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God’s Word for You

Malachi 4:2 the sun of righteousness

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 10, 2021

2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise, and there will be healing in its wings. You will go out and jump around like calves from the stall.

Malachi is looking ahead to the coming of Christ, but we will understand him better if we pause to remember that he lived almost 2,500 years ago, more than four hundred years before Christ came. So his message is not only about Christ’s second coming (which is often our point of view), but about his first coming. Malachi’s “sun of righteousness” is a delicious pun in English that does not have any connection to our word “son.” Malachi’s imagery shows us the glorious bright light of the appearance of Christ, like the sun or a bright light. Balaam called Christ “a star coming out of Jacob, a star rising out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). Isaiah called him “a great light” (Isaiah 9:2), and John’s father Zechariah said that he came “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79). Christ is “the light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19); in heaven the Lamb “is the city’s lamp” (Revelation 21:23). This is the sun of righteousness. “Light is sweet,” Solomon said, “and it pleases the eyes to see the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7). We are drawn to the sun for many reasons, some of them unknown to many of us. From the sun we get light, warmth, certain vitamins, and an overall sense of well-being. Without sunlight, many people are afflicted. Winter darkness can bring on depression and other problems to people who live in the far north (and its counterpart as one approaches the south pole). But without the sun, there would be no life at all. Just as the sun brings life to our world, the Son of God brings spiritual life to all. All of the false gods are nothing more than dying embers, dead flashlights, cold fireplaces. Only Christ is truly light and life, “the life that is the light of man” (John 1:4).

The “wings” of the sun are the rays or skyward fingers of the dawn. They extend out on a clear morning from horizon to horizon, giving light and life to everything beneath. These wings of Christ’s righteousness bring healing through the message of the gospel, when broken hearts and guilty consciences are brought back to God’s side and assured by his love. We respond with joy, with exuberant joy, like calves that jump around on the green grass when released from the stall. Calves do that to exercise their stiff legs and ankles. We will do it for much the same reason, leaping because we are set free from the bonds of guilt and the shackles of sin. Anyone who has watched a calf, lamb, kid or fawn leap around knows that it brings laughter to everyone who sees it. This is the laughter of pure joy, and that’s the kind of joy we will know in heaven. But we also have that joy now, because the message is ours already. You are forgiven today because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The Church, personified by the wife in the Song of Solomon, shouts out about Christ: “Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? (Song 6:10). The Sun of Righteousness is the one desired by the Church, the Lord God Jesus Christ himself, the one who brings life and light to us all. We praise him, we yearn for him, and we are blessed by him. We bless one another by saying, “May the Lord make his face shine on you” (Numbers 6:25). We will see his face smiling on us when we stand before him in heaven. His good pleasure will be ours to bask in for all eternity, like the rising sun over the good green earth. May the Lord bless you and make his face shine on you all the days of your life, and in heaven forevermore.

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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