As we approach the end of the Church year the readings take on an apocalyptic focus. The last day, the coming of the Lord in judgment, becomes prominent. The Bible pictures God’s judgment as decisive. Those who are not found justified by faith in Christ will be destroyed, like stubble and burned fields, to be trampled underfoot. The words of Malachi here are intentionally forceful. Trusting in God is presented as a true matter of life and death.
What is the good news? I often tell people that the Bible is a book of good news. Where is the good news here? It is in these last two verses of the Old Testament. God is sending his prophet, Elijah. He will turn the hearts of people away from destruction. There is great good news here.
While we might expect some detailed theological exposition to tell the people of Israel how to be preserved from destruction, Malachi gives us something else. It is a very simple instruction. God turns the hearts of fathers to children and the hearts of children to fathers. What he intends is to make people care for one another. This loving of our neighbor as ourselves, and doing it in the sight of God’s revelation of himself as the loving father of all, will draw us into God’s kingdom. We need not fear. We can know that God is our rescuer.
These are the last verses which are read in the typical arrangement of books in the Old Testament as preserved by the Church. What are the next words we see? They are words showing the lineage of Jesus. Jesus, who proves to be the Son of God, is the one announced to us by the prophet. He is the one who rescues us from doom and wrath.
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