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Entries in The Day of The Lord (1)

Thursday
Sep052013

The Sun of Righteousness

We apologize that there is no audio for this sermon.

As we reach the last chapter of Malachi, we are given the assurance of God’s Judgment.  Just as chapter 3 guarantees that the promised Messiah would come, so chapter 4 unequivocally states that the promised “Day of the Lord” would come.  In similar ways we were told that the Messiah’s coming would be a “cleaning” time and the Day of the Lord would be a time when the wicked are removed.

So let’s look at this prophecy of the Day of the Lord.

God Has An End For The Proud

Vs. 1 refers to “The Day.”  Throughout the prophet you find the long form of this phrase, “The Day of the Lord.”  It refers to a time when God rises up and judges the world.  It is sometimes shortened to just “The Day,” but the context always makes clear that the same issue is at hand- Judgment Day.  Just as we would use D-Day in our society and it is clearly understood, even when used metaphorically, The Day of the Lord was understood to be a day of raising up the righteous and putting down the wicked.  Though it may seem like it, God’s judgment never tarries forever.  He has a particular end planned for those who refuse to turn from their wicked ways.  It would be well for our generation to recognize this timeless truth that God’s judgment always comes.  Thus what goes around comes around.

Now verse one particularly refers to the proud.  This term refers to their puffed up nature.  They are filled with the air of their own ideas or the ideas of other men.  This causes them to stick out among other people.  However, when judgment comes they will wish that they didn’t stick out so much.  When God’s judgment comes, the wicked are not as substantial and big as they seem.  Like a balloon filled with hot air, so they are quickly deflated and destroyed.  They are removed quickly and swiftly in whatever means God sends.  A great picture of this for our era is a man like Hitler.  He makes a big substantial impact upon this world but, when judgment comes, he and all his plans are gone in a day.

The imagery of an oven is used.  God’s judgment is like an oven that burns up the wicked.  No matter how great the tree in this world, it is nothing when the judgment of fire begins to reduce it to ash in a great conflagration.  In fact the burning is so great that no branch or root is left for them.  They are completely removed from the equation with nothing to remain.  Now compare this to the words of Jesus, “I am the vine and you are the branches.  He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit.”  “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”  Thus Jesus employs this metaphor as well for his followers.

Now we can see how pride is connected.  It was pride that kept many in Israel, and especially the religious leaders, from even connecting to Christ, much less remaining in Him.  Those who reject God’s offer of salvation are left to go into Judgment Day swelled up with their own pride.  It will not go good for them.  You can save yourself such a demise by putting your faith in Jesus and what He did at the cross, rather than the empty ideas that you or other “great men” have come up with.

Now some will point out that these words were written to Israel and were fulfilled in  70 AD when Jerusalem was sacked by Rome.  Was it fulfilled?  If you go through the passages regarding “The Day of the Lord,” you will notice that even though much of the passage is to Israel, often it scopes out to the surrounding nations, and ultimately to even the whole world.  To help us understand this I would ask you to picture the type of telescopes that can collapse to a small length.  Usually they are made up of 3-5 pieces that look alike, but differ in their size.  The smallest piece fits into the next larger piece, which fits into the next larger piece, etc…  The warning of judgment is not just a single prophecy whether for Israel in AD 70 or for the whole world in AD 2013.  Rather it is a reminder of a principle that applies to every scope of our existence: God will come and judge.  I need to take this truth to heart as an individual.  However, we need to take this to heart as a community, and as a nation, and as a world.  Thus the Day of the Lord did come for Israel.  In that Day the righteous went out and were blessed while the wicked were cast down and all their great pomp turned to ash.  This does not mean there is no more day of the Lord.  In fact the Apostles not only warned of the Day of the Lord before AD 70, but through the Apostle John we are warned after it, that the Day of the Lord for the whole earth is still coming.  God will come and He will execute judgment on those whose pride cause them to cast His ways aside and plunge into wickedness.  God warned that this present time of the Gentiles will end with a Day of Judgment.

A New Beginning For Those Who Fear God

In verses 2-3, God turns to those who followed Him.  Though they lived in a time when wicked men walked in pride and held the reins of power, and though they lived in a time when righteousness made you a target while wickedness helped you get ahead, this appearance would not last.  God would eventually intervene.  This “Day of Truth” would reveal the reality of the power of the wicked and the “good” they had obtained.  When the wicked were being destroyed under judgment, God would bring the righteous through it and give them a new beginning.  In fact, beyond this life, we need to understand that the “bad” we have endured in this life is not the totality of our experience.  God has great good for those who trust Him and fear Him.  There is a new beginning.

Malachi uses the imagery of a dawning day.  A new sun will rise on that morning and it will be a sun that shines its light on all the wickedness.  It will be a day when the righteous are exalted and the wicked are removed.  There will be no big struggle.  Darkness will be gone as quickly as you turn the light on in a room.

Notice that this sun of righteousness is personified when it states it will rise with healing in HIS wings.  Thus the light is connected to the coming Messiah.  His coming will be like the rising of a righteous sun that brings healing to those who have trusted God, the land, even the whole earth.  This healing includes physical but is intended to speak to those deeper wounds of our heart and soul.  In fact, the physical healings that Jesus did were to be a sign that He in fact could heal the wounds of their soul, especially the deep, festering wound of sin.  Don't get too hung up on the word "wings."  If the context was talking about a bird or building then it might be a good interpretation.  However the word points to the extremities of something.  Thus in context the messiah would have healing in his "hands" or the "hem of his garment."  This again points to Jesus and his ability to heal.

Now many conspiracy theories would jump on a verse like this and say that Judaism and Christianity just borrowed their theology from the ancient sun religions and this is proof.  However, the truth is that the ancient religions were the twisting and “progressive” ideas of men in collusion with fallen angels.  What were they twisting?  The original truth that God gave Adam, Eve, and Satan in Genesis 3:15.  The day will come when the seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that Satan would have a vested interest in co-opting this idea and trying to twist it to his purposes.  And, it doesn’t stretch the imagination to see that men who quickly grew tired of waiting on God, had itching ears for “better interpretations.”  The ancient sun religions were cheap copies of the prophecy God gave at the fall and from demonic sources.

Lastly it will be a day of release.  The image is that of a young calf who has been cooped up in a pen.  When they are released they go jumping forth, kicking, and mooing their delight.  When it speaks of trampling the wicked, the image is that the wicked have become so insubstantial that they are like ash on the ground, or salt in the street.  In the present day, no one would dare tread on the wicked.  But in the Day of Judgment their great pomp, power, and presence will be reduced to ash as the righteous go forth simply kicking it up like a child.  The beauty of this is in its equity and simplicity.  The wicked are like the chaff that will be blown away and not remembered, but the righteous shall join in a new day and be given new strength and joy.  This is our heritage and our inheritance.  Let’s walk in faith!