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With Healing in Its Wings
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
March 16, 2014
Malachi 4:1-6 Matthew 17:1-13 Psalm 121
The passages we heard this morning concern the power of God to heal and regenerate us. In our reading from Malachi we heard the following lines,
For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from their stall (4:2)
Then in Matthew, we see an image of the power of the risen and glorified Jesus Christ. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up onto a high mountain. On the mountaintop Jesus is transfigured. His face becomes bright as the sun and His clothes become white as the light. It is no accident that they are on a mountain when this happens. Mountains symbolize the presence of God and the angels. In the Old Testament there are many mountains where God’s presence is particularly found. And in Swedenborg’s system of symbolism, mountains correspond to God and heavenly love. Then Moses and Elijah appear to be talking with Jesus. There is powerful symbolism here too. Moses symbolizes the Law, and Elijah symbolizes the prophets. So we have all the Law and prophets associated with Jesus. The symbolism here means that Jesus is the Law and Prophets in the flesh, or the Word made flesh as John 1:14 states.
So on the mountaintop we have an image of our Savior, Jesus Christ in all the power of the Word made flesh. And the transfiguration of Jesus is a foreshadowing of His resurrection. Jesus even predicts His glorification and resurrection by saying to the apostles, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9).
Then there is the issue of the “great and dreadful Day of the Lord.” This is a prediction of the end of days when the final judgement is to come to the earth. It is a day in which the whole created world–that is, the earth and all the people in it–the whole created world will be purified and things will be set into order. Malachi prophesies,
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them” (Malachi 4:1).
John the Baptist implies that this great and dreadful day is at hand. He says,
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).
And Luke has John the Baptist saying more about the great and dreadful day of the LORD,
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Luke 3:9).
Luke reinforces the immediacy of the great and dreadful day of the LORD with a passage from Isaiah about the restoration of the whole world,
A voice of one calling in the desert,
“Prepare a way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
Every mountain shall be made low,
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God’s salvation (Luke 3:4-6).
Before that great and dreadful day, God will send the prophet Elijah. So Malachi says, “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.” Jesus affirms that Elijah will precede the great and dreadful day of the LORD. He tells the apostles, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.” With all this in mind, the priests come to John the Baptist, and their first question is, “Are you Elijah?” (John 1:21).
However, there is a mystery about all this. Jesus affirms that the great and dreadful day of the LORD is at hand. He says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). He also affirms that Elijah has already come, “But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him” (Matthew 17:12). So Jesus states that Elijah will come and restore all things, and that Elijah has already come. But things hadn’t been restored. How are we to understand this prophesy about the coming day of the LORD?
It seems to me that Jesus gives us the means for understanding this mystery. In John, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world. . . But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). And earlier in His ministry, Jesus says, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). That is, we will not see the kingdom of God come physically on the earth. All these things that are prophesied–the imagery of the furnace, the burning of the arrogant and evil, the threshing floor and the burning of the chaff, the restoration of all things such as the levelling of mountains and the raising up of valleys–all these things will happen within, not visibly on the earth. So Jesus says, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is’” (Luke 17:20-21).
The power of Jesus that was manifested on the mountaintop is at hand to transform our hearts and minds. That is the heavenly kingdom that Jesus rules. There hasn’t been yet, and won’t be a tumultuous upheaval in the world when the last days come. The last days already have come. It happened when God came to earth in the flesh. And it happened when heaven was reordered for the New Age. On a personal level, the last days happen every moment of every day. Every time we make a choice for good over evil, the prophesies are transpiring. The fire is burning the chaff when we turn from unhealthy passions. We leap like calves released from their stalls every time we are released from the bondage of sin. This is what is meant by the sun of righteousness rising with healing on its wings. The healing referred to is the healing of our soul. And our soul is healed by the risen and glorified Jesus Christ.
We now, in this New Age, have the power of the risen and glorified Jesus Christ to come to us and deliver us from the bondage of hell. No one is truly free when hell has power over him or her. Only when we choose freely do we have freedom. And only when we are living in accord with God’s love do we have the freedom to choose. It is the power of the risen Jesus Christ that gives us that choice. A beautiful image of Jesus’ power is given us in the book of Revelation. And this vision of the risen and glorified Jesus’ power extends to all peoples of every tribe and language and race and nation.
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. . . . the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: . . .
“with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. . They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:5, 8, 9, 11-13)
This is an image of Jesus’ power to heal our souls and lift us into heaven with the elders, the living creatures and the myriads of angels. This glorious vision is available to everyone on earth who practices their religion as best they know how. I would like to think that the world will eventually come to see the wisdom of peace and the glory of God. But whether this will happen or not, I will not speculate. I will affirm the words of Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of God is within.” And for me, it is enough that my soul find healing from the risen Jesus Christ so that I may be an agent of peace in this broken world.
Dear Lord, we are grateful that you do not judge us according to justice, but by love. And your love for us is so great that you came to us, and walked in the way we walk. You brought your divine love to us here on earth. And you yielded to the complete human condition. Your love for us was so great that you even allowed men to persecute you and take your life. Yet your love for us did not end in death. You rose from the dead and are still present to heal men and women through your risen and glorified Divine Human. With your power, we can overcome spiritual death. With your power we can be reborn in your image. And with your power, we may be united with You forever in heaven.