See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5).
It seems the world is far too comfortable with the idea of a curse. Cursing has become a human habit. It might damn everything from a coffee spill to a driver who cuts someone off in traffic. One wonders if demons would be so quick to curse if they were pardoned by God—as we are. After all, fallen angels know what it is like to be damned. The first curse issued was to the serpent that Satan had used to tempt the humans: “Cursed are you above all the livestock…” The second curse was aimed at Adam: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
Worse than painful toil was the curse that would turn him into dirt: “…. for dust you are and unto dust you will return.” (Genesis 3) The curse would spread. The hymn is correct when it begins, “When all the world was cursed…” Scripture declares that, even now, the whole creation is groaning under that curse and eagerly waiting to be liberated from its bondage to decay. (Romans 8:18-21) This includes all that God’s hand has made.
The whole history of the world revolves around the curse, its consequences, and the hopes to escape from it. Some people believe there is no escape. They conclude Job’s wife was right to advise him “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Suicide is not ruled out.
But death can bring the worst consequences of the curse. The Bible warns with the words Jesus will speak when the world ends: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
The only hope for escape is captured in the closing words of the Old Testament. The Lord God must intervene to rescue all held under the curse of sin. He did.
It must happen before Judgment Day. It did.
The Bethlehem angel called out to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).
That’s good news! It’s the best news ever!
Through Malachi, the Lord God had promised, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.” He came. The New Testament Elijah was John the Baptist. He pointed out exactly who that
Savior was: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’” (John 1:29)!
A discord occurs when the new generation rejects the saving faith that its parents had. Acceptance of Jesus by both generations unites their hearts in peace and joy. It, “Will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” That same Jesus removed the division between the holy God and mankind. In the hymn that tells us to Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, the announcement is made: “God and sinners reconciled.” That realization brings joy to our hearts. Followers of Jesus need not fear facing God. We need not fear judgment. Thus, we need not fear death.
And how far into the world will the reconciliation with the holy God reach? The hymn writer tells us, “Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.” He announced, “Joy to the World.”
We are cursed no more.
We pray: Heavenly Father, accept our prayers of thanks and our words of praise for the plan of salvation that wiped out the curse that sin had brought upon us. Without this, we would be banished from your kingdom and doomed to death and dismay. Remind us that we need not fear Judgment Day. Keep pointing us back to Good Friday and Easter so that we know our path leads to heaven. Fill our hearts with joy. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer
WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military