That was the question that Israel was asking of God in Malachi 2:17. Israel’s question stemmed from a belief that they weren’t experiencing the economic and political prosperity they felt they deserved and were promised.
God’s answer was swift and to the point:
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, adn he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold adn silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judaha dn Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”
Israel was questioning the very character of God. God responds by reminding them of how He will display His justice.
- God will display His justice through the process of sanctification (vs. 1-4). Christ is coming and He will purify the community of believers.
- God will display His justice through judgment (vs. 5).
As we look at these verses I believe we catch a glimpse of what the people of Israel were really looking for. As they question the “justice” of God we see in them a desire for political salvation. They wanted to see the righting of certain wrongs. They had an idea of what utopia would look like. It would be a place where justice is served quickly and judiciously.
Israel had become convinced that their politcal ideology was right and when justice wasn’t being served and administerd as quickly as they would like they questioned the very existence of God. Their political ideology had led to practical athiesm (“Where is the God of justice?”)!
In many ways we can find that we are not all that different from the people of Israel. When we see moral evil taking place in our culture one of the ways that we looked to see it absolved is by putting our hope in the ratification of new laws and the establishment of institutions that will cure all the social ills we feel are destroying our community.
For example, think back to the election of Scott Brown from Massachusetts. If you are a Republican perhaps you felt this was a tremendous win because the Senate health care bill could now be defeated. If you a Democrat perhaps you felt despair knowing the newly elected Senator would hold different views. Our euphoria or despair over his election may be indicative of the fact that we are placing our hope and confidence in politcal ideology rather than the Gospel.
But the Gospel leads us to see matters differently. The Gospel leads us to see that the problem isn’t politics, policies, laws and institutions! The Gospel leads us to see that the problem is with man and how absolutely sinful he (we) is!
The Gospel leads us to see that true restoration of any community is found only in Christ. It’s in Christ that we understand our sinfulness and the lengths to which Christ has gone to reconcile dead, sinful men and women to Himself.
And it’s because of the Gospel that we can, in love, passionately pursue justice in our communities. We can passionately pursue the Kingdom that God promises us. We now see justice in light of the Gospel. We see justice, the care for the poor and the oppressed as people who understand that Christ became poor in order that we might become rich!
All is changed in light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!