Children Of God

A reading for Monday, February 27, 2017: Malachi 4:4-6.

The prophet Malachi was a messenger. In fact, the word Malachi in Hebrew means "my messenger" and so it's not clear whether the title of the book is a name or a description of the author.

Malachi was written around 450 BCE, just after the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. This followed a long period of exile at the hands of the Babylonian empire 100 or more years earlier. The people who returned to Jerusalem are called Jews for the first time following the exile and the resettling in the holy city. The messenger is trying hard to reconnect the people of God as a people of faith. He proclaimed a message of obedience and righteousness.

In chapter 3:17 from the Contemporary English Version: "Then the Lord All-Powerful said: You people are precious to me, and when I come to bring justice, I will protect you, just as parents protect an obedient child." The law and even the prophets calling people back to law were doing so out of an understanding of God's love. Obeying the law was not harsh or dogmatic, but was understood out of the relationship God had with God's people. It's like a parent child relationship designed to protect God's people from harm. It's the same as we read in our lesson from chapter 4 today.

Parents love their children and thereby demand that their children obey. For almost all parents, it's not to be controlling or harsh but because the parent out of love believes in what's best for a child. God has given the law not to be controlling or to deny human beings happiness, but because in following the law we live the life God intends and are protected from harm.

In the PCUSA Brief Statement of Faith we find these words that sound a lot like Malachi... "Loving us still, God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant. Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child, like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home, God is faithful still." 

For Christians, we believe Jesus came as the fulfillment of the law. Jesus came to show us God's love in perfect form. Sometimes we emphasize the grace Jesus offers us when we fail to be righteous. However, there is also a mandate to live a different life in obedience to Jesus once we have been forgiven and are reconnected to God through Christ. The good news is God has given us a way of life... our part is to live as a child of God.


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