Tuesday Reflection – August 27, 2019
Preparing For Jesus’ Return
Today’s Watchword comes from Malachi 3: 1. See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. No one is sure of the name of the prophet since Malachi actually means ‘my messenger’. He prophesied in the early part of the 5th Century BC, a time when Jerusalem including the temple, was being rebuilt by under the leadership of Nehemiah. As we look at the text, it helps to go to the previous chapter in which the prophet outlines God’s disappointment with the religious leaders and with society in general. The chapter closes with the response of the people. Where is this God of the judgement, the God we should fear, the God who will call us into judgement? The belief was that God was far removed from the affairs of humanity so there was nothing to stop them doing as they pleased. Such thinking by any society always precedes God’s judgement.
Our text responds to the question of the people, God is about to send his messenger to prepare the way for his coming. This can be taken on three levels. Firstly, Malachi, my messenger, was proclaiming the word of God to bring Israel to repentance before God reoccupied the temple and Israel reestablished a culture of worship and sacrifice. If the people’s hearts were not fully focused on God, if they were not fully engaged in keeping the covenant, then their worship and sacrifice would be lacking. Secondly, this was a prophecy pointing to John the Baptist who would come as the forerunner to Jesus, calling people to repentance in order to be ready for the coming of the messiah. Thirdly, this is a prophecy to the church of today, God’s messengers in a sinful world, calling the people of God to steadfastness and preparation for the return of Jesus for His church. In all three cases the establishment of a Godly order meant judgement on anyone who was found not meeting the mark, that is anyone living in sin.
The message is therefore is clear to the church of today. The return of the Lord is imminent, and the church is the messenger calling both those within and without to repentance. In Exodus we read of Moses, a man who had murdered an Egyptian and ran away. However, after his time in Midian and his penitence when He met God, God was able to use Him to free the Hebrew people and lead them to the Promised Land. No one is outside of God’s mercy. In Eph. 2: 4 – 5 Paul writes: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. This is the message of the church and the hope for humanity. Jesus shall soon return, and we should make ourselves ready by forsaking a life led by our own devises and desires. Its not about what we want. It’s not about what makes us feel good, its about Jesus and the salvation he offers to those who believe in Him. His grace is sufficient for us. David, greatest king of Israel, was described as a man after God’s own heart. Yet he too failed. We read in 2 Samuel where he breaks almost half of the commandments. He lied, he cheated, he coveted, he murdered, he committed adultery, yet when he realized the sinfulness of his ways and cried out to God, ‘have mercy on me O God according to your loving kindness, blot out my iniquities and forgive my sins’, God heard him and forgave him. I could also tell you about Jonah and Peter who both repented and were forgiven. I could also tell you about Judas who rather than repent, took his own life. Makes me wonder what he heard while he listened to Jesus for three years. To those who are unrepentant, the message of Christ offers condemnation, but those with a repentant heart hears from the messenger, a message of forgiveness, of restoration and of an eternity with our Lord. The way is being prepared friends, I pray you have or will receive the message of hope. Jesus shall return. Be prepared even as you share the message of preparation with others. Amen