“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts.”(Malachi 4:1-3 ESV)
I’m not a farm girl, but some of the best videos I’ve seen are the ones that show farm animals coming out of their barns in the spring for the first time. The calves jump and leap; they look like kids let out of school. They run on the new grass—so happy you can’t help but laugh to see them.
This is the picture God gives us of how it will be when Jesus returns. Then, God says, “You who fear my Name … will go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act.”
Wait a minute—what’s all this about treading down the wicked? They’re going to be ashes—what? Suddenly we might not feel so happy anymore.
But that’s a mistake in our perspective. As Christians, we are aware that we are sinners; we have the habit of self-evaluation. So when we think about God’s judgment, we automatically put ourselves in the position of the wicked. And we are afraid when we read passages like this one.
Let’s try readjusting our viewpoint. Think of a time in your life when you were severely mistreated—not just once, but again and again, by someone who really had no excuse for what they did to you. (If you can’t think of such a time, give thanks to God!) Your life was a burden to you. You could see no end in sight. In fact, you were pretty sure you wouldn’t survive it.
And then suddenly, miraculously, the Lord comes and sets you free. Wouldn’t you feel like dancing? Wouldn’t you rejoice to see God stop the ones harming you, and take away the burden that you’d carried for so long?
This is the promise God makes to His people—that when Jesus returns, all wickedness and all evildoers will have a complete stop put to them. He will take out the trash, if I can use that metaphor. There will be no more suffering in the kingdom of God. And those who cause suffering and refuse to repent will also be gone. Jesus is our sun of righteousness, and He brings healing in His wings. We will be at peace at last.
Even though we may still be suffering injustice in this world, we can look forward to that day with confidence. The same God who died on a cross to rescue us from the power of evil has promised we will see His victory complete someday. The same Jesus who rose from the dead will raise us from the dead as well—and we will live with Him in joy and peace forever.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on November 8, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. When you think of the Last Day, what feelings do you have?
3. When has Jesus helped you survive suffering?