The Day Is Coming!
3rd Sunday of Advent
The Day Is Coming
Text: Malachi 4:1-6
Is there any day in America like Christmas? I can’t think of any day that we all look forward to as much as Christmas. The anticipation of that day is incredible. We really go out of our way to get ready for Christmas.
We start making Christmas lists months in advance. We put up Christmas lights and Christmas trees weeks in advance. We plan travel around Christmas. We plan menus for Christmas. We attend multiple Christmas parties and pull out old Christmas sweaters and outfits that we only wear on this special occasion. We listen to Christmas music. We watch Christmas movies.
Everyone has their own reasons for enjoying Christmas. For some it’s the Christmas services. For some it’s the family and friends. For some it’s the food and cookies. For some it’s the music. For some it’s just a little time off of work. For you, it might be all of the above.
But day by day, as Christmas draws closer the excitement continues to build. The anticipation of that candlelight Christmas Eve service or that Christmas Day family fun or that one special gift you can’t wait to give—the anticipation is extraordinary.
And then Christmas is finally here. Smiles are everywhere. Surprising or thoughtful gifts bring tears to the eyes, or sometimes even make you jump up and down for joy. It’s almost a relief, really. After so much waiting, after so much anticipation—finally the day is here!
We Christians really have it good though. Not only are we able to join in all the worldly festivities and traditions and celebrations of Christmas, but we get to enjoy Christmas for an additional set of reasons. Christmas is the day that we celebrate that God came to earth to save us. For all the holiday cheer that we love to enjoy, there is nothing like pondering the mystery of the Word becoming flesh in Jesus Christ—God and man in one little baby lying in a manger, born to be our Savior. Wow!
And as if it isn’t already cool enough to be a Christian this time of year, we have even another reason to be filled with joy. During this time of year which we call Advent we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth. But we also know that already happened. So during this time of year we give extra attention to looking forward to another great day—Christ’s second coming on the Last Day, or Judgment Day. Today the prophet Malachi refocuses our attention on this and reminds us: The Day is Coming!
For as exciting as Christmas can be for us, sometimes we lose track of that Christmas joy a bit. The last minute scramble for presents. Standing in line for hours at the post office trying to mail those last few presents. Making last minute plans. Cleaning the house for guests. Cooking special food. And all of this while we are trying to go about our regular every day schedules! Yikes! Before we know it we are so consumed with the busyness of life or the preparation for Christmas that we forget all about the joy that Christmas brings in the first place.
That happens even more easily when it comes to Judgment Day. The problem is that we know that Christmas is coming every year on December 24 and 25, but we don’ know when Judgment Day is coming. So when you get really, really busy in life, it becomes very easy to push any thought of the Last Day to the back of your mind.
It doesn’t take much. After all, we have families to take care of and bills to pay and work to do and money to make and homes to maintain. Somewhere in there we try to squeeze some fun time. Of course there’s church time too. How are we supposed to keep our heads above water?
It reminds me of one of those videos that you might see on America’s Funniest Home Videos. There’s a million different versions of the video but the same result. Someone is playing catch in the back yard, or the kid is riding a bike and turns to wave to dad, or the cross country runner is watching the rough terrain on the ground. Then all of a sudden—whack! The person in the video runs right through a fence, or into the back of a car, or smacks into a tree or pole. It’s funny when it happens in this world and is caught on video. But it is not funny when this is how we are living our lives spiritually.
Don’t we live like this all the time? We are so focused on what is in front of our face, determined to be healthy and wealthy and successful. Or we we become distracted and take our eyes off the straight and narrow. Then all of a sudden—whack! Satan smacks us in the face with temptation and sin. And we crash. And that is not at all funny.
The worst thing that could possibly happen to us would be that we become so distracted with every day life that all of a sudden—whack!—we are slammed in the face by Judgment Day. At that point, there is no recovering from not being ready.
Look what will happen on that day: “‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them.’” Judgment Day is not a day to take lightly. Those who are so arrogant and so evil that they think God’s judgment is no big deal—they will all be reduced to stubble. They will burn in the furnace of God’s judging fire. Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
These are the kinds of verses in the Bible that ought to make a Christian stop and think for a while. We talk about Judgment Day as something we look forward to, but those verses sound terrifying. They’re especially frightening since I know that I have been an arrogant evildoer every day of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t do some sort of sin that I arrogantly put in front of God’s will for my life. Over a lifetime I’ve amassed so many sins that I know that fiery furnace of judgment ought to have me inside of it.
But then again, that’s where the joy of Judgment Day comes in. I know that I should be burning in the fire of God’s judgment because of my sin, but I also know that I won’t because of his forgiveness. Keep reading in Malachi 4: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”
For those who revere his name, for us who believe in God, things will be much different. The only warmth we’ll experience on the Last Day is the radiance of the sun of righteousness. And by the S-U-N of righteousness here the Bible means the S-O-N of God.
When Jesus came the first time, he brought us healing and righteousness. He lived a holy and righteous life for us. He died to pay for all of our sins and bring us peace with God. When Jesus came the first time he came to save us.
Now when Jesus returns the second time, Jesus will make good on that gift of salvation. The eternity of life and happiness with him in heaven will be ours forever. No more problems. No more pain. No more sadness. No more sin.
When that happens, you won’t run for fear. You’ll run and leap for joy—like a calf released from the stall God says. After a long winter being pent up in a stall, when that door finally opens the baby cow can’t wait to stretch its legs. It bounds out of the stall and runs and leaps like it is the best day of its life.
That’s how Judgment Day will be for us. The Day Is Coming! But it is not a day of fear or sadness. For those who revere God’s name, for believers, that day will be a day of a joy. It’s a day when the S-O-N of God will come back with eternal healing for us in our eternal home of heaven. Prepare for that great day!
Aside from the busyness of Christmas that distracts us from the joy of Christmas, it is also true that sometimes people distract us from the joy of Christmas. There are some who are true scrooges when it comes to Christmas. They don’t care for it. They don’t like. They want nothing to do with it. This is not to mention of course the millions in the world who don’t do Christmas because they believe in other gods.
The same can be true with Judgment Day. Sometimes the busyness of life takes our eyes off the straight and narrow path to the finish line. But other times it’s the people that distract us from that great day.
There are so many unbelievers in the world. Sometimes it is more than overwhelming. Listening to talk radio, watching the news, reading online articles, seeing social commentary—sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in on Christians a little bit. That’s not even mentioning the many enemies we have in the world who don’t just want to quiet us but who would rather kill us. Sometimes it feels like we are losing.
But God reminds us today that this will not be the case on the Last Day. Take a look at verse 3: “‘Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
It can be so discouraging to hear Christians, even Jesus Christ, made fun of on television and treated as foolishness. It can be so disheartening to see more and more of the world following other false religions. It can be so disgusting to see videos of terrorist treatment of Christians around the world. But we must remember, their victories are only temporary. Some day soon, they will quickly find out that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. On that Last Day, all our enemies will be reduced to nothing but ashes in the fire of God’s judgment that we trample on like champions on a victory march.
That’s how Judgment Day will be for us. The Day Is Coming! But it is not a day of fear or sadness. It will be a day of joy and a day of victory for us. It will be the celebration of life forever with our Savior and King. Prepare for that great day!
It would be an obvious understatement to say that this Last Day when Jesus returns is important. For as much time as we spend preparing to celebrate Christmas, we do well to prepare even more for Christ’s second coming.
God had important words for the Israelites and important words for us to help to prepare diligently. Look at the last three verses: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
God was telling his people not to forget his words in holy Scripture. And as additional preparation, God was going to send a great prophet like Elijah who would help prepare the way for the Lord to come. He would help to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord.
God did just that. The Bible tells us, in fact Jesus himself says, that John the Baptist was that second Elijah. He preached repentance and that the kingdom of heaven was near. He prepared the way for the Lord to come.
Now today, those words ring loud and clear again. Jesus has already come once. Now he is coming back. So God is again telling us not to forget his words in holy Scripture. He’s telling us to listen to the message of John the Baptist. The Lord is telling us to repent and turn to him because the Lord is coming again very soon. The Day Is Coming and God wants us to be ready.
Did you know or realize that these verses are the last six verses of the Old Testament? These were the last words that God spoke to his people for around 500 years when Jesus finally came. Do they seem a little harsh to you?
Maybe not harsh, but certainly appropriately focused and pointed. God wanted his people then, and he wants his people now to be ready for the Lord to come. For those who reject him in arrogance and evil, it will be an awful day of judgment and fire. But for those of us who revere God and his name, it will be a day of joy and a day of victory.
For every ounce of energy and attention that you spend during these days of Advent preparing to celebrate Christ’s first coming, spend all that and more preparing for Christ’s second and final coming. The Day Is Coming! The Lord is coming! Rejoice!
Posted on December 14, 2014, in Church, Sermons and tagged Advent, Church, Elijah, End Times, John the Baptist, Judgment Day, Last Day, Malachi, Malachi 4, Prepare, Repent, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.