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The Work of John The Baptist
The last words of the Old Testament pointed to the New Covenant and the coming Messiah who would bring redemption. The coming of the Christ to the earth had to do with the destruction of wickedness. Some wickedness will be destroyed by forgiveness of sins and sinners becoming new creatures in Christ. Paul wrote, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." ( 2Co_5:17 ) Other wickedness will be destroyed at the final judgment. John recorded these sobering words, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." ( Rev_20:15 ) This little chapter looks at both the destruction of sin by forgiveness and by judgment.
Mal_3:18 closed with the words, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." The thought of this verse was that those under the New Covenant would have a much better understanding of right and wrong. They would live under the perfect law of liberty. James wrote, "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." ( Jam_1:25 ) The people of Malachi's day had so mixed good and evil that they could make no distinction between the two. The people said they were doing good when they were, in fact, doing evil. They wearied the Lord with this attitude. ( Mal_2:17 ) Malachi four begins with the word "for" or for this reason God would send his strict gospel and people would easily understand the distinction between right and wrong. Malachi wrote, "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." ( Mal_4:1 )The Messiah would make salvation possible. But before his coming John the Baptist would come in the likeness of Elijah.
The Judgment is certain -- Mal_4:1 : Judgment is coming but the righteous will be delivered. One of the main reasons why it is so important for people to obey the gospel is coming judgment. We read, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." ( Act_17:30-31 ) The wicked will face a fiery and certain judgment. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." ( Rev_21:8 ) The fiery judgment will be so complete that God said "it shall leave them neither root nor branch." John the Baptist taught this same idea of a burning fiery judgment when he said Jesus would baptize "with fire." He said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." ( Mat_3:11 ) "The day of judgment is certain to come. And it will be like a red-hot furnace with flames that burn proud and sinful people, as though they were straw." There will not be a branch or a root left. The All-Powerful God promised this judgment.
Redemption is possible -- Mal_4:2-3 : Redemption is better than the healing rays of the sun. "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. 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." Those who fear the Lord and honor Him will have a glorious deliverance. Those who fear the Lord are those who hold Him in awe or reverence. They are faithful and obedient to the Lord. As the sun shines throughout the world the gospel of Christ is preached worldwide to bring healing to those who are lost in sin. Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist, referred to the Messiah as the "dayspring from on high" or the “sunrise.” "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." ( Luk_1:76-79 ) God's people (those freed from sin by the Messiah) go forth as fattened calves just released from the stall.
Remember the Law of Moses -- Mal_4:4 : As the book of Malachi closed and as the Old Testament closed a final exhortation was given to the Jews to be obedient to the Law of God. The next law for the Jews and all creatures would be the New Covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ. God said, "Do not ever forget the laws and teachings I gave my servant Moses on Mount Sinai." The simple instruction is "obey the Word of God." People cannot disobey the Law of God and claim to be faithful to Him. How important is obedience to God? In the gospel of John we read, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." ( Joh_14:15 ) You are never more like Jesus than when you are obeying the will of God. Knowing God, serving God and having a personal relationship with God is dependent upon our obedience to God. Obedience is not an optional matter if you wish to go to heaven. In your obedience you will be blessed, but as with all of God's promises there is a prerequisite. You must obey!
John was to prepare the way for the Messiah -- Mal_4:5-6 : The Lord promised to send the prophet Elijah before that great and terrible day came. He was to lead children and parents to love each other more so the land could be spared of doom. There is no doubt that this is a reference to John the Baptist. We read, "And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 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." ( Luk_1:12-17 ) People would be united under Christ. Malachi pointed to John who was to prepare the way for Jesus, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." ( Mat_11:12-14 ) Let us be people of God who are prepared for our Lord's second coming!
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Malachi 4". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent