“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.
4 ‘Remember the Law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.“
I hope that many of you began a book of remembrance, and if not, maybe you just took a few minutes to truly thank God for His many blessings. We here in North America and most of the Western world are blessed beyond all we could ask. We have fridges and freezers full of food; we have closets full of new clothes; many of us have more than a dozen pairs of shoes; we have heat for the winter, air conditioning for the summer, and a gas station on every corner, it seems. In my lifetime, other than the gas shortages in the early 1970s, which did not really affect me, I have not seen real shortages of just about anything in my lifetime.
We live in a wonderful time. We live in a blessed and privileged time. We live in a time of abundance and overflow. However, we are about to explore God’s last statement to the people of Israel from Malachi. This message would not really apply to them; all of them died before it was fulfilled. But they, the Jews in Israel, were warned that a day would come – a day that the world would never forget, a day when the wrath of God was going to be in full display, a day when men will have no doubts as to who God is and His power.
Once again, we see that there are two very distinct people in the world—those under God’s wrath and those under God’s protection. There are only two kinds of persons ever at any time on the earth. Those under God’s wrath and those under God’s protection. Which category do you fall into?
- The Day of the Lord, verse 1
That day is promised—a day when God will pour out His wrath on the world. For the better part of 4,000+ years, we have lived under grace. In Genesis 6-9, the then world experienced the global wrath of God. The death of every breathing creature except the 8 persons and animals alive and preserved in the Ark that Noah built. That day, the day of the flood, had been promised in the birth of Methuselah. His name means ‘when he dies it shall come.” And wow, the grace of God is shown in that He allowed Methuselah to live the longest of the pre-flood people, some 969 years.
We were promised another day in Genesis 22:8. We are promised a day when the Lord will provide Himself as a sacrifice for man. That day did come. Jesus was born, lived, and died some 2,000 years ago. And He, God in the flesh, became the Saviour of the whole world to those who would receive the salvation He offers. The next day that is promised here in Malachi is no less sure. That day will come. I do not know if it will happen in my lifetime, but it will happen. Like the example we saw with Methuselah, the Lord is gracious and longs for all mankind to be saved. See 2 Peter 3:9.
One of the subjects that many seem to avoid in modern churches is the wrath of God. Yes, the Lord is gracious; yes, He is merciful and kind. But He is also the God who calms the storms and sends the storms. He is the God who has storehouses of hail (Job 38:22-23) and storehouses of snow. God is able to kill people just by blowing on them (2 Thessalonians 2:8). God used Babylon to judge Israel, and when He was done, He sent another army to judge Babylon (Isaiah 51:1-4). God invented earthquakes in Numbers 16:28-32 to vindicate and secure Moses as the leader of Israel in the wilderness. Yes, God invented earthquakes. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.
Too many see God as a wimpy Being pining for us. He is God; He is self-sufficient; He does not need us. He is Holy, Perfect, Righteous, and Spotless. As such, He cannot stand by and see evil and do nothing. His loving nature tends Him to grace, mercy, and kindness; but sooner or later, He has to confront evil. He is the God who can tame the dragons mentioned in Job 27 and 41? In 2 Kings 19:35, the Lord sends an angel to kill 185,000 soldiers in the Assyrian army in one night. He did not need an army, just one angel. God is powerful, and the same God who is the one who gives life is the one who takes life.
Too many today, even in the Lord’s churches, cannot imagine the God that is full of wrath. They don’t teach about Hell; they say a loving God would never send anyone to Hell. But they are wrong. People choose to go to Hell. Salvation has been provided for all. Hell is real, God’s wrath is real, and The Day of the Lord is coming.
- The Promise of Protection, verse 2
In Genesis 18:23, Abraham asks God a rhetorical question, “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?” The answer is no; God would not do that. He preserved Noah. He went ahead and preserved Lot and his daughters, and He will preserve us as well. While the world is being dished out the wrath of God, those of us that fear God, that love Him and have humbled ourselves to trust in His sacrifice for our sins, will be blessed and cared for by Jesus, the Sun (Son) of Righteousness. He will bless us when the others are being destroyed. He will protect us when the earth is being punished, and He will help us when the rest of the world will be feeling the full force of God’s wrath.
There are many, some dear friends of mine, who teach that we will be here for the first part of the Tribulation. A cursory reading of the book of Revelation beginning in chapter 4 tells a harrowing story of what will be happening here on earth at the time of the Day of the Lord. When we see the accounts of the flood and the account of Lot’s rescue, we can clearly see that the righteous were removed to safety before the events of God’s wrath were executed.
God promised to provide safety for those that ‘fear Him,’ have reverence and love for Him. We are promised healing and that we will all grow fat. Wow, a lot of people are not going to like that they spent their whole lives on a diet just to grow fat in God’s care. But what that really means is that we will have the best of all God has to offer. While He is destroying the wicked, He will be blessing those that fear Him.
- The Holiness of the Law, verses 3-4
There are many today who pass on even teaching from the Old Testament. They say it is irrelevant, we are in the new covenant, and it is a waste of time to study these old stories. During His earthly ministry, Jesus quotes from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Malachi. In total, in just the Gospel accounts, He references the Old Testament 78 times and the Pentateuch (Gen to Deut.) 26 times. The apostles quoted the Old Testament 209 times in their writings. It would seem that the Old Testament is still pretty important to God.
The world will be judged because they broke the law of Moses. They knew right and wrong; they chose wrong, and there are consequences that follow choices. Choose to fear God and live; all of your sins will be covered in the blood of Jesus, and you will be saved. Choose to defy God, and your uncovered, unforgiven sin will call for the wrath of God.
Everyone knows the law of God; it is engrained in us. Every culture, for the most part, teaches at least commandments 5-10, the moral code of human behavior. These laws are passed on from one generation to the next. But our modern world is seeking to outlaw good and call evil good. We encourage rebellion to parents, we encourage and even reward lying about your neighbor, we encourage envy and greed, we encourage murder, and we encourage adultery. We defy God. God’s grace is great, His mercy is long-suffering, but soon He will stand for righteousness.
Now, in the text, God is specifically speaking to Israel, but as we read through the book of Revelation, we see that the whole world will suffer under the Day of the Lord. Millions will die, disease and death will be commonplace, people will still defy God and hate Him even more rather than repent. Money will be gone, the food supply diminished, the oceans and sea harmed, and the seasons will change. At one point, ALL of the islands disappear (I am from Barbados); that is not a good thing to happen. The thing that God will do will make the imagination of Hollywood and Disney pale in comparison. For the first time, mankind will understand what real horror is.
God’s standards of holiness have not changed one bit, not even a hair. His perfection is still perfect, and no human law will negate or make God’s law obsolete. His laws will be the final standard for all judgment. Just maybe we need to be teaching the Old Testament so that we truly understand God.
- The Prophet Elijah, verses 5-6
We know that Elijah was one of the two men who did not see death in the Bible. Enoch, we are told in Genesis 5:24, was taken alive by God to Heaven. In 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah was taken up in a chariot into Heaven. We do not see Enoch after this, but we hear of Elijah a lot in the Bible, especially in the New Testament.
John the Baptist is called Elijah; he came to prepare the way for Jesus. He introduced Jesus to the world in John 1:29 and 36: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” In Luke 1, Zechariah, John’s father, is promised that John would have the power of Elijah; and in Luke 1:17, that ‘he would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people for the Lord.” This was a precursor to the Second coming, that Day of the Lord.
In Jesus’s first coming, He did not strike the earth with a curse; rather, He took the curse of death and killed it (1 Corinthians 15: 55-57). We then meet the real Elijah just before Jesus is crucified in Luke 9:30. There as Jesus is transformed into His glory – for a little bit – Peter, James, and John get to see Moses and Elijah in the flesh. Real people, talking and walking with Jesus. This was shortly before the crucifixion. But in the book of Revelation, we are told that two witnesses will stand in Israel in the Temple Mount and cry out against the evils of the world, and they will be indestructible for a time, even calling fire down to kill their enemies. We see them in Revelation 11; they have awesome power. Eventually, they are killed, then resurrect, and then the full wrath of God is poured out on the earth.
You can read the Revelation for yourself; you should. As I understand and have studied, one of those witnesses is Elijah; the other may be Enoch.
These men never see death on this side of the Tribulation, but they both see death in the Tribulation. Thus, like all men, they die. John the Baptist, called Elijah by the angel, came to announce Jesus; Elijah, the actual prophet, was there just before Jesus’ death, and it would appear that He will be here to call down the wrath of God on earth.
God keeps His promises. He never falters. He never fails, and He never has to issue an apology for not coming through. Are you ready for Jesus’ Second Coming? You are either a child of wrath that is about to see the awesome and scary power of the Living God or, in Jesus, you and I are protected by God. We will never see His wrath. We are not appointed unto wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10); we have obtained salvation in Jesus.
Have you obtained salvation in Jesus? Today is the day of salvation.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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