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God’s Word for You

Malachi 4:1 root and branch

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, May 7, 2021

4 Look! The day is coming, burning like a blast furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble. The day that is coming will set them on fire, says the LORD of Armies, a day that will not leave behind a root or branch for them.

The day that is coming is the Last Day, the day that will burn like an oven for the unbeliever. This is a day that is rehearsed in the California deserts and suburbs year after year as wildfires rage and burn, seemingly without end. The dry blasting heat will make all the earth’s vegetation catch fire, a fire so intense that even the elements themselves will melt in the heat (2 Peter 3:10,12). Peter asks: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11).

Christians will be exactly like Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego in their fiery furnace on that day: “The God we serve is able to save us from it” (Daniel 3:17). The fire of that day will not harm our bodies, nor will a hair of our heads be singed; our clothes will not be scorched, and there will be no smell of fire on us (Daniel 3:27). We will be saved by the message of forgiveness through Christ on the cross. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but for us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18), “for no other god can save in this way” (Daniel 3:29).

For all those who have rejected Christ the Savior, they will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). When the prophet says that the day will not leave behind “root or branch,” he means that the judgment will be complete; there will be no reprieve. “I will sweep away the birds and the fish. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth” (Zephaniah 1:3). Everyone will be judged, and those who are condemned will remain condemned for all eternity. What has happened for the wicked angels who fell “and did not keep their positions of authority” will happen for the wicked men and women who have fallen. Atheists, agnostics, Deists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, and every other form of unbeliever will scream out in terror. Minarets and mosques will be consumed in the flames. Synagogues will be reduced to less than ash. Churches decked out with Christian symbols but who rejected Christ the Savior will burn as well. That’s where the pitiful cry will rise up: “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” (Matthew 7:22). The same words could come from the lips of Judas Iscariot (Luke 9:1-2). And the same judgment will come from the LORD of Armies: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).

We must pause and remind one another that judgment belongs to the Lord. We are not the ones who will choose the moment for the last judgment. Paul warned: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). There is no passage in all of Scripture that permits anyone to walk out into the street today with a weapon and start killing anyone he considers evil, for whatever reason. Decades ago, we had to remind one another of this when there were attacks on abortion clinics, and we had to calm furious hearts and point out what was wrong with the idea of murder to prevent murder. Today there is simply blind rage, but the same gospel message is ours to proclaim. We don’t commit murder because someone else has different political views, religious views, or even if someone is just a bigot. If someone is confused about God’s will concerning gender roles, we point out what the Bible says, we teach, we preach, and we pray. Paul speaks directly to us: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).

The time we have between today and judgment day might be very short. But whatever time remains, our place is to carry the gospel to the world, not judgement. God will judge. He has given us the gospel to preach. Do the work God has given you to do. Pray, praise, and give thanks, and look to the condition of your own soul every day.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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