2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
The bible talks a lot about fearing the Lord. The Jews fear Him so much they won’t even utter His name (Yahweh). Proverbs 1:7 tells us:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It is foolish not to revere God’s righteousness. Through Malachi, God is telling us that fearing Him is a wise thing and that in doing so we will have righteousness shine upon us. We will be filled with childlike joy, without a care in the world. All this because of fear? The original Hebrew text in this passage uses the word “yare” for the word fear. This indicates an actual fear (ie literally being afraid) but it also communicates a healthy fear. A healthy fear, as I like to call it, is one that isn’t just being emotionally scared, but one who recognizes the awesomeness of God and as a result reveres Him for who He really is. Sometimes we play this down a bit and think of it as just to mean “respect,” which is true to an extent. Yes, this type of fear indicates a good respect for the one who is feared, but it is more than just respect. It is awe.
Let’s not miss the part where He says that the sun of righteousness will heal. Unfortunately for us, many times we think of “righteousness” as a thing of judgment where God smites the wicked, throws lightening bolts, and those He decided to spare are left standing in the smoke of destruction. But God’s righteousness heals. His righteousness shines and sets things right. His righteousness fills us with joy. We should not run from His righteousness, instead run towards it because it will cleanse us and set us free! Matthew 5:6 tells us:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
God’s righteousness is the only thing that brings us relief! Psalm 23, a very popular passage of scripture that is often relied upon to bring us comfort in times of struggle and strife, is all about His righteousness:
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
With imagery like that, how could we avoid His righteousness any longer? God’s righteousness is a gift to us. To be able to live in it, walk in it, be refreshed by it, and be cleansed by it is a gift we don’t deserve and really don’t know how to handle. He clothes us with His righteousness so we can walk in it. But when the sun rises each day, do we hide and run from it because of it’s brightness and warmth or do we appreciate the life it provides for us?