The promise of sending Elijah

Posted Dec 3, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Malachi 4:2, 4-6

2 But the sun of righteousness will rise on those revering my name;
        healing will be in its wings
            so that you will go forth and jump about like calves in the stall.

4 Remember the Instruction from Moses, my servant,
        to whom I gave Instruction and rules for all Israel at Horeb.
5 Look, I am sending Elijah the prophet to you,
        before the great and terrifying day of the LORD arrives.
6 Turn the hearts of the parents to the children
    and the hearts of the children to their parents.
            Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.

Tonight

The COR Worship Collective (which includes musicians from all of our campuses) presents an Advent Evensong Service at 6:30 p.m. at Resurrection Downtown, 1601 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO. Come enjoy music (including original music by the COR Worship Collective), Scripture and message. Free parking. If you need childcare for children 4 and under, register at cor.org/downtown/events.

Reflection Questions

Yesterday’s and today’s prophetic readings seem fairly general. (For example, neither said “God will send a man named John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus.”) Pastor Hamilton explained “messianic prophecy” this way: “Many Old Testament texts quoted in the New Testament had an initial fulfillment nearer the time of the prophet. Others were not predictive texts at all. The New Testament authors saw in these statements a foreshadowing of the life and ministry of Jesus…. Jesus offered a completion, or a climactic redefinition, of what these ancient words meant because Jesus is the climax of God’s saving work in the world.”*

  • Moses and Elijah were great leaders in Israel’s history. “Roughly 400 years later, the prophet Malachi (sixth—fifth centuries B.C.) receives a word from the Lord promising that ‘before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes,’ He will send Elijah the prophet (Mal 4:5).”** In what ways did John the Baptist (and the New Testament apostles) embody the same spirit by speaking God’s purposes in their day? Can you think of more recent people who show that same prophetic spirit?
  • Malachi was the only Old Testament writer to use the expression “the sun of righteousness” (but he built on the poetic image in Psalm 84:11). The phrase seemed to clearly show that “All that has been darkened by sin will become light in the Lord.”*** In what ways has your walk with God brought greater light into your life? What are some darker corners of your life or your community’s life into which you could shine God’s light during Advent?

Prayer

Lord God, you have communicated to the human family in so many ways (and supremely in Jesus). Give me a heart open to letting your light shine in and illuminate every part of my life. Amen.

Advent Family Activity

Enjoy a family Christmas movie together. Watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” or “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Talk about the themes of peace and talk about how you can be peacemakers in your family, your community, and your world. Pray for peace everywhere.

During the season of Advent, we are sharing ideas for family activities as we “Countdown to Christmas!” Each day includes a simple way for families to remember what Christmas is all about. See this post and others like it on our @churchoftherez Instagram.


* Hamilton, Adam. Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today (p. 60). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. For a more complete study of this subject, which will shape our entire Advent study, see the complete chapter 7 of this book.

** The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Lexham Press, 2016, article “Elijah the Prophet.”

*** Bruce Demarest, study note on Malachi 4:2 in The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 1385.

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Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

It’s hard to imagine today what searching for morality would have been like in Old Testament times. It was a time before smartphones and internet, as well as the printing press and widespread literacy, so most of the religion and morality that people took in was through public discourse and rote memorization. It’s hard to imagine how dark that world would have been without God’s word—which is why Malachi used the metaphor of the rising sun to signify God’s word. And it’s hard to imagine how much people then looked forward to hearing new insights into Scripture. Malachi specifically calls out two religious figures: Moses and Elijah. To us, those may be two far-away religious stories, but they were extremely important to the people in Malachi’s time.

Moses was the one who codified most of what the ancient Jewish people believed in the way of morality. Before Moses’s law, simple things we take for granted today, like murder being wrong, were not universally agreed upon. It was this law that gave ancient believers, and us, a foundation to begin building higher ethical thought upon.

Elijah was a real character. In his time, the law of Moses was well-known, but Elijah made it real in a way that few others before him had. He found ways to apply it to life, to the systems of power and privilege that his people already had in place, and he challenged everyone, especially the religious leaders of his time, to more honestly live for God.

Micah asks us to turn our hearts and minds back to the law of God, and look forward to the prophet who made it real and relevant, and tells readers that this will happen before the day that we are held accountable before God. This could easily describe the coming of Jesus, but I think it also describes a good outlook on life. Most Christians have a good understanding of the law; but we must also look forward to, and seek out, the people in our lives who will make it real, who will find new ways to challenge us and the comfort with which we regard our religious selves.

As Micah says, we will have opportunities to find these people and experiences before we’re held accountable before God; however, it’s still up to us to respond to these chances. This advent season, remember to look back on the law that we’ve learned in church and the Bible, but look forward to the people and experiences that will make it real and relevant.

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