At the End
You shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. Malachi 3:18
A few weeks back, while out hiking in the mountains, I came across the historical marker of an old cemetery with two gravestones. Buried in the snow and barely legible, one read, I Am at Rest. It got me thinking about what someone would put on my headstone. When I’m gone, what will be said of me? Will I be remembered for my most obvious failures, or will I be remembered for following God out of my disaster?
Here, at the close of the Old Testament, Malachi reinforces what the Bible has taught from the beginning. We all make our choices, and the consequences are predictable. Adam and Eve were given a choice to follow God or themselves. Later, Moses declared, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:15). Malachi, in today’s passage, now reinforces the reality that these two lives, the one that follows God and the one that doesn’t, will look very differently.
The life that follows God isn’t marked simply by going to church. Malachi chastised those who pretended to follow God with their false display of ceremony and sacrifice, while participating in sorcery, adultery, dishonest business, and oppression of the poor (Malachi 3:5).
Malachi insisted that those who follow God will live differently in a way that is obvious to all, both in its behavior and in its consequence. Those who follow God will obey his commands, loving him and loving those around them. These will find true life, joy, and peace. Those who refuse to follow God, will live for themselves, pursuing – and finding – their own misery.
What would Malachi say about me? At the end, I don’t want to look back with regret and sorrow. In the December of my life, as snow threatens to bury my gravestone, I want to be able to look back at a life spent loving God and loving others. If I want this, if I want my life to be what God wants it to be, then today, while I’m living, I must choose to abandon me to follow him.