times - but God is going to actively stride onto the stage of man's affairs. This Day of the Lord will take place and, as we were singing at the beginning of our meeting, the church of Jesus Christ will be raptured, be taken home to be with the Lord in heaven, to the Judgment Seat, to the Marriage of the Lamb. Then, on this earth for seven years - if you want to read about what will take place, read Revelation chapters 6 through to chapter 19 - the awful things that will transpire in what the Bible calls 'The Great Tribulation', 'The Day of Jacob's Trouble'.
We thought about it briefly last night in our Gospel meeting, when Paul to the Thessalonians described this day in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, this is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ when He shall come: 'when He shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power'. What a day! Seven years of God's wrath and indignation!
Now let me just say, before I expound this day any more, that this verse in Malachi and the verses I have just read in 2 Thessalonians are held by a certain section of theologians as proving the doctrine of annihilation. 'What is that?', you say. Well, some people believe that you do not live after the judgment, that when God judges sinners, if you're unrighteous you will be sent to hellfire and you will be exterminated - your existence will be puffed out, you will cease to exist. They believe that the figure and the metaphor of fire and fiery wrath and indignation here speaks to us that we will be blotted out, as it were, our life will be puffed out as a flame. But this is the mistake that they make: Malachi and 2 Thessalonians, and all of these other passages, are speaking of a physical judgment that will take place upon the earth - the Great Tribulation period, seven years upon the earth. This is a physical judgment that will take place upon men's bodies, but those bodies will die and those bodies will either be consumed or buried, and there is a day coming when all of those bodies will rise again, and the spirits and the souls of those men will come again together with the bodies; and Revelation chapter 20 teaches us that the dead, small and great, from land and sea, will come and stand before God and will be judged. Malachi and Thessalonians are talking about physically what will happen to people in their bodies in the Tribulation period, but they will not be exterminated. They will stand on another day, as Revelation 20 teaches us - John says: 'I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire' - a conscious torment forever and forever!
Believe you me, I would love to be able to get round theologically, intellectually, reasonably and conscientiously the doctrine of eternal punishment - but I cannot. It is in the Scriptures, taught by none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an awful reality that there is the Day of the Lord, and for those who are found guilty on that day, they will consciously, eternally suffer torment and torture throughout the ages of eternity! As we rejoice in the prospect of the Lord Jesus coming again, and we ought to rejoice, we must remember what it will be for those who are lost. When the Sun of righteousness appears, though He will have healing in His wings for some, there will be judgment in His wings for others; and they will be scorched by His holy, fiery indignation. Do you know what that means practically? It means, because these words in Malachi are spoken specifically to the nation of Judah and Israel, we need to pray for Israel. Paul tells us in Romans chapter 11 that blindness in part has happened to the nation of Israel because of their rejection of Messiah. We need to pray for them! Thank God there's a remnant that are believing today, but there will be many judged because of their rejection of the Lord Jesus. Not only do we need to pray for Israel who are blind, but for the world around us who is blind - our friends, our loved ones, our neighbours, our work colleagues - this is what faces them! While we're singing the songs of Zion about the Lord coming so soon, rejoice, again I say rejoice, but remember: remember what is ahead for those who do not have Christ, for a world whom the god of this world has blinded that they believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them and they should be saved. Pray for them, pray for Israel, pray for those who will not see.
Can I give you, tonight, an illustration of the blindness that prevails not only in Israel, but right across the world? I speak specifically of the Jews in this regard, because in their exposition of Malachi and various other books of the Old Testament and the prophets they engineer God's word to suit their theological bent. Now what am I talking about? Well, because the word of God is uncomfortable to them in this issue of judgment - and I refer you to the fact that the last word in the Old Testament in the English translation is the word 'curse', of course Malachi is not the last book in the Jewish Scriptures - but in our English Scriptures there is the word 'curse' at the very end, almost as God's declaration and conclusion of all Israelite history, that they're still in their sins, they're in a curse. What do the Jews do when they come to these Scriptures? Well, if you look in Malachi at that last verse that I have been referring to, look at it please, verse 6 at the end: 'lest I come and smite the earth with a curse'. Jewish scholars say that what you should do is, after you read verses 5 and 6, you should go back to verse 5 and read verse 5 all over again so that Malachi, in chapter 4, ends: 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD'. It ends on a positive note, the day of anticipation, that the Jews can still look for Elijah coming to herald the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
If you look at another book of Scripture, look at Isaiah, look at the last chapter of it with me, Isaiah chapter 66, they encourage the same biblical somersaults. Verse 24, the last verse again is a verse of curse: 'And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh'. That doesn't bode well to the Jewish mind, to contemplate that God's last word has been judgment, so they say you should read verse 23 after verse 24: 'And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD' - much more positive, isn't it? They encourage this in another two books, the book of Lamentations - Lamentations, Ezekiel, if you can find Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel - and the last chapter, verse 22, it ends with this note of judgment: 'But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us'. You can't have a book ending like that, so read verse 21 after 22: 'Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old'.
Then finally, just to prove this to you, turn to Ecclesiastes - Proverbs, Ecclesiastes...Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes - chapter 12. Ecclesiastes, again, ends on this note of judgment, verse 14: 'For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil'. The Jewish theologian says, 'No, we can't leave it there, read verse 13 again': 'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man'. Do you see it? The utter blindness, not only of the Jew, but that is symptomatic of sinful nature that cannot accept that they will be judged for their sins, yea are already under condemnation for their rejection of the gospel. That's why Paul said: if our gospel is hid, if our gospel is hid, it's hid from those that are lost.
Are you starting to behold the Day of the Lord? It is a day of burning against those who are ungodly, those who have stood stout and proud - oh, God forbid that any of you should be found in that number. When will it take place? Well, we don't know specifically, because what we are waiting on is the rapture of the church that could happen imminently, at any time, and then the wrath - my friend without Christ - will start for you!
Not only is it a day of burning, but verses 2 and 3 tell us it's a day of healing: 'But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall'. It is a day for healing - 'a day for healing for whom?', you say. Well, verse 2 in the beginning shows us: 'You that fear my name'. Those that fear God, the remnant in a day of apostasy and indifference who are following the Lord, it is those of chapter 3 verse 16 that we looked at last week: 'Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name'. Those who are His jewels, who are written in His book, who fear His name, who think upon His name, who speak about His name. Thank God there will be a remnant of Jewish people, when the Lord Jesus' feet touch the Mount of Olives. Though men's hearts, as Jesus told Judah, men's hearts will be failing them for fear of this great wrath and tribulation coming upon the earth, He says to some: 'When you see these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads for your redemption draweth nigh'. The Sun of righteousness that is coming as a burning fire to some, is coming with healing in His wings to others.
As the Psalmist said: 'The LORD is a sun and a shield', and the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back as a Sun to the righteous remnant. Just as in Genesis 1:16, when the sun was created, I believe it was one of the first types of the Lord Jesus Christ that is introduced into Scripture, 'ere Malachi at the end of the Old Testament - at least in our English canon - 'ere he finishes, he reverts back to this type of the Lord Jesus like the sun, the Sun of righteousness, and he presents the same glorious person! Is it not true that our Lord Jesus Christ to His people, whether it be His people of Judah or His people in the church, is like the Sun to our galaxy and our solar system? He is the centre of all things, He is the source of all life. John 1 tells us in verse 4 that in Him was life, and that life was the light of men - He is life, He is light, He is the source of our existence. Praise God, though the Day of the Lord will be a day of burning for the lost, it will be a day of blessing for a saved remnant of Jewish people who'll look unto Him as their Messiah, and say 'Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord'.
Who is that remnant? Well, if you turn with me to Zechariah chapter 14 please, just turn a page or two back from Malachi, the book before Malachi. We see this Day of the Lord mentioned in chapter 14 verse 1: 'Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south'. Then look at verse 12: 'And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth', and verse 14, 'And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem'.
One moment, in verses 1 to 3, Jerusalem is surrounded by the nations of the world that the Lord has allowed to come against them in order to bring them in sorrow to repentance; and when they're surrounded, at the end of their tether, on their last legs, they will cry out to their Messiah who they've rejected. Chapter 12 of Zechariah says: 'They shall look on him who they have pierced', they shall be forgiven in a moment, Israel shall be saved, her enemies shall be confounded, consumed; and Judah will fight with their Messiah. What does the Sun arising with healing in His wings mean? What it means to the unrighteous is that they will be consumed in judgment, but what it means to a remnant of righteous Jews that cry upon God as the Lord Jesus comes is that they shall be saved!
Now what does that mean to us? Well, as the church of Jesus Christ, He is not specifically the Sun of righteousness, He is the Bright and Morning Star referred to in Revelation 2 and Revelation 22. For us He will appear when the hour is darkness, like a star in the night He will come to take His people home in the depths of darkness, and the Morning Star is the herald of the dawn, the Star comes before the Sun rises! He will come for His church before this disaster comes upon the world, to take us home to be with Himself. What healing will be in His rays or His beams, which are the wings of the Sun of course! The Jew has a saying: 'As the sun riseth infirmities decrease'. As the sun rises all life comes into view, but germs can be killed as well. In the Jewish mind Christ, their Messiah, would come as the Great Physician to heal their diseases, spiritual and physical. He would come as the balm of Gilead, and He would be the physician there. You see this in the Lord's earthly ministry as He went around healing the sick, and even the woman with the issue of blood for twelve years - you remember when she touched the hem of His garment, He felt that virtue had gone out of Him. But here is the greatest demonstration of virtue going out of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He comes as the Sun of righteousness with healing in His rays and beams to heal the world, to rid it of sin and unrighteousness, disease. He will come to purge and perfect His work of creation and His work of redemption, and what an affect this healing will have. It will give His people vigour: 'You shall go forth', He says, if you look at Malachi and verse 3, 'ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet'. So great will be the excitement and the ecstasy when the Lord Jesus comes, that God's remnant people Judah will dance and amble like the calves skipping as they're released from the stalls to go out into the pasture of early morning. What a scene! Like a liberated animal in the delight of its freedom, frolicking; so, in righteous pleasure, God's people, liberated from the darkness of sin and nature's night, the dread of suffering and anxiety, will be free - healed in His wings.
What's the message to us tonight? The message is that the wicked will be trodden down, the message is that the best is yet to be, the message is that God's day of justice is ahead, the message is that the wicked of this world will get their comeuppance, and there will be a day of rest for God's righteous people who will shine more and more unto that perfect day. But here is the present message that I want to give you tonight from Malachi in verses 4 to 6: the Day of the Lord will be a day of burning for the unrighteous; the Day of the Lord will be a day of healing for the righteous; but Malachi finishes off with this message: today is a day for obeying! Malachi points out in verse 4: 'Remember ye the law of Moses my servant', he points them back to the law. He commands Israel to obey. He's asking them to be prepared for what God is going to do in this future day, and then he points to the ministry of Elijah - which was fulfilled spiritually in the person of John the Baptist, and may be fulfilled literally if Elijah is one of the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11 - but he's telling them to be prepared. Whilst we could spend a lot of time conjecturing about who Elijah was and is and will be - and I have my own views on that - I don't want us to miss the point tonight, what is Malachi's message? Be ready, the Lord is coming! Let's get the message! The message is unchanged today, what is his modern message to us? Well, should it not be a more forceful message when we consider that the Jews, though in darkness, will one day come to Christ - but we are Christ's own, we have believed the message, we hold the gospel! Surely out of all the peoples of the world, is Malachi's message not most poignant and pertinent to us? The Lord is coming, be ready!
The Old Testament in our English version ends with this word 'curse'. But praise God, we are children not of darkness, but the children of the light, the children of the New Testament - and the end of the New Testament, the book of Revelation 22 verse 3 says: 'And there shall be no more curse'. What makes the difference? Genesis shows us how the curse entered into the human race, through Adam and Eve in the garden. At the end of the Old Testament Malachi indicates to us that the curse still threatens. Four hundred years passes in the inter-testamental period, and we begin Matthew's gospel - the genealogy is given of the son of David, the son of Abraham, Jesus Christ who went to the cross and was made a curse for us, that we who are under the curse might be blessed with all the blessings of God. This is the message that Israel needs to hear today - oh, they'll hear it one day, but it's a message they need to hear today from us, it's a message that the world needs to hear - all the more reason why we should proclaim it, for the Day of the Lord is coming!
Here's an added modern message as we close this series: because we have the Gospel there is all the more reason in the light of the Lord's return that we should be in a fit spiritual state to proclaim it. Judgment, Peter says, must begin in the house of the Lord - have we heard His message as His people? His message on love, His message on service, His message on discipline, marriage, on the Messiah, on stewardship, on faithfulness, on the future? 'Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning', have we learnt? What is the lesson? These things will take place, the Lord is not slack, Peter says in 2:3, concerning His promises. Though others say 'Where is the promise of His coming?', He will come - and Peter says in chapter 3 verse 11: 'Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be'?
Oh, if there's a modern message it's that we who have the Gospel need to be prepared for His coming, but we need to be in a fit spiritual state to proclaim that gospel of hope. For 400 years after this word 'curse', God did not speak. The next time He spoke was through John the Baptist, but He spoke the same message - He is the same God, 'I am the LORD that changes not', Malachi says. The message was 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand', and His message hasn't changed! Are you ready, child of God? Are you proclaiming His message? For the night comes when no man shall work.
Queen Victoria was a much loved monarch of our nation, and when she used to be in residence in Scotland, occasionally she would take a stroll in the countryside. Often it was her practice to make unexpected calls on farm folk who lived in the cottages nearby. Really any day for them might be a royal day, any day the Queen might have called in! So, in anticipation, the Scots in those homes had a chair always ready, vacant, prepared for her visit; and their houses would be always kept spick and span, spotless. They were a clean people and a wholesome people anyway, but her unannounced visits caused them to have an added joy in keeping their homes lovely and ready for the Queen coming. The old people who remembered her visit in their youth would charm visitors after Victoria's death by the expression they used in those residences in Deeside. They would say: 'Perhaps today she'll come my way'. Perhaps today He'll come my way:
'Perhaps today the clouds will part asunder,
Reveal a glory brighter than the sun,
And we shall view with transport, joy and wonder,
The Hope of earth and Heaven's Beloved One'.
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This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the eighth recording in his Malachi's Modern Message series, titled "Message On The Future" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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