“See I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, indeed, he is coming. 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. . . But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Malachi 3:1-2; 4:2)
Your anticipation of an upcoming event is dependent on the purpose, the person, and the participants. A doctor’s appointment, where she’s sharing results of tests, evokes a far different response than a coffee date with your best friend, or Christmas with the family.
The exiles were given the promise that Elijah would return before the Messiah came to the temple. Centuries later, Jesus referred to his cousin, John the Baptist, as Elijah. John was known as the “voice in the wilderness” crying out, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Jesus appeared before him, asking him to be baptized, John replied, “You should baptize me!” But Jesus knew that it was in his baptism that God would reveal himself in the voice and the dove—“This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Those in right relationship with God longed for the Messiah. They believed that the Son would rise with healing in his wings, and they would be set free like young calves in the spring. But for those who were not ready to receive him, his appearance would be like a purifying fire.
The second coming of Jesus is viewed with fear and skepticism by those who have wandered away from the LORD. For those who have a personal relationship with him, his coming is mixed with excitement, nervousness, and uncertainty. If we consider the glory of his birth and what he showed us about the love of God, we can wait with hope just like a child before Christmas. For those who are afraid or don’t believe it will ever happen, there is still time to prepare. Repent.
“LORD Jesus, just as you came the first time to a world asleep, you will appear again to gather your people home. We believe that you will complete the work began on Christmas morning—prepare our hearts to be ready to receive you with joy.” Amen.
Mindi Oaten’s painting “The Returning King”is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.