Malachi 4:5, NIV
“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah, before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”
The whole world will be looking in on Johannesburg on the 11th July. There is tremendous expectancy and excitement about what will happen in the World Cup Final. On that day more people will be watching South Africa than on any other day in history!
For the two teams contesting the final, all the years of preparation, training and competition will reach their climax. They will have successfully battled through all the early stages of the competition to have the privilege of stepping out on the pitch in the final of this, the greatest of all football competitions. For the players and their managers it will be the defining point of their careers. It will be the ultimate highlight for all their fans and supporters across the world. All the honour and the glory of their country is at stake – to say nothing of the massive financial rewards for the winners. When the referee blows his whistle to start the game, just ninety minutes of soccer action will stand between both teams and potential glory.
I had no idea before the competition which two teams would make it through to the last match of the competition, to compete for the famous Jules Rimet Trophy. But there is one thing I did know and can absolutely guarantee – it will be both a great and a terrible day! You may well ask how the same day can be both great and terrible at the same time. The answer is obvious – for the winner it will be a great day, but for the loser it will be a terrible day!
To have battled for so long and so hard to get to the final, but then to lose the last match of the competition will be an awful experience. For the losers it will be a terrible, terrible day. But for the winners it is going to be the greatest day of their footballing lives. Players will hug everyone in sight and kiss their winner’s medals, golden reminders of the trophy they’d always dreamed of winning. They will celebrate that moment long into the night and for months and years to come! For the rest of their lives, they will look back on their achievement with pride and joy.
Yes, the same day will be both a great and a terrible day. Which one it is will totally depend on which side you’re on! The Bible says nothing about football, but it does talk about a great and terrible day. Right at the end of his prophecy, Malachi says that when the day of the Lord comes it will be a great and terrible (or dreadful day) – but it will be the same day! And whether it is a great day for you, or a terrible day, will also totally depend on whose side you’re on!
For those who know and love the Lord every day is a great day. For those who continue to reject His love, every day is a terrible day, for to die without knowing Him will have terrible consequences. And let’s never forget that the prophecies about Jesus coming the first time were all fulfilled. And that the whole universe is waiting, not for the World Cup Final, but for the prophecies about His second coming to be fulfilled as well – as they surely will be. We have no idea when that will happen, but one thing I can absolutely guarantee is that when it happens it will be both a great and a terrible day!
May I urge you to heed Isaiah’s advice and ‘seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.’ Then, he says ‘let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon’ (Isaiah 55:6-7).
I pray that the World Cup Final will be a wonderful event, but, as you watch the match, remind yourself of the fact that there’s a day coming of far greater significance even than the 11th July. I pray that, for you, when Jesus comes again it will be a great and not a terrible day!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that as a believer in You I can look forward with joyful anticipation to that day which will be both great and terrible, depending on whose side you are on. I am so grateful for the gift of salvation and the new life You have given me. Help me, Lord, to live every day ready for that moment when You come again or You take me to be with Yourself. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.