Happens quickly without warning, or unexpectedly, is the dictionary definition of the word ‘suddenly’. This word is one of my favourite biblical words. It appears 167 times in the Bible. In most contexts it speaks of God breaking in. His Kingdom coming and His glory being revealed. The word suddenly is therefore full of faith, hope, and expectancy. Could it be that as you’re reading this today God is getting you ready for a ‘suddenly’? A moment in your life, your family, your church, your community where God shows up and everything changes for our good and His glory.
Suddenly moments by their definition are unexpected moments. Yet the reality is they always happen in the context of people seeking God. Let me highlight this by looking at two of my favourite ‘suddenly’ moments.
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3v1)
There are some important lessons for us in this suddenly moment.
First of all Malachi spoke of a messenger who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. We know that this was fulfilled in the life of John The Baptist.
We learn here that God will always speak to us about the suddenlys that await us in our future. Amos 3v7 is a remarkable verse containing a powerful truth. ‘Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets’.
I wander what has God spoken to your heart over the years about future vision and purpose? Ask Him to remind you of such prophesies and promises.
Another important lesson from Malachi about God’s promises is that when God speaks it can take a long time for His word to be fulfilled. No sooner has God spoken to us, when we expect Him to do what He said. It took 400 years for the ‘suddenly’ moment Malachi spoke of to be fulfilled. Be aware that suddenly moments can take years to come to materialise. It isn’t that God is holding His purposes back, it’s more a case of Him waiting to make sure we are in a place to carry such suddenly moments. God is always at work moulding us, shaping up, and preparing us for the suddenly moments He has planned for us.
Malachi then teaches us that in order for us to see our suddenly moments, we need to be active and not passive. God will bring suddenlys to those who ‘are seeking’ Him and those who ‘desire’ Him. We’re in danger of over-emphasizing God’s sovereignty as we wait upon Him for our suddenly moments. He is sovereign in all He does. He is looking for those who are looking for Him (2 Chronicles 16v9).
The final encouragement I want to draw on from Malachi is that the fulfilment of this promise occurred in the temple – the church. Outside Mary and Joseph, the first two people to affirm Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, were Simeon and Anna. Two elderly servants of God who were nearing the end of their lives, but who were living with the promise that they would see God’s Son before they died.
They were looking for the fulfilment of Malachi 3v1 in their day. They saw it come to pass.
Many people have given up on the church, God hasn’t. Not only that but as Jesus ‘suddenly’ comes to the temple (the church) the first people to recognise and celebrate Jesus as the Messiah were two elderly people that most people would have overlooked. Suddenly moments can happen for people regardless of age and status. We need to be encouraged and expectant in light of such truth.
Let me leave you today with what is my favourite ‘suddenly’ moment in the bible. My prayer is that what you and I read here will be our experience in our churches even this weekend.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2v1-4)
Rev T MacNeil