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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Malachi 4

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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 - (Malachi 3:2; 2 Peter 3:7). Primarily is meant the judgment coming on Jerusalem; but as this will not exhaust the meaning, without supposing, what is inadmissible in Scripture, exaggeration, the final and full accomplishment, of which the former was the earnest, is the day of general judgment. This principle of interpretation is not double, but successive fulfillment. The language is abrupt, 'Behold, the day cometh! It burns like a furnace!' The abruptness imparts terrible reality to the picture, as if it suddenly burst on the prophet's view.

As an oven - (cf. Matthew 6:30, "The grass of the field ... today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven").

All the proud - in opposition to the cavil above (Malachi 3:15), "now we call the proud (haughty despisers of God) happy."

And all that do wickedly, shall be stubble - (Obadiah 1:18; Matthew 3:12). As Canaan, the inheritance of the Israelites, was prepared for their possession by purging out the pagan, so judgment on the apostates shall usher in the entrance of the saints upon the Lord's inheritance, of which Canaan is the type-not heaven, but earth, to its utmost bounds (Psalms 2:8), purged of all things that offend (Matthew 13:41), which are to be "gathered out of his kingdom," the scene of the judgment being that also of the kingdom. The present dispensation is a spiritual kingdom, parenthetical between the Jews' literal kingdom and its antitype, the coming literal kingdom of the Lord Jesus.

It shall leave them neither root nor branch - proverbial for utter destruction (Amos 2:9); as the whole tree consists of a root, including the central stem, and branches.

Verse 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.

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. The effect of the judgment on the righteous, as contrasted with its effect on the wicked (Malachi 4:1). To the wicked it shall be as an oven that consumes the "stubble;" to the righteous it shall be the advent of the gladdening "Sun," not of condemnation, but "of righteousness," not destroying, but "healing," as "the Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6).

Unto you that fear my name. The same as those in Malachi 3:16, who "feared the Lord, and thought upon his name" - i:e., who confessed God amidst abounding blasphemy, reproach, and ridicule (Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 66:5; Matthew 10:32), The spiritual blessings brought by Him are summed up in the two, "righteousness" (1 Corinthians 1:30) and spiritual "healing" (Psalms 103:3; Isaiah 57:19). Those who walk in the dark now, may take comfort in the certainty that they shall walk hereafter in eternal light (Isaiah 50:10).

In his wings - implying the winged swiftness with which He shall appear (cf. "suddenly," Malachi 3:1) for the relief of His people. The beams of the Sun are his "wings." Compare "the wings of the morning," Psalms 139:9. The "Sun" gladdening the righteous is suggested by the previous "day" of terror consuming the wicked. Compare as to Christ, 2 Samuel 23:34; Psalms 84:11; Luke 1:78; John 1:9; John 8:12; Ephesians 5:14; and in His second coming, 2 Peter 1:19. The Old Testament Church was the moon, reflecting His light (see note, Revelation 12:1; also, note, Song of Solomon 6:10). The righteous shall finally, by His righteousness, "shine as the Sun in the kingdom of the Father" (Matthew 13:43).

And ye shall go forth - from the straits in which you were as it were held captive. An earnest of this was given in the escape of the Christians from Pella before the destruction of Jerusalem.

And grow up - rather, 'leap' as frisking calves (Calvin); [ puwsh (H6335)] - literally, spread, take a wide range (Henderson): or, to wax fat, large, and playfully-leaping, as the fatted calf leaping in the joyousness of youthful strength. [So the Vulgate, 'salietis:' the Septuagint, skirteesete hoos moscharia ek desmoon aneimena-ye shall bound as calves set free from restraints].

As calves of the stall - which, when set free from the stall, disport with joy. Such was the joy of the disciples in the freshness of the first love of the early Church-an earnest of the "joy unspeakable and full of glory" which shall be the believer's hereafter (Acts 8:8; Acts 13:52; Acts 20:24; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:8). The godly shall rejoice especially at their final deliverance at Christ's second coming (Isaiah 61:10).

Verse 3

And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I 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.

And ye shall tread down the wicked - solving the difficulty (Malachi 3:15) that the wicked often now prosper. Their prosperity and the adversity of the godly shall soon be reversed.

For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet - yea, the righteous shall be the army attending Christ in His final destruction of the ungodly, and will "stamp them as the mire of the street" (2 Samuel 22:43; Psalms 47:3; Psalms 49:14; Micah 7:10; Zechariah 10:5; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 19:14-15).

Ashes - after having been burnt with the fire of judgment (Malachi 4:1).

Verse 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 ye the law of Moses. "The law and all the prophets" were to be in force until John (Matthew 11:13), no prophet intervening after Malachi; therefore they are told, "Remember the law;" for in the absence of living prophets they were likely to forget it. The office of Christ's forerunner was to bring them back to the law, which they had too much forgotten, and so "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" at His coming (Luke 1:17). God withheld prophets for a time, that men might seek after CHRIST with the greater desire (Calvin). The history of human advancement is marked by periods of rest, and again progress. So in revelation: it is given for a time; then during its suspension men live on the memories of the past. After Malachi there was a silence of 400 years; then a harbinger of light in the wilderness, ushering in the brightest of all the lights that had been manifested, but short-lived; then eighteen centuries during which we have been guided by the light that shone in that last manifestation. The silence has been longer than before, and will be succeeded by a more glorious and awful revelation than ever! John the Baptist was to "restore" the defaced image of "the law," so that the original might be recognized when it appeared among men (Hinds). Just as "Moses" and "Elias" (Malachi 4:5) are here connected with the Lord's coming, so at the transfiguration they converse with Him, implying that the law and prophets which had prepared His way were now fulfilled in Him.

With the statutes and judgments - ceremonial "statutes;" "judgments" in civil questions at issue. "The law" refers to morals and religion.

Verse 5

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: Behold, I will send you Elijah - as a means toward your "remembering the law" (Malachi 4:4).

The prophet - emphatic: not "the Tishbite:" for it is in his official, not his personal capacity, that his coming is here predicted. In this sense, John the Baptist was an Elijah in spirit (Luke 1:16-17), but not the literal Elijah; whence, when asked, "Art thou Elias?" (John 1:21), he answered, "I am not. Art thou that prophet? No." This implies that John, though knowing from the angel's announcement to his father that he was referred to by Malachi 4:5 (Luke 1:17), whence he wore the costume of Elijah, yet knew by inspiration that he did not exhaustively fulfill all that is included in this prophecy; that there is a further fulfillment (cf. note, Malachi 3:1). As Moses in Malachi 4:4 represents the law, so Elijah represents the prophets. The Jews always understood it of the literal Elijah. Their saying is, "Messiah must be anointed by Elijah." As there is another consummating advent of Messiah Himself, so also of His forerunner Elijah: perhaps in person, as at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3: cf. Matthew 17:11, "Elias truly SHALL first come, and restore all things:" cf. Acts 3:21, "the times of restitution of all things," which proves that the time of the second coming is referred to).

He, in his appearance at the transfiguration in that body on which death had never passed, is the forerunner of the saints who shall be found alive at the Lord's second coming. Revelation 11:3 may refer to the same witnesses as at the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah; Revelation 11:6 identifies the latter (cf. 1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17). Even after the transfiguration, Jesus (Matthew 17:11) speaks of Elijah's coming "to restore all things" as still future, though he adds that Elijah (in the person of John the Baptist) is come already in a sense. However, the future forerunner of Messiah at His second coming may be a prophet, or a number of prophets, clothed with Elijah's power, who, with zealous upholders of the "law," cothed in the spirit of "Moses," may be the forerunning witnesses alluded to here and in Revelation 11:2-12.

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The words, "before the ... dreadful day of the Lord," show that John cannot be exclusively meant; because he came before the day of Christ's coming in grace, not before His coming in terror, of which last the destruction of Jerusalem was the earnest (Malachi 4:1; Joel 2:31).

Verse 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.

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers - explained by some, that John's preaching should restore harmony families. But Luke 1:16-17, substitutes for "the heart of the children to the fathers," "the disobedient to the wisdom of the just," implying that the reconciliation to be effected was that between the unbelieving disobedient children and the believing ancestors, Jacob, Levi, "Moses," and "Elijah" just mentioned (cf. Malachi 1:2; Malachi 2:4; Malachi 2:6; Malachi 3:3-4).

Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The threat here is, that if this restoration were not effected, Messiah's coming would prove a "curse" to the "earth," not a blessing. It proved so to guilty Jerusalem and the "earth" - i:e., the land of Judea-when it rejected Messiah at His first advent, though He brought blessing (Genesis 12:3) to those who accepted Him (John 1:11-13). Many were delivered from the common destruction of the nation through John's preaching, and were a "seed" or "remnant, according to the election of grace" (Romans 9:29; Romans 11:5). It will prove so to the disobedient at His second advent, at the same time that He comes to be glorified in His saints (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Curse - Hebrew [ cheerem (H2764)], 'a ban;' the fearful term applied by the Jews to the extermination of the guilty Canaanites. Under this ban Judea has long lain. Similar is the awful curse on all of Gentile churches who "love not the Lord Jesus" now (1 Corinthians 16:22). For if God spare not the natural branches, the Jews, much less will He spare the unbelieving professors of the Gentiles (Romans 11:20-21). It is deeply suggestive that the last utterance from heaven for 400 years before Messiah was the awful word "CURSE." Messiah's first word on the mount was "Blessed" (Matthew 5:3). The law speaks wrath: the Gospel blessing. Judea is now under the "curse," because it rejects Messiah; when the spirit of Elijah or a literal Elijah, shall bring the Jewish children back to the Hope of their "fathers," blessing shall be theirs; whereas the apostate "earth" shall be "smitten with the curse" previous to the coming restoration of all things (Zechariah 12:10-14).

Bengel remarks that the apocryphal books were first appended to the canonical by a blunder of the seventy Greek translators at Alexandria. The note that marked their apocryphal character was in course of time omitted. How great mistakes have originated from a little oversight!

May the writer of this Commentary and his readers have grace "to take heed to the sure word of prophecy, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn!" To the TRIUNE YAHWEH be all glory ascribed forever!


(1) The prospect of the day of judgment is a powerful stimulus to awaken sinners from their fatal slumber, and to stir up believers to increased diligence in the work of the Lord. The fire of God's wrath shall "burn up" utterly the proud transgressors, so as to leave them "neither root nor branch" (Malachi 4:1). The kingdom of this earth, so long usurped by Satan, shall be forever rid of him, and of all that do his bidding.

(2) The same Lord who shall be as a consuming fire to the ungodly, shall arise unto them that fear His name as "the Sun of righteousness, with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2). He is already their sun and shield (Psalms 84:11), and the Lord their righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). He shall then crown the perfected work of grace in them with glory put upon them. They shall "go forth" emancipated from all the bonds of their present corruption, and "shall shine forth as the sun," reflecting Christ's brightness, "in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43).

(3) The ungodly shall be "as ashes under the soles of the feet" of the saints in the great day of triumph of the Lord and His people (Malachi 4:3). The seeming prosperity of the ungodly, and the adversity of the godly, which are so perplexing to account for now, shall then be reversed forever.

(4) John the Baptist, in the spirit and power of Elijah, preached to the Jews the need of repentance, and of a return to the law of Moses, and to the obedience of their believing ancestors (Malachi 4:4-6). Conversion to God is the best preparation for the coming judgment, and that minister is the most efficient one who most resembles John the Baptist in turning "the disobedient to the wisdom of the just," and so "making ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).

(5) Both John and the Lord Jesus announced the kingdom of heaven as at hand. But the unbelief of the Jews caused an adjournment of it for a time fixed in the counsels of God, just as the inheritance of Canaan, which was designed by the grace of God for the Israelites immediately after the exodus from Egypt, was through the perversity of the people deferred for 40 years. Compare Matthew 23:37-39 with Numbers 14:34. When Israel shall turn to the Lord, at the Lord's second coming, the kingdom shall then be no longer delayed, but shall come visibly, in manifested glory and blessedness, to the godly. But all who have not passed from under the condemnation of the law, through faith in the justifying righteousness and blood of Christ, shall be "smitten with a curse." This awful closing word of the Old Testament should ever ring in the ears of the unconverted, until they have found deliverance from the curse, in the Saviour, who has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. Then shall we realize, by blessed experience the closing prayer of the New Testament, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen" (Revelation 22:21).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Malachi 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/malachi-4.html. 1871-8.
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