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

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-6

Mal 4:1-6

BEHOLD, THE DAY COMETH . . . Malachi 4:1

The association of fire with the final judgement is a theme which runs throughout much of the Scriptures. Daniel describes it vividly. (Daniel 7:9-10) The Psalmist sang of it. (Psalms 1:3) Peter affirms it at some length. (2 Peter 3:7-10) Malachi promises that those who feel this final fire will be without hope of springing again to life. They will be without branch or root. (See Amos 2:9))

Malachi 4:1. The preposition for is used to connect the present passage with the one immediately preceding it in chapter 3: 18, The strictness of the Gospel in its requirements as to the Citizens of the new kingdom is the subject. (See Acts 17:30 and 1 Peter 4:17-18.) We also recal1 the many instances where Christ showed the contrast between the old and the new, He would refer to certain liberties that bad been tolerated in "old time" and then say "but I say unto you," etc. This strictness of the new law is figuratively referred to as an oven for burning refuse. Leave them neither root nor branch refers to the complete condemnation and rejection of the ways of sin that was to be manifested by Christians.

(Malachi 4:2) The prophet does not, however, limit his vision of the coming day to that of doom. In contrast, he presents the effects of its coming on God’s people. On those who fear His name the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its (His) wings.

Here is one of the most picturesque descriptions of the Messiah to be found in the Old Testament. To dissect it is to destroy it. Suffice it to say, that as the sun is the light and source of life to all the earth, so the Christ is the light and giver of life to the true worshipper.

In the warmth of this sun of righteousness, God’s people shall be as carefree as calves playing in the sunlight.

(Malachi 4:3) When this day comes, and the wicked are punished by fire while God’s people are freed from all care, the question of Malachi 3:15 will finally be answered.

Jesus’ rehearsal of the fate of the rich man and Lazarus is a fine illustration of this truth. (cf. Luke 16:19 -ff) The unrighteous rich who lord it over the righteous poor will, in that day, find their situations completely reversed . . . eternally and completely.

In our present day, when churches have become pre-occupied with alleviating the temporal needs of men, regardless of their spiritual condition, and when making a profit in business has become, to some, immoral regardless of the good that may be done with such wealth, the idea that the iniquities of this life will be rectified in the next is passe to some. In the presence of this spiritual blindness, God’s people dare not lose sight of our obligation to be concerned for men’s temporal needs in Jesus’ name. (cf. Matthew 25:31-46, 1 John 3:16-18) But this concern can, by no form of loge, negate the coming day of judgement

Nor can such concern negate the fact that the injustices of wicked men who prey upon the righteous and deprive the weak obviously go unpunished here and now. Honesty, in business, is not always the “best policy” for those whose chief purpose is personal gain.

Just as surely as this is so, so does the justice of God demand a day of reckoning. For those who come to Christ, the day of reckoning was held on Calvary (Romans 3:25-26). For those who do not fear God, the time of reckoning is yet to come and it will.

CONCLUSION . . . Malachi 4:4-6

The Old Testament Scriptures close with a prophetic plea to God’s people to remember the law of Moses. It would be some four hundred years before Jehovah would speak again. In the interim, if they are to survive as His people, the law must be remembered.

Special attention is called to the statutes, that is those portions of the law dealing with religious ceremony. These ceremonies, as we have seen, were designed to keep visually and tangibly before the people an object lesson of the coming Lamb of God. If they were to fall into disuse before He came, Calvary would indeed be hard to comprehend.

Fortunately, they did not fall into disuse. During the Maccabean period and shortly thereafter (c. 160 B.C.), the party known as the Pharisees came into being for the express purpose of maintaining the literal outward observances of the statutes governing the Mosaic ceremonies in worship. Regrettably the Pharisees became obsessed with the letter to the neglect of the spirit of these observances, but they did. quite significantly, preserve the form.

In calling for remembrance of the law, Malachi does so in such a way as to provide the people one last term of its covenant meaning. The burden of the last Old Testament writer was delivered to a stiffnecked and rebellious people. They prided themselves on being Jehovah’s people, but he bluntly declared, “I have no pleasure in you, saith Jehovah of hosts.” (Malachi 1:10) They thought they could play fast and loose with God, but Malachi reminded them of the greatness of Him with Whom they had to do. (Malachi 1:14) In their faithlessness, Malachi reminds them of the covenant, and told them flatly they were breaking it. (Malachi 2:1-9) He despaired of the nation as a whole and of the race as a race. He foresaw the coming of a terrible day in which this proud and wicked people would be utterly consumed.

But the remnant would survive, made up of those who individually feared Jehovah (Malachi 4:2) and thought upon His name. That is, those who had come to understand the true character of the eternal God and His purpose for all men. (Malachi 3:16) These faithful would be spared only because they had fulfilled God’s covenant conditions (cf. Exodus 19:5-6) laid down on Mount Horeb (Sinai). Those who were so spared would be God’s true Israel; all the rest were doomed.

Before the terrible day of the Lord, Elijah would come to once more call the remnant. His purpose would be the reconciliation of those present at his coming with the covenant faith of their fathers. Elijah, perhaps more than any other prophet of the pre-exilic period, had pled for a return to the pure worship of Jehovah as implemented in the law. The second Elijah would have the same purpose. Unless this be done, there would be not even a remnant in that day and the whole earth, which Jehovah had striven to redeem, would stand under a curse. The word “curse” (Hebrew cherem) means literally a ban.

Just as those Gentiles who had not the law and were ignorant of the covenant were without God and without hope in the world (cf. Ephesians 2:12), so, if the remnant were not finally called in preparation for the day of the Lord, the whole world would stand permanently alienated, banned forever from the presence of God.

The Old Testament is continuous with the New. The Bible is, in this sense, a single book. The coming of Christ did not constitute an abrupt break, but a fulfillment. The method and purpose of Jesus is a continuation and fulfillment of the method and purpose revealed in the call of Abraham. The new factor is the personal presence of the Messiah.

Malachi’s promise of Elijah’s coming is fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus began where Malachi left off and consciously continued the work of the prophets. His ministry is understood only in light of God’s plan to redeem all the world through a people prepared as the instrument of divine worldwide purpose. (cp. Luke 24:44-47 and Ephesians 1:23)

Questions On The Book of Malachi

The Coming Day of the Lord

1. What were the two arguments of the wicked priests?

2. What was God’s answer to the questions, “Where is the God of justice?”

3. The New Testament applies Malachi 3:1 to _________________.

4. Relate the rabbinic interpretation of this verse to Jesus’ temptations.

5. What is meant by Malachi’s description of the Messiah as fullers’ soap and refiner’s fire?

6. When Messiah came He would testify against the ___________, ___________, ___________, and against __________.

7. Comment on those “who turn aside the sojourner.”

8. Discuss the proposition that, because God does not immediately smite the wicked, He is no longer a God of justice.

9. Note the similarity of Malachi 3:7-12 to Stephen’s defense (Acts 7).

10. What is the eternal principle presented in these passages?

11. How were Malachi’s readers robbing God?

12. What is the distinction between tithes and offerings?

13. What werethe first, second and third tithes required by the Law?

14. The offering consisted of not less than ___________ of one’s corn, wine and oil.

15. The Israelites were commanded to give in three categories: ___________, ___________ and ___________.

16. How does Jesus express the thought of Malachi 3:10?

17. Is this passage a valid proof text for modern “store house tithing?”

18. List four pertinent points concerning Mosaic tithing.

19. When the principles of stewardship presented by Malachi is applied to modern giving, ten per cent seems._____________________.

20. What is meant by the promise of Malachi that God would “open the windows of heaven?”

21. God’s provisions are always adequate to those who ________________.

22. Not only have Malachi’s readers robbed God, they have ______________________.

23. God has never promised ___________________ to the faithful nor ___________ to the unjust.

24. The people equated the sacrifice of blemished animals and with holding of tithes and offerings with ___________________.

25. A book of ________________ is being written.

26. To whom does “they shall be mine” (Malachi 3:17-18) refer?

27. Discuss Malachi 3:17-18 in comparison to Acts 10:34-35.

28. Trace the association of fire with judgement.

29. The sun of righteousness shall ____________________.

30. The wicked are to be punished by fire while God’s people are freed from _____________________.

31. Does the unequal distribution of wealth negate the necessity of righteousness?

32. The justice of God demands a ______________________.

33. The Old Testament closes with a plea to God’s people to ___________________.

34. Why was it essential that the formal observance of the sacrificial system be preserved?

35. The proud and wicked would be consumed but the ___________________ would survive.

36. Who is the second Elijah?

37. How is the New Testament continuous with the Old?

38. What is the new factor in the New Testament not present in the Old?

39. The coming of Christ did not constitute an abrupt break but a __________________.

40. Approximately how much time lapsed between Malachi and Jesus?

Questions On Malachi Chapter Four

1. Describe the day that was coming. (Malachi 4:1)

2. What would happen to those who feared (reverenced) God when that day arrived? (Malachi 4:2)

3. What would the righteous do on that day? (Malachi 4:3)

4. What was Judah to remember? (Malachi 4:4)

5. Who would come before the day of the Lord? (Malachi 4:5)

6. What would he do? (Malachi 4:6)

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Malachi 4". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/malachi-4.html.
 
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