REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 28, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Wicked Will Pay, If Not Now, Then Certainly Later”
Malachi 4:1-6 (ESV)
“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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
Dennis Rodman’s recent foray into “basketball diplomacy” with North Korea was frowned upon by many because of the ruthless manner in which this nation mistreats its people, especially Christians. The believers, once they are found out by the state, are routinely sent to prison camps; torture and execution are not uncommon. No wonder North Korea has been ranked first on the World Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is most prevalent. This communist regime, founded by Kim Il-sung and carried on by his son Kim Jung-il (and now by his son), has caused the death and misery of millions of people.
The Psalmist says, “The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy” (145:20) and “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more” (37:10). In view of that, these two dictators should have really suffered while alive, perhaps even experiencing a premature death. Quite the contrary! They enjoyed absolute power as well as the best of the western amenities (while their people starved). In addition, the father, by dying at the age of 82, not only outlived most North Koreans, he easily beat the lifespan of 70 to 80 years that Moses considered as normative (Ps. 90:10); the son, who died at the age of 70, just made it.
In light of that, would Malachi, whose name means “My messenger,” think that his message regarding the eventual fate of the wicked on earth was incorrect since the Kims and many of their kinds didn’t exactly become stubble, ashes, or rootless? No, not really because there is no mistake about what God meant: The wicked will pay for their injustice, transgression, and brutality, either now or on the Day of the Lord, when Christ will descend from heaven to judge the living and the dead (Acts 1:11).
Knowing that, we press forward by remembering and keeping God’s laws even as we see the wicked prosper. Feeling discouraged sometimes, we may even say what some said in the earshot of Malachi (3:14), “It is futile to serve the Lord.” Thus, listen to the admonition of Apostle Paul: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). Don’t give up.
Prayer: Oh Lord my God, how I behold Your beauty and majesty with awe and fear! Though You are my friend, yet You are the God of the universe whose holiness is beyond my grasp; that You would put up with someone like me is absolutely unbelievable. But it is true. I want to do good, not just because of the rewards in heaven, but because I love You and want to love You more each day. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 19
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 12:1-3a; 21-3 (ESV): “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also . . . On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’ 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.”
Acts 26: 24-9 (ESV): “And as [Paul] was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.’ 25 But Paul said, ‘I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.’ 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, ‘In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?’ 29 And Paul said, ‘Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.’”
Note: Festus would die in three years while Agrippa, Herod’s son who was involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice, would go on to live another 40 years. Neither of them believed then and, most likely continued in their disbelief until the end.
Questions to Consider
- In what sense was justice served in the case of King Herod? Would you make a similar case for Festus who was known as a fair-minded governor?
- In what sense was the life of Agrippa similar to the Kims of North Korea?
- What do you make of what happened to these three lives? What does it mean to you personally?
- Because of Herod’s brutality against the church and self-deification, God put an end to his life during the height of his political success. I wouldn’t say the same regarding Festus since decent people can die young as well. For those who are older, who can forget the untimely death of a great baseball player Roberto Clement, whose plane crashed while on a rescue mission.
- Agrippa certainly died in his old age, after enjoying a decadent life without suffering too many ill effects from it. Having died without Christ (and certainly not having repented), he has been fairly judged in God’s court.
- The best time to believe in Jesus is NOW. Obviously, no one knows when their last day on earth will be but each time we reject Christ, it gets easier doing it until “a man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy” (Prov. 29:1).
Did any news today remind you of the wickedness of man? Do you feel like unfairness rules and justice ignored? Pray that God’s righteous standard will prevail in our lives and also in our nation. Pray.