E-study for July 1, 2021

Devotional:   Malachi 4 (or 3:19-24, depending on your Bible) 

From Holly:  Remember, this message was written specifically to Israel (Malachi 1:1).  I believe that this portion of Malachi is referring to both the first and second coming of Christ to earth.  The reference to “the day” (twice in verse 19, Tree of Life version) and “the great and terrible day of ADONAI” (verse 23) lead me to believe Malachi is pointing to that time of tribulation that Jeremiah (chapter 30:5-7), Isaiah (chapter 13; 24:21), Joel, Ezekiel (chapter 30), Amos (chapter 5), Obadiah, Zephaniah (chapters 1 & 2) also refers to, as well as Paul in his letters to the Corinthian church and the Thessalonian church, and Peter in his second letter. 

Can’t you just see the Holiness of the risen Son burning up the unrepentant sinners of the world when you read verse 19?  And the result, verse 21, they will be nothing more than ashes to be trod upon.  But a remnant of Israel (verse 20) will remain!  Suddenly, they will be freed from all their oppressors, both worldly and spiritual.  What a joyous picture of their release we read in these verses. 

In addition to encouraging the Israelites to persevere in their commitment to revere (and thus obey) the LORD of Hosts (Malachi 3:16), because the day is coming when they will be freed from the nations that ruled over them, God through Malachi also reminds them to return to the teachings of Moses—statutes (“prescriptions”) and judgments (“judicial verdict” or in the abstract, “justice” including “rights” or “privilege”) that God had given to His people to lead them to righteous living. 

Verse 23 (or 4:5) refers first to the coming of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-17, Matthew 11:1-15), who would call the people to repentance, preparing them to receive their Messiah (“Anointed One”).  It is interesting that unity (the turning of the fathers and children back to each other) was going to be the visible result of that spiritual returning.  The second reference in this same verse I think is to Elijah being one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11:3-14.  Note: Matthew 17:1-3 says that both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus at the time of His transfiguration.  The Law and the prophets both pointed to Jesus as Messiah (John 1:45 and Romans 3:21), and I think that Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) will be making that final appearance, giving people (especially any Jewish people) one final chance to repent and turn to God. 

Putting this all together, what can we learn from this today?  The first thing that pops into my mind is the word “overcomer”.  This is a promise that Israel (a remnant, according Paul’s writing in Romans 11:5) will be delivered on that Day when Messiah Jesus returns.  They overcome by revering God’s Name (His character).  We are told in Revelation 2:7, 17, 26; 3:3, 12 and 21, that there are rewards for being overcomers.  We are told in 1 John 5:1-12 that our trust in Christ Jesus is what makes us “overcomers”.   Revelation 12:5-11 tells us that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb (placing our trust in Christ crucified) and the word of our testimony (verbally proclaiming our trust in Him).   

The second thing I see is the allusion to unity.  This is important to God.  Not only is He saying to Israel that it is the visible fruit of the inward turning back to Him, but Jesus in His prayer for His disciples (and all who would in the future place their trust in Him) asks that we would be united, one even as He and the Father are One.   

Finally, He calls the Israelites back to the Law.  We are not under the Law (Romans 6:14-15, Galatians 5:18), but all of the Bible was given to us for our instruction (Romans 15:4).  Therefore, it is just as important for us to read, remember, and obey God’s Word as it was for the Israelites to remember and obey the Law that Moses gave them. 

Devotional reading to be shared on July 8th:  1 Peter 1:1-25