Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Apparently baby cows have some serious leaping skills. What exactly does that mean? Can you imagine a calf slam dunking a basketball? “Wow, that cow’s got some serious hops!” It’s moo Jordan! Or maybe it means that she could jump over vaults like a show horse. I can almost hear the announcers now: “A perfect score for caramel the calf, Frederick. Just stellar jumping skills, indeed.” Well, neither of those two ideas seem very feasible. So what is this leaping calf business all about?
Well maybe it has to do with healing. Imagine a calf trapped in a stall. That poor little guy is cramped in there with no where to go. No running, no jumping, no playing… no life. It is trapped waiting for life to begin. But then the door flings open and out he goes. He goes running and jumping freely without inhibition. It’s like those little calf legs have never been fully used, but now they are running wild. It’s the picture of freedom and it’s the picture God used for those He would bring healing to.
The sun of righteousness will rise with healing! You see, the Son of God has risen with healing. And His healing is for you, for those who revere His name. He wants to set you free like a calf that has been trapped in a cage. When He opens the gate of life and healing, you will go running around free. You will prance around the field like a foolish calf dancing before the Son. But you won’t care because you are healed. His healing is here; He has opened the gate. Receive it today! Get moooooving already!
*Are you living trapped in the stall or leaping in the meadow?
Malachi 3:10-11 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Boys like a dare. I remember when I was a kid, us boys could motivate each other with a simple dare. Jump off that cliff into the water? Lick that frozen pole? Eat that weird concoction of food? All we needed was a dare. And if that didn’t motivate us, a double dog dare would do. No one could turn that down! What is it about a dare, anyways? I guess it makes us feel like we have overcome something impossible. We have impressed those around us by not chickening out. There’s really not much more to it. But when God, dares you – that’s a whole different thing.
In Malachi 3, the Lord was speaking to Israel about the state of their hearts. They weren’t following Him with all of their hearts and they certainly weren’t putting Him first. God had put this thing in place called tithing. Now tithing was and is a heart test for the believer. It is a measure of putting God first. Not the only measure, but a measure. (If you tithe faithfully and put God last in your life – you are missing it! It’s not about the money, but the heart.) When our beliefs require action, we find out what we really believe. We say, “I trust you God.” Then we find out if that’s true through obedience.
In essence, God said this: “Put me first not just with words but with action. I’ve asked you to bring the tithe into the storehouse and you haven’t done it.” He goes on to say: “I double dog dare ya to tithe. And if you put me first in this way, you will not even be able to comprehend the blessing that I will pour out on you!”
All I can say is this – it’s true! I can’t explain it in logical terms. As I have made the decision in my life to put God first in all things (including my finances) and to let His Word govern those things, it is amazing what happens. Seriously, the blessings of God have poured out so richly on my life that I can’t even believe it. He said in Malachi that pests won’t devour their crops. In my case, cars have run far past when they should have. Money stretched way beyond where it should have. The blessings of God as a result of obedience are uncontainable. I wouldn’t live any other way. Even when it seems there isn’t enough, there is always enough in Him!
*I double dog dare ya to put God first in every area of your life!
Malachi 2:5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered Me and stood in awe of My name.
Think for a moment about someone you looked up to as a kid. Mine was Steve Largent. He was my hero both on the field and off. Every spectacular catch he made left me in awe. He made Seattle quarterbacks look good and made God look even better. He was a man of integrity and a man of action. I remember in elementary school I wrote a short story about the rapture happening during a Seahawks game. Now I know that isn’t a typical kids short story, but stick with me. Steve Largent goes out deep for the end zone. The ball is launched through the air and Largent makes the leap of his life. But then all of a sudden he continues to rise up and up and up and up. And at that moment hundreds of fans in the stands start to ascend as well. What is this? The rapture! Silly, I know – mixing football with end times theology.
Back to the point. I revered Steve Largent. But I bet that his mom or his brother had a very different relationship with him. To them, he was familiar. They knew both his strengths and his weaknesses. So to them, he may have been less of a hero. Familiarity will do that… if you let it.
We do the same thing with God. He has given us His grace and has made way for us to know Him. We have gone from strangers to sons and can call Him Father. His mercy has covered our sins so that we are not cast out. But it was never His intention to give us grace in place of reverence. He is still God. We should be living in a place between grace and awe. Awe in who He is and awe in what He has done. Awe in what He could do to me if He really wanted. But He won’t, because His covenant is one of life and peace. For that alone I should stand in awe of Him.
*Does your familiarity with God lessen your awe of Him?
Malachi 1: 13-14 “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
My dog loves table scraps. If she wants a good treat she sits by my wife. She knows who is going to hook her up. But it gets even better after a meal. If there is a little meat left over on a plate, she is going to get the treat of her life. Yes that’s right, random food off several plates. It may seem gross to you, but it is a dog’s heavenly buffet. She’s not picky, either. She will take just about anything!
God… not so much. He doesn’t want table scraps. He doesn’t want the leftovers. He makes this abundantly clear in Malachi 1. Now keep in mind that He is speaking to Israel in regards to their command to keep the law of the Lord. They were required to bring a sacrifice to atone for their sins. It seems like it really ticked God off when they would give Him their table scraps. They were expected to give Him their first and their best. But what was happening was that they would find the sheep that was pretty much worthless and needed to be killed anyway and give it to Him. That’s no sacrifice at all! That’s just pawning off your crap to God and calling it a sacrifice.
I wonder if we do the same thing sometimes. We give God our leftovers and call it a relationship. We forget our lunch at home and call it fasting. We pray over our food at dinner and say we’ve spent time in prayer today. We read an inspirational scripture verse that someone posted on Facebook and call it time in the Word. Uh, no. That’s table scraps. There’s no work, no sacrifice in any of that. God asks us to put Him first, to give Him our best! So don’t bring Him your lame, diseased, injured sacrifice. Instead, truly put Him first and give Him the best of all you’ve got! Not because it’s required by law, but because it is what He deserves. I think you will find that when you give Him what He deserves, tremendous blessing will flow into your life.
*Are you giving God table scraps?
Zechariah 14:9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Marriage is an awesome thing. In our younger years many people participate in what we call dating. What is dating? Well, I guess it’s trying out your heart on different people. Will this relationship be a fit? Is she the one? Some people date a lot. Like too much. Lots of girlfriends or boyfriends. But hopefully they will get to a place in their life where there is only one girl or only one boy. Hopefully they will come to the place where they put dating behind them and experience marriage. On that day, there will no longer be many. No more flirting around with others. On that day, there will be one. One queen. One king. No others.
God says that there will be a day when there is only one King, one Lord, one name. Wait… isn’t that day already here? After all there is only one God. Technically that’s true. The problem is that people like to serve their own kings and their own lords. They like to put other people and things above God and in turn, serve them. When will they get a clue? If they would just understand that there is only one King that can meet their every need they wouldn’t need to bow down to many others. If they would just understand that there is one Lord, they wouldn’t enslave themselves to the things of this world. When will they get it?
While we sit there asking that question, I believe the Lord wants to ask us the same one. When will YOU get it? When will YOU make me the only king in your life? When will YOU stop serving the false god of money, fame, and security? When will you call on MY name like it is the only name? Yes, when we begin pointing the finger out, the Holy Spirit points it back directly at our own hearts. If we want a world that treats the Lord as the only God, it had better start with us.
*How many kings are you serving?
Zechariah 13:1 On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Sometimes when my kids walk into the room, my wife looks at them and says, “you need to go take a shower.” It’s not that they don’t bathe regularly, it’s just that some days are stinkier than others. Those are the days where you want to grab a hose and take care of business. It’s not just kids, some adults need to take more frequent showers, too. You know what I’m talking about… you walk by someone and the smell hits you about 10 seconds after you pass. Please, take a shower.
We get dirty. There’s not a whole lot that we can do to prevent that. Our bodies need regular cleansing and if we don’t do it, we stink. I wonder why God made us that way? He could have just made us smell better over time. But no, He made us smell when we don’t bathe. Maybe He did it to give us a picture of what happens spiritually when we don’t bathe. When we let the dirt of life hang on us we start to stink spiritually. If we don’t shower in His mercy and forgiveness, we really start to reek.
In Zechariah 13, the Lord promised that He was going to open up a fountain that the people could get clean in. But it wasn’t physical dirt that needed to be washed away; it was spiritual. He was going to raise up a fountain that would cleanse them from sin and impurity so that they could be clean before Him. That fountain? Jesus. When we shower regularly in His grace, we can stand before God unashamed. We don’t have to worry about the filth on our life or the smell coming from our sin. We can run to the fountain and wash it all away.
These days, my kids don’t really like to take showers. We tell them that someday that will change. There will come a day when they look forward to a hot shower in the morning. They will grow to appreciate the smell of clean. They will want to wash away the dirt from yesterday. But for today, dad has to remind them to do it. And today, your heavenly Father is reminding you to do the same. Go to the fountain and let Him wash over you.
*Do you need a spiritual shower?
Zechariah 12:3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.
As I get older, I find it much easier to injure myself. When I was younger, injuries came with outrageously awesome athletic attempts. A diving catch, a mid air flip, an impressive play at home, or maybe some heavy lifting. Yes, I once could push the envelope of amazing and walk away nearly unscathed. These days, however, I can injure my ankle simply by walking. My back can be sore simply from sleeping. If someone tries to wish me luck by saying, “break a leg,” they should know that it is entirely possible.
You know what would be really cool? If people who tried to mess with me injured themselves. Now I know that sounds mean and all, but think about it. Someone cuts you off in traffic and they pull a muscle. Someone gossips about you at work and they get a canker sore that makes it hard to talk. A bully who tries to pick on your kids trips over his shoelaces. That all sounds fair, right? In fact, if you knew you had that kind of protection, you would worry a lot less. Fear wouldn’t mess with you; anxiety would be sent packing. All because anyone or anything who tried would get hurt.
It was this level of protection that God promised Jerusalem. He said that when anyone tried to come against His people they would injure themselves. “Oh, you want to hurt my people? Well go ahead, break a leg. (snicker)” What is funny about this scripture is that God didn’t say He would wreak havoc on them. He would just go ahead and let them hurt themselves. They would sprain their ankles while doing nothing in particular. They would randomly walk into trees and break their noses. Well, it doesn’t really say that, but I find the thought amusing.
What’s the point? We don’t have to get all worked up about the kind of protection that God gives us. We think that it is essential for Him to destroy our enemies. We wish that He would go all Old Testament on some people. But sometimes He just lets them injure themselves. So enemies of God, good luck to you. Break a leg!
*Are you worried about how God will protect you? Don’t be. His ways are creative… and sometimes even humorous!