Summary: Malachi Series - 6 of 6.
WHEN GOD OPENS THE BOOK
INTRO: Tom Dooley, the American physician who became famous as the jungle doctor of Laos, was once asked how he overcame disappointments and setbacks caused by uncaring people. “I simply remind myself of who is really keeping score,” he said. No Christian can keep on keeping on without the certainty that it is God who really keeps score in this world.
This truth is at the heart of Malachi’s sixth and final charge against Israel. Here he accused the people of speaking severe words against God.
In typical fashion, the people asked “What have we spoken against You?” (3:13). They were saying: “It does not pay to serve the Lord. The only people who seem to prosper are those who have no regard for God or their neighbors.”
The people saying these things had apparently walked before God in repentance and had been faithful in their prayers, fasting, and sacrifices. But their physical and economical hardships continued unrelieved. While they did right, everything went wrong. The results were that they were questioning the justice and fairness of God.
Earlier the Lord had rebuked the cynics who had openly scoffed at religious beliefs and practices (2:17). Now he rebukes the pious who complain about the unrelieved hardships they are facing.
These words are dangerously close to the conclusion that the worship and service of God is useless and might as well be discontinued.
Once again, God’s answer to their accusations is an eschatological answer. A “book of remembrance” is being kept and “the day” of reckoning has already been set. When the day of the Lord comes and the book is opened, God’s righteousness will prevail. To the wicked he will come as a judge; to the righteous he will come as a father.
Three things will happen in that day: 1. He will reveal hidden things. 2. He will right wrongs. 3. He will reward the worthy.
I. TO REVEAL HIDDEN THINGS (3:18).
We cannot always distinguish between the righteous and the wicked now. We must patiently wait until the judgment to see that it really pays to serve God. The Scriptures affirm this in 1 Corinthians 13:12.
In that day it will be evident that those who serve him are “His jewels,” His special possessions. Then and only then will the difference between those who serve him and those who don’t be evident.
II. TO RIGHT WRONGS (4:1,3).
On that day he will right the wrongs of life. Two vivid pictures depict this. The wicked shall be “as stubble” and “as ashes.” The proud and the wicked, who seem so strong and firmly rooted, will be consumed as quickly as a handful of straw. Not a root or a branch will be left. They shall be treaded on and crushed under foot as ashes. These two analogies are intended to picture, as graphically as possible, the total triumph of good over evil.
ILLUS: On August 6, 1945, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. When the smoke cleared 100,000 people were dead. Of the 92,000 buildings, 62,000 were destroyed. It was estimated that temperatures at the center of the blast reached 6,000 degrees.
Among the relics in the Peace Museum are two huge fireproof safes that survived the explosion. They had been opened so that visitors could see the intensity of the heat from the blast. The safes had survived, but everything in them was charred to ashes.
This is the picture Malachi paints for us. At his coming, Christ will be as a consuming fire to right all wrongs.
III. TO REWARD THE RIGHTEOUS (4:2).
Again, two pictures are given to show this truth: “the Sun of righteousness,” and “go forth.” “The Sun of righteousness” was clearly a reference to the coming Messiah. He is the hope for the bruised and faithful of God. His coming would bring healing to them.
Then the people will “go forth” like calves let out of a dark stall into open pasture — running, turning, twisting, kicking with joy. His coming will be the dawning of a new day, a day of joyous release for them.
CONC: Malachi closed his prophecy with a challenge to remember the law of God and to anticipate the promise of God. 400 years later, in the persons of John the Baptist and Jesus, God fulfilled this prophecy.