The Final Promises of the Old Testament
by Dan Kidd
Did you know that Malachi is the last book of Christian Old Testament? And with good reason. Malachi is a minor prophet who lived in Jerusalem after God's people returned from their exile and the Second Temple was built. One might think that the Lord's faithfulness to his promise--to return Israel to Jerusalem and remove them from the oppression of their captors--would be cause for grateful allegiance to the Lord. Unfortunately this is not the case. The exile did not effectively correct the minds and hearts of God's people, and they continued on in rebellions of adultery, divorce, idolatry, irreverence towards God, and withholding their tithes (that not only caused the temple to fall into disrepair, but also was intended to provide for the priests and distributed to the needy among them). The Lord is displeased, as uses his prophet, Malachi, to accuse Israel of their sins.
Our passage today once again displays the hopeful promise of God's deliverance, liberation, justice, and reconciliation. Those who give the Lord their allegiance, who call on the name of the Lord, would bathe in the healing sunlight of righteousness, and be set out to frolic joyfully like well-fed calves in the meadows. The Lord who hears the prayers of his people will not turn a deaf ear or allow corruption to go on indefinitely. The God of Israel is the God who responds.
As we set out on this 3rd week of Advent, let us allow the prophecies of Malachi remind us again of our profound need for Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, and Resurrection. That, left to our own devices, even with thorough discipline and generosity, we cannot muster up ourselves a faithfulness worthy of Creator and Sustainer of all things. It is only by the power of the Risen Messiah and the Holy Spirit who lives in us that we too can soak in the sunlight of restoration and dance to the tune of praise. Malachi concludes the Old Testament looking backwards--recording and reflecting on God's faithfulness before--and forwards--to the Day of the Lord when the promises of God's redemption and shalom would come to pass. And, this anticipation is answered in the person of Jesus. We too can join in with God's people, anticipating Christ's return and the day when all things will be made right again.
Breath Prayer – Take 2-3 minutes today to pray a simple breath prayer. Get somewhere quiet and relaxing. Breathe in deeply, and then breathe out fully. As you breathe in, ask God to fill you with his presence, grace, love, peace, etc. Consider using the list of spiritual fruit in Galatians 5:22-23. As you breathe out, offer to God the things you need him to take from you – sin, doubt, shame, anxiety, fear, etc. Pray this way for just a few minutes, trusting God to work, and then begin reading today’s Scripture.