This is the last sermon in the book of Malachi series. This sermons is for Sunday, February 27th, 2011.
Malachi part 9
The Last words of the Old Testament.
Malachi 4:4-6 NIV – 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
Introduction: This is the 9th and final sermon in our series in the book of Malachi. Last time we looked at Malachi 3:13-18 and 4:1-3. We saw that words matter. We can listen to either arrogant words, or wise counsel that does not question the character to God.
This morning we are going to be looking at the last words written in the Old Testament. After these words, God will be silent with Israel for about 400 years until His messenger comes to prepare the way for the Messiah. Before God becomes silent, He gives them again His burden. He longs for them to remember, see, and turn. These are the three points that we will cover this morning, and endeavor to apply them to our culture as well. Let’s begin.
Malachi 4:4 – Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
Remember is the Hebrew word, זִכְר֕וּ (zaw-kar’).
- It means, “To remember, to recount, to be mindful, to bring to remembrance.”
Israel is to remember the law of Moses that God gave for them.
- This is written more as a warning than encouragement. God was fixing to be silent with Israel for the next 400 years, yet He did not leave them without His voice, for they had the Law and the Prophets.
- He is calling them back to the Scriptures.
- Again, God is showing His love for Israel, though they have been unfaithful, and though He will now be silent for a time until right before the coming of the Messiah – Jesus – He calls them to Himself by telling them to return to the Law, read it, find their hope in it.
- I believe the hope that He is talking about is not hope in self-righteous obedience to it, but the hope that is found in what the Law and the Prophets speak about – the coming of Jesus Christ.
- He ultimately is calling them to believe in the promise of the coming One who would take away their sins.
- I believe that Philip remembered the Law and Prophets when Jesus came, it was what God used to reveal Jesus as the Messiah to Him. Notice what John 1 says.
John 1:43-44 – 43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
What can we learn from this verse?
- We must call Christians back to the Bible, that is where God’s voice to us is absolutely clear, and a right reading of the Scriptures will never lead us astray.
- Many people within churches are looking to some outside source: words and prophecies; feelings; some spiritual activity. And as a Charismatic, I do believe that God can and does reveal Himself through these means. But these are not the primary ways that God reveals Himself. He reveals Himself through His Word. All these other “outside” sources we look into must be tested by Scripture, not accepted in some sort of “blind faith.”
- Pastors and churches must call their people back to the Word. To remember what God has said within the pages of His revelation to us – the Bible.
- My “liver shiver” may lead me astray, because I’m prone to listen to my fallen nature; but God’s Word, studied and preached in context, will never lead me astray.
- Notice what Psalmist says.
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Malachi 4:5 – See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
See is the Hebrew word הִנֵּ֤ה (hin-nay’).
- It means, “To see, to behold, to look.”
God was telling the Jews to look toward the coming promise, when He would send Elijah to them.
- The timing of Elijah’s coming would be, “before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”
- Many people think this speaks of that before Christ second coming, God will send Elijah, probably as one of the two witnesses in the book of The Revelation.
- And that certainly can be true. But I believe that from Scripture, we can find that Elijah in a sense has come: not once, but twice before, in two events in the New Testament. Let’s look.
The Elijah to come was none other than the forerunner of Jesus Christ – John the Baptist.
- Notice what the Gospels say.
Luke 1:11-17 – 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 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 call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 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 before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Matthew 11:13-14 – 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
Mark 9:11-13 – 11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 12 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? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.
- While John the Baptist was not physically Elijah, he came in the spirit and power of Elijah and fulfilled this prophecy in Malachi and elsewhere mentioned in the Old Testament Scriptures.
- John the Baptist was the forerunner, preparing the way for the coming of the ministry of the Messiah – Jesus.
- But Elijah did physically come in the New Testament also, and there are witnesses to his coming. Let’s look.
Matthew 17:1-9 – 1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
- Just a short note, what was the purpose of Moses and Elijah coming right before Jesus would be arrested and crucified? I believe to show that the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) had been fulfilled.
- And even a little later within this chapter (verses 11-13) we see that Jesus reveres to John the Baptist as coming as Elijah.
What can we apply here?
- Well, we must point all people to look at the Scriptures and point them to the fulfillment of the Scriptures: Jesus Christ.
- Our sins have been dealt with at the cross; those who accept Him as their substitutionary sacrifice will find life and blessings; those who refuse will find death and cursings.
Malachi 4:6 – He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
Turn is the Hebrew word וְהֵשִׁ֤יב (shoob).
- It means, “to return, to turn, to restore, to turn back.”
- This is a word that deals with repentance, which is one of the themes of Malachi.
- Elijah’s ministry is described.
What does the passage mean, “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction”?
- I believe that the Geneva Bibles study notes says it well: “He shows in what John’s office would consist: in the turning of men to God, and uniting the father and children in one voice of faith: so that the father will turn to the religion of his son who is converted to Christ, and the son will embrace the faith of the true fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
- The Geneva Bible goes on to explain the judgment portion of v. 6: “The second point of his office was to give notice of God’s judgment against those that would not receive Christ.”
What applications can we make?
- God is the one who turns hearts back to Him. He uses messengers (like Elijah and John the Baptist) to do it.
- The message that ministers must proclaim is a rightly dividing of the Law that reveals sin, and a rightly divided Gospel that points to repentance and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
- This message is what is hidden in many churches today. We preach the Law as something to do to make us more righteous, when we can’t keep it. We preach the Gospel as it is some sort of Law: i.e. “Jesus did all He can do, it is now left all up to you, you better obey or else.”
- It is God who turns our hearts through the preaching of His Word. It is God who puts the desire of obedience into our hearts as an act of worship to Him, not some Law to keep.
- We don’t obey and therefore become saved; we obey because we ARE saved.
Conclusion: This is the conclusion to both the series and the sermon. My admonition to everyone is to Remember the Word; See that it points to the revelation of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement on the cross for our sins; and then Turn and believe the Good news concerning Jesus.
Cry out for God to be merciful and to forgive your sins. And rejoice in Him forgiving your sins.