Calling to mind the prophecy of Malachi, the angel Gabriel tells old Zechariah that his son, John the Baptist, “will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” Where this does not happen, said the prophet Malachi, then there is nothing left but a curse upon those unprepared for the coming of Christ.
So just what does this mean? By the preaching of law and gospel, God the Holy Spirit turns human hearts. He turns the hearts of the fathers to their children, says the Bible. Repentance shows itself as the hearts of fathers and mothers turn to the eternal welfare of the children God has given them.
You hear horror stories of twisted parents who lock their children in a cellar or cage and starve them, or of that father who, a few years ago, carved a bloody, demonic pentagram on the back of his little boy with a box cutter.
But what about the parents who fuss over their children’s education, sports, dental health, video games and clothes, but keep their immortal souls on a lean, starvation diet? What about the parents who let their children walk around spiritually lost, hoping they will somehow find their way to the Father? This is far worse than dropping them off in the woods somewhere and driving away. It is spiritual child abuse! At stake is where your child will spend eternity. The hearts of you fathers and mothers turn to your children when you see them as children for whom Jesus spilled His life’s blood, children who will spend eternity in heaven or hell. The hearts of you fathers turn to your children when you get yourself and your child out of bed and bring him – no, not send him – but come with him to God’s house. The hearts of you fathers and mothers turn to your children when you yourselves see your lost condition and see Christ as your only Savior, and when you are no longer afraid to talk with your sons and daughters about Christ, Christ’s word and Christ’s love. Christ is coming a second time. If the hearts of you fathers do not once again turn to your children and hold Christ before their young eyes, nothing is left but an everlasting curse. Turn our hearts, O Lord!
And, said Malachi, God will “turn the hearts of the children to their fathers.” That means, says Gabriel, that God will turn “the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.” The hearts of you children turn to your fathers when you trade your disobedience for the wisdom of your godly fathers and mothers and grandparents. The hearts of you children turn to your fathers when you stop thinking you are too sophisticated for the words of the Bible, too cool for Christ! The hearts of you children turn to your fathers when you examine again the Scriptural truths your fathers believe in a world which has turned its back on God. Advent preaches that Christ is coming. If our hearts do not turn back again to the faith of our fathers – the faith founded on God’s Word, faith in the Lamb who died and rose again for us all, then nothing is left but an everlasting curse. Before it is too late, mercifully turn our hearts, O Lord!