September 30, 2015

God’s Story

Malachi 2:10–4:6, Acts 28:1–31, Job 31:23–40

The Bible contains 66 books all telling the same story. It could be outlined: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. The world is currently in the Fall-Redemption
God’s Savior has come and paid the penalty for sin. Sinners need to hear that good news, or have heard it and accepted it, or heard and rejected it.

Two of today’s Bible readings are in that Redemption section but before the first advent of Jesus Christ. Malachi prophecies that event; Job shares his faith in God’s promise of that event. The third reading is still in the Redemption section, but after Jesus came and before His return. It tells how the first Christians, particularly the Apostle Paul, shared the good news of Jesus with the rest of the world.

God said Jesus would come
“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 . . . .” (Malachi 3:1–4)

Malachi describes more of what will happen when Jesus comes: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.’” (Malachi 3:16–18)

Yet even before Jesus came, there were OT believers who trusted the promises of God and declared their faith by words and by changed lives. Job was one of them.

Job shares His faith
Job said he feared God and could not face Him if his life was not in order: “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand had found much, if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I would have been false to God above.” Job 31:23–28)

Job knew that the changes in his life were by grace, yet he was responsible to live by grace. His obedience demonstrated his faith in the God who had blessed him with a changed life. He refused to trust his wealth or anything else for that would ruin and make false his faith in God.

Paul preaches Christ to Jews and Gentiles
Paul persecuted the early Christians, but after Jesus appeared to him, his life changed. He believed the gospel, told others about it, and was arrested and put in prison. He asked to be tried in Rome so was sent there and allowed to stay by himself with a soldier who guarded him. After three days he called the local Jewish leaders and said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”

These Jews knew nothing about this, but said, “But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
So they came to Paul in great numbers. “From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.”

Paul finally told those who rejected the message, “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Paul lived there two years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ boldly and without hindrance. (Acts 28:16–31)

Where do I fit in this? I’m a sinner redeemed by God’s grace. I’m left here on this earth to glorify God and tell others of His saving mercy until He takes me home or until Jesus returns!

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