Last Warnings and Second Chances

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.”

Malachi 3:16

Ever had that one last warning from someone? I find that parents are especially great at these — the “this is the last time I’m telling you” kind of warning that strikes fear in the hearts of children everywhere. These warnings work.

God, as our Heavenly Father, is pretty good at these warnings too. Malachi is the last prophet to speak to God’s people until John the Baptist comes about 400 years later. Malachi is God’s “this is the last time I’m telling you.”

First, God uses Malachi to pass a message of condemnation to His people, the Israelites, for their unfaithfulness. When Israel responds, they criticize God for allowing wickedness instead of enforcing justice. Bad idea — especially when you’re part of the wicked. So God basically says, “Okay, if you want me to judge, then I’ll judge.”

Malachi tells the Israelites that God will bring His righteousness and judgment on the people. And God has a message that applies specifically to Israel: God says that the only reason why Israel won’t be completely destroyed is because God is faithful. No thanks to Israel. And no more warnings.

But when our parents give us that “this is the last time I’m telling you” kind of warning, we’re usually smart enough to listen. We know they’re being serious and we don’t want to know what will happen if we don’t behave. And among the Israelites, there are a couple of smart people too. Some of the priests and people in Israel responded to Malachi’s message with faithfulness to God. To these people, God promises that He will remember their faithfulness.

That’s where this verse (verse 16) comes in. To the faithful few, God will listen to them and hear them. And He will not forget them. He offers them hope, just like He offers us hope when we stumble or mess up. 

So when we find ourselves being unfaithful to God, we need to remember His warnings to Israel — especially His “this is the last time I’m telling you” warning. And we need to wise up, and respond in faithfulness to God’s everlasting hope.

God, help me to be faithful to You. Thank you for always offering me hope and countless second chances whenever I mess up. Thank You for giving us the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ — hope for eternal life and for Jesus to come again. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Lord. Amen.