This article is part of the Christ in All of Scripture series.
God’s Electing Grace
The book of Malachi contains six oracles (or disputations) that each begin with a saying of the people, to which the Lord responds through his prophet. Most of these oracles are searching rebukes. It is striking, however, that before the Lord rebukes the people, he begins by affirming his electing love for them, which is the reason they continue to exist after the judgment of the exile (1:2). He didn’t choose their forefather Jacob to be the ancestor of his people because of his good works but in spite of his sin. So too, their sin cannot make God cease loving them. The non-elect, however, will be judged for their sin without hope, as the fate of the descendants of Esau (Edom) makes clear.
The ultimate remedy for our sin is not our repentant obedience, but the Lord’s coming to his temple.
We too were chosen to belong to God, not based on our works but simply out of God’s electing grace in Christ (Eph. 1:4–6). We therefore cannot sin our way out of God’s love. Yet at the same time, we were chosen to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4), not only positionally but also practically. So God rebukes our sin through his Word, and calls us to repent sincerely and turn to him for forgiveness.
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And yet the ultimate remedy for our sin is not our repentant obedience, but the Lord’s coming to his temple (Mal. 3:1). Our own righteousness cannot stand the exposure that that day will bring any more than dross could survive the refiner’s fire or dirt could endure the launderer’s soap (Mal. 3:2). We need the righteousness of another, if we are going to stand on that day— which is precisely what God gives us in the gospel. As a result, the day of the Lord’s coming for believers is not a fiery, destructive furnace that we need to fear but rather a warming sun of righteousness that rises on us for our healing (Mal. 4:1–2). For in Jesus, God does come to his temple—not the temple building, but the temple of Christ’s own body—which we are. There, humans can once more meet with God.
This article is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Browse other articles in this series via the links below.
Genesis • Exodus • Leviticus • Numbers • Deuteronomy • Joshua • Judges • Ruth • 1–2 Samuel • 1–2 Kings • 1–2 Chronicles • Ezra • Nehemiah • Esther • Job • Psalms • Proverbs • Ecclesiastes • Song of Solomon • Isaiah • Jeremiah • Lamentations • Ezekiel • Daniel • Hosea • Joel • Amos • Obadiah • Jonah • Micah • Nahum • Habbakuk • Zephaniah • Haggai • Zechariah • Malachi
Matthew • Mark • Luke • John • Acts • Romans • 1 Corinthians • 2 Corinthians • Galatians • Ephesians • Philippians • Colossians • 1 Thessalonians • 2 Thessalonians • 1 Timothy • 2 Timothy • Titus • Philemon • Hebrews • James • 1 Peter • 2 Peter • 1–3 John • Jude • Revelation