You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 2:17-3:5 (ESV)
Instead of just coming with Holy Judgement. Instead of demanding that His people clean up their act before He acts on their behalf. The LORD takes the initiative to send a messenger whose purpose will be to turn the people back to their God so that when He does burst on the scene – they will have had every opportunity to repent.
This truth is so important that the book of Malachi ends with these words:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Isn’t God good!
This is why, when John the Baptist comes in the spirit and the power of Elijah, that his most typical message is: “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!” … The LORD is at hand! This is a crisis for sinners, so “Be turned to Him” – give up going your own way and be turned to following the LORD – so that you will find that God is for you. … “And if God is for you, who can be against you?”
The people in Malachi’s day were calling for the LORD to come with judgment. Our gracious God responded by sending a prophet to lead them to repentance … and by sending His Son, … not primarily to bring judgment – but to bear judgment in our place.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 48
Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.