We are here at the end of the Old Testament, which offers a good opportunity to recall the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments: The Old is largely promise of the coming Messiah, and the New tells of the fulfillment of that promise. And, so, Malachi reports, “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’” (1:2) It’s amazing that we should ever have to ask this question! All it takes is a moment or two of reflection on God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Oh my, how he has loved us!
Furthermore, it’s not that God has failed to love his people. They have failed to love him! The evidence is seen in their lack of fear and devotion. They bring defective gifts to him. They withhold the tithe from him. They consider it a nuisance to serve the Lord.
Yet, the Lord will send his messenger, and he will send Elijah. And on the great Day of the Lord, “He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness” (3:2,3). He will send “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 hears of children to their fathers” (4:5,6).
Our God's mercy just never lets up, does it? Though a “Christmas hymn,” maybe for “Christmas in July,” as we often put it, with those who saw his coming, almost five centuries later, we should sing:
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King.” -Charles Wesley (1739)