Malachi Week 3: (3:1-5): The Results of Repentance—Restoration.
Modern philosopher and author Dallas Willard once told the story of a young child who crept into her father’s bedroom to sleep. Though it was dark, merely being in the presence of her father was enough to take away her fear and sense of aloneness. Yet, she still could not go to sleep. “Father, is your face turned towards me?” the child would ask. “Yes, sweetheart, my face is turned toward you.” Only then could the little girl go to sleep.
The first two chapters of Malachi were not easy to hear, either for the Israelites or for us. It is not pleasant to think that God might be displeased with us, let alone that God might actually find our prayers wearisome. Those kinds of statements are a wake-up call—an alarm calling us to action, for without action, there is no true repentance. But here is the thing that we must remember, God’s disappointment in our behavior doesn’t change His love for us, and it’s that very love that requires Him to discipline us. Heb. 12:6 tells us, “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” In His great love for us, God is not willing to leave us where He finds us. Through instruction and discipline, He is constantly working to mold us into what He has called us to be.
As a father, many of the sweetest times I have had with my children have been after they were disciplined. It was not that I enjoyed disciplining them—quite the contrary, I hated it. But I knew that if I didn’t correct that behavior in them then, it would plague them throughout their lives. However, after the discipline, there was one thing that was on their hearts and on mine—restoration. They wanted desperately to know that I still loved them, and I wanted nothing more in the world than to show them how much I loved them.
In Malachi 3, we find that our Heavenly Father has that same heart toward us. Despite the sin that God has addressed in the previous two chapters, He promises the reward of restoration in response to our repentance. Rather than finding our sacrifices and prayers wearisome, God promises to restore things to what they were meant to be. God promises our restoration to a right relationship with Him and with others. We can take comfort in the promise of God in Isa. 57:15, “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and revive the heart of the contrite.’”
Like the little girl in Dallas Willard’s story, we find peace and comfort in God’s presence even in times of darkness. And, we long for nothing more than to know that His face is turned toward us. In Malachi 3, God assures us that when we repent, His face is turned toward us, and there is nothing to fear.
1. Have you ever experienced restoration after repentance, whether with others or with God? What was that time like for you?
2. Where are you at in your relationship with God now? Do you feel like He’s distant? Do you feel like His face is turned toward you?
3. If you don’t feel like God’s face is turned toward you, why do you think that is? Is it possible that you still haven’t reached repentance?
4. Every Sunday, our services conclude with a blessing calling for God to “make His face shine upon you.” How does this word from Malachi impact your understanding of that blessing?