Malachi 4:1 "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the LORD of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch."2"But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. 3"And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the LORD of hosts.
Our text this evening is a potpourri. Perhaps that needs a bit of explanation, for I am not talking about perfume, or an air freshener, that is something which covers up rottenness. Our text deals with rottenness, it is not covered up it is eradicated. When I say our text is a potpourri, what I am saying is that is has something for everyone. Our text seemed divide people into 2 groups, those who chief concern is with, why do the wicked prosper? why is punishment delayed? are group 1, and the second group are those who are imprisoned and oppressed, and are looking for relief. The one thing that both groups have in common is that both fear the name of God.
So, there is then a 3rd group, one not mentioned explicitly, but never the less present. The 3rd group is quite simply those who donít fear God. Our text speaks to all 3 groups, and it seems that all people will find themselves in one group or another.
Since the central thing is the fear of God, that becomes the place where we begin. What do we mean by the fear of God? 2 things are important. First is that the fear of God is proper. There is only one reason why people do not fear God, that is, that they are under the power of sin. And anyone who is under the power of sin, is spiritually blind, dead, and an enemy of God, and does not have eternal life. Paul summarizes this with the wordsROM 3:18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
That is a terrible thing, and left by themselves they would perish. Its all the more terrible when you remember the scriptureJAM 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. In other words, even though the devil rebels against God, in the end, he will acknowledge that God is lord of all, and will tremble knowing the punishment he has earned.
Thus we always begin with sin. We must be certain that everyone knows what sin is, and how it effects them and their lives. Everyone must acknowledge that we all sin much daily, and then seeing the evil of the sin, to turn from it. This brings us back to the potpourri, for many have come to regard forgiveness as a kind of air freshener that covers up their sin, and its stink, but doesnít require a change of life. When God calls us, and all, to repentance, he is calling to a new life, and a turning from all the old habits.
What about those who continue in sin? Well, God plainly tells us, and tells all that judgment day isfast approaching. It doesnít come now, because now, God is calling all to turn from sin, and to turn to their savior, for only in Jesus is their forgiveness, peace, and eternal life. God loves us so much, he gave his Son into death, that we might be forgiveness. So there is a time when God stand at the door and knocks, there is a time while repentance is possible, there is a time when one can find peace with God. But that time will not be always. So God assures us of his justice and holiness, and encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, calling them to repentance, so that they do not perish. But some will perish. Judgment day is already on its way, and now is the time to be ready, for God is on the way, not as Savior, but as Judge.
I said before, we are all sinners. And as this text has something for everyone, it has great hope for sinners. The hope is the good news that repentance is possible, that peace with God can be found. The hope is a Sun of righteousness that is rising. It is a great promise to know that God will deal fairly with all people. But by itself, it is not much hope, for our righteousness does not even permit us to come into Godís presence, our righteousness being but filthy rags. The hope is that not only will this righteous sun rise, but with its rise, it will bring healing. Anything that needs healing will be healed. But more than that, it is news that those who have been penned up will be set free, and for those who are crippled, what form that may take, the healing is something that restores in us a new life and vitality, like that of a young calf, jumping and frolicking, because it has been set free, so to we rejoice to hear the good news that the healing brought to us by water and the word, and in the body and blood given and shed for us, has made us a new creation, and restored a life within us that rejoices in God grace and mercy, for Jesus sake.