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THE SECOND ELIJAH
‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord … lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’
Let us look a little into the state of things when Malachi wrote.
I. It was not a time of open disregard of God, or rebellion against His religion.—Time was when there was a sharp line drawn between those who were, and those who were not, worshippers of the true God; so that it was only the very determined who were good at all. It was different now. All were nominally God’s worshippers, but scarcely any were in earnest about it. Idolatry was gone by. No doubt that was a great gain. But it was not everything. Men may leave off one sin, but they may fall into another. And so it was now.
II. A man who has broken off his bad ways and become respectable, has to ask himself, ‘Have I broken with sin?’—If not, he may see his own picture in these rebukes of the prophet Malachi.
III. Again, what rule do you follow in you ordinary life?
IV. Yet there is a voice of mercy as well as of anger in this last utterance of Old Testament prophecy.—If Christ was to come suddenly into His Temple, still He would not take them unawares. Before His coming He would send them His forerunner, who should give them a last warning to prepare themselves by interior holiness for the benefits of His Advent. Every year are these warnings read in our ears. These Advent calls to repentance are Christ messages to us.
(1) ‘Just as Elijah, in the degenerate days of Ahab, when Baal was predominant, and the worshippers of Jehovah shrunk out of sight, rallied to his side those who were faithful in secret, and recreated, one might say, the people of God, so should this promised prophet do in the degenerate days contemplated by Malachi. He should come, as the New Testament says, “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and be, like him, the instrument of a great moral revival. It is not easy to say precisely what is meant by turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers. What the words suggest to the modern reader is that family dissensions about religion were one of the crying evils of the time, and that the prophet was to subdue these, and teach the passing generation and the rising one to understand and consider each other.’
(2) ‘John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and prepared for the coming of Jesus. He preached a great repentance, and to a considerable extent secured it. Even the outward aspect of his life recalled Elijah, and still more his fearless denunciation of evil, the persecution he had to endure for righteousness’ sake, and the limitation of his nature and his work. The most striking proof of his success is the fact that the first and most eminent of the disciples of Jesus—Simon, Andrew, James, and John—had all been before in the circle of the Baptist’s followers.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Malachi 4". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent