Meditations in Malachi : 37. Release
Mal 4:2,3 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.
Two meditations back we noted how the Lord distinguishes between people and then, in the previous meditation we noted the destruction of the wicked that is promised. But the wicked are only one side of the equation and on the other side are the righteous, those “who revere my name.” That sums it up well. Really it is all about how people think about and respond to God Himself. It’s not so much about the quality of their lives, or the ethical standards they live by; no, it is more about how they think about God and how thoughts and attitudes have been then translated into actions. The people the Lord is now speaking to are those who have heard His word through Malachi and have responded positively to it. This is about their future.
Now what is difficult about prophetic Scripture is determining WHEN it is being fulfilled. This passage started with, “Surely the day is coming….” (4:1) speaking of a specific time but whether that referred to a short period ahead, or after death or after the final day, is unclear and we are left wondering and anyone who tries to tie it down on a slightly fruitless task. In what follows in the remaining few verses of this little book, it almost appears as if all this will culminate in John the Baptist and the coming of Jesus, in which case all the language used so far is purely figurative and is spiritual and not physically literal. Let’s see if we can see it both ways.
First of all, let’s consider it literally in material terms: “All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.” (4:1) That would suppose a time when there is a literal physical destruction of all who are wicked. Well history has not shown such a time so it must apply to the last day when God comes. This fits with the picture inRev 19:11-21 which we mostly tend to interpret in material terms – yet it could be spiritual. There is a problem with seeing it as spiritual because it would mean that this would be one rare occasion when God would overcome the will of men and make them submissive to Him. There are records in Church history of God coming in times of revival when His presence is so real and so powerful that men and women fall before Him in repentance. Maybe that is how it will be. Yet Scripture seems to testify to the fact that mostly God does not force men and women to repent but yet does require them to receive the outworkings of their actions. The older generation of Israel dying in the desert after refusing to enter the Promised Land, is a classic example of that and there are many other example of God’s judgment falling so people die.
So if it is literal and physical, there is coming a time when this faithful remnant will know pure joy in their release from being the underdogs in a godless nation. Thus righteousness will return to the land and bring healing to it because God will strike down all who are unrighteous and so the righteous remnant will take the land again. That, surely has to be the last day.
But suppose it is spiritual. That would fit with the coming of John the Baptist and then Jesus. John came with the word of God that brought transformation as thousands flocked to him in repentance, and went away to live new lives. Very soon Jesus came and ‘freedom’ was a key thing he brought, freedom from sin, and freedom from sickness and fear. Joy abounded wherever he went and the unrighteous fell before the massive crowds who flocked to Jesus.
However we interpret it, whatever is the truth, there IS coming a time when the righteous will be the ones blessed by God in such a measure that their righteousness will be seen to rise like the sun in the morning and that will bring healing to society and evil will flee before it. That happens in revivals and it will happen at the end. May we be ready for it! Ensure you are part of the faithful remnant.