Today, on Pentecost 23, we take our Old Testament Reading from Malachi 4:1–6. Our devotional reading comes from Luther’s Works: volume 18, speaking on the Last Day and the kingdom of Christ.
- Malachi 4:1–6
- Psalm 98; antiphon: v. 9b
- 2 Thessalonians 3:1–13
- Luke 21:5–28
Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder.
For behold, the day will come.
All this is being said about Christ. Those who fear God are comforting each other and are saying these things to each other. At the time when they trust in His Word, the righteous certainly have everything opposing them. On the other hand, the wicked have everything going well for them. This is not the way it will always be for both groups, but only until the hour came, etc. “The day will come,” namely, the day of Christ’s kingdom.
Nor offshoot, that is, “branch.” You see, the light of the Gospel has burned and devoured the entire synagog. Now it has neither root nor branch, neither kingdom nor priesthood. The day of the revelation of the Gospel has consumed all these, so that nothing of them remains.
And [the Sun of righteousness] will rise for you who fear.
In the Mosaic kingdom there is pure darkness. All things are hidden in mystery and are confused. Then the wicked will be separated from the righteous by something shining—obviously, by the open truth of God through the Gospel of Christ. Here you see the kingdom of Christ again described in such a way that it is the ministry of the Word. He is saying: “Indeed, a new Sun will shine, and it is not that sun which also animals see. It is the Sun of righteousness, who justifies, who sends out the sort of rays that make men righteous and free from their sins, who drives out every harmful attitude of fleshly lust. Those rays are the Word of the Gospel, which penetrates hearts and is seen as that Sun only by the eyes of the heart, that is, by faith. It is closer to the righteous than is that visible, physical sun. You see, it shines by the Holy Spirit. It shines day and night. Clouds do not hinder it. It is always rising. ‘It will rise for those of you who fear’—who fear the name of God, obviously; that is, the humble, those who are not presumptuous, those who do not trust in their own works but recognize that they are sinners.”
With healing in His wings. Here you clearly see that we cannot explain this as the Last Day, when judgment will come. But now there will be salvation and protection under the shadow of Christ. Such, then, is the rule of Christ that He Himself is the Mediator and Protector, the way a hen protects her chicks from the hawk. Therefore, let everyone who wants to be safe from the wrath and judgment of God seek refuge under the wings of Christ. This is what the Law urges. Under the Law there is weakness and condemnation; under the wings of Christ, under the Gospel, there is strength and salvation. The Sun rises when the Gospel is preached. One hides under the wings when he believes. Therefore, although you may be a sinner, yet you will be safe when you flee for refuge under His wings. You will not fear death. The lust of the flesh will not overpower you.
You shall go forth like calves leaping from the stall. Here is the fruit of faith and of the kingdom of Christ, a happy conscience, a public confession of faith, thanksgiving, joy in affliction, preaching and the conversion of others to salvation.
Leaping. More accurately: “You shall be poured out, you shall be increased.” This is a property of joy. Sadness on the other hand, confines. The Christian believes that the world is his. He goes out into the open. He does not head for the corners.
Like calves leaping from the stall. He says: “This is the way you will be corralled in the righteousness of faith. You will be active. Your fodder is Christ.”
You shall tread down the wicked. There are always enemies of the church, tyrants or heretics or false brothers. Heretics keep the righteous busy, and they [the heretics] finally are reduced to nothing, to ashes, to dust, etc. “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” [Ps. 117:2]. The fire of Christ will reduce them to ashes. Therefore, you will tread them down easily. Yet, they first tread us down. But finally the wheel turns, and nothing grows from ashes.
Remember the law of My servant Moses. Malachi has now prophesied about the kingdom of Christ, but it has not yet come. He says: “In the meantime, be included under the Law until that Sun shines. The Law will last until the time of Him who will not come without first sending ahead His messenger, who will say that He is there. Therefore neither neglect Moses nor put him aside. He bears witness to you about Christ; he holds you back from evil. When the time comes for Me to free you, I will send you My messenger in the spirit and courage of Elijah, etc.” This passage, then, is the closing of the Holy Scripture, the end of the Old Testament. Here the prophet stops and waits for the messenger Elijah, who is John the Baptist, who is going to perform the function of Elijah, “to turn the hearts of fathers to their children.” Thus they will recognize the wisdom and faith of their fathers, they will all together be in harmony about Christ. They have already been separated into sects, as John discovered when he preached the baptism of repentance and saw the many Pharisees and Sadducees, etc., in short, that this one people had one heart, one faith, etc. The time of the Gospel is the day. All the rest is night and darkness. You see, Christ Himself is the Sun.
Terrible. It will blind the proud, illuminate the humble.
Great. It will magnify; it will give life, justify, save, etc.
Devotional reading adapted from Luther’s Works: volume 18, copyright © 1975 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Hymn of the Day
Hymn of the day comes from Thy Strong Word by John A. Behnke, copyright © 2018 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.