Thursday, December 20, 2018

Malachi 4:1, 5-6 (ESV)
[1] “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
[5] “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. [6] 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.”

Judgment is coming, but God never sends judgment without warning and opportunity to repent. That is the good news. Before the coming day of judgment, God promises to send Elijah to turn hearts. Angels visited Sodom and Gomorrah before their destruction. Noah was called a “herald (preacher) of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5). He warned people before the judgment of the flood came. The Canaanites were given 400 years to repent before God sent the Israelites in to take over the land. God never sends judgment without warning.

The question in not, How can God judge? It is not, What gives him the right? The question is, Will we heed the warning? He has the right to judge because he is the creator and maker of all that is. He has the right to judge because “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17). He has the right to judge because he has given every opportunity to respond to the truth, yet in our arrogance we insist on doing things our own way. The question is not, How can God judge.? The question is, Will we heed the warning?

Christmas ought to be a time when we are reminded that God, who will judge, actually loves us. It is a reminder that God himself entered space and time to redeem and restore us. It is a call to repentance and new life. But, we have made it about us. We have self-medicated with buying, giving, receiving, partying, and searching after the false and fleeting joy of nostalgia, while ignoring the brokenness of our own lives.

Judgment is coming, but Christmas is a reminder that God still loves us and offers a life that is more lasting than that of nostalgia and self-medication. The God who will judge prefers to restore us rather than judge us. That is why he sent his son. His good news is eternal. Maybe it is time to let go of your own agenda and trust him.

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