Malachi 4:1a, 2a-3 - "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. ... But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. ... And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act," says the Lord of hosts.
In Jerusalem there is a Holocaust Museum dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. It has been said that going through that museum is a very depressing experience because you see these horrible pictures and read the accounts of the ghettos and the concentration camps. But in the midst of all the dark tales of suffering, there's an amazing story of how God can transform horror into hope.
In one of those camps there was a young lady named Rachel. She endured great hardship from being made to work in the snow with inadequate clothing. She watched in horror as many of her friends and family members were killed.
Then, one day, all the guards left unexpectedly. She didn't know the war was over. Later that day some American soldiers arrived to set the prisoners free. One American soldier spoke gently to her and convinced her that they indeed had come to rescue her. As she gathered her things, the young soldier stood by her, then held the door for her and said, "After you, ma'am."
Rachel started to cry. He asked, "What's wrong, ma'am?"
She said, "I can't remember the last time someone held a door for me. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." The soldier stayed in touch with Rachel after she was relocated, and they became friends. They later fell in love and were married.
When someone uses their power not to demean you, but to set you free—that's amazing! It can bring hope to the hopeless and joy to those in sadness. Sadly, sinful human beings abuse power for their own ends, not caring who they hurt. Malachi reminds us that only God can free us from the bondage and the prison of our sin and guilt. Only God can judge and forgive. And only God can bring a new heavens and a new earth to a place that is under judgment—all the way to the root.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the world's evil, the crushing weight of your sins, or the never-ending grind of life, Malachi says that God will surely act in this world. He will judge evil and vindicate all who trust in Him! In fact, in Jesus Christ, He already has!
Thinking back on that young girl and the soldier holding the door open for her, it's hard to grasp what she must have felt seeing the door opened for her escape, her real rescue. Then I thought about Jesus. After His death and resurrection, He literally opened the door from the desperation of this world into the resurrection reality of life in Him forever. That's a day of hope you get to be part of, by faith in Him! Take His hand today, follow where He leads.
You'll be glad you did.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, let my confidence stay rooted in Your eternal promises of love and protection. In Jesus' Name. Amen!
Taken from a devotion by Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Has someone's kindness ever taken you by surprise? What happened?
2. Treading down the wicked like ashes beneath the feet of the righteous—that's pretty descriptive language. How do you think that event will play out in real life?
3. Are there times when you have to rein in a tendency to lord it over someone? Do you find that happening often?
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