Malachi 4 - Outline of Malachi (Menu Page)
Contrasting Effects of the Day of the LORD (4:1-6) -
1. For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;
and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble:
and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts,
that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven...
"For, behold..." - Chapter 3 ended with the promise that, in the Day of the LORD, the righteous would be separated from the wicked (Mal 3:18). Here is the means by which this separation will be accomplished. The wrath of God will consume all living men, who have not turned to the LORD for mercy (cf. Mal 3:6).
     The connection between chapters 3 and 4 is so close, that in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Malachi has only three chapters, with these closing verses incorporated into the third chapter.
...all the proud... all that do wickedly... the day that cometh shall burn them up... shall leave them neither root nor branch.
At the close of the Great Tribulation, the wicked will be completely consumed out of the earth, as the Messiah prepares to establish His Kingdom (Mal 3:2,3). The proud will not be happy in that day (Mal 3:15). No one will remain to perpetuate the ways of wickness (Psa 21:9,10; Isa 2:12-19; 40:24; Mat 3:12; 2The 1:6-9; Rev 19:11-21).
     The picture is of the purging of the earth, of wicked men. The eternal state of sinners is not in view here. This verse does not support the false teaching that the wicked will be annihilated. Elsewhere, the scriptures are clear that eternal torment awaits the lost (eg., Mark 9:42-48; Luk 16:19-31; Rev 20:11-15).
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;
and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3 And ye shall tread down the wicked;
for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this],
saith the LORD of hosts.
But unto you that fear my name... (ie., in context, the believing remnant of Israel, Mal 3:16-18)
...shall the Sun of righteousness arise...
The Messiah will usher in a new Day, when He returns to earth, to establish His Kingdom of righteousness (Isa 11:1-9). His glory will be as the Sun, for at that time, all mankind will recognize this Son of Man as God the Son (Jer 23:5,6). King David understood that this future King, who would rule from his throne, was more than his seed (2Sam 23:3-5; Psa 84:11). The prophets declared Him to be the Light of the world, and the Glory of Israel (Isa 49:6; 60:1-3,19-21; Hos 6:3).
     Yet, already, from His first coming to the present time, His light shines in the world, revealing the darkness of our sinful condition, and the brightness of God's Grace in providing salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son. We who have put our hope and trust in Him, have glimpsed something of His glory, and eagerly await the dawning of that future day when He will come again, to reign in the fullness of His glory (Luk 1:78,79; 2:32; Joh 1:1-14; 2Pet 1:19; Rev 22:16,17; Mat 24:30).
...with healing in His wings...
Israel will be cured of fleshly sorrows and spiritual unbelief (Jer 17:14; 33:6; Hos 6:1; 14:4). The nations will be restored from the devastation of the Tribulation period (Rev 22:1-3).
...and ye {ie., Israel} shall go forth, and grow as calves of the stall.
'Calves in the stall' are well fed, well tended, and well protected. Israel will know unprecedented prosperity and safety (Isa 55:12,13; Jer 31:9-14; Hos 14:5-7).
...and ye shall tread down the wicked... ashes under... your feet...
Israel will no longer be troubled by their enemies, which will have been consumed by God's wrath (v.1; Mic 5:8; 7:10).
...in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
As believers yearn for His Kingdom to come, the LORD reminds us: that Day is yet future. The Day will come, for He has promised. But it awaits the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, at a time known only to God (Mat 24:36). The Lord Jesus told us what we should be doing in the mean time (Mat 25:13). But some of those, who will be included in the believing remnant, have not yet recognized Him as their Messiah. What should they be doing in anticipation of that Day?
4. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant,
which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the statutes and judgments.
"Remember...' has the sense of pay attention, observe, give heed to God's Word.
God's Word is 'able to make you wise unto salvation,' because it will lead the seeker to the Savior (Mat 5:17-19; Luk 16:31; Joh 5:39; Luk 24:44-46; 2Tim 3:15; Gal 3:22-24).
     The days, prior to Christ's second coming, will be full of deception. There will be many false prophets and false messiahs (Mat 24:23,24). Only those who know the scriptures will be able to discern the True from the false.
     With the close of the book of Malachi, 400 years of silence fell upon Israel, during which there was no new prophetic message. The silence would be broken by the voice of John the Baptist. But only those, who believed God's Word, would receive his testimony. Mat 21:23-27
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
6 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.
...I will send you Elijah... before... the... Day of the LORD... lest I... smite the earth with a curse.
Note that...
  • this promise applies to a specific people: Israel ('you,' Mal 1:1).
    Note also that the word 'earth' {HB=eretz, land} is often used in reference to "the land of Israel." This was the land in view in "the first commandment with promise" (Ex 20:12; Eph 6:2). And this was the land which came under a temporary curse following Israel's rejection of Christ, at His first coming (compare Dan 9:26; Mat 23:37-39).
  • this promise applies to a specific time: the Day of the LORD.
    If we were to compare all of the passages which speak of the Day of the Lord (also referred to as the Day of Jehovah, the Day, the Great Day, etc....), it would be evident that 'that Day' cannot be a 24 hour day, but must be a lengthy period of time. This should come as no surprise, when we remember that the Day of Salvation, which is "now," has already spanned more than two thousand years (Isa 49:8; 2Cor 6:2).
         According to the scriptures, the Day of the Lord includes the Time of Jacob's Trouble, the battle of Armageddon, the return of Christ in glory, His judgment of the anti-christ, and of the nations, His Millennial Kingdom, His crushing of the revolt led by Satan at the end of that thousand years, the Great White Throne judgment, the fiery destruction of this present earth, and the transition of believers into the new heaven and earth, as described in 2Peter 3:10-13.
         Before the Day of the LORD...
...Elijah... shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children... and the heart of the children to the fathers...
Who is Elijah?
  • John the Baptist, came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17; 3:7; Mal 3:1a).
    John warned of judgment, called the nation to repentance, and pointed to the Messiah, as both Savior and Judge (Mat 3:1-2,10-12; Joh 1:29). Jesus said that John would have filled the role of Elijah, if the nation had responded aright to his message (Mat 11:10-15; 17:10-13). "But they rejected his testimony, refused to turn to the faith of their fathers, and so the curse threatened upon [the land] has rested upon it ever since." [in quotes from GWms]
  • A future prophet, who will come "in the spirit and power of Elijah."
    It is possible that the LORD will send the historic Elijah (who did not die, but was translated into heaven, 2Kin 2:11,12), to prepare the remnant of Israel for entrance into the Kingdom of the Messiah. For more than 2,000 years, the Jewish people have set a place for Elijah, at their annual Passover tables, in expectancy of his coming, and in anticipation of the Messianic Kingdom.
         "Moses and Elijah (Mal 4:4,5), as representatives of the Law and of the Prophets are here brought together; they re-appear in Mat 17:3 ... and are... possibly... the two prophets of Rev 11:3-10..." [GWms]
    (See the Book Notes at Revelation 11:3-10 concerning possible identities of the future Elijah.)
What is Elijah's work of 'turning the hearts of fathers and children'?
  • Promoting the health of families? - A few teachers mis-apply this verse to encourage strong Christian families.
    It is true that families are being torn apart by many destructive worldly influences. It is also true that God's pattern for the family is for parents to love and nurture their children and for children to honor and obey their parents (eg., Eph 6:1-4; Deu 4:40; 5:16). While, true family unity must be based on the truth of God's Word (Deu 6:4-12), Jesus warned us that families would actually be divided by the truth concerning Him (Mat 10:33-38).
         Yes, there is a need for right relationships in the home. Yes, that is the place where discipleship must begin. But this passage is not speaking about those things. If it were, the message would need to be that the faith of the fathers is not passed on by training, but by a supernatural turning of hearts.
  • Turning the hearts to faith -
    "The purpose of John's ministry prior to the First Advent, and of Elijah's prior to the Second, was to cause the heart of the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to come upon their descendants, and that the unbelieving heart of the descendants should turn into the believing heart of the fathers -- that is to say, the stony heart of the children should be replaced by the heart of flesh of the fathers (Eze 36:26)." [GWms]
         Jesus spoke of the need for this change of heart in John 5:45-47 and 8:39-42.
         Just before Christ's second coming, the LORD will send Elijah, as one of two witnesses, who will be instrumental in turning Israel to seek the Lord with all their hearts. "For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Mat 23:39
Thus, the closing verses of the Old Testament, ring with anticipation of Christ's comings... His initial rejection... and His eventual reception...
The final word of the OT, "curse" {HB=cherem, that which is appointed for utter destruction}, describes the condition of sinful mankind (Jew and Gentile) under the condemnation of God's Law. The remedy for this condition is found in the One, whose coming is foretold and anticipated, not only by Malachi, but also by "the law of Moses... the prophets, and... the psalms" (Luk 24:44; Gal 3:10-14).

This concludes the study in Malachi.
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