“Mind you, the day is coming, red hot, to incinerate the arrogant bastards like so much garbage,” God says. “Nothing will be left of them, not one scrap.”
“But for those who stay true, it’ll be like the dawning of justice, and it will heal you. You’ll be free from the cells where the wicked tied you, and you’ll walk on their ashen graves,” God says. “Just remember what my main man Moses taught you. At the place of destruction, I gave him instructions to pass along to you.”
This is Malachi’s “cosmic karma” plan. Everyone will get what’s coming to them. The bad will be wiped out. The good will be rewarded. God will suddenly restore the balance of justice.
In Malachi’s own day, it expressed the hope that the wrongs he saw all around him would be put right, and it had both an individual and a communal dimension. Individuals were responsible for the corruption of the national character, and the vision of the flames consuming them applied individually. But it also applied on a societal level. Nations that continued in corruption, aggression, and hubris would be wiped out, those that (like the purified Israel Malachi lobbied for) purified themselves before God came to do it for them would prosper.
Alas (or perhaps fortunately) the “great and terrible day” of God’s swift burning justice has yet to come. Or perhaps it comes in part every day. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fond of saying, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it sweeps toward justice.”
The question is not whether the “day of the Lord” is imminent. It’s not meant to be marked in red numbers on a calendar. For those who care about justice, it is every day.
The question is, on any given day, and especially today: which side of the long arc of justice are you on?