“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 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. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
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 3 began with refiner’s fire, which purifies us but does not destroy us. This reminds us that God wants to use the difficult things in our lives to make us better people, not to destroy us.
• 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 accept this as just and right.
• Chapter 4 opens with a description of what happens when that 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. His message was one of grace and forgiveness.
• The next time Jesus comes, He will come as a judge. His message will be one of judgment and justice based on how we responded to the message He gave when He came the first time.
• For those who have followed Jesus faithfully, judgment is nothing to be afraid of.
• For those who have not followed Him, fear is an appropriate response!
• Obviously people want to know when judgment day will happen.
• Only God the Father knows exactly when that day will come.
• Read Matthew 24:35-36 and summarize it below:
• God is keeping the date of judgment day a secret so that we cannot live like the Devil our entire lives and then try to get right the day before Jesus returns.
• Since that day is going to be a secret, we do not need to invest countless hours trying to figure out when that day will be.
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 and summarize it below:
• Thieves come when we least expect it. Likewise, judgment day will come as a surprise.
• God is delaying judgment day so that everyone in the world will have a chance to hear the Gospel and respond.
• Read 2 Peter 3:9-11 and summarize it below:
• Though God’s timing is not our timing, God is also not willing that any of His chosen ones should perish. Therefore, God is waiting for the last person who is going to believe to have the same chance as the first person who believed. 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 right now that what when Jesus returns He will find is living rightly.
• Though we do not know when the end will come, we do know that the Gospel must be preached to every corner of the world before the end comes.
• Read Matthew 24:14 and summarize it below:
• According to the “Joshua Project” there are 6918 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. Read those verses and summarize them below:
• We also know that before judgment day happens the Lord will come back and gather up all His followers and take us to heaven.
• Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and summarize it below:
• When Christ returns Christians will be changed and all our imperfections will finally be removed in an instant.
• Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and summarize it below:
• When Jesus returns we will all give an account of ourselves and our relationship with Jesus.
• Read Romans 14:10-12 and summarize it below:
• Those who had a relationship with Jesus will enter into the eternal reward of heaven.
• Read Matthew 25:31-34 and summarize it below:
• Those who did not have a relationship with Jesus will have no place left to go but to the eternal punishment of hell.
• Read Matthew 25:41, 46 and summarize it below:
• 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.
• Jesus is the sun of righteousness because He is the Light of the world and the only person who was ever completely righteous.
• 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!
• Verse 2 says that we will experience 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 the edges hanging down from his prayer shawl would have been called that.
• Take a moment to read the story of 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 judgment day all who follow Jesus will finally be healed of all their physical sicknesses.
• 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 will be like young animals running around the fields playing and having fun.
• Hallelujah, what a Savior! We must do all that we can to ensure that we are 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.
• One way to be ready for that day is to be watching for the prophet “Elijah” who will prepare us to receive Jesus when He comes.
• 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 receive 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.
• We have had many “Elijahs” help us find faith.
• We should seek to be an Elijah to someone else.
• These are the days of Elijah and we should be 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 ready 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 is an excerpt from the book Malachi: Finding Hope in the Midst of Adversity. It can be found on Amazon.