December 3 - Messiah - Malachi 3:1-3

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3 - Messiah - Malachi 3:1-3

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, whom you delight in; behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire. And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Jennens had hoped Handel would have The Messiah ready to perform in London during the Holy Week, but instead, Handel took it to Dublin and worrying that the oratorio was too different, he introduced the audiences there to his music before producing The Messiah.  Then, he and the principal performers offered their services for free in order to benefit three Dublin charities.  Dublin loved him, but when he returned to London, there was much criticism – from papers who felt that The Word of God shouldn't be performed in such a lowly setting (a theater) to Jennens himself who felt that Handel hadn't done as well as he could have with the music he had written.  It wasn't until seven or eight years later that The Messiah became popular in London, and that wasn't until Handel began performing it for charities.

The covenant between the Lord and His people was at stake.  His messenger was coming to negotiate with the people.  The problem was, they had not fulfilled their side of the covenant agreement and believed they were in great danger.

Messengers were often used this way in that part of the world.  They delivered bad news and the consequences thereof with impunity if need be.  For the Israelites, the time had come.  They had set themselves above the Word of the Lord and were no longer obedient to the covenant they had agreed to from the very beginning.  They might be circumcised at birth, but it no longer held them true to their agreement.  They had allowed sin and the things of the outside world to pervade their lives to the extent that they no longer had much time for God, much less lived their lives in a manner He would find pleasing.  The priests, the ones who were to lead the people in worship and come before the Lord in holiness, were corrupt. It seemed there was no goodness left.

The only thing that would bring them back would be like a refiner’s fire.  Burn off the dross, separate the pure metal from the inconsistencies.

When Jesus came to earth the first time, he came to confront humanity with its sin and then to offer an opportunity for complete forgiveness, purification moderated by mercy and grace. When he returns a second time, mercy and grace will be no more. He will come in judgment.  Righteousness will be the only thing left to choose so that humanity can live in eternity with God the Father.