Agonizomai: Malachi 4:2-3 - Victory in Jesus

Friday, September 11, 2009

Malachi 4:2-3 - Victory in Jesus

Malachi 4:2-3 - Victory in Jesus

Malachi 4:2-3 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.

Still speaking to Israel the nation God puts in a great "but" in order to show a contrast between the wicked and the just. "For those who fear My Name..." there will be an entirely different picture. Will they escape the judgment of Israel under the Romans? Many will indeed do so because they are not a part of Israel’s misplaced zeal. Believing themselves to be specially chosen by the One True God most of national Israel, despite their own rebellion, unbelief and apostasy, still clung to God’s promise to drive out their enemies from the promised land. Seeing this coming, many Christian Jews left Palestine before the rebellion of AD 68-70. Some had already been driven out because of the persecution by the Jews themselves. The Christian’s "agenda" was not to conquer the Romans (or anyone) by force, but with love and truth.

One of the objections of Israel had been that the wicked seemed to prosper while God did nothing. If only they could see! For God did something utterly amazing in Christ - something into which angels long to look and which the saints will speak of for eternity. How small minded we sinners are! An apparent fleeting delay in the administration of justice serves to fill out God’s timing and the fullness of His plan to save a people for Himself in Christ by overcoming both the world {John 16:33} and the evil one. {1Jo 3:8}

In Christ, those that fear God are brought to joy because they have been forgiven, freed from the guilt of sin, escaped the condemnation that abides on the rest of the world, delivered from sin’s reigning power and guaranteed a place with their God forever in heaven. No wonder they kick up their heels like calves released from the confines of the stall. The healing in the wings of the sun of righteousness will accomplish all of this. God’s people will be healed by the life and death of their Redeemer/Messiah. And God’s people in Israel are those who fear Him.

Treading down the wicked as ashes under the soles of their feet is symbolic of the victory that all the saints enjoy through faith in their Lord’s finished work - and by their reliance upon Him in them to overcome the world as He overcame the world in His Own life. This is what the prophet speaks of here - victory in Jesus! I am reminded of E. M. Bartlett’s hymn...

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.


O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.


I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory.


Or are we actually to think, along with Israel, that what God intends here is the physical drubbing of the wicked by us? Does that sound like the teaching of Jesus? Is it consistent with the rest of the Bible? Can the Bible contradict itself? No! The treading down of the wicked during the gospel age is by blessing those that curse you; by doing good to those who despitefully use you; by turning the other cheek to those that strike you. This is what heaps burning coals upon their heads, either unto repentance when they see the grace in you, or unto damnation because they refuse to hear, and do persecute to harm one of His little children.

It is He Who has authority, He Who has the right because He is both Creator and Redeemer, He to Whom belongs all power and dominion, Who will and has trod down the wicked and made them ashes under His feet. It is in Him that we do the same, and not of ourselves. And the way He did it during His first coming was the way we are called to do it, and no other. This is the gospel age. It is the age of the "good news".

But there is a hint of another age even in this short passage. For after the gospel age will come the final judgment when the wicked will be trodden down in every sense and eternally.

In both cases - note this well - it is "when I act" says the Lord of Hosts. This is not Jesus in the role of Messiah, but as Jehovah Almighty God, Judge of all the earth - terrible in aspect whose every presence brings trembling and unappeasable fear. To the wicked, as to Satan, He is despair. It is His actions in Christ that bring victory, and it is He Who was slain that will be the judge of all things.

This is important to understand; the victory is ours in Jesus Christ because we inherit all that He has earned. We are co-heirs with Him by the grace of God alone. We did not earn it and neither can we, of ourselves (making flesh our arm) do anything to apply it. We are no longer our own. We have been bought with a price. We are slaves of righteousness. It is no longer we, but Christ in us.

We are not sock puppets. But neither can we do anything apart from Him. We have become one with Him through betrothal, and we will be united at the consummation when we are finally fully joined to Him at the marriage feast of the Lamb. He is our beloved and we are His. He is the bridegroom and we are the bride. He is the Master of the house Who cherishes us and we are the helpmeets who love to do His bidding. There is one leader and all the rest follow. There is one God and all the rest are creatures. But the One True God has chosen to unite in Spirit with a people chosen, redeemed and brought out of every kindred and tribe and nation - to the praise of His glorious grace. And Jesus Christ the Lord is the centre, the nexus, the focus, the Way by which this was planned, executed and is applied.

It is a wonderful thing, and God has done it. That is why He is God and we are not. He did it, and He alone. He did not do it with our help. He did it while we were yet helpless. He planned it before we existed. He will uphold it throughout eternity. It is not, therefore by what we do that we are justified, but by what He has done. He has also ordained things for us to do in Him - or, if you like, things He will accomplish through us {Eph 2:10}. It is not by our doing alone that God is pleased, but by our doing what He purposes in Christ.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen and amen! Thank you for such clear and concise exegesis of the Scriptures.

9:40 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Thanks for you encouraging comment(s). Finding Jesus in the scriptures is my greatest joy and I like to share what I find with others.



8:42 am  

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