2nd Wednesday in Advent
[3:1] "Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.
 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
 "Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
 "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.  From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?' Malachi 3:1-7 (ESV)
Behold, He is coming says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?… Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts. For I the Lord do not change therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them.
He is coming. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming. We do not know the day, and we do not know the hour, but we know he is near. Just as we do not know the day or the hour of our death, but we do know that it is near. And a man is appointed to die once, and then comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Judgment is near, the day of our Lord is near, the day of our death is near, and then there is judgment.
Who will stand? That is the question. The Lord says he will be a swift judge, judging sorcerers, judging adulterers, liars who swear falsely, those who oppress the hired worker, who skimp on the wages they pay, the widow and the fatherless, and those who push aside the sojourner. So who stands? Sorcery? Who is guilty of that? Ever read your horoscope in the back of the paper and been flattered by what it had to say about you? Ever wished it would prove not to be the hogwash it is, and actually come true? Is the Lord then to spare you?
Adultery? Who here has led a chaste and decent life in what they say and do? Ah, this commandment is a humdinger for us. You know these commandments are kept in the positive and the negative. And we roast on both accounts. Who here has not lusted after another who was not their spouse? Perhaps you even found yourself flirting with that person. And who here has fulfilled the command to love and cherish their husband or wife. Who here has not denied their spouse gratification at one time or another? When Paul reminds us that concerning this commandment, that we belong to our spouse, and are not to deny them. But we claim a headache, or just don’t want to miss our favorite T.V. show where we can watch others and fantasize with them about committing adultery, and being in love or lust. Who stands? Anyone?
Who here has not sworn falsely, either out of ignorance or to save themselves? Have you gossiped? Even told the truth, when there was no reason but the tarnishing of another?
What employer do you know who doesn’t try to skimp on the wages of the employee to keep his operating costs down? And you might consider this when you think of what you give to the church. I get paid decently, but sometimes I suspect that the church’s budget falls on the shoulders of a few, and is not so equally distributed among all the members. For sure not all can equally give? But are we honest with God when we do? Do we honestly give all we can, and then do so with a cheerful heart? One of my fears for this tiny congregation, is the day will come when there may not be a wealthy two or three to keep this place going, and the congregation will not be able to support itself, because it has not disciplined itself in the days of plenty, to give from their plenty, to prepare for the future. Perhaps, though, that needs to be your fear and not mine.
How about those who thrust aside the sojourner? Where do we stand there? The immigrant legal or otherwise, so often at a disadvantage not knowing the language or the culture, forced to work menial jobs. Do we despise them for cleaning our toilets? Butchering our chickens? Do we take out our frustrations with a bloated economy and run away inflation, corrupt government etc on them? When all they would do is work to support a family, doing jobs we would rather not do? Do we provide opportunities for them to learn our language? Or to hear the gospel? Or do we just make them scapegoats for our national problems?
Do we fear the Lord, the Lord of hosts? Who can stand at his appearing? Can you? Can you stand? Are you innocent? Or do you think that God has changed?
Thankfully, for you he has not. God has not changed. He has not changed his idea of right and wrong, and he has not changed his mind regarding you.
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not condemned, from the days of you fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them.”
There isn’t anything new here. We don’t keep God’s statutes, we break his law. But we are children of Jacob, that is, children of Abraham, for we have the same faith as Abraham, the faith by which John the Baptizer said God can raise up from these stones children of Abraham. And God has not changed, but has kept his promises to us, and so forgives us our sins, in Jesus Christ. God has not changed, therefore you o Children of Jacob, you who have been slain and put to death, buried in Christ’s death, and raised to the newness of life in baptism, you are not consumed. For no one stands at the day of his appearing. So you were slain wat this coming, when he came to you in the holy waters of baptism. So that when he comes again to judge the living and the dead, Christ who is in you, the new life that is in you because of Christ’s death and resurrection, will rise on that day, and when the purification is done, that new life that is in Christ by faith, will stand. It will walk and enter into the fullness of God’s glory. Not because you have kept his statutes, but because God does not change his loving disposition for you, O Children of Jacob, God does not change, therefore you are not consumed.