Agonizomai: Malachi 4:6 - Union in Christ

Friday, September 18, 2009

Malachi 4:6 - Union in Christ

Malachi 4:6 - Union in Christ

Malachi 4:6 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.

Who are these "fathers" and "children" spoken of here? Is it the fathers of the nation, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses? Or is does it speak of something simpler and more imminent? Are we meant to think of the largely apostate rump of Israel turning back to the sort of faith demonstrated in those whom God initially called to be the founders of the nation? But then how would the fathers, long since dead - be turned to the children, if this is what is contemplated?

The most likely and the most accepted explanation is that John the Baptist would be God’s means of causing the hearts of the fathers and the children (the co-existent generations) to unite in obedience to God. Divisions both political and religious - were common in Israel at the time of John the Baptist. There were both zealots and pacifists. There were both Pharisees and Sadducees. There had been Hellenization not only of language, but of social customs, which were accepted more by some than by others. Palestine was a seething hotbed of unrest, rebellion, poverty and distress as it languished under the iron fist of Rome.

God foreknew (in fact, ordained) all these conditions. And He sent John to begin the process of pointing to the One in Whom all unity is found, through His Lordship. When there is only One Who is Master - when there is only one General - and all the rest are servants or soldiers - then there is unity. Messiah was expected to bring unity, as it was promised that He would. But the unity He would bring would be in the Spirit - from the heart - and not by the external, carnal, coercive application of force or politics, or even religious compulsion. The unity that would come in Christ was an unbreakable union of God with His people by which their very hearts were turned towards Him and His will. Great and terrible indeed was the means by which God alone would accomplish this.

But for those who would not hear and were not true Israel there was the promise of utter destruction of the land - meaning the land of Israel. And since Israel rejected their Messiah, but for a few who were saved, God did indeed shatter the nation, obliterate it and scatter the people in AD 70 under Vespasian and his son, Titus - as well as a short time later under Adrian.

It is important to see that God did not do this in a corner, nor without (this) admonition, nor until after millennia of increasingly stern warnings. The Israel addressed in Malachi is a remnant nation just returned from the Babylonian captivity - so they ought to have known that God is deadly serious about the consequences of rejecting Him. And even though the God Who knows the end from the beginning, because He is both, also knows the path that Israel will take - see that the warning is still given. The fact that men refuse to hear does not cause God not to speak. He gives every possible opportunity to Israel. To speak humanly of God for a moment, He exhausts His considerable patience upon them.

But lest we in the church age begin to look down our noses at Israel’s constant and increasing apostasy, maybe we should all read very carefully both what Revelation has to say about the Laodicean church - and what the Holy Spirit said through Paul about the need for self-examination {2Co 13:5}

[This brings the Malachi study to an end. The plan is to begin a study in Hebrews in a few weeks time. Keep on checking with this site for further announcements.]


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