Today’s Bible reading
See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. — Malachi 4:5
More thoughts for meditation
In the book of Matthew, and in a couple other books, there is a moment when Jesus turns to his disciples and asks them who people say he is. The disciples respond, “some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Peter gets the question right, declaring that Jesus is the Messiah and the son of the living God. Jesus then blesses Peter because this truth had been revealed to him by God and not by anything else.
There isn’t a direct connection between this story and the passage from Malachi, but there is something resonant about the story of Peter having the knowledge of who Jesus was revealed to him by God and how we relate to the Bible. We need more than just the words on the page. We need a connection to the living God the stories are all about. Peter didn’t have the Bible, he had Jesus, and even then he still needed God to speak to him to know the truth.
Reading the Bible can be a daunting task if we imagine that it requires expertise to use correctly. Who was Elijah? Why would people expect to see him alive in Jesus time? Why does it seem like God is always talking about destruction? I don’t know the answers to those questions. (Slight counterpoint to the last one: apparently enough children and parents worked it out that God was happy. Don’t bury the lead.) I do have faith that God is working something out in the world, though. The Bible is the collected stories of God’s consistent effort to remain connected to us. This effort culminated and continues through the present in the life of Jesus.
Suggestions for action
Have you ever tried to write a prophecy? It’s a spiritual gift so some us are especially good at it, like Malachi. But even if one is not gifted, that doesn’t mean we can’t practice it. Try to listen for a word from God that is worth writing down and sharing. Who could you share it with? If it feels too awkward just let it exist in your imagination.