The book of Malachi doesn’t jump off the page as being super “Christmas-y”, but it is in a lot of ways. Along with the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, the book of Malachi is among the last books written before the end of the Old Testament. As you might know, the book of Malachi was written around 400 BC, which means it was written about 400 years before the birth of Christ.
The reason that this book, and especially this chapter, is relevant for us (JUST TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!) is that this chapter sets the stage for the Messiah finally coming. It would be 400 years before the people of Israel would hear another true word from God.
The beginning of chapter 4 actually talks about the first and second coming of Christ. Verses 1-3 discuss this second coming, which points to the culmination of the judgements throughout the prophets on unrepentant Israel, but also gives hope to those who fear the Lord (2).
Verses 4-6 point us to the beginning of the New Testament. If you’ve read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), then you know that John the Baptist is often referred to as having the spirit of Elijah. The ministry of John the Baptist was centered around preparing the way for Jesus. He preached a gospel of repentance that pointed to the work Christ would do on the cross.
We stand in the already but not yet culmination of the Kingdom, meaning we have seen the first, but not the second, coming of Christ. Especially in this Christmas season, with all of the distractions that tempt us, it’s important to pause and take a moment to remember that Jesus’s first coming makes way for his second coming. This should motivate us to make the most of our time—investing in things of eternal consequence.
When I think of living your life by investing in things of eternal consequence, I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Philippian church, he wrote in two different places:
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-10 (ESV)
Living with eternal investment in mind comes down to living every part of your life for God’s glory and as a part of God’s mission. As you look at your life, what parts of it are not being lived for God’s glory and God’s mission?
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice