Saturday, January 8, 2011
The Days of Elijah - A Study from Malachi
• Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.
• Many people view Malachi negatively because it talks a lot about judgment.
• But it is actually a message of love because God is trying to warn people one last time before it is too late.
• We should listen to its warnings with a heart of love instead of a heart of defensiveness.
• Chapter 3 began with refiner’s fire. Refiner’s fire does not destroy, it purifies.
• God wants to use the difficult things in our lives to make us better people, not to destroy us. Will we let Him?
• Chapter 3 ends with the warning that one day we would all reap what we have sown and the difference between the righteous and the wicked would be made clear. We know this instinctively.
Verse 1 - Surely the day is coming . . . All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire . . .
• Chapter 4 opens with a description of what happens when the Day of Judgment finally comes.
• Most of us do not like to think about judgment day, but avoiding the topic will not make it go away.
• Judgment day will happen eventually.
• The first time Jesus came, He came as a baby in manger.
• The next time He comes, He will come as a judge.
• For those who have followed Him, there is nothing to be afraid of.
• For those who have not followed Him, fear is appropriate!
When will that day happen?
• Only God the Father knows exactly when that last day will come.
• Matthew 24:35-36 - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son except the Father only.
• God is keeping the date of that day a secret so that we cannot live like the Devil and then try to get right the day before Jesus returns.
• We do not need to invest countless hours trying to figure out when that day will be because it will be a surprise.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 - About the times and the seasons: brothers, you do not need anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
• Thieves come when we least expect it.
• Likewise, that last day will come as a surprise.
• God is delaying that day so that everyone in the world will have a chance to hear the Gospel and respond.
• 2 Peter 3:9-11 - The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness.
• God’s timing is not our time.
• God is not willing that any of His chosen ones should perish.
• God is waiting for the last person who is going to believe to have the same chance as the first person.
• Then the end will come, and it will not be pretty.
• Since we do not know when the end will be, our focus must be on living holy lives until Jesus returns.
When will that day happen?
• Once the Gospel has been preached to every corner of the world, then the end will come.
• Matthew 24:14 - And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
• According to the “Joshua Project” there are 6,918 people groups around the world that still have no access to the Gospel.
• While that may sound like a lot, only a few years ago there were more than 10,000 such groups.
• God’s Spirit is moving quickly to call His people to Himself
• One day very soon we will see the fulfillment of Revelation 7:9-10 . . . there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!
• First the Lord will come back and gather up all His followers and take us to heaven.
• 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
• On that day we will be changed and all our imperfections will finally be removed in an instant.
• 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 - Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
• On that day we will all give an account of ourselves and our relationship with Jesus.
• Romans 14:10-12 For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
• Those who had a relationship with Jesus will enter into the eternal reward of heaven.
• Matthew 25:31-34 - When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
• Those who did not have a relationship with Jesus will have no place left to go but to the eternal punishment of hell.
• Matthew 25:41, 46 - Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
• Note that hell was never designed for people.
• Hell was designed for the Devil and his demons.
• But for those who reject Jesus, there is no other place for them to spend eternity, so they go to hell.
Verse 2 - But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
• Those of us who have discovered a relationship with Jesus will not experience eternal judgment. Instead we will finally experience healing from the sun of righteousness!
• Jesus is the sun of righteousness because He is the Light of the world and the only person who was ever completely righteous.
• What does it mean that He will have healing in His wings?
• In those days, Jews wore an outer garment called the Tallit.
• It was a shawl like garment of wool or silk with fringes at the four corners. It was commonly referred to as a prayer shawl.
• The corners of the shawl were known as “wings.”
• As a Jew, Jesus would have worn a Tallit regularly.
• Therefore, in a figurative sense, Jesus would have had “wings” because of the edges hanging down from his prayer shawl.
• Remember the sick woman in Luke 8 who snuck up behind Jesus and touched Him?
• She had been sick all of her life.
• She had spent all of her money going to doctors, but they had not been able to help her.
• She had heard about the healing power of Jesus and believed that if she could just touch the edge of His garment, she would be healed.
• She wove her way through the crowd and touched Him.
• She instantly experienced healing from the “wings” of the Sun of Righteousness.
• On that final day all who follow Jesus will finally be healed of all their physical sickness.
• More importantly, on that day, all who follow Jesus will finally be healed of the sin sickness that has plagued us since our birth!
• That will make us free from the burdens that have held us back and we’ll be like a young animal running around the field playing and having fun.
• Hallelujah, what a Savior!
• How can we be ready for that day?
Verse 5 - See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
• Malachi said we must look for the prophet “Elijah” who would prepare us to receive Jesus when He came.
• This prophecy was fulfilled literally 430 years later when John the Baptist came and proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah and prepared the way for the Jews to received Jesus.
• Some people argue whether John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this prophecy or not.
• We know John the Baptist was the fulfillment of this prophecy because the angel Gabriel said he would be in Luke 1:11-17.
• Jesus also said John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that prophecy in Matthew 17:10-13.
• But in a practical sense, anytime someone seeks to help another person discover faith in Christ, then God is using that person as a modern day “Elijah” in someone else’s life.
• How many “Elijahs” helped us find faith?
• Have we been an Elijah to someone else?
• These are the days of Elijah!
• We are the voice of Elijah crying out!
• God is gracious and gives us many chances, but when the end finally comes we had better be ready because all our chances will be used up.
• It is impossible to know when that end will be, so we should live holy lives in readiness for Jesus’ return.
• When Jesus returns, it will be a great a day of healing for those who followed Him but a terrible day of judgment for those who rejected Him.
• We must be an “Elijah” to help others find faith in Christ so they can be ready when Jesus returns.
This post is part of a larger study of Malachi found in the book, "Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity."