Malachi 4:1-6 Second Midweek Advent Worship Service December 8, 2010 THE TEXT: Malachi 4:1-6

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1 Malachi 4:1-6 Second Midweek Advent Worship Service December 8, 2010 THE TEXT: Malachi 4:1-6 1 Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the LORD Almighty. 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 you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. (NIV) THE SERMON: Stir it up. That is what you do when before you have a glass of lemonade or orange juice. If you have your lemonade or orange juice in a clear pitcher, you can see how all of the lemon or orange pulp has settled to the bottom where there is a darker colored layer of juice than the more watery portion above it. So if you don t want some weak watered down glass of juice you have to Stir it up so that everything in that pitcher can join together and be the orange juice or lemonade that you are expecting to drink. You have to stir it up so that everything that had become settled is now joined together to meet its full potential. Stir it up. That is what you do when you make a cake. You have to beat all the ingredients into shape, breaking and combining, measuring and mixing. You Stir it up so that all the ingredients combine together to make a delicious cake, and not just a bunch of ingredients sitting next to each other in a lumpy mess that will not bake up into anything resembling a delicious piece of cake. Stir it up. Sometimes stirring it up can also lead to some tense and volatile confrontations. When you stir the pot so to speak, you rile things up, you provoke, you incite, you instigate. Something like stirring up a hornet s nest. If you provoke those hornet s you might just get stung. Yet, for those who know who to bee keep, the fruit of that labor is one of the best natural foods that there is. It is 1 P a g e

2 sweet. It is nutritious. It promotes health. And it does not get old and rot like other foods. But as wonderful as honey is, the Scriptures often make the comparison to the sweetness that comes from the Word of God, a sweetness that we will also taste of this evening as we meditate on God s Words which prepare our hearts for Jesus coming to us this Advent Season (Psalm 119:103). Stir it up. That is also the thought of the Prayer of the Day for this Second Week in Advent. Like a laser beam this prayer has a tight and focused prayer request: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for your only Son. By his coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world. Stir up our hearts, O Lord! We are asking him to poke us and wake us up. We are asking him to take the knowledge we have and combine it together with the desire to get up and fulfill our full potentials, to bear the fruit that he has created for us to bear, to love as Jesus has loved us. Stir us up, O Lord! Wake up our hearts, because it is so easy for our hearts to be weighed down with things. Jesus once warned in Luke 21:34, Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. Jesus was warning us about being ready for his second Advent, his second coming to this earth, which is one of the things that we are supposed to be focusing on during this Advent Season. Jesus tells us to be careful, because our hearts are easily distracted by dissipation. Dissipation is another word for things being scattered around. And our hearts do get weighed down as we find ourselves going in a million different directions, trying to do too many things. As we try to do a million different things, many of which are meaningless activities that we might admit, after the fact, we do not know where the time went and what we achieved for all the time that has passed. Our hearts can become burden with so many activities, dissipating off into many meaningless tangents while missing the things of real substance for our lives. Some may waste their time and be influenced by alcohol, or we might expand that concept to include any kind of influence that teases a release of burdens but which leads to a different kind of slavery and false influence. Jesus also warns us not to let our hearts be weighed down with the anxieties of life. Yes, troubles do surround us. We do not have to look far to find reasons to let our hearts become burdened with all kinds of things to be worried and anxious and upset about. Like the orange juice or lemonade, these thoughts have a way of becoming heavy and sinking down deep into our hearts. Jesus warns us so that we are not so consumed by distractions, dulled minds, or doubt and despair, which would cause us to lose sight of Jesus sure and certain Words of promise that he 2 P a g e

3 will return and deliver us. So, we pray this evening, Stir up our hearts, O Lord, that we may live on the bedrock strong foundation of your saving promises. Your kingdom will not end. Your promises will never fail. Stirring up hearts is the whole point of the book of the prophet Malachi. Why, even the prophet s name points to this fact. Malachi means my messenger. So Malachi is the Lord s messenger. He is the last messenger of the Lord in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit had spoken through the prophets, serving up a thousand-year feast of God s Word from Moses all the way down to the time of Malachi. After Malachi, there would be a 400-year famine of God s Word through his prophets, until John the Baptist s voice sounded in the desert. Malachi was faithful to the Lord s promise. His world was dark and broken, but that did not mean the Lord had forgotten those who had put their trust in him. At times, the believers were tempted to wonder if it paid to be a follower of the Lord s promises when it seemed like the wicked prospered and the believers suffered. But wait! The Lord promises a rescue to come. In the words of the chapter just before our text, the Lord says through his faithful prophet Malachi, They will be mine, says the Lord Almighty, in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not (Malachi 3:17,18). The law of God may stir up the hornet s nest and make those who reject the Lord angry, but those who have turned away from the Lord in unbelief and do not serve him will suffer a just and horrible fate. God speaks these beginning words of our text through Malachi, 1 Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. Stir up our hearts so that we know that you, O Lord, know our burdens and you defend us from those who would try to harm us and lead us into ruin. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, with the thought of Christ s coming! For Malachi continues, 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. The Lord does make a distinction. He threatens the unrepentant evildoers. They will be stubble. But for those who fear him, he gives great promises. The Lord calls for us to fear his name. First, fearing his name, means knowing our sin, knowing how we would stand before God covered in our sins. Know that God has the right to destroy you and me. Repent, and cling to him as your only hope of 3 P a g e

4 deliverance from your sins. For the Lord offers this hope, But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. The sun of righteousness, the blazing fire of holiness, is our God, is Jesus Christ God of God, Light of light. The hymnwriter of Beautiful Savior (CW#369) put it so memorably, Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer. Jesus shines with full, perfect righteousness, and goodness. Not only does Jesus shine pure and bright as Lord of the universe, but his perfection as one of us shone brightly as the only human to ever walk the earth purely, in uprightness, fully loving to everyone he met. Jesus shines brightly with perfect light, not to blind those who fear him, but to heal them. Think of how Jesus appeared to Saul, who we know better as the Apostle Paul. Jesus appeared to Paul in a bright light from heaven that stopped Paul in his tracks of going against Jesus, and brought healing, forgiveness, new life, and salvation, into Paul s heart and life. It s an interesting picture that the prophet uses, that of the wings of the Sun of Righteousness. The wings of the sun, are its rays. You can probably recall how beams of light, wings of light, beam their way through the clouds on an overcast day. And it is through the dark storm clouds of life, that the wings of the Sun of Righteousness beam down upon us. Christ Jesus, the Babe of Bethlehem, the bearer of our sin on Calvary s tree where he lifted up his arms, in death, to bless us to shine his healing forgiveness and strength down upon us. The hymnwriter of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing also had these words of Malachi in mind when he wrote, Hail the heav nly Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, Ris n 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! (CW# 61:3) Yes, Christ was born to raise us from the earth, to shine his healing on those who trust in him, that on the Last Day, he will banish forever every physical pain and weakness. Your soul and mind will never desire sin or chase after pale imitations of true joy. Your desire will be for the Lord, and he will fill the desires of your heart. Christ s healing rays also shine this very day, though not with a light that the world can see. Like invisible infrared rays, even today your Savior shines his healing work into you. It is hidden under human words, under visible elements, like water, bread and wine. But trust what Jesus says, and see Jesus by the eyes of faith. Christ Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, bore all your sin, and has lived a perfect life in your place, he died and rose to be untouched by death ever again. He delivers all his forgiveness and righteousness to you in this gloomy world. 4 P a g e

5 Martin Luther, wrote these words about this light of Jesus in our lives, It is the Sun of righteousness, who justifies, who sends out the sort of rays that make men righteous and free from their sins, who drives out every harmful attitude of fleshly lust. Those rays are the Word of the Gospel, which penetrate hearts and is seen as that Sun only by the eyes of the heart, that is, by faith. It is closer to the righteous than is that visible, physical sun. You see, it shines by the Holy Spirit. It shines day and night. Clouds do not hinder it. It is always rising. (Luther s Works, vol. 18 [St. Louis: Concordia, 1975], ). Stir up our hearts, O Lord, by the joy that Christ gives us! Malachi says, And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Calves from the stall means there s plenty to eat. Livestock in the Middle East usually had to scrounge for some scrubby grass to eat, but stall-fed calves had it easy. They had room service. You do too! Our Lord Jesus brings the feast to you in the Word of Christ, in baptism, and in the forgiving body and blood of Christ. You will go out and leap is what Christians get to go out and do. And, farmers know that this is true of calves that have been set free from the barn after being cooped up during the cold. Now the hard winter world is over with. Those calves go out of the barn and jump and kick in the light and spring air. So it will be on the Last Day for you who trust the Lord. You will jump for joy, basking in the healing rays of Jesus. Today, too, forgiven, freed, basking in the healing rays of Jesus, you can lift up your heads in joy. For Jesus stirs us up to live confidently in his forgiving joy. When little children are afraid of the dark, their loving parents listen to their fears, they pray with them, assure them that Jesus and his angels are near, and perhaps leave a light on to dispel the darkness. So, the Lord promised his children in the days of Malachi while they waited for the Sun of Righteousness to come to this earth at his birth, and the Lord continues to hear our concerns, our prayers, and he continues to watch over us and protect us, until the day that he appears burning brightly in glory at the Last Day. Jesus dearly loves us. And so, he comes to us in his Words of promise this evening to stir up our hearts, to remind us of those gospel truths that have settled to the bottom of our hearts, to stir those promises back into every corner of our hearts and minds. Jesus rises with healing in his wings of mercy. He is coming to finally set us free forever! Amen. 5 P a g e

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