Malachi 4:1-3 - For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
I confess, I find this chapter of Malachi pretty disturbing. The imagery is creepy—ashes, leaping calves, treading down the wicked. True, we're talking about the ashes of brush and grass left after a wildfire has passed through—but still, it bugs me. I want to turn the page and get right into the book of Matthew, with its sweet, comforting Gospel.
And yet if I do that, I miss something. God may be using scary language, but the subject He's addressing is deeply horrible as well. He's talking about human evil—about people who are arrogant and who harm others, about people who never repent and never quit. And He compares their victims to calves kept penned up in a stall—and if you look through the rest of the Bible, you can figure out just why those calves were in a stall—they were being fattened for slaughter. Creepy? You bet.
Human evil is like that. And the worst of it is, it keeps coming back again and again and again. No sooner do we have "the war to end all wars," when another one gets started. "Never again!" the Holocaust, educators say—and yet neo-Nazis are a real threat, and genocide keeps happening around the world. It's like the California hills after a wildfire—the ground is clear for a season, but the fire never reached the roots underground, and by spring the brush is up and growing again.
Against all of this, God gives us a promise: "The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." God will put an end to all evil, and God's cleansing fire will reach the whole wicked plant—not just the branches, but the roots hiding below the ground. The prisoners destined for slaughter will go free. And "the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings."
Who is this sun of righteousness? This is our Lord Jesus Christ. Human evil will not darken the world forever. God has already pierced through the darkness and smoke by being born into our human race as a tiny baby, Jesus. He has lived among us, worked, served, cared, and suffered for us. And He has destroyed the powers of death and evil by His own death and resurrection.
For all of us who trust in Jesus, there is hope! In spite of the evil we still live with, an end is coming. The day will dawn when we will know to the full the wonderful freedom of the children of God—and we will celebrate in the light of our Savior, Jesus. Evil will be gone. Jesus will remain. Thank God!
THE PRAYER: Dear Father, please bring that day quickly when death and evil will be no more, and we will rejoice in Jesus' light. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever tried to get rid of an unwanted plant that refused to die? What happened?
2. What ongoing evils bother you most at this time? How do you trust in Jesus for help?
3. Say or write a prayer asking the Lord to deal with one of those evils.
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