The “Last Words” of a Testament

Scripture Focus: Malachi 4.4-6
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

2 Chronicles 36.23
23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”

Reflection: The “Last Words” of a Testament
By Erin Newton

What do you say to a loved one when you know you won’t see them for a while? Do you warn them of impending dangers? Do you encourage them? Do you offer a bit of advice?

Malachi 4 closes the Old Testament, at least in the Protestant Bible. These verses mark the end of God’s revelation through the prophets and open the period of “silence.” The Hebrew Bible, arranged differently, ends with 2 Chronicles. This variation of “last words” reveals God’s steadfast and unchanging nature.

2 Chronicles 36 ends with Cyrus’s proclamation to restore the Jerusalem temple. The final words are a promise—“May the Lord their God be with them.” God with us—Immanuel. Although the Hebrew Bible ends with this promise and does not continue with the testimony of that same Immanuel, God has always promised to be with his people.

The “last words” of Malachi 4 are an encouragement, a warning, and an instruction.

The instruction: “Remember the law of Moses.” A reminder not to neglect the word of God. For centuries, the people had warped the message of God using divine words for personal benefit. It is a call to be more than familiar with the words on the page—to remember the words is to judge and apply them rightly.

The warning: “I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day.” The days ahead, though the sun rises with healing (v. 2), are marked for judgment. These “last words” herald a time when all spiritual procrastination will meet a deadline. The coming day would draw a line between apathetic and repentant hearts.

The encouragement: “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” The last words are words of peace. Formerly one family, the people of Judah, were torn apart by exile but reunited a century later. The returning people and those who remained in the last were at odds with one another (read Ezra and Nehemiah). God promises to reconcile the family of God.

God’s “last words” are true for us today. We must remember his word and turn our hearts to peace and repentance. The promised Elijah has come, and the peace has been set in motion by Christ. Why do we continue to sow animosity in the family of God? Let us take heed to remember these “last words.”

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.” — John 14.21

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Malachi 4 (Listen 1:06)
Psalm 92-93 (Listen 2:09)

Read more about Destiny of Grass vs Cedars
The writer sees through the illusion that worldly power and success indicate heavenly endorsement. So should we.

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The Curse Reversed :: Epiphany

Scripture Focus: Revelation 22.3, 17
No longer will there be any curse….The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Reflection: The Curse Reversed :: Epiphany
By John Tillman

In Eden, humanity hid from God because of sin and fear and from each other because of shame and blame. This carries on into our interactions today. We both hide from God and hide God from ourselves, pushing him away to make room for gods of our choosing and making. We take the power and dominion God gave as a blessing and curse ourselves with it. 

God spoke the curse of Eden but, in many ways, we wrote it. And Christ reversed it. 

Even as he speaks the curse of Eden, God purposes and promises to break it. Scripture describes a God constantly working to reverse the curse and speaking repetitions of the theme of the final paragraphs of the Bible, “Come.”

In Eden, God says, “Where are you?” 
At Sinai, God says, “Follow me.”
In Galilee, Christ says, “Here I am.”
In the wilderness, Christ says, “Return to me.”
In Samaria, Christ says, “Ask me for water.”
In his teaching, Christ says, “Abide with me.”
At the table, Christ says, “Remember me.”
In the garden, Christ begs, “Be with me.”
At the beginning of John’s vision, Christ says, “Come up here.”
And here, at the end of God’s vision for the world and for us, God says, “Come.”

In the curse of Eden, God commits himself to a course of intervention on our behalf. The curse is made to be broken.

Epiphany is the revealing of Christ to the nations. It is God breaking through all of our concealments, coming out of hiding, breaking the curse of
banishment, and openly saying, “Come.” 

The visions of Revelation can be intimidating, but we must remember the character of the God we serve, perfectly revealed to us in Jesus Christ. He is the same in the throne room as he was in the manger, as he was in the upper room washing our feet, as he was on the cross, as he was pressing the fingers of doubters into his hands, and as he is now, tenderly reaching out to all humanity.

As we enter the new year, may we remember, we do not cower before a punitively petulant God who from his pedestal pronounces our doom.
We kneel before a compassionately caring creator, who kneels lower than us, so that he may lift our face to look in his eyes.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 36 (Listen -4:26) 
Revelation 22 (Listen -3:59)

Tomorrow’s Readings (Happy New Year!)
Ezra 1 (Listen -2:03) 
Acts 1 (Listen -3:58)

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Read more about His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
Jesus Christ became a curse for us…died to release the curse’s hold on us, then he rose to bring to us the full blessings of life that overflows with good things.