Today’s Old Testament reading is filled with anticipation, expectation and urgency! “Ready or Not… Here He Comes!” Do these words remind you of the childhood game we all played, “Hide-‘n-Seek?” Whoever was “It” would count and then call out loudly, “Ready or not, here I come!” Each player attempted to be “ready” so that they would not be caught “in the open” and unprepared!
Long ago, Malachi, one of the Lord’s prophets/spokesmen under the inspiration of God, cried out a message of warning and urgency. “See, I send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me.” God was sending, and had sent, those messengers, including Elijah one of the greatest Old Testament prophets, throughout human history to His people. After him, God sent the New Testament Elijah, John the Baptist. (Jesus Himself said, “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 11: 13-14; see also Matthew 17: 10-13)
The sense of expectation grows as the prophet proclaims, “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3: 1) This Messenger is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. This Messenger is the One whom Isaiah had seen in a vision, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1) This same Jesus was BOTH the messenger of the Father’s love as well as the message itself! He came among us, in the flesh, to bring us the message and assurance of the Father’s mercy, care and love for us; but more than that, His coming, His life and His death in our place, actually give us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life! He IS the Good News of our salvation! We have Life in and through Him!
When He comes in all His glory, “Ready or Not,” He will purge out every spot and stain of sin. He will come in judgment and call to account false believers, the immoral, liars, cheaters, those who do not show compassion and those who are unjust in their dealings with others. (Malachi 3:5) “But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver… and refine them like gold and silver.” (Malachi 3: 2-3)
In His mercy and all-knowing love, He allows us to go through trial, difficulty and even heartache in order to refine us and mold us into His image. Through this process “then the Lord will have [people] who will bring offerings in righteousness, and [their] offerings… will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.” (Malachi 3: 3-4) By His grace, we are then able to give ourselves and all that we have to Him as a righteous offering of thanksgiving.
As our loving Heavenly Father, His urgent call and promise to us is “Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3: 7) And we do return to Him through the only way He makes possible, through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ! Another Old Testament prophet asks the rhetorical question, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Of course not! “He has showed you… what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6: 6-8)
By His grace and work within us, may we do so as we eagerly await His coming, because “Ready or Not…” He IS coming!
See you in church!
Blessings in Christ,