Malachi 2:17-4:6 Comments by Stephen Ricker
one tidbit at a time read & study work the soil kind & curtious be serious about books the lion king stay connected to now dig in deep CLICK TO GO TO Bible Study HOME PAGE

The Day of the Lord
Comments for Study 2

Malachi 2:17-4:6
Memory Verse: 4:2


I. The Day of Judgement (2:17-3:5)

>1. Why might anyone say, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD"?

* Malachi 2:17 "You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?"

* "You have wearied the LORD with your words" -Some believe that God is an force or some distant unemotional being. This is far from the truth. The Lord God creator of all has emotions and is very involved with our lives.

* "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" -The Jews who returned from the exile compared their lives with those they deemed evil. They based this on their understanding and interpretation of the law of the covenant given by the Lord through Moses. They believed they were special in God eyes mostly because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were their ancestors and somewhat because they did what they believed God wanted from them. Malachi points out that their assumptions were incorrect.

* We can weary the Lord meaning he can become tired of our attitude. He was not angry with them at this point. He was compassionate telling them the truth through Malachi.

* The Jews had become cynical and morally corrupt. So God's coming, spoken of in the rest of Malachi would mean judgment and purification as well as redemption.

>Why might anyone ask, "Where is the God of justice"?

* "Where is the God of justice?" -Like Habakkuk they saw the corrupt and evil ways of the Gentiles and even some Jews and question God's decision and action or lack of action. They believed God should deal with evil ways immediately and harshly. They showed belief that God grades on a curve, that is that he lines everyone up based on their life actions. This understanding puts the unrighteous on the left and the righteous on the right. Then God decides where the dividing line of morality is and keep the right side and destroys the left side. They did not understand that all men are unrighteous and even braking one law is God's dividing line. "No one is righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:9-20) Galatians 3:10-14 states, "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

* We should not hold the law of God up to others and judge them. Rather we should hold the law of God up to us and see that we are sinners. Once we do this we will realize the need for a savior. Jesus is the only Savior given to mankind. Peter said, "Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone'. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:10-12)

>Why does this weary the Lord?

* Doubt of the Lord's love wearies him.

* A judgement and self righteous heart wearies the Lord.

>2. Who are predicted to come and what does suddenly imply?

* Malachi 3:1 "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty."

John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot

* See a painting of John the Baptist Sees Jesus from Afar by James Tissot to the right.

* "I will send my messenger" -John the Baptist was the messenger for Jesus' first coming. The two prophets will be the messengers before his second coming. (Revelation 11:3-6)

* "who will prepare the way before me" -The Lord sent John the Baptist to prepare people for his coming. Thus he would get maximum harvest. The same can be said when Jesus comes again. Though John will not be the messenger, Elijah will.

* "Then suddenly" -Jesus suddenly appeared in the flesh as an infant. His ministry started suddenly. When he began preaching the people wondered if he would be the Messiah. When Jesus comes again it will be suddenly, when people don't expect it.

* Haggai 2:6-7 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty."

* Isaiah 29:5-9 "But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, the LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with wind storm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night-- as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion. Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer."

* Mark 13:35-37 "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"

* 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness."

* "the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple" -During Jesus' earthly ministry he often when to the temple.

* "the messenger of the covenant" -The Lord has made several covenants. Two stand out here; the covenant of the law with Israel and the New Covenant.

* "whom you desire" -Jesus is the desire of all.

* Luke 1:15-17 "for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.""

* Matthew 11:11-14 "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come."

* Chapter 3 is four truths that rips off the face of hypocrisy till only malice is left.

The first 5 verses has to do with Jesus's first coming. The first sentence is about John the Baptist, quoted in the New Testament. 2-5 some up exactly the essence of Jesus's ministry. This is exactly why his ministry had to concentrate on the Jews, his people.

They believed it was about his vengeance against the Gentiles. When in fact is was him judging Israel. His judgement was not what they expected. Yet reading the gospels shows that's just what he was doing. His words invoked their heart and mind to decide to accept and change, or to reject and stand condemned. Sad, I don't remember any Bible study nor Sunday message on this aspect of the Messiah's ministry.

The message to me is clear. I better look at my heart motives and my mind preoccupations in the Messiah's refining words for "Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soup." Time to meditate and contemplate, me and the Word.

>What should have God's people realized about Jesus? (2; John 15:22-25)

* Malachi 3:2 "But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap."

* John 15:22-25 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'"

* "But who can endure the day of his coming?" -A rhetorical question. With sin no one can stand. If sin is removed we can stand. However, the process of removing sin is not an easy one.

* "Who can stand when he appears?" -When Jesus comes again those who claim to be Christian will stand before Jesus and their deeds will be judged. (Matthew 18:32-35; 24:45-51, 25:14-30)

* "he will be like" -The Lord uses illustrations so that we will understand what he will do when he comes.

* "a refiner's fire" -Metals are refined with fine. Dross, unwanted elements are removed from precious metals by heating the metal beyond its melting point. The dross collects at the top and is scrapped up. Fire is heats the metal. The Lord is compared to the fire that purifies us though violent processes.

gold refining washing

* "a launderer's soap" -Soap is used to remove dirt from clothing so that they can be worn. Jesus cleans us so we are as white as snow. (Revelation 7:14, 22:14)

* Joel 2:11 "The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?"

* Nahum 1:5-6 "The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him."

* 1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

* Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:1-4)

>Why does the Lord refine his people through fire? (3-4)

* Malachi 3:3-4 "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years."

* "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" -The Lord does the refining.

* "Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness" -The Lord desires people who live in righteousness; that is, that their actions of love and devotion are right in his eyes. An imperfect person cannot bring perfect gifts to the Lord. So he cleans people so that they can bring righteous acts to him. Since Jesus has cleansed you, do you now bring righteous acts to him?

* "the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD" -Jesus cleans us with a purpose. The life of faith is a life of service.

* Matthew 4:10 "Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

* Romans 12:11-12 "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

>3. How did Jesus execute judgment? (5)

* Malachi 3:5 "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty."

* "So I will come near to you for judgment" -When Jesus came the first time he said, "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." (John 12:47-50)

>What types of activities did his word expose?

* "I will be quick to testify against" -The Lord uses word.

* "sorcerers" -Sorcery and divination are the art, practices, or spells of a person who is supposed to exercise supernatural powers through the aid of evil spirits; black magic; witchery. They are an attempt to contact supernatural powers to determine answers to questions hidden to humans and usually involving the future. The practice was widely known in the ancient Middle East, especially among the Babylonians who developed it into a highly respected discipline. Ezekiel 21:21 records, “For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver."

* "adulterers" -Adulterers are those who break a marriage vow.

* "perjurers" -Perjurers are those who tell lies about others and events, especially under oath.

* "against those who defraud laborers of their wages" -To defraud someone of their wages includes not paying what was agreed to and paying less than what the work requires. Slavery is the lowest form of defraud for no persons life and freedom is equal to any service.

* "oppress the widows and the fatherless" -These were the people who had no power in ancient middle eastern society. The Lord had required those in high places in society to protect and help these people.

* "deprive aliens of justice" -The Lord had established laws that protected aliens. Aliens who accepted the Lord as their God were given rights in worship and society. (Leviticus 16:29, 17:8, 10, 18:26, 19:10, etc.)

* "do not fear me" -Fear of the Lord is to understand his power and justice and our need for him every day and moment. Fear of the Lord accepts that he watches over what we do and don't do.

* Exodus 14:31 "And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant."

>How was his form of justice not what they expected? (John 3:19-21, 12:46, 6:63, 15:3)

* John 3:19-21 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

* John 12:46 "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."

* John 6:63 "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life."

* John 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."

II. Robbing God (3:6-18)

>4. Why did the Lord tell them "I do not change"?

* Malachi 3:6 "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed."

* Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

* "I the LORD do not change" -The Lord's very being is the same; his power, love, wisdom, justice, faithfulness, ect.

* "So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed" -The Lord had made covenants with Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, and the Israelites. He kepted them.

* Deuteronomy 1:8 "See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers--to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--and to their descendants after them."

* Galatians 3:17-18 "What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise."

* Romans 11:1-6 "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

>What did the Lord entreat?

* Malachi 3:7 "Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?'"

* "you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them" -Decrees are the laws of the covenant established between the Lord and the Israelites. The covenant was a two sided agreement. Both parties were had agreed to do some things. The Israelites agree to obey the Lord's word. The Lord agreed to be their God. The Israelites broke the covenant. The Lord did not.

* "Return to me, and I will return to you" -Even though Israel broke the covenant, the Lord would accept them back. The same is today. God's character is one of forgivenss and love. Even today thousands of years after the covenant was made the Lord is keeping his side of the covenant.

>What can be learned about the Lord?

* Matthew 19:25-26 "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

* The Lord can be trusted. Even if we sin we can go to him for forgiveness and help. He forgives sin and bestows blessing though we may have to wait by faith. 1 John 2:1-2 says, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

>5. How can withholding tithes and offerings be robbing God?

* Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings."

* "Will a man rob God?" -All is the Lord and from this he gives to men.

* "In tithes and offerings" -The act of giving back to God is first recorded with Cain and Able. (Genesis 3:4-5) The act of giving tithes is first recorded with Abraham's gift to Melchizedek. (Genesis 14:20)

* The New Testiment records giving gifts and supporting those who serve the Lord. (1 Corinthians 9:7-14) However, it does record the amount unless Matthew 23:23-24 can be included as doing so. Many in the early church gave much more than ten percent. (Acts 4:32-36) Acts 5 records the Lord's punishment for a couple who stated they gave all the money from selling land when they didn't. The punishment was death. Both the Old and New Testament gives examples of giving to the needed. Though this is not the same as giving to the Lord. The Old Testament records the Lord's requirement for the Israelites to make specific offerings and sacrifices and also requirs the Israelites to give a tenth of everything.

* Matthew 23:23-24 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."

One tenth

* See a picture of two stacks of coins to the right; one with nine and one with one.

>How serious does the Lord consider tithing?

* Malachi 3:9 "You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me."

* "You are under a curse" -The Bible has nearly two hundred occurrences of the word curse, 180 uses are in the Old Testament and only 19 in the New Testament. The concept is almost exclusively Old Testament, which speaks of curse (89), cursed (65), “curses” (18), and “cursing” (8). The New Testament uses curse only 8 times, “cursed” in 9 places, “curses” in a single verse, and “cursing” in one reference.

* "because you are robbing me" -The Lord requires that we give back to him ten percent. Failing to do so is considered robbing him.

* Giving ten percent back to the Lord is an act of faith and love. Often ten percent giving is not easy. Often it takes faith.

* Mark 12:41-44 "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."

>Why is tithing not testing the Lord? (10)

* Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

* "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse" -The temple had storehouses. (1 Kings 7:51; 2 Chronicles 31:11-12; Nehemiah 13:12)

* "that there may be food in my house" -The Lord did not need the food. The Levites received their portion from the offerings and sacrifices.

* "Test me in this" -Two ways exist to test the Lord. One stemming from a righteous heart, and one from a challenging heart. When Satan tempted Jesus he told him to through himself down from a high place to see if God would catch him. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." (Matthew 4:5-7) Here, the Lord commands them to test him in tithing and blessing. In other words he's saying, "Honor me by obeying me in tithing and see if I honor you with blessings."

* "the floodgates of heaven" -An idiom of blessings. (Deuteronomy 28:28:12; Isaiah 44:3)

* "pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it" -The covenant the Lord had with Israel had clauses of blessing and curse. Blessing for obedience and curse for disobedience.


* See a picture of floodgates being opened to the right.

>What else does he promise besides overflowing blessings? (11-12)

* Malachi 3:11-12 "I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty."

* "I will prevent pests from devouring your crops" -Farming is dependant on many things beyond man's control including pests.

* "the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit" -Vines could drop the grapes to the ground.

* "Then all the nations will call you blessed" -Others will see that the Lord was with them, be jealous, and seek the Lord.

* Does this mean that serving the Lord will always be goodness and blessing? Doesn't this mean the Lord won't test us? Does this mean that trouble and hardship will come to our lives? Does this mean that the Lord won't discipline us when we sin? No to all these questions. All the apostles seen hardship in thier lives. All but John was killed for their faith. Paul wrote, "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:10-13)

>6. What are words against the Lord a symptom of?

* Malachi 3:13 "You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?'"

* "You have said harsh things against me" -The Jews believe in God. They believed he called them as a nation. They believed they had a covenant with him. They believed the Bible. They considered their lives in light of his words and can to the wrong conclusion. This is the difference between head knowledge and a heart of love.

* From the heart flows words and action.

* Matthew 7:15-20 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

* James 2:18-19 "But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

>What were they saying and what does it imply about thier motives? (14-15)

* Malachi 3:14-15 "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"

* "It is futile to serve God" -The redemption they longed for had not been experienced. They believed that serving the Lord produced no results. It was almost that they were working for the Lord only to get something back.

* "What did we gain" -They only served God to get something from him; not from love.

* "But now we call the arrogant blessed" -The looked at other people and saw that the self promoting and prideful people had it better than them.

* "Certainly the evildoers prosper" -Most likely they were looking to the Gentile nations around them especially Assyria who ruled over them.

* "those who challenge God escape" -The other nations around them including Assyria.

* The Jews who returned to Judea had a hard life while the Gentile nations over them had richess and wealth. After many years their status didn't change. So they questioned God's motives and justice. In short they questioned God's love for them. I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 1982 A.D. at the age of eighteen. A few years after that I began serving him and have done so for the better part of over thirty years. During and after college I very little from a worldly wealth point of view though I served him faithfully. After marriage my job and financial position slowly improved with pay raises that came about mostly when I changed companies. However, the times of plenty did not always continue. In recent years like many other the turmoil in the economy lead to two lay-offs. Currently in my life I am unemployed, betrayed by a supervisor who indicated to me he would hire me in after a contract period was over. He was not godly, a married man who flirted with other women and continually lied. He is not the first godless person to mistreat me and yet remained financially secure. Now I am tempted to respond as the Jews did. But I have not and like Paul I learned how to be content in plenty and in need. The wealthy wicked have their short time and are gone. The man who trusts in the Lord finds that the Lord is his every great reward.


>7. Where all those in Judah challenging God with questions? (16)

* Malachi 3:16 "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name."

* "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other" -Not all the Jews were challenging and questioning God's love. There was a remnant who feared the Lord and thus obeyed him.

* "the LORD listened and heard" -The Lord Jesus said, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:19-20)

* "A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name" -This scroll is the scroll elsewhere mentioned as being in heaven. (Daniel 7:10; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12)

* God wants his people to gather together. If anyone says, "I don't have to go to church," they are wrong.

>What does the Lord promise those who fear him? (17-18)

* Malachi 3:17-18 "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."

* "They will be mine" -The people who are written in the book of life will be the Lord's possession. This is a love relationship position.

* "when I make up my treasured possession" -When Jesus comes again he will establish his eternal kingdom. (Daniel 2:44)

* "in compassion a man spares his son who serves him" -This is not sparing from physical death for even Jesus died. This is sparing them from the second death.

* "you will again see" -Resurrection from the dead when Jesus comes again which will be followed by an examination of what everyone who claimed to be his has done..

* 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

* Revelation 20:4-6 "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

* Luke 18:6-8 "And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

>When will the Lord make up his treasured possession?

* "in the day" -"In the last days" and "in that day" and "in the day of the Lord" all refered to the future from the Old Testament prophets' point of view. They all refered to events concerning Jesus first and second coming. The day of the Lord is the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence.

* "the last days" -In Hebrew this is "aharit yom". "Aharit" is usually translated "end", "latter", or "last".

* The Old Testament prophets often spoke of "The day of the Lord" as the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence. For example "The day of the Lord" is the dominant theme of Joel. Besides Joel six other Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Malalachi 4:5; perhaps Zechariah 14:1 too) uses the term "the day of the Lord". Sometimes the prophets of Israel and Judah abbreviated it to "that day". It was familiar to their audience, a term by which the audience expected light and salvation (Amos 5:18), but the prophets painted it as a day of darkness and judgment (Isaiah 2:10-22; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-11,31; 3:14-15; Amos 5:20; Zephaniah 1:7-8,14-18; Malachi 4:5). The Old Testament language of the day of the Lord is aimed at warning sinners among God's people of the danger of trusting in traditional religion without commitment to God and to His way of life. It is language that could be aimed at judging Israel or that could be used to promise deliverance from evil enemies (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 30:3; Obadiah 15). The day of the Lord is thus a point in time in which God displays His sovereign initiative to reveal His control of history, of time, of His people, and of all people.

* The apostles Peter and Paul also used the term "day of the Lord" (in place of "Lord" they also put "God" and "Lord Jesus"). (Acts 2:20; and 1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; and 2 Corinthians 1:14; and 1 Thessalonians 5:2; and 2 Thessalonians 2:2; and 2 Peter 3:10-12)

* The apostles used the terms "last times" and "last days" referring to the whole period introduced by Jesus' first coming. (John 11:24; Jude 1:17-18; Acts 15:16-18; Hebrews 9:36; and 2 Peter 3:3) These days are last in comparison to Old Testament days, which were preliminary and preparatory. (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26) Also, the Christian era is the time of the beginnings of prophetic fulfillment. (1 Corinthians 10:11) The "days" can be interpreted as "ages" (Matthew 12:39, 13:39-40, 49, 24:3, 28:20; Ephesians 1:21, 2:7; and 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 2:12; Jude 1:25) (periods of time) that reflect the six days of creation with the seventh day as a day of rest. Indeed the apostles very clearly call the one thousand year reign of Jesus as "the Lord's Sabbath" and "the day of rest". (Hebrews 4:1-11, 6:5; Revelation 14:13) Jesus himself invited us to his day of rest (Matthew 11:19; Luke 18:30, 20:34-36) and to work now and rest in the future (John 9:4). Since this is the time just before the Sabbath rest, then we are in the sixth day, the time when man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created. The Lord God Almighty is called the "King of the ages". (Revelation 15:3)

* Blackstone wrote in his book Jesus is Coming “The division of time into sevens, or weeks, permeates the Scriptures. A fundamental enactment of the Mosaic Law was the keeping of the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). This was based upon God’s great rest day in Genesis 2. Upon this is founded not only the week of days, but also the week of weeks leading to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16); the week of months, with the Atonement and seven days feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (Lev. 23:27-28); the week of years, ending with the Sabbatic year (Lev. 25:4); and the week of weeks of years, ending with the seventh Sabbatic year, and followed by the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12).” He continues with more and quotes 2 Peter 3:8 then continues, “…so we also have the great week of Millenniums. Six thousand-year days of labor and then the Millennium, or blessed seventh thousand-year of rest.” He is not the first to see the significance.

* For more on this time period read the manuscript "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this site.

* Eschatology is the teaching concerning the last things in world history. The Greek word "eschatos" means “last” or final.” Accordingly, eschatology is the study of the things expected to occur at the end of history. This does not include what will happen after the Lord Jesus creates the new heaven and the new earth as described at the end of Revelation.

* Imminence is about being ready even though we don't know when Jesus will come, more than what most understand as the Christian meaning of the word.

* Habakkuk 2:2-3 "Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

* Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while their master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in imminence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his ascension. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".

* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).

Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).

We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay posttribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavors of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9, 10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.

It may be countered, with an appeal to Paul's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might . . . satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.

Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14) . Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ... "). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.

To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming not imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.

Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.

But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.

* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.

III. The Day of the Lord (4:1-6)

Buring Field

* See a picture of a burning field to the right.

>8. What is Jesus' second coming compared to? (1)

* Malachi 4:1 "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."

* "the day is coming" -Jesus second coming.

* "it will burn like a furnace... set them on fire" -Isaiah 1:31, 66:15-16, Joel 2:3-5, 30; Obadiah 1:18; Micah 1:4-7; Nahum 1:6, 3:15; Habakkuk 2:13; Zephaniah 3:8; Matthew 3:12, 13:40, 18:8; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Peter 3:7-12; Revelation 8:5-7, 9:18, 13:13, 16:8, 18:8, 20:9

* "All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble" -Earlier the Jews questioned why the Lord didn't judge the arrogant and the evildoer. Here the Lord says he will in his time.

* "Not a root or a branch will be left to them" -They will have nothing though they built up.

* Malachi 4 is the last chapter chronological in Israel's history as recorded in the Bible. Chapter 4 is about Jesus, the sun of righteousness. Its about his first and second coming. Like the morning sun rising on a new day Jesus came to start a new covenant. He will come again. He is the light of the world. He has healing in his wings.

The Lord commanded Israel men to wear a piece of clothing similar to a scarf, though not to keep warm in Deut. 22:12. It was called a tassel. In Jesus's day they made their tassels very long so that they fluttered in the wind as they walked. Jesus rebuked them for such showmanship in Mark 5:28. The people called these tassels "wings".

Malachi said that the Messiah, the sun of righteousness will have healing in his wings. Mark 5 and Luke 8 record a woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. She read Malachi. She believed Jesus was the Messiah. So she concluded, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." When she touched the edge of his clock, his tassel, she was healed. I want to touch the edge of his cloak.

>What does it mean that Jesus had healing in his wings when he came the first time? (2; Mark 5:25-34, 6:56)

* Malachi 4:2 "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."

* Mark 5:25-34 "And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'" But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

* Mark 6:56 "And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed."

* Luke 8:43-48 "And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

* "you who revere my name" -Revere means to regard with respect tinged with awe; venerate

Buring Field

* See a painting Healing Wings by Marybeth Stafford to the right.

* "the sun of righteousness" -A title for the Messiah only used here. Psalm 37:6 says, "He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Isaiah 60:1-3, 19 says, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.... The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory."

* "healing in its wings" -Just as the rising sun's rays can be seen so the Messiah would have radiance. The Lord commanded Israel men to wear a piece of clothing similar to a scarf, though it was not to keep the neck warm. Deuteronomy 22:12 states, "Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear." In Jesus days they were very long. Matthew 23:5 says, "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;" When they walked the tassels would flutter behind them. People called them wings. Malachi said Jesus' wings would have healing in them. This is the reason why the woman thought to herself, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." (Mark 5:28) That is also why everyone after she was healed began touching Jesus' clothes. (Mark 6:56)

* "you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall" -When Jesus healed people they were full of joy.

* The woman's faith was blessed. She believed the word of God. She believed Jesus was the Messiah. Her faith was a blessing to her and many others. Do you have "just touch the Messiah's clothes" faith?

>What is common with both comings? (3)

* Malachi 4:3 "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."

Footprints in sand

* "Then you will trample down the wicked" -"You" here are the redeemed of verse 2. But how and when do we trample down the wicked? Jesus taught, "If someone stricks you on the check, turn to him the other." (Luke 6:29) And, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44) So it is not in this age, in this body. The key is in the rest of the verse.

* "they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things" -"On the day" gives us a clue it is when Jesus will come the second time. "When I do these things reflects back to the flames and furnace of verses 1 and 2. Ashes come when something is burned and when a body decays. So when Jesus comes again as judge and they will either not rise from the dead or will be burned during his judgement. We will walk on their unmarked graves.

* We can take heart that our Savior Jesus who heals will raise us from the dead when he comes again. Our enemies will not be around in the one thousand year reign of Christ. Death will have no hold on us and Satan will be locked up.

>9. What is needed to remember something?

* Malachi 4:4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel."

* "Remember" -Remembering required learning and knowing it in the first place.

Bible Study

>What are we to remember?

* "the law of my servant Moses" -The law in a specific definition is considered the first five books of the Bible. However, in a general sense the law can include all that was written up to and including Malachi, the entire Old Testament. All these are part of the Old Covenant which looked forward to the Messiah, Jesus. When Jesus came he established a New Covenant in fulfillment of the Old Covenant. (Matthew 5:17) His teaching and the writing of the Apostles can thus be included in the broad sence of the law.

* I gave him at Horeb for all Israel

* John 14:26 "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

* John 15:26-27 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."

* John 16:13-15 "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

>10. Who was Elijah and how was John the Baptist's ministry like his? (5; Matt. 11:11-19)

* Malachi 4:5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes."

* Matthew 11:11-19 "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear. "To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

* "I will send you" -The Lord's love for his people was seen in sending them prophets to teach, encourage, and rebuke them. Today the Lord sends us pastors (shepherds, ministers) and Bible teachers.

* "the prophet Elijah" -Elijah was a prophet to Israel during the reign of Ahab and Jehoshaphat. The sins of Israel and Judah were great especially under Ahab and his evil wife, Jezebel. Elijah's life was in great threat when God used him to challenge Israel's indecision on Mount Horeb and kill all of Baal's prophets. (1 Kings 18) He did not die, but was taken to heaven. (2 Kings 2:1-18)

* "that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes" -Joel was the first to use this term to describe the coming of the Messiah. (Joel 2:11, 30-31) Malachi quotes it. Jesus uses terms like this referring to the Romans (and the Antichrist) attack and destruction Jerusalem. (Luke 21:20-24) Then Jesus said of the end of this age, "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)

* "great and dreadful" -Great and dreadful are two ideas often associated in the Old Testament, though sometimes the Hebrew word underlying "dreadful" means "awesome". The terms are frequently used to describe the day of the Lord. Some say it will be great for God's people and dreadful for God's enemies.

* Joel 2:11 "The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?"

* Joel 2:30-31 "I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD."

John the Baptist

* See an actor rendering John the Baptist clothes to the right.

>What was his mission? (6; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:13-17, 76-80; John 1:19-28)

* Malachi 4:6 "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."

* Mark 9:11-13 "And they asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."

* Luke 1:13-17 "But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

* Luke 1:76-80 "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel."

* John 1:19-28 "Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ." They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'" Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?" "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing."

* John had a ministry like Elijah. Both had a fiery and strong ministry in dark times. They were men of passion and zeal.

* "He will" -One man of faith can make a difference in evil times.

* "turn" -repent

* "the hearts of the fathers to their children" -Many broken families existed in John's time and now again in my time. When the fathers don't care for children they don't care for anybody.

* "and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous" -Really sinful people would respond to his ministry.

* Many believe that one of the two prophets in Revelation will be Elijah.

>What can we learn about how to considered great in Jesus' eyes?

* Outward appearances aren't as important as the acts of faith in Jesus that comes from the heart, mind, soul and strength.

* The Lord Jesus wants us to interact with others with a desire to have them turn to God.