Prepare to Listen. But who may abide the day of his coming.
Prayerfully Read Malachi 3:1-6
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. 5Then I will draw near to you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow, and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. 6For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.
Some verses in the Bible I can do without! The bass in Handel’s Messiah sings one of them: “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” As you look forward to Christmas, is this a verse you think about? I don’t. Malachi’s negative picture of Messiah isn’t one we focus on much today. We forget that Jesus came as judge. His task is to purify and cleanse his people of sin. Therefore, we should read more carefully Malachi’s warning so that we’re prepare to welcome Messiah.
Verses 5-6 list the sins Messiah, as judge, will condemn. The list is surprising. Swift judgment comes, not on stuff we hear a lot about today—abortion and homosexuality—but on stuff the church remains silent about—lying, oppressing the migrant workers, the widow, and orphan, thrusting aside the alien. This list should motivate us to actively change and pursue justice. Instead, we often vote for politicians who promise to safeguard our rights, who restrict immigration, turning away the alien. Ignoring these sins is evidence, Malachi says, of a failure to fear the LORD of hosts, that is, a failure to live in ways that reflect obedience to what truly is against God, and also a failure to recognize God as the source of all power, Ruler of all creation. Will we welcome him on the day of his coming?
What surprised you about Malachi’s list of wrongdoing to be judged by Messiah? How will this change your way of thinking about Messiah and living his Way?
Lord Jesus, I pray for the oppressed poor and the aliens who are thrust aside in my country. May I help them experience your welcome and power. Amen.
Live obediently. Fear the Lord in how you treat the poor and the alien.