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God has to remove sin, himself. The day is coming, Malachi says, when sin will be burnt to a dead stubble. Wiped out. Ground down to ashes.
But before that day, God promised to send a mighty prophet to deliver a final warning – to make ready the way of the Lord. Those of us who love God will leap for joy when we hear the proclamation. We will skip like calves for the sheer joy of knowing that we are living under the in-breaking reign of God.
But others of us will be sitting on the fence like a lazy farmhand when that day comes. Why all this rush to righteousness? Why not just conveniently “forget” to offer our tithes and offerings to God for a few more months? After all, no one knows what we give to the church – or do they? Besides, we’ve got the rest of our lives to catch up, right?
And so what if our own children have failed to pass the faith to the next generation by sharing Jesus with our grandchildren? That’s not my responsibility, is it? God will still love my grandchildren even if they are running around like little heathens, right?
And about that Eight Commandment: I know my boss won’t miss the extra stapler or those envelopes or the ballpoint pens or the long distance calls I make on the office phone –
Just one more drink and then I’ll quit – I’m entitled to it – what a hard week it’s been!
What does it matter if I spice my language up with a few curse words – or if I smoke in front of the children – or my husband or wife? I’m a pretty nice person in every other way.
You know, I like the view up here, sitting on my comfortable fence of self-justification. I can look out and observe the good guys and the bad guys and not commit to either side – and whenever I feel the urge, I can jump down just long enough for a little ‘sin-dip’ and climb back up before drawing too much attention to myself. Surely there are too many BIG sins going on in the world for God to notice my little bed of nutgrass. Don’t worry, friends, when the Roundup comes, I’ll be ready…
God says, one day, I will send a prophet who will yank you straight – one you can’t hide from – one who will confront you and expose all of your deep down nutgrass sins. When that day comes, many people will be ashamed when they rightly recognize themselves in the words of God’s prophet, in words that are true and are meant to save, not destroy. Those who do hear will repent and draw closer to the love of God and care of family and God will love them and be their God and they will find peace.
But others will not hear the words of God’s prophet and they will not repent. Those who do not, Malachi warns, will keep marching down the road to their own destruction. Sin is tough – we all know that – but the day of God’s Roundup is tougher! Sin will be destroyed.
Malachi had to be a prophet close to God’s heart to be able to proclaim with such bold assurance that God will destroy sin and bring his kingdom to earth. Malachi did not want to frighten believers – he wanted to encourage them and prod them to take their faith seriously. Be patient – be obedient. God is working out his ends
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