Whole Life Whole Bible Day 26

 
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Scripture:

Malachi 2:17 (NASB)

17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”

Malachi 3:1-2 (NASB)

1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear 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. 2 “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.

Malachi 1:2 (NASB)

2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob;


DEVOTIONAL:

25: A partial restoration

Still disobedient, still wearying the Lord, the exiles found that their return had only partially fulfilled the promises to Abraham, Moses and David. There was a measure of return, a measure of rebuilding — temple and walls — a measure of restoration for Jerusalem and her people. Yet even as Ezra led the worship in the newly built temple, would they have recalled in their hearts the great days of David and Solomon, when their kingdom was powerful and prosperous, the envy of their neighbors? And that first generation back from exile, would they not have remembered the Jews left behind in Babylon and the graves of those who had died there? Would they not have looked at the neglected villages and fields and the strangers living around them with little knowledge of the Lord God? Might they have wondered when other conquerors would come?

There must have been great joy as they sang God’s praises in a rebuilt temple and city. But just as their joy was tinged with some regret, some sadness, some sense of repentance that their ancestors had brought it on themselves, so is all human joy tempered. Whether it’s love in relationships or beauty in art, music and nature, or whether it’s seeing health restored, a degree of justice delivered or some of the hungry fed, our joys are tempered by the partial nature of all good things.

For them and for us, these glimpses of joy are heralds of promise — that one day all the promises of God will be fulfilled and joy will be complete. Malachi looked forward to the day when the Lord’s messenger would come and prepare the way for the sun of righteousness with healing in his rays — the Lamb, Saviour and Redeemer. That Redeemer would come, as a man, to this earth as it is, with its broken walls and ruined cities, exiled people, conquerors and conquered. And his death and resurrection would speak of eternity in place of fleeting time. It will be a promise fulfilled for us, who wait for the day of his final coming as judge and king, when we shall see the glory of a world made young again, death defeated and his kingdom complete in a new Jerusalem.

For further reflection and action

  1. Read Isaiah 60. See how the images of land, exile and return are used to express God’s promises of restoration and salvation. The chapter also speaks of God’s people as a light and beacon, to which peoples and nations flock not as enemies but as suppliants and gift-bearers. How might these images apply to the church today?

  2. Our personal life experiences are often a complicated mixture of joy and sadness. How far is this reality reflected in the music we listen to, the books we read, the films we watch and the way we view the world in which we live?

  3. In the next reading, we move into the New Testament. Jesus was born into all the ambiguities and messiness of a nation ruled by puppet-kings and priests under Roman conquerors. Some would see John the Baptist as the messenger promised by Malachi, and Jesus as the Messiah. Others would oppose both John and Jesus. Reflect on the continuity here with the return from exile — and with the position of the church today.

Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.