Sometimes it feels as if our culture rewards the wicked while penalizing the righteous. This was precisely how the Israelites living during the time of Malachi felt. In chapter 2 verse 17 we read, “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied Him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (NASB).
This was about 100 years after what scholars refer to as the Babylonian exile, a painful period when they lived under enemy rule in a foreign land. After 70 years, in His mercy, God redeemed and restored them. They returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt its walls and temple, and waited in expectation for the long-promised Messiah. Only He didn’t come, and wickedness once again pervaded the community. Filtering their view of God through their circumstances, many determined God’s faithfulness had failed. The people’s disappointment and pain soon turned to disillusionment, then complete apathy toward the things of God.
He responded by affirming His love (Mal. 1:2), His power and sovereignty (Mal. 1:11), and His covenant of life to which He’d proven Himself faithful throughout the generations. Then, He reiterated His oft-repeated vow to send them a Savior, stating, “‘Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of armies” (3:1, NASB). He added in verse 6, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, the sons of Jacob, have not come to an end’” (NIV).
This passage reminds us of a few things. First, it tells us God’s people weren’t ready to experience a personal encounter with Christ. They needed someone, John the Baptist, to prepare the way. Notice as well, God assured them that He, the Lord of armies, Jehovah Sabaoth, would come to them personally. As verse 6 clearly states, His faithfulness wasn’t dependent on them. Instead, it came from His steadfast mercy and grace.
Scripture urges us to hold tight to these same truths. You and I belong to the God of heaven’s armies, the One who sees all, knows all, and maintains complete control over all, our lives included. And He’s promised to bring justice, to reward His beloved.
He sees every tear, hears every desperate cry, and promises to use everything we experience for our good. Remembering this helps us endure today while we patiently wait for the paradise we know is yet to come.
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