A children’s book titled Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (2011) always makes me cry. In the book, a mother tells her son, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” The book depicts her repeating this line at many stages of his life until she dies of old age. On the final page, the son repeats the same line to his newborn daughter. The cycle of love and affection continues.
The people beloved by God know God is with them no matter what. In the wilderness after Exodus, God is there. In the warring tribes, God is there. In the strife between nations, God is there. And now, surrounded by an impenetrable and seemingly everlasting Empire, God is there with the nation of Israel. Zechariah gives a prophecy that God will uphold God’s end of the covenant and deliver the people from this time of trial as well—and, yes, he’s referencing Malachi.
We often view prophecy as tumultuous, an upsetting of the status quo. But to the Israelites, prophecy about God’s faithfulness is like a warm blanket, a reassurance in the midst of the storm. A repeated line that says, “I’ll love you forever,” no matter what.
To live into the prophecies and to embrace the prophets will lead to drastic change to the status quo. But to do so leads the people back into the comfort, care, and concern of their God. How may we see that drastic change also leading us closer to the God we seek?
Holy One, we know you love us forever. May this reassurance give us what we need to share that love with one new person this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.
• Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you experienced the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
• Read Luke 1:68-79. At home and work, are you usually the first touch, the second touch, or the third touch? How so?
• Read Philippians 1:3-11. How could you make expressing your gratitude to others a habit?
• Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?
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