“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:16-17
The words of Gabriel to Zacharias echo the Word of the Lord recorded by Malachi the prophet: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6). And, as we prepare for the second advent of the LORD, our Lord Jesus Christ, we carry on the ministry of John the Baptist in calling all to repentance and pointing them to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all (cf. John 1:29).
While many think lightly of Christ’s return and the final judgment and see no need for repentance, it is indeed a serious matter. If the LORD judges us according to His law, who can stand (cf. Mal. 3:2ff.; 4:1,6; Ps. 130:3ff.)? Indeed, none of us, for we have all sinned and come short of what God, in His law, demands (cf. Rom. 3:19-20,23). It is for that reason that John the Baptist came, to call upon sinners to repent and look to Christ the Lamb of God for pardon and forgiveness (cf. Luke 3:2ff.; Ps. 130:4ff.). And the Church, through its ministers, still preaches the same message today (cf. Luke 24:46-47; John 20:20-23; Acts 3:19ff.).
Both John and the Church seek to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Through the preaching of God’s Word, the fathers and their descendants are united again in the true fear of the LORD. Those who were disobedient to the true faith are awakened to their sinfulness by God’s Spirit and turned to the wisdom of the just – to the wisdom of those who acknowledge and repent of their sinful ways and look in faith to the LORD God for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the promised Messiah and His redeeming work.
The only way for you and me, or for anyone, to be ready for the Lord’s return and to escape the curse and condemnation of God’s holy law is to repent and trust in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus for the sins of the world (cf. Gal. 3:10,13; Acts. 4:12).
O LORD God, we have sinned and come short of the righteousness your law demands. We are guilty and justly stand condemned. Have mercy upon us and forgive us our sins for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus, Your Son and our crucified and risen Savior, that we might be found in Him just and holy and acceptable in Your sight on that day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.]