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The New Elijah
1. The comparison is to an oven heated by a fire lighted within it: cp. Matthew 6:30. This passage is closely connected with the preceding. Stubble] rather, ’straw.’
2. ’The day of the Lord is darkness and not light’ (Amos 5:20), but when the night of judgment is over, day dawns for the righteous.
The Sun of righteousness] ’Righteousness’ is here almost equivalent to ’blessing,’ as in Psalms 24:5.
With healing in his wings] Since the dawn spreads with rapidity from the E. over the world (Job 38:12-14), it is said poetically to have wings (Psalms 139:9). With the dawn of the new era there will be healing. It will be a ’time of restoration of all things.’ Grow up (RV ’gambol’) as calves of the stall] better, ’trample down like stall-fed oxen,’ i.e. the most heavily treading animals with which Malachi was acquainted. 3. The men of Malachi’s generation have not yet been taught to pray for those that despitefully use them and persecute them. They shall be ashes] i.e. the righteous shall trample on the ungodly as on the ash-heaps outside their homes.
5. The history of Israel has already, to a great extent, become Scripture, and Elijah is a type for all time. Malachi’s meaning would be clearer if we were to translate, with a slight concession to English idiom, ’I will send you a prophet Elijah’: cp. ’a Daniel come to judgment.’ It is in this sense that our Lord understood it: cp. Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:11-12, and also Luke 1:17. The fact that our Lord declared John the Baptist to be a fulfilment of this prophecy would alone be sufficient to entitle Malachi to a place among the goodly fellowship of the prophets. But Malachi’s claim to Christian reverence is not exhausted by this one fulfilment of his words. Though John the Baptist was the last and greatest Elijah before that great ’Day of the Lord,’ when ’the Word was made flesh,’ there had been other fulfilments of Malachi’s words before his time, as there have been since. Whenever ’the old order changes, giving place to new,’ God sends the world an Elijah. The Old Testament is not made obsolete by the New, for the gospel is the continuation and the interpretation of prophecy.
6. A time of reform is a time of dissension: cp. Luke 12:51-53. The dissensions can only be healed by giving heed to God’s teaching.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Malachi 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany