Summary: The Bible prepares us for the second coming of Christ - but what will that day actually be like? Malachi reveals several characteristics of the day he returns.
“Are we there yet? How much farther is it? I’m bored! I can’t stand it any longer!” Have you heard that before? Flights can be agonizingly long. Recently we flew back from Poland for 8 ½ hours arriving finally in Chicago. It’s a long flight especially for someone with long legs like me. It helps to have movies to watch but you end up going between movie and then that screen that shows how far across the ocean your jet is at the moment – and it never seems to move far enough! Well, we arrived in Chicago by evening and were anxious to get on our last short flight to Minneapolis when to our horror, the flight was cancelled – the last one of the day! There we were waiting in line for another hour to get tickets for the next day. In our exhaustion I cried out: How long Lord?
This was the question these Jews were pestering the Lord with. They were waiting for justice, for the Lord to arrive and make things right. They hadn’t been waiting a few hours – they had been waiting centuries – actually since the call of Abraham - that was over 1500 years! And so they plead: “Where is the God of justice?” (2:17)
Little did they realize that the birth of Jesus was just around the corner. And so Malachi focuses again on that promise – the Lord is coming. Oh we need to hear that today too when we look around at our world. We need the encouragement that he’s on his way. Malachi prepares them and us about the Lord and his coming.
One thing that it’s important for us to understand when we read the prophets, is that they saw the first and second coming of Jesus as ONE event. They didn’t see His birth and then the second coming as separated by over 2000 years. So that helps us to see that sometimes we read about the first coming here and sometimes the second coming. Either way, we learn what it is to be prepared because the Lord’s coming is before us!
a. The Lord’s coming is CERTAIN
The first word of preparation is found in 3:1 "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me.” This is talking about the coming of John the Baptist. How did he prepare the way for the Lord to come? He preached for people to repent and return to God. His goal: get ready to put your eyes on the Lord!
And did you realize that every one of us is to be a John the Baptist in this world? We are called by the Lord to turn people’s eyes onto Jesus. Few of us are preachers, but you don’t have to be. Your life and your everyday words are a testimony to your Lord.
Why is this so urgent? Because it’s so certain. Just as Jesus first coming was doubted and questioned, so also is the second coming doubted and questioned. But there is NO DOUBT that Jesus came the first time. And so also there should be no doubt that he’s coming again!
b. The Lord’s coming is SUDDEN
Then comes the second word of preparation to people waiting for the Lord, waiting for justice. “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” The Lord is coming suddenly. It’s hard to wait so this is a great encouragement to be prepared – it can happen at any moment.
I think of how many years I waited before I met my wife. All through High School – nothing. Then four years of college – some dating but still nothing. Then I went on to seminary – more waiting and waiting. I finished and prepared to go on the mission field. I had basically given up the fact that I would ever meet a girl that would be right for me. I was fine with surrendering that idea up to the Lord. But then SUDDENLY, I met this beautiful Polish lady in St. Paul on July 7, 1994! Half a year later we were engaged and the following year we were married in her home church in Poland. That was sudden! But without the wait, it all would have been missed.
And so will the second coming of the Lord be. We’re reminded of this in Matthew 24:40-42 “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” An ordinary day like tomorrow at work - and you never come home!