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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Malachi 4:5

"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord .
New American Standard
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Adam Clarke Commentary

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet - This is meant alone of John the Baptist, as we learn from Luke 1:17; (note), in whose spirit and power he came.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/malachi-4.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

4:1-6 GOD'S CARE IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

God's action in destroying the wicked in the day of judgment is pictured in the illustration of a farmer burning off his field after he has harvested his grain. The righteous are likened to the farmer's calves, which were previously tied up in the dark stalls but are now set free. They burst forth to go leaping and skipping over the recently burnt-off fields. As the sun shines down upon them it brings healing and vigour into their lives of newfound joy and freedom (4:1-3).

In view of their coming salvation, the righteous should remain faithful to God's law. In addition they should look expectantly for the appearing of the Messiah's forerunner, symbolized here under the name 'Elijah'. If the people respond to the preaching of this Elijah, they will be united in one spirit with their believing forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But if they refuse to repent, they will meet divine judgment (4-6).

The symbolic Elijah was John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10-15; Matthew 17:10-13; Luke 1:13-17). After Malachi, John was the next prophet whose voice was heard in Scripture. The time of the Messiah's appearing had arrived, and John's voice announced, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight' (Mark 1:3; John 1:19-28; John 3:26-30).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/malachi-4.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible days of Jehovah come."

"Elijah ..." Did this mean that Elijah who was "caught up" to the Lord, and who therefore, apparently did not die, -that he would return to prepare the way before the Lord? (2 Kings 2:1-12). Of course, the Jews generally understood this to mean that the same Elijah the Tishbite would be the one who returned. There was a strong tradition among the Jews that continues to the present day, to the effect that the literal, self-same Elijah the Tishbite, would in time return. The Feast of Purim among the Jews until this day sets a plate, goblet, and empty chair for "Elijah"; and so the myth is perpetuated. The LXX, notoriously wrong in many instances, actually translated this place, "I will send you Elias the Tishbite." That is not what God said, nor is it what God meant.

The Septuagint (LXX) introduction of a literal identification with Elijah the Tishbite into this promise of God's sending "Elijah the prophet" was but another example of how the Jews had "improved on the Word of God" to compel its conformation with their interpretations and prejudices. We may be certain that when the Pharisee sent to inquire of John the Baptist if he was "Elijah," that they presented the question in terminology that identified him as the Tishbite; for, at least, that is the question that John the Baptist answered, saying, "I am not" (John 1:21). The Jewish religious hierarchy had accepted that false interpretation of a literal return of Elijah for over four centuries before Christ came; and this shows that wrong interpretations long "accepted" are still, nevertheless, wrong. However, the religious "false shepherds" of Israel were without excuse for their error.

(1) An angel of God had appeared in the temple, breaking a four-century absence of any such wonder. The angel had appeared to Zacharias from the right hand side of the altar of incense saying:

"Thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John ... He shall be great in the sight of the Lord ... He shall go before his face in the Spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him" (Luke 1:13-17).

If there had been any spiritual discernment whatever among the whole roster of Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, scribes, and Elders of Israel, - if they had possessed the slightest degree of spiritual perception, they would instantly have recognized John, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, as the divinely appointed fulfillment of this remarkably specific promise in Malachi. Elijah would be, not the literal Tishbite, but a new personality going forth "in the spirit and power of Elijah." Note that the very terminology of Malachi was quoted by an angel of God, "hearts of the fathers to the children," etc. Of course, this divine revelation was rejected out of hand by the Pharisees, because it contradicted their literal view that the Tishbite was meant. Nevertheless, as Keil said:

"This address of the angel gives an authentic explanation of Malachi 4:5,6: the words, "and the heart' of the children to the fathers" being omitted, as implied in the turning of the heart of the fathers to the children, and the explanatory words, "and the unbelieving to the wisdom of the just," being introduced in their place."[13]

(2) John the Baptist himself adopted the very type of clothing worn by Elijah the Tishbite, the raiment of camel's hair, and a leather thong around his waist, indicating that John himself was fully conscious of his identity with Elijah prophesied by Malachi. It was a clever bit of maneuvering on the part of the Pharisees to extract from John the Baptist the words, "I am not"; and the only way that could have been accomplished was for their question to have made an affirmative answer impossible, asking, "Are you Elijah the Tishbite?" If those ancient hypocrites had looked upon John with honor, had received the baptism that he preached, and had paid strict attention to the very clothing that he wore, to say nothing of the words of an angel of heaven, they would instantly have known that he was that "Elijah which was to come."

(3) The testimony of Christ that John the Baptist was indeed "that Elijah which was to come" (Matthew 17:12,13) was within a few years certainly, and much earlier probably, available to the Pharisees; but they even refused that testimony, and have continued till this day "the empty chair" routine at the annual feast of Purim!

(4) The Pharisees knew that, "The Son of David," whom they expected to ascend the throne of the literal David in Jerusalem, would nevertheless not be "the literal David," but another of his posterity and in his likeness. It is true that there were differences in the situations as regarded Elijah and David; but the principle of two distinct personalities being stamped with a single designation was one with which they were already familiar; and they should have had no trouble at all applying it to the two Elijah's, (1) the Tishbite, and (2) the son of Zecharias.

(5) Jesus doubtless knew that the literal view of the Tishbite's returning to earth would continue to be advocated and used by Satan throughout history; and, therefore, Jesus Christ presided over a literal return of Elijah on the mountain of transfiguration, in which event Moses and Elijah met Jesus upon the holy mountain and carried on a conversation with him in the hearing of Peter, James, and John. Whether or not the Pharisees knew of this until afterward is immaterial. They surely learned of it eventually. "That Elijah" promised by Malachi was John the Baptist.

If one thinks it is a mystery why the Pharisees did not understand this, let him try to explain why a scholar like Smith would exclaim: "There is no warrant for going beyond what is written here and refusing to accept the language at its face value!"[14] The reason for such a view lies in the adamant fundamentalism of liberal scholars in all scriptural passages where a literal view contradicts spiritual truth. It was this spirit which denied the death of Jairus' daughter on the grounds that Jesus had said, "She is not dead, but sleepeth." (See a full discussion of the disease of "Fundamentalism Among Liberals" in my commentary on James-Jude, p. 289.)

"Before the great and terrible day of Jehovah ..." Deane did not identify the messenger "Elijah" of Malachi 4:5 with the messenger that was foretold as preceding the "messenger of the Covenant" in Malachi 3:1, giving as the reason the following: "The latter (in Malachi 4:5) comes before the first advent of our Lord, the former appears before the day of judgment."[15] However, there is actually no impediment to receiving the messenger mentioned in Malachi 3:1 as the same messenger mentioned in Malachi 4:5. Peter himself identified, "The day of the Lord, the great and notable day" and "The great and terrible day of Jehovah" (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:17-20) as being the same. That "That DAY" was identified with Pentecost on one occasion (by Peter) and with the final judgment on another (by Malachi) is no problem. The frequent expression in all the Minor Prophets regarding "that day," "the last days," "the latter days," and "in those days," etc ... all pertain to the Messianic Age, that is, all of the time between the first and second Advents of Christ. There is a melding and blending by all prophets of events in the Messianic times which actually are separated by vast intervals of time. Jesus himself continued this characteristic by prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the coming of the final judgment with a single set of answers, some portions of which are applicable to one event, some to the other, and some to both alike. (See Matthew 24.)

That the two messengers of Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5 are identical is evident. "The thought in Malachi 4:5 is parallel to that of Malachi 3:1. Prior to the Day of the Lord, a heaven-sent messenger would prepare the way."[16] "The prophet (Elijah) in 4:5 is usually identified with the messenger of Malachi 3:1. Both will appear in order to make preparation for the coming of the Lord to judge his people."[17]

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Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/malachi-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Behold I will send (I send, as a future, proximate in the prophet‘s mind) you Elijah the prophet - The Archangel Gabriel interprets this for us, to include the sending of John the Immerser. For he not only says Luke 1:17. that he shall “go before” the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elias,” but describes his mission in the characteristic words of Malachi, “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children:” and those other words also, “and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,” perhaps represent the sequel in Malachi, “and the hearts of the children to the fathers;” for their hearts could only be so turned by conversion to God, whom the fathers, patriarchs and prophets, knew, loved and served; and whom they served in name only. John the Immerser, in denying that he was Elias, John 1:21 denied only, that he was that great prophet himself. Our Lord, in saying Matthew 11:14, “This is Elias, which was for to come Matthew 17:12 that Elias is come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed,” met the error of the scribes, that He could not be the Christ, because Elias was not yet come. When He says Matthew 17:11, “Elias truly shall first come and restore all things,” He implies a coming of Elijah, other than that of John the Immerser, since he was already martyred, and all things were not yet restored. This must also be the fullest fulfillment. “For the great and terrible Day of the Lord” is the Day of Judgment, of which all earthly judgments, however desolating, (as the destruction of Jerusalem) are but shadows and earnests. Before our Lord‘s coming all things looked on to His first coming, and, since that coming, all looks on to the second, which is the completion of the first and of all things in time.

Our Lord‘s words, “Elias truly shall first come and restore all things,” seem to me to leave no question, that, as John the Immerser came, in the spirit and power of Elias, before His first coming, so, before the second coming, Elijah should come in person, as Jews and Christians have alike expected. This has been the Christian expectation from the first. Justin Martyr asked his opponent “Shall we not conceive that the Word of God has proclaimed Elias to be the forerunner of the great and terrible day of His second Coming?” “Certainly,” was Trypho‘s reply. Justin continues, “Our Lord Himself taught us in His own teaching that this very thing shall be, when the said that ‹Elias also shall come;‘ and we know that this shall be fulfilled, when He is about to come from heaven in glory.” Tertullian says “Elias is to come again, not after a departure from life, but after a translation; not to be restored to the body, from which he was never taken; but to be restored to the world, from which he was translated; not by way of restoration to life, but for the completion of prophecy; one and the same in name and in person.” “Enoch and Elias were translated, and their death is not recorded, as being deferred; but they are reserved as to die, that they may vanquish Antichrist by their blood.”

And, in proof that the end was not yet, “No one has yet received Elias; no one has yet fled from Antichrist.” And the ancient author of the verses against Marcion;, “Elias who has not yet tasted the debt of death, because he is again to come into the world.” Origen says simply in one place, that the Saviour answered the question as to the objection of the Scribes, “not annulling what had been handed down concerning Elias, but affirming that there was another coming of Elias before Christ, unknown to the scribes, according to which, not knowing him, and, being in a manner, accomplices in his being cast into prison by Herod and slain by him, they had done to him what they listed.” Hippolytus has, “As two Comings of our Lord and Saviour were indicated by the Scriptures, the first in the flesh, in dishonor, that He might be set at naught - the second in glory, when He shall come from heaven with the heavenly host and the glory of the Father - so two forerunners were pointed out, the first, John, the son of Zacharias, and again - since He is manifested as Judge at the end of the world, His forerunners must first appear, as He says through Malachi, ‹I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come. ‹“

Hilary, “The Apostles inquire in anxiety about the times of Elias. To whom He answereth, that “Elias will come and restore all things,” that is, will recall to the knowledge of God, what he shall find of Israel; but he signifies that John came “in the spirit and power of Elias,” to whom they had shown all severe and harsh dealings, that, foreannouncing the Coming of the Lord, he might be a forerunner of the Passion also by an example of wrong and harass.” “We understand that those same prophets (Moses and Elias) will come before His Coming, who, the Apocalypse of John says, will be slain by Antichrist, although there are various opinions of very many, as to Enoch or Jeremiah, that one of them is to die, as Elias.”

Hilary the Deacon, 355 a.d., has on the words, “I suppose God hath set forth us the Apostles last;” “He therefore applies these to his own person, because he was always in distress, suffering, beyond the rest, persecutions and distresses, as Enoch and Elias will suffer, who will be Apostles at the last time. For they have to be sent before Christ, to make ready the people of God, and fortify all the Churches to resist Antichrist, of whom the Apocalypse attests, that they will suffer persecutions and be slain.” “When the faithless shall be secure of the kingdom of the devil, the saints, i. e., Enoch and Elias being slain, rejoicing in the victory, and ‹sending gifts, one to another‘ as the Apocalypse says Revelation 11:10 sudden destruction shall come upon them. For Christ at His Coming, shall destroy them all.” Gregory of Nyssa quotes the prophecy under the heading, that “before the second Coming of our Lord, Elias should come.”

Ambrose, “Because the Lord was to come down from heaven, and to ascend to heaven, He raised Elias to heaven, to bring him back to the earth at the time He should please.” “The beast, Antichrist, ascends from the abyss to fight against Elias and Enoch and John, who are restored to the earth for the testimony to the Lord Jesus, as we read in the Apocalypse of John.”

Jerome gives here the mystical meaning; “God will send, in Elias (which is interpreted ‹My God‘ and wire is of the town Thisbe, which signifies ‹conversion‘ or ‹penitence‘) the whole choir of the prophets, “to convert the heart of the fathers to the sons,” namely, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs, that their posterity may believe in the Lord the Saviour, in whom themselves believed: ‹for Abraham saw the day of the Lord and was glad.‘” Here, he speaks of the “coming of Elias before their anointed,” as a supposition of Jews and Judaizing heretics. But in commenting on our Lord‘s words in Matthew, he adheres twice to the literal meaning. On Matthew 11:14-15, “Some think that John is therefore called Elias, because, as, according to Malachi, at the second coming of the Saviour. On Matthew 17:11-12, Elias will precede and announce the Judge to come, so did John at His first coming, and each is a messenger, of the first or second coming of the Lord:” and again concisely, On Matthew 17:11-12, “He who is to come in the second Coining of the Saviour in the actual body, now comes through John in spirit and power;” and he speaks of Enoch and Elias as “the two witnesses in the Revelation, since, according to the Apocalypse of John, Enoch and Elias are spoken of, as having to die.”

Chrysostom, “When He saith that Elias “cometh and shall restore all things,” He means Elias himself, and the conversion of the Jews, which shall then be; but when He saith, “which was to come,” He calls John, Elias, according to the manner of his ministry.”

In Augustine‘s time it was the universal belief., “When he (Malachi) had admonished them to remember the law of Moses, because he foresaw, that they would for a long time not receive it spiritually, as it ought, he added immediately; “And I will send you Elias the Thisbite” etc. That when, through this Elias, the great and wonderful prophet, at the last time before the judgment, the law shall have been expounded to them, the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, i. e., in our Christ, is everywhere in the mouths and hearts of the faithful. For not without reason is it hoped, that he shall come before the Coming of the Saviour, as Judge, because not without reason is it believed that he still lives. For he was carried in a chariot of fire from things below; which Scripture most evidently attests. When he shall come then, by expounding the law spiritually, which the Jews now understand carnally, he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children.”

Cyril of Alexandria, his antagonist “Theodoret, and Theodore” of Mopsuestia, who was loose from all tradition, had the same clear belief. Cyril; “It is demonstrative of the gentleness and long-suffering of God, that Elias also the Tishbite shall shine upon us, to foreannounce when the Judge shall come to those in the whole world. For the Son shall come down, as Judge, in the glory of the Father, attended by the angels, and shall ‹sit on the throne of His glory, judging the world in righteousness, and shall reward every man according to his works.‘ But since we are in many sins, well is it for us, that the divine prophet goes before Him, bringing all those on earth to one mind; that all, being brought to the unity through the faith, and ceasing from evil intents, may fulfill that which is good, and so be saved when the Judge cometh down. The blessed John the Baptist came before Him “in the spirit and power of Elias.” But, as he preached saying, ‹Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight,‘ so also the divine Elias proclaims His then being near and all-but-present, that He may ‹judge the world in righteousness.‘” Theodoret;, “Malachi teaches us how, when Antichrist shall presume on these things, the great Elias shall appear, preaching to the Jews the coming of Christ: and he shall convert many, for this is the meaning of, “he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,” i. e., the Jews (for these he calls fathers, as being older in knowledge) to those who believed from the Gentiles. They who shall believe through the preaching of the great Elias, and shall join themselves to the Gentiles who seized the salvation sent to them, shall become one church.

He hints, how when these things are done by Antichrist, Michael the Archangel will set all in motion, that Elias should come and foreannounce the coming of the Lord that the then Jews may obtain salvation.” And on this place, “Knowing well, that they would neither obey the law, nor receive Him when He came, but would deliver Him to be crucified, He promises them, in His unspeakable love for man, that He will again send Elias as a herald of salvation, ‹Lo, I will send you Elias the Tishbite.‘ And signifying the time, He added, ‹Before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come:‘ He named the Day of His Second Coming. But He teaches us, what the great Elias shall do, when he comes, ‹Who shall bring back the heart of the father to the son‘ etc. And pointing out the end, for which Elias should first come, ‹Lest I come and smite the earth utterly.‘ For lest, finding you all in unbelief, I send you all to that endless punishment, Elias will first come, and will persuade you, O Jews, to unite you indissolubly with those, who from the Gentiles believe in Me, and to be united to My one Church.”

Theodore of Mopsuestia paraphrases: “In addition to all which I have said, I give you this last commandment, to remember My law, which I gave to all Israel through Moses, plainly declaring what they ought to do in each thing, and as the first token of obedience, to receive the Lord Christ when He cometh, appearing for the salvation of all men: Who will end the law, but show His own perfection. It had been well, had you immediately believed Him when He came, and known Him, as He whom Moses and all the prophets signified, Who should put an end to the law, and reveal the common salvation of all men, so that it should be manifest to all, that this is the sum and chief good of the whole dispensation of the law, to bring all men to the Lord Christ, Who, for those great goods, should be manifested in His own time. But since, when He manifested Himself, ye manifested your own ungainliness, the blessed Elias shall be sent to you before the second Coming of Christ, when He will come from heaven, to unite those who, for religion, are separated from each other, and, through the knowledge of religion, to bring the fathers to one-mindedness with the children, and in a word, to bring all men to one and the same harmony, when those, then found in ungodliness, shall receive from him the knowledge of the truth in the communion with the godly thence ensuing.”

“The African author of the work on the promises and predictions of God.” (between 450 and 455 a.d.)

, “Against Antichrist shall be sent two witnesses, the prophets Enoch and Elijah, against whom shall arise three false prophets of Antichrist.”

Isidore of Seville 595 a.d.;, “Elias, borne in a chariot of fire, ascended to heaven, to come according to the prophet Malachi at the end of the world, and to precede Christ, to announce His last coming, with great deeds and wondrous signs, so that, on earth too, Antichrist will war against him, be against him, or him who is to come with him, and will slay them; their bodies also will lie unburied in the streets. Then, raised by the Lord, they will smite the kingdom of Antichrist with a great blow. After this, the Lord will come, and will slay Antichrist with the word of His mouth, and those who worshiped him.”, “This will be in the last times, when, on the preaching of Elias, Judah will be converted to Christ.”

To add one more, for his great gifts, Gregory the Great., “It is promised, that when Elias shall come, he shall bring back the hearts of the sons to their fathers, that the doctrine of the old, which is now taken from the hearts of the Jews, may, in the mercy of God, return, when the sons shall begin to understand of the Lord God, what the fathers taught.”, “Although Elias is related to have been carried to heaven, he deferred, he did not escape, death. For it is said of him by the mouth of the Truth Himself, ‹Elias shall come and restore all things.‘ He shall come to ‹restore all things;‘ for to this end is he restored to this world, that he may both fulfill the office of preaching, and pay the debt of the flesh.”, “The holy Church, although it now loses many through the shock of temptation, yet, at the end of the world, it receives its own double, when, having received the Gentiles to the full, all Judaea too, which shall then be, agrees to hasten to its faith. For hence it is written, “Until the fullness of the Gentiles shall come, and so all Israel shall be saved.”

Hence, in the Gospel the Truth says, “Elias shall come and shall restore all things.” For now the Church has lost the Israelites, whom it could not convert by preaching; but then, at the preaching of Elias, while it collects all which it shall find, it receives in a manner more fully what it has lost.”, “John is spoken of as to come in the spirit and power of Elias, because, as Elias shall precede the second Coming of the Lord, so John preceded His first. For as Elias will come, as precursor of the Judge, so John was made the precursor of the Redeemer. John then was Elias in spirit; he was not Elias in person. What then the Lord owned as to spirit, that John denies as to the person.”

Whether Elijah is one of the two witnesses spoken of in the Apocalypse, is obviously a distinct question. Of commentators on the Apocalypse, Arethas remarks that as to Elijah, there is clear testimony from Holy Scripture, this of Malachi; but that, with regard to Enoch, we have only the fact of his being freed from death by translation, and the tradition of the Church. John Damascene fixed the belief in the Eastern Church. In the West, Bede e. g., who speaks of the belief that the two witnesses were Elijah and Enoch, as what was said by “some doctors,” takes our Lord‘s declaration, that Elijah shall return, in its simple meaning. (on Matthew 17:11; Mark 9.) Yet it was no matter of faith. When the belief as to a personal Antichrist was changed by Luther and Calvin, the belief of a personal forerunner of Christ gave way also.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/malachi-4.html. 1870.

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible

John was to prepare the way for the Messiah -- : 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." (Luke 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." (Matthew 11:12-14) Let us be people of God who are prepared for our Lord"s second coming!

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Box, Charles. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/malachi-4.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Elijah the prophet. Called thus, only here, and in 2 Chronicles 21:12. Elsewhere, always "Elijah the Tishbite", to indicate his own person; but here "Elijah the prophet "because had Israel received Messiah, John the Baptist would have been reckoned as Elijah (see notes on Matthew 17:9-13, Mark 9:11-13): and, at His last supper, the wine, representing His blood, would have been (as it will yet be) reckoned as "the blood of the (New) Covenant", as foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17; Hebrews 12:24).

day of the LORD. See note on Isaiah 2:12, Isaiah 2:17; Isaiah 13:6, &c.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/malachi-4.html. 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The Prophet continues the same subject; for having testified to the Jews, that though God would for a time suspend the course of prophetic teaching, they yet had in the law what was sufficient for salvation, he now promises the renovation of the Church; as though he had said, “The Lord will again unexpectedly utter his voice after a long silence.” Isaiah speaks on the same subject, prophesying of the return of the people, when he says,

“Comfort ye, comfort my people, will our God say.” (Isaiah 40:11)

There is an emphatic import in the use of the future tense. So also in this passage, the Prophet declares that prophetic teaching would be again renewed, that when God showed mercy to his people, he would open his mouth, and show that he had been silent, not because he intended to forsake his people, but as we have said, for another end. At the same time he shows that the time would come, when his purpose was to confirm and seal all the prophecies by his only-begotten Son.

This passage has fascinated the Jews so as to think that men rise again; and their resurrection is, — that the souls of men pass into various bodies three or four times. There is indeed such a delirious notion as this held by that nation! We hence see how great is the sottishness of men, when they become alienated from Christ, who is the light of the world and the Sun of Righteousness, as we have lately seen. There is no need to disprove an error so palpable.

But Christ himself took away all doubt on this point, when he said, that John the Baptist was the Elijah, who had been promised; (Matthew 11:10 :) and the thing itself proves this, had not Christ spoken on the subject. And why John the Baptist is called Elijah, I shall explain in a few words. What some say of zeal, I shall say nothing of; and many have sought other likenesses, whom I shall neither follow nor blame. But this likeness seems to me the most suitable of all, — that God intended to raise up John the Baptist for the purpose of restoring his worship, as formerly he had raised up Elijah: for at the time of Elijah, we know, that not only the truth was corrupted and the worship of God vitiated, but that also all religion was almost extinct, so that nothing pure and sound remained. At the coming of Christ, though the Jews did not worship idols, but retained some outward form of religion, yet the whole of their religion was spurious, so that that time may truly be compared, on account of its multiplied pollutions, to the age of Elijah. John then was a true successor of Elijah, nor were any of the Prophets so much like John as Elijah: hence justly might his name be transferred to him.

But someone may object and say, that he is here called a prophet, while he yet denied that he was a prophet: to this the answer is obvious, — that John renounced the title of a prophet, that he might not hinder the progress of Christ’s teaching: hence he means not in those words that he ran presumptuously without a call, but that he was content to be counted the herald of Christ, so that his teaching might not prevent Christ from being heard alone. Yet Christ declares that he was a prophet, and more than a prophet, and that because his ministry was more excellent than that of a prophet.

He says, Before shall come the day, great and terrible. The Prophet seems not here to speak very suitably of Christ’s coming; but he now addresses the whole people; and as there were many slothful and tardy, who even despised the favor of God, and others insolent and profane, he speaks not so kindly, but mixes these threatenings. We hence perceive why the Prophet describes the coming of Christ as terrible; he does this, not because Christ was to come to terrify men, but on the contrary, according to what Isaiah says,

“The smoking flax he will not extinguish, the shaken reed he will not break; not heard will his voice be in the streets, nor will he raise a clamor.” (Isaiah 42:3.)

Though then Christ calmly presents himself, as we have before observed, and as soon as he appears to us, he brings an abundant reason for joy; yet the perverseness of that people was such as to constrain the Prophet to use a severe language, according to the manner in which God deals daily with us; when he sees that we have a tasteless palate, he gives us some bitter medicine, so that we may have some relish for his favor. Whenever then we meet with any thing in Scripture tending to fill us with terror, let us remember that such thing is announced, because we are either deaf or slothful, or even rebellious, when God kindly invites us to himself. It follows —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/malachi-4.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

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.’

Malachi 4:5-6

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.

Illustrations

(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 4:5". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/malachi-4.html. 1876.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter4

So the Lord has promised to spare us from what, and when? The Lord will spare us when His day of judgment comes. Chapter4, verse Malachi 4:1 :

For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all of the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be the stubble: and the day that cometh shall come shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch ( Malachi 4:1 ).

The great day of God"s judgment that is coming, but those who fear the Lord, those who think upon His name, those who talk of the Lord, they will be His, His jewels, written in His book of remembrance, spared from the day of judgment that is coming to destroy the wicked.

Now wickedness is contrasted with the lack of the fear of the Lord, or is associated with a lack of the fear of the Lord, and is contrasted with those that fear the Lord. So in verse Malachi 4:2 :

But unto you that fear my name [or reverence my name] shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall ( Malachi 4:2 ).

So the glorious promise of the coming of Jesus Christ: the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings to establish God"s glorious kingdom upon the earth.

And you will 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. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all of Israel, with statutes and judgments. And behold, I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD: 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 ( Malachi 4:3-6 ).

So the promise of the coming again of Elijah before the great and noble day of the Lord. That causes me to be convinced that in Revelation, chapter11, as God sends His two witnesses to witness for a period of time here upon the earth while the antichrist is in power, that one of the two witnesses will indeed be Elijah. "Behold I will send Elijah."

Now John the Baptist was not Elijah. They came out and said, "Are you Elijah?" "Nope." "Who are you?" "I"m the voice of one in the wilderness crying, "Make straight the way of the Lord."" But Jesus said of John the Baptist, "Of all of the women born of men, there"s not been a greater prophet arise than John. And yet, he who was least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And this, if you"re able to take it, is Elijah, of whom the scripture spake" ( Matthew 11:11, Matthew 11:14 ). A partial fulfillment when Zechariah"s father was accosted by Gabriel the angel and told that his wife Elizabeth in her old age was to have a son. He said, "And he shall go forth in the spirit and in the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the children unto their fathers" ( Luke 1:17 ). Coming in the spirit and the power of Elijah, a type of the actual coming of Elijah before the second coming of the Lord.

Now it is my own personal deep conviction that somewhere on the earth today Elijah is alive. I think we"re that close to the coming of the Lord. Of course, who and where he might be, I don"t know. But I do, I am personally convinced that he"s alive somewhere in the world today. I"ve had some people come and tell me that they were Elijah. I directed them back to Metro. But I do believe that he is alive somewhere today, along with the other witness.

I think that God is winding things up, and I think that we"re just on the border of seeing the culmination of things. Things are happening in Israel. Israel is still prepared to invade Lebanon. They are waiting patiently for a provocation from the PLO that they can use as an excuse. They are presently, have mobilized40,000 troops on the Lebanese border, the army reserve is on an alert, standby basis right now. They"re just waiting for the provocation of the PLO to move on into Lebanon. The Syrians have dug in in Lebanon expecting their attack, and it, no doubt, will be a very fierce battle. I believe that it will bring Russia"s involvement into the Middle East, and of course, that could surely bring to pass the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38:1-23; Ezekiel 39:1-29.

So we"re living in exciting days. A lot of attention is on the Falklands, but that"s not where it"s gonna happen. The real excitement will take place over in the area of Israel. That"s where you need to keep watching.

Shall we stand.

May the Lord bless and keep you in the love of Jesus Christ. May you feed this week upon the Word. May the Lord just open up your hearts to the understanding of His truth, and cause you to grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May He give you just a beautiful, blessed week, walking in fellowship with Him. In Jesus" name. "

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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/malachi-4.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

4
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 4:5". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/malachi-4.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

E. Second motivation: remember the Law4:4-6

"Malachi began with an illustration from Genesis (Jacob and Esau) and spent most of the first half of the book reminding priests and people of the need to keep the Mosaic Law. Now, close to the end of his book, he gives another terse reminder of their continuing obligation to those laws." [Note: Alden, p724.]

"As the motivation provided in Malachi 1:2-5 extends beyond the first address to the whole book ..., this concluding section provides the book"s climactic command. ... Malachi begins by pointing to the past and ends by pointing to the future ( Malachi 4:5-6[Hb. Malachi 3:23-24]), thus appropriately grounding the ethical impact of the book in both redemption and eschatology." [Note: Clendenen, p454.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/malachi-4.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The Lord promised to send His people Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrived. An angel later told John the Baptist"s parents that their son would minister in the spirit and power of Elijah ( Luke 1:17). Yet John denied that he was Elijah ( John 1:21-23). Jesus said that John would have been the Elijah who was to come if the people of his day had accepted Jesus as their Messiah ( Matthew 11:14). Since they did not, John did not fulfill this prophecy about Elijah coming, though he did fulfill the prophecy about Messiah"s forerunner ( Malachi 3:1).

This interpretation has in its favor Jesus" words following the Transfiguration, which occurred after John the Baptist"s death. Jesus said that Elijah would come and restore all things ( Matthew 17:11). Whether the original Elijah will appear before the day of the Lord or whether an Elijah-like figure, similar to John the Baptist, will appear remains to be seen. Since Jesus went on to say that Elijah had come and the Jews failed to recognize him, speaking of John ( Matthew 17:12-13), I prefer the view that an Elijah-like person will come.

What John did for Jesus at His first coming, preparing the hearts of people to receive Him, this latter-day Elijah will do for Him at His second coming. Evidently the two witnesses in the Tribulation will carry out this ministry ( Revelation 11:1-13). Who the witnesses will be is a mystery. Evidently one of them will be an Elijah-like person. These men will do miracles as Elijah and Elisha did.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/malachi-4.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

CONCLUDING ADMONITION.

(4-6) As the prophetical books began (Joshua 1:2; Joshua 1:8) with “Moses my servant is dead . . . this book of the Law shall not be removed from thy mouth, &c.,” so they close with the admonition, “Remember ye the Law of Moses my servant.” (Comp. Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 8:14.) The path of duty is the path of safety and of light. (Comp. John 7:17.) “Mysteries belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed are for us and for our children for ever, in order to perform all the words of this Law” (Deuteronomy 29:29; comp. also Ecclesiastes 12:13). The best preparation for the reception of the New Covenant, when God would “put His law in their inward parts and write it on their heart” (Jeremiah 31:32), must needs be the hearty observance of the spirit of the Old.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/malachi-4.html. 1905.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) Elijah.—There is no more reason to suppose that this refers actually to “Elijah” the prophet, and that he is to appear upon earth, than to imagine from Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 24:23; Ezekiel 37:24; Jeremiah 30:9; that David himself is to come again in the flesh. When John the Baptist answered the question of the deputies of the Sanhedrim, “Art thou Elias?” by “I am not,” he simply gave a negative reply to their question, which was formulated on their misapprehension. On the other hand, that John the Baptist is the “messenger” of Malachi 3:1 and the “Elijah” of this verse is shown conclusively (as far as Christians are concerned) by Luke 1:16-17 before his birth, by Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:2-8, Luke 3:2-18, at the commencement of his ministry. Moreover, our Lord Himself assured the people that John was this “messenger” and “Elijah” (Matthew 11:10, seq.; Luke 7:27, seq.), and His disciples that he had appeared, and not been recognised (Matthew 17:11, seq.; Mark 9:1, seq.). Finally, it is a significant fact that these two greatest of Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elias, who are mentioned together in this last prophetic exhortation, are the two who appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, when all that which is contained in the Law and the prophets was about to be fulfilled.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/malachi-4.html. 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

The End of the Christian Year

Malachi 4:1

The end of a Christian year and the approach of another bring, like all endings and new beginnings in our frail and brief life, solemn thoughts. The Church in her services encourages them, and impresses them upon us.

I. The Day of Change and Ending.—Life, if you think of it, is so made that it seems stable, settled, permanent, and yet it is liable always to interruption and shock. It moves incessantly towards some day of change and ending. Both things are true—both, no doubt, are meant for us by. God. Without the appearance—call it the illusion if you will—of quiet and of security, we could not live our lives heartily or do our work effectively. To that appearance we owe all our happiness. If life be but a stage, it has a look of home. You could not act a drama as you moved along down a road. God knows the real value of the moment and the day, and knows that it is perhaps through the feeling of their being safely our own that we are able either to enjoy or to use them, or that they can do their true work of probation for us. But if that is true, it is also true that He means us to take to heart the certainty of change. If we get settled in security, we deceive ourselves. Blind and self-satisfied, we grow careless and rash. "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed." "Tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant." And so to the man in the Gospel, who has wrapped himself round with security of his possessions, saying, "I will pull down my bams and build greater," comes the word, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall these things be?" Therefore, for our good, life is always full of signs and warnings of change. Sometimes they come suddenly, sometimes gradually. The death at our side by the quick stroke of accident or after a few days" illness, the break-up of a home, a bereavement which darkens our sky, a physician"s word, or look, which gives the verdict of incurable and mortal disease, these are the common examples of sudden catastrophe which make our best security insecure.

II. The Appeal to the Conscience.—It is not only that the change will come, whether gradually or in an instant, but that when it comes, it will wind up a time of opportunity; a chapter will be closed, accounts will be cast up, and judgment will be passed. The day, when it comes, will test our value and the use that we have made of the days that are gone. The conscience of Prayer of Manasseh, like the words of the Prophet, forebodes the day, which may be a day of hope, but must be a day of judgment We may look for it, like Haggai, as a day which will bring some triumph of the right, some better state than this in which we live, with all its trials, sufferings, and sin—some glory and some peace; but, being the poor, sinful creatures that we are, we must think of it as a day when, under the searchlight of God, all that is in use is seen for what it really is; all the evil that is hidden by our respectability is revealed; all the faults that we will not own, even to ourselves to be faults, are exposed in their true character—a day when we shall see ourselves as we might have been, and as we are, and shall be mightily ashamed.

III. And behind Conscience there is God.—"Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?" for He shall bring every secret thing into judgment, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Well for us if the judgment be "Well done". There is time to purge away the dross and to give us the opportunity to do better, but can we reckon that it will be always so? or will the fire find in us only what it must consume? Will there be a last day after the different days of warning and of trial, a last day winding up our opportunity after the many warnings that have gone before?

Malachi 4

I. We are studying the very last words in the Old Testament. The prophecies of Malachi. The oracle is about to cease. Malachi is about to resign the pen. What are his last words? There shall no Prophet arise after him until John come, and John the Baptist was not coming for four hundred years. What is to be done in the meantime? Does God provide for the interstices of history? Here is the word—verse4: "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel with the statutes and judgments". For four hundred years the people were to remember the law of Moses. So the Jewish Church was not left without oracles during the four centuries of Song of Solomon -called silence. If the law of Moses had prevailed it would have given life, if lovingly accepted and obeyed. All truth gives life, all truth brings life. But is it the law of Moses? that is only part of the description. The full description is "The law of Moses My servant". There is the supremacy of God, "which I commanded unto him"; there is the foundation of law. God commands, Moses communicates. All that men can do is to act instrumentally. The fountain, the origin of law, we find in God.

II. Is there, then, no touch of prophecy? Is there no widening horizon before that view of the Church? Is it simply the law, the law—iron, dogmatic, positive, unchangeable? Is there no sky above this poor earth, of law? God never made earth without making sky. So in this instance we find the sky, the horizon, the far away hint and promise; Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet, not Elijah the Tishbite. What shall this Elijah do when he comes? "He shall work out the great reconciliation, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children." This is not a family reference. The Prophet is not speaking, or God is not speaking through the Prophet, merely of the father of a family and the children of a family. He is speaking of fathers in the sense of leaders, teachers of the world and children. The populations and the flocks of the earth. And this Prophet, when he comes, will be known by his desire to promote, and his power to promote reconciliation. God"s Prophets always bring music, harmony, rest. If any man bring aught else except in an official and temporary sense, he is no Prophet of God.

—J. Parker, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. III. p196.

The Illuminating Power of Righteousness

Malachi 4:2

I. There is nothing which illuminates this world like the vision of righteousness, and therefore there is nothing which heals doubt like that vision. The reason is that only in the vision of righteousness do I learn my superiority to nature. Every other vision dwarfs me. The glory of the natural sun makes me pale. The vastness of the mighty firmament makes me humble. The flash of the lightning makes me tremble. The height of the mountains makes me shrink. The depth of the ocean makes me feel shallow. The sight of disease and death makes me identify myself with the flower that fades and the bird that dies. But when I see a righteous man I see something at variance with natural law. Professor Huxley himself tells me so. The law of nature, the law of evolution, is the survival of the strongest. But the law of righteousness is the refusal of the strongest to survive at the expense of the weakest. It is the insistence of the strong to share the life of the weak—to appropriate their burdens, to wear their infirmities. It is a law which never could have been made by physical nature, which in this sense is supernatural. My vision of a righteous man is fitted to heal all my scepticism. It tells me that human life is something unique, something revolutionary, something above the common clay. It tells me that the human soul can do what even the stars cannot do, make a new law which will override the old. It tells me that, with all its seeming insignificance, the little stream in the heart of a man has outweighed the wonder of the whole ocean—has turned the downward into an upward current and led the way to a higher plane.

II. The righteous man is no longer a cipher. He was born a cipher like the leaves and the grass. But he has reversed the order of science. He has made a new law—the death of the strong for the weak. He has arrested the first course of Nature. He has said: "You shall no longer live for self-preservation, but for the preservation of others". He has made the winds his missionaries, the mines almoners, the seas his road to brotherhood, the stream his flag of union, the electricity his voice of fellowship, the light a framer of his neighbour"s image, the heat a warmer of his neighbour"s hearth, the herb a soother of his neighbour"s pain. The sacrificial man is the man that has conquered nature. The vision of righteousness heals my despair.

—G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p157.

References.—IV:2.—C. Bosanquet, Tender Grass for the Lambs, p113. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No1020; ibid. vol. xxv. No1463.

The Cessation of Prophecy

Malachi 4:4-5

These are almost the last words of the Old Testament; they come in their place not by accident, but because it is really the last word of the prophecy uttered before the Gospel was declared. Of Malachi himself we know nothing but his name; when he lived we can only guess. After him there arose not any like him. Malachi died and no other took his place. No man arose who came to Israel and said, "Thus saith the Lord". They were not left ignorant of the will of God, but they had to learn it, not from a living voice speaking among them, but from the books already written. They were indeed to learn something more some day, but not yet It was enough for the present if they would keep what they had. "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments:" if they remembered that, all would be well. And they did remember it The Jews henceforth would stick to their law and to the name of their God, whom before they had always been so ready to forsake. They were persecuted by the heathen that ruled over them, as Daniel foretold: "They shall fall by the sword, and by flames, by captivity, and by spoil many days;" but in one way they did not fall—they would not fall down and worship the images which the kings of the Gentiles set up: their fall was only "to try them, and to purge them, and to make them white, even to the times of the end". Yet all this time they had no Prophet among them. Four hundred years at least went by and no Prophet came. Yet the People did not cease to look for one: they remembered the law of Moses the servant of the Lord, how he had said: "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto thee out of thy brethren, like unto me"; that promise had not been fulfilled yet, and they knew was to be. And there was another Prophet also to come, of whom the latest of the old Prophets speaks: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord". The four hundred years did pass, and Elijah came; not indeed as the Jews seem to have expected, Elijah himself; descending from heaven, whither he had been carried up alive by the chariot of fire: but one in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And then only a few months passed and the other Prophet came; a Prophet like, not only to Elijah, but to Moses; yea greater than Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, for He knew the Lord even as the Lord knew him. And so the gift of prophecy was restored, while by the very restoration all the old prophecies began to be fulfilled. This found its great perfection and fulfilment in the Person of the Lord Jesus; who was, even in His human nature, filled by God with the Spirit, and called to the work of a Prophet to make God known to men.

—W. H. Simcox, The Cessation of Prophecy, p1.

Reference.—IV:4, 5.—F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons (2Series), p28.

The Gift of Prophecy the Supreme Need of Our Age

Malachi 4:5-6

Whatever spiritual gifts may have been necessary or profitable to the Church in other times, I am sure that the gift of prophecy is the most necessary and profitable now. "Christ sent me not to baptize," says the Apostle—others with lower gifts could do that— "but to preach the Gospel," and he adds, "I preached it, not with the enticing words of man"s Wisdom of Solomon, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power". Men felt the power and acknowledged the teaching; their listening to him was the Apostle"s higher credential.

I. Man may well pray for a portion of this power, and for grace to use it in the noblest cause. It is not eloquence, it is not popularity, it is not the power of attracting the crowd. It is a spiritual power which can bow the hearts of a multitude as of one Prayer of Manasseh, swaying them with a charm of strange, mysterious potency; a power which we feel though we cannot describe it. This age is prepared to receive, not the priest but the prophet, not the man who claims to stand between souls and God, but the man who can teach them the truth, and help them in their blindness and waywardness and ignorance, to discover the way of peace and righteousness—for men do feel their ignorance and are thankful for light, and are not indisposed to truth. It is marvellous to me and yet most encouraging to see how few of what the world calls "gifts" are needed to fill a church and to work wonders in the lives and conduct of a people. A preacher acquires the truest eloquence by daily contact with his flock. Like the Chief Shepherd whom he is trying to follow, "he knows his sheep and is known of them". Not only do they know his voice but his life also.

II. The Prophet must be in earnest or men will not receive him as a Prophet; must himself believe his message or he will carry no conviction to his hearers. Is it not because we are so cold and rigid that your hearts are so seldom reached; that we preach and you are not edified; that great opportunities are given and missed; that even in the best cases ears often are tickled rather than lives improved? And yet we have a message, able to stir the most phlegmatic feelings, and to arouse the dullest conscience, if only we know how to deliver it. If our hearts have found the secret, we can speak of present peace and joy in believing; of the kingdom of God standing in righteousness; of the nearness of a Father to us in our dangers, difficulties, and troubles; of the no harm that shall happen to us if we are followers of that which is good; of the love of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Ghost; of the sweetness that can be got from the life that now is if only we go the right way to seek it; of the strength that comes of faith, and the satisfaction that rewards obedience. There are those who can speak of these things with a strange and moving power, and their arguments will rise high above the clouds of doubt and speculation till they seem to bring me almost face to face with God. Such men are in truth the Lord"s Prophets. They are sure and trustworthy guides, for they are leading men to God, through Christ, by the way of holiness.

—J. Fraser, University Sermons, p225.

Reference.—IV:5, 6.—J. Fraser, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi. p401.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/edt/malachi-4.html. 1910.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

The day when the Lord of hosts makes up His jewels will be a day of discrimination, and therefore of judgment as well as blessing. This comes clearly to light as we commence to read the last chapter of this short prophecy. The earth is of course in view, and when judgment does arrive it will be final and complete. Neither root nor branch will be left as far as the wicked are concerned. The Sun of righteousness will arise to exterminate the wicked, while He will bring healing and full blessing to those who fear His name.

In the Old Testament the Lord Jesus — the coming One — has been presented under a variety of beautiful figures; this closing figure comes home to us all, we trust, with singular force. He who has read through the 39 books, up to this point, has certainly surveyed a very dark scene with here and there little patches of light. We now close with the promise of God's resplendent day, introduced by the rising of the 'Sun', in whom all true light is concentrated, and who is specially to be the display of, and the enforcer of, righteousness in perfection. In a world ruined by sin everything is wrong: hence if an order of things is to be established according to God, the first consideration must be what is right. This is seen even in the Gospel that we preach today, as expounded in the epistle of the Romans. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel since it is the power of God unto salvation; and it is that because in it righteousness of God is proclaimed, and made available by faith for sinners such as we were. Behind the righteousness lies of course the love of God, but that is not actually mentioned in the epistle until we reach Romans 5:1-21.

If righteousness be fully established it must mean the elimination of all that is wrong. Hence the beams of that glorious 'Sun' will burn like an oven destroying the ungodly, while bringing healing and fertility to those who fear God.

How different is the final presentation of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament, where He comes before us as the bright, Morning Star, which is the harbinger of the coming day. No thought of judgment enters here for, as the Lord Jesus Himself says, He sent His angel 'to testify unto you these things in the churches'. For only those who are in 'the churches', have the knowledge of Him, who is the 'Morning Star', and who are on the look-out for Him, while the world is still in darkness before the rising of the 'Sun'. When the Morning Star appears, there will be the first sign of the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and the coming of the day of the Lord; for there will be the 'rapture', or snatching away of saints, both dead and living, to present them before the Father in their heavenly home.

We now have to call attention to verse Malachi 4:4 of our chapter. It might strike us at first as a rather extraordinary command to be interjected at this very late hour in Israel's history, about a thousand years after the law was given through Moses. But enshrined in it we see two important principles. First, the law was given for 'all Israel' and it was given 'with the statutes and judgments'. The people in the land, to whom specially Malachi wrote, were comparatively few and in surroundings very different from the days of Moses, or even the days of David and Solomon, but if a man was an Israelite the whole law, in all its details was still binding upon him, and to be obeyed.

And in the second place, not only was it a case of all the law for every Israelite, wherever he might be, but it was also a case of all the time. The fact that many centuries had passed made no difference. In Malachi's day some Israelite might have been saying to himself — But circumstances are so different today; surely a lot of these minor details of the law are not so binding as at the beginning. Here then was the necessary word for one, such as that.

Exactly the same tendency confronts us today. As an instance of what we mean, take Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, written at the outset of our dispensation, nine. teen centuries ago. There was much disorder among the Corinthian Christians, so the Apostle was inspired to lay down the order that should prevail amongst them both in their individual lives, and in their functions as members of the body of Christ, which is the church. In 1 Corinthians 14:1-40 he lays down the Divine administration for their assembly meetings, and concludes by calling upon them to recognize that the directions he gives are 'the commandments of the Lord'. Are any of us tempted to say, or even to think, — Yes, but the changes that have supervened during these many centuries are far greater than at any other period of the world's history, surely we are hardly bound to these small details of assembly life and practice. If we are so tempted let us consider this verse.

It is happily true that we, 'are not under the law, but under grace' (Romans 6:14), and yet we are furnished with many commandments. The commandments of the law were given, that by keeping them men might establish their righteousness before God. This they never did. Grace brings salvation to us who believe, and then teaches us to live sober, righteous and godly lives, as is stated in Titus 2:11, Titus 2:12, and then issues commandments, to guide us in so doing. But commandments they are, and not to be brushed aside while the dispensation lasts.

What we have indicated is further supported by the closing chapter of the New Testament. We have already noticed how Revelation 22:1-21 ends with the 'Morning Star', rather than the 'Sun of righteousness', and now we notice that it closes also with a strong assertion of the sacred integrity of the Word of God. No man is to add to, or take away from, its words. This has doubtless special reference to the Revelation, but coming at the close of the New Testament, we believe it has reference to the whole New Testament revelation, in a secondary way, just as the verse we have been considering applies to the whole Old Testament revelation.

In these closing words the minds of the people were not only carried back to Moses, but also onward to Elijah, as we see in verse 5. Through Moses the law had been given. By Elijah the ten tribes had been recalled to God and His law, in days when they were almost swamped by the worship of Baal. Before the coming of the predicted day of the Lord an 'Elijah' is to appear. We may remember that when John the Baptist was asked if he were Elijah, he answered, No. Yet he came in the spirit and power of Elijah, so that in regard to the first coming our Lord could say, 'If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come' (Matthew 11:14).

But the first coming of our Lord was the introduction of the day of grace. It is His second coming in power and glory that will introduce 'the great and dreadful day of the Lord'. Hence, we judge, this prediction in its fulness must still await its fulfilment. In Revelation 11:3-6, we read of 'two witnesses', marked by features in their testimony, reminiscent of Moses and Elijah, and these precede the second coming of the Lord. We may connect the Elijah of our verse with one of these. What we can say with assurance is that God ever raises up adequate witness, and gives adequate warning, before He acts in judgment.

What is stated in the last verse may seem rather obscure, but if we read Luke 1:17, the bearing of it is plain. The 'disobedient' will be turned to 'the wisdom of the just', and thus a people prepared for the Lord. Thus a godly remnant will be found, otherwise the whole earth would be smitten with a curse.

The Old Testament is the history of man under the law: hence its last word is, 'curse'. The New Testament is the story of the appearing of God's grace: hence the last word is, 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints' (New Trans.). How happy are we to live in a day when grace is on the throne, reigning through righteousness!

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/malachi-4.html. 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary

WICKEDNESS AND PRIDE SHALL FIND JUDGMENT

Malachi 3:13-18; Malachi 4:1-6

The day cometh! either in the fall of Jerusalem or in some terrible catastrophe yet future. Whenever it comes may we be reckoned as God’s peculiar treasure, preserved as a woman preserves her jewels in the day of calamity, Malachi 3:17. Sorrow and disaster are perpetually befalling the proud, or those that do wickedly; while on those who fear God’s name the dawn of the sun of righteousness is forever breaking and growing to the perfect day. In the beams of the sun there are not only light and color, but rays which bear health and vitality to the world and to men; so in Jesus there is power to salvation. Notice how the Old Testament ends with the word curse, while the Christ’s proclamation opens with Blessed.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/malachi-4.html. 1914.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

All this leads to his great declaration concerning the coming day. This day he described in its twofold effect. Toward the wicked it would be a day of burning and of destruction. Toward the righteous it would be a day of healing and of salvation.

The closing words of the prophet called on the people to remember the law of Moses, promised that a herald would come before the day of the Lord, and ended with a solemn suggestion of judgment.

So the word ends. Malachi's voice ceases. He had described the people's condition and told them of God's infinite love; and he makes this final announcement, that God is not abandoning them nor the world, that the day is coming when the Sun will rise. He declares to them the different results produced on two conditions of life, and then with pathos in every tone of his voice he utters the divine words, "I will send you Elijah before that day, to turn your heart to the fathers, and the heart of the fathers to the children, lest God smite the earth with a curse."

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/malachi-4.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,.... Not the Tishbite, as the Septuagint version wrongly inserts instead of prophet; not Elijah in person, who lived in the times of Ahab; but John the Baptist, who was to come in the power and spirit of Elijah, Luke 1:17 between whom there was a great likeness in their temper and disposition; in their manner of clothing, and austere way of living; in their courage and integrity in reproving vice; and in their zeal and usefulness in the cause of God and true religion; and in their famous piety and holiness of life; and in being both prophets; see Matthew 11:11 and that he is intended is clear from Matthew 17:10. It is a notion of the Jews, as Kimchi and others, that the very Elijah, the same that lived in the days of Ahab, shall come in person before the coming of their Messiah they vainly expect, and often speak of difficult things to be left till Elijah comes and solves them; but for such a notion there is no foundation, either in this text or elsewhere. And as groundless is that of some of the ancient Christian fathers, and of the Papists, as Lyra and others, that Elijah with Enoch will come before the day of judgment, and restore the church of God ruined by antichrist, which they suppose is meant in the next clause.

Before the coming of the great and, dreadful day of the Lord; that is, before the coming of Christ the son of David, as the JewsF18T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 43. 2. & Gloss. in ib. themselves own; and which is to be understood, not of the second coming of Christ to judgment, though that is sometimes called the great day, and will be dreadful to Christless sinners; but of the first coming of Christ, reaching to the destruction of Jerusalem: John the Baptist, his forerunner, the Elijah here spoken of, came proclaiming wrath and terror to impenitent sinners; Christ foretold and denounced ruin and destruction to the Jewish nation, city, and temple; and the time of Jerusalem's destruction was a dreadful day indeed, such a time of affliction as had not been from the creation, Matthew 24:21 and the Talmud interpretsF19T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 118. 1. this of the sorrows of the Messiah, or which shall be in the days of the Messiah.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/malachi-4.html. 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Malachi 4:3Comments- Note these insightful words from Mary K. Baxter regarding Malachi 4:3 :

"When the Lord gave me a revelation of hell, I could see with my spiritual eyes that all around my home the Word of God was written in the sky. Around and outside of my home was a great assemblage of angels. Some were sitting, talking among themselves. Another group had a very authoritative look and seemed to be watching. The angels in the third group around the house were standing wingtip to wingtip with their backs toward my home. This last group was composed of the largest angels who all looked like warriors! Each had a large sword at his side. If even a dark shadow tried to creep toward my home, they would pull out their swords and defend my family. Remember, ‘the sword of the Spirit…is the word of God' ( Ephesians 6:17). The Word would come out blazing and go into the enemy. The enemy would be cremated and turned into ashes. The Scripture came to me, ‘The wicked…shall be ashes under the soles of your feet' ( Malachi 4:3). Seeing the Word of God in action continually amazed me." 11]

11] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Heaven (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1998), 177.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi 4:5Comments - The prophecy of Malachi of the coming of Elijah was well known by the first century Jews. Elijah did not taste of physical death, but was raptured into heaven in a fiery chariot ( 2 Kings 2:1-11). The first-century Jews were taught that he would return physically to Israel, as Peter reminded Jesus ( Matthew 17:10). Jesus explained that the coming of John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy because he came with the anointing of Elijah ( Matthew 17:11-12).

Malachi 4:6 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.

Malachi 4:6Comments - Mankind has rejected God's call to redemption through natural revelation according to Romans 1:18-31; mankind has rejected God's call to redemption through his conscience according to Romans 2:1-16; and mankind has rejected God's call to redemption through the Mosaic Law according to Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20. Israel had failed to keep the Law since the time of Moses. Malachi predicts that the dispensation of the Law is coming to a close. When John the Baptist comes and heralds in the Messiah as recorded in the Gospels, men will be born again from Heaven by the Spirit of God. At that time the Spirit of God will write the law in men's hearts ( Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16-17). The birth of the New Testament Church will usher in mighty moves of God throughout the earth. At the close of this dispensation, the Rapture of the Church will usher in the Great Tribulation Period that preceeds the Second Coming of Christ, at which time th entire earth will fall under the judgment and wrath of Almighty God for rejecting the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ.

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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/malachi-4.html. 2013.

Geneva Study Bible

Behold, I will send you e Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and f dreadful day of the LORD:

(e) This Christ interprets of John the Baptist, who both for his zeal, and restoring or religion, is aptly compared to Elijah; (Matthew 11:13-14).

(f) Which as it is true for the wicked, so does it waken the godly, and call them to repentance.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/malachi-4.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Elias. Septuagint add, "the Thesbite;" and St. Jerome (in Matthew xvii.) says, that Elias shall indeed come and restore all things. --- Dreadful. Christ's first coming was in all meekness; but he will judge in terror. Hence the prophet's meaning is not that St. John [the Baptist], but that Elias shall come before the great day of the Lord. (Worthington) --- Yet we may understand it of Christ coming into the world to preach, and again to judge. His first coming proved terrible to the perfidious Jews, whose ruin presently ensued. The destruction of Jerusalem was a figure of that which the world shall experience. (Calmet) --- This shall be preceded by the preaching of Elias. (N. Alex. Diss.vi.) --- This interpretation seems very striking and natural, though the prophet may have had the first coming of Christ and the ruin of the city chiefly in view. Our Saviour testifies that the Elias whom the Jews expected was already come, Matthew xi. 14., and xvii. 11., and Luke ix. 8. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/malachi-4.html. 1859.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Chapter 4

The Sun-Rising

The break between these two chapters seems unfortunate, and helps to divert the mind from what has just been presented. The fact is that verse 1 of chapter 4 is but a continuation of what has gone before. The Lord is going to discern between the righteous and the wicked. When? In the coming day that shall burn as an oven, the day of the Lord toward which all prophecy points as to the time when all the wrongs of the ages are to be put right. For, be it remembered, “the day” is not a brief period of twenty-four hours, but a day that will embrace the entire Millennium, concluding with the passing away of the earth and the heavens, thus introducing the day of eternity, or the day of God, as set forth in Peter’s second letter (3:10-12). The present season is called “man’s day,” for it is the time (of undefined duration) when man is doing his own will (1 Corinthians 4:3; marginal reading, “day,” in place of “judgment”). For the heavenly saints, “the day of Christ” will immediately follow, when, caught up to meet their Lord in the air, they shall be manifested before His judgment-seat (Philippians 1:6, 10). The day of the Lord then begins for Israel and the nations, embracing the judgments to be visited on the earth and the reign of righteousness, closing when the kingdom is delivered up to the Father, and God (Father, Son, and Spirit) will be all in all throughout the never-ending “day of God,” the eternal state.

It is then, of the day when the Lord Jesus returns in manifested glory to visit judgment on all who have refused the everlasting gospel, that the opening verse treats. That day will “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.” Thus will men be made to know the wrath of the Lamb, when He shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who know not God.

But in that day of thick darkness and gloominess, for a preserved remnant light shall break forth in overwhelming glory. “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” (vers. 2, 3). This is very different from the hope of the Church. We wait for the shining-forth of the Morning Star, not the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, which latter is distinctively Israel’s hope. The Morning Star is the herald of the dawn, and rises ere the Sun is yet visible. So will the Lord Jesus descend from heaven with a shout, and translate the heavenly saints to the Father’s house prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble, the great tribulation, which takes place upon the earth in a brief interval between the coming of Christ for the Church and His appearing with His holy ones in glorious majesty, for the relief of the remnant of Judah, and Israel, in the day of their sore trial as a result of their rejection of the Lord when He came before in grace. This is the shining-forth of the Sun of Righteousness, whose beams will bring healing for His own, but will consume the wicked with their intensity. It will not be the Church, but Israel, who will then tread down the evil-doers as ashes beneath their feet, in accordance with the universal testimony of the prophets.

It should be plain to all thoughtful students of the word of God that this passage completely nullifies the theory of a converted world at the coming of Christ. Where, then, would be the wicked who are to be trodden down? The fact is that Scripture knows nothing of this favorite system of modern divines. There will be no Millennium till Christ appears, for He must first act in power for the destruction of all who have refused to own His claims, thus purging the scene for the establishment of His kingdom.

Much has been made of these three opening verses by annihilationists of every school. They suppose the prophet to refer to the final day of judgment, and the ultimate destruction of the lost in the lake of fire. Their argument is that as the wicked will then be burnt up root and branch, and be ashes under the feet of the righteous, they will have ceased entirely to exist, and thus will have been effectually blotted out of God’s universe.

The mistake is made by failing to observe that it is temporal judgment which is here foretold, of which that which fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah was a sample. Fire from heaven will consume the bodies of the wicked on the earth before the millennial kingdom is set up, and thus become ashes under the feet of the righteous. But there is no hint here as to what will become of the soul and spirit. We learn elsewhere in Scripture of judgment after death, though the body be burned to ashes. Our Lord tells us that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for certain of the cities in which His mighty works had been performed but He Himself had been rejected.

Nearly forty centuries have elapsed since the wicked dwellers in the cities of the plain were burned up root and branch. Had Abraham or Lot walked over the sites of those destroyed places a few days after the fire fell from heaven, the wicked would have been ashes under the soles of their feet. But were they then annihilated? Far from it. They have yet to stand before the Great White Throne for judgment where they will be dealt with in accordance with the light they had, and which they refused.

The same may be said of “the proud, and all that do wickedly,” spoken of here by Malachi. Destroyed utterly as to their bodies and place on earth, they yet exist in the world of spirits, and will prove that “it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.” For, as our Lord Jesus said, “God is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto Him” (Luke 20:38). Let not the reader, if unsaved, be lulled to sleep by the devil’s gospel of final extinction. Abiding wrath and eternal judgment are terrible realities from which the precious blood of Christ alone can deliver.

In Genesis 1:16 the sun is first introduced, the type of the Lord Jesus from whom His Church gets all her light, even as the moon reflects the glory of the sun. Ere Malachi closes the Old Testament canon, he reverts to that first type, and presents the same glorious person as “the Sun of Righteousness.”

In view of all the expostulation that has gone before, the last three verses take on a most solemn character. Judah is exhorted to remember the law of Moses, which God had commanded for all Israel, but which they had violated from the first, and were now filling up the cup of their iniquities. To call them back to Himself, He would send them Elijah the prophet, ere the coming of that great and dreadful day of the Lord which we have been contemplating. We know from Matthew 17:10-13, and Mark 9:11-13, that, for faith, John the Baptist was that Elijah; but the nation received him not as such; therefore the ministry here referred to is yet future. As Moses and Elijah are coupled together in these verses (the lawgiver and the restorer), so we see the signs of each wrought by the two witnesses of Revelation 11, which would seem to make plain the character of the ministry to be raised up as a testimony in Jerusalem at the time of the end.

Elijah is to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, thus bringing all the remnant into subjection to the revealed will of God, that He may not come and smite the earth with a curse.

And so with this solemn word, curse, the Old Testament abruptly comes to a close. The law had been violated in every particular. On the ground of the legal covenant the people had no hope whatever. Wrath like a dark cloud was lowering over their heads. The awful curse of that broken law was all they had earned after long ages of trial. But a Redeemer had been promised; and where there was faith, in any who felt the seriousness of their condition, they looked on to the coming of the Seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent’s head, and Himself be made a curse, that all who put their trust in Him might be redeemed from the doom they had so long and fully deserved. “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Through Him alone can guilty men, who own their lost estate and trust His grace, be delivered from the “curse.”

Postscript

After many months of intermittent labor, I have been, through grace, enabled to complete this volume; and I send it forth with the earnest prayer that God may use it-imperfect in many respects as I know it to be-to the glory of His great name and the blessing of many of His people.

Everywhere we have found the same great facts emphasized. Man in his best estate is altogether vanity; but grace abounds over all our sin and failure.

If at times the notes seem pessimistic, and unduly burdened with a sense of the failure of the testimony committed to man, it is not intentional, but rather an evidence of human frailty and imperfection. For the prophets, rightly read, lead to optimism of the brightest hue, occupying the soul with evil only that it may be judged in oneself, but pointing on to the glad morning without clouds when He for whom we wait shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, and His displayed kingdom shall be like clear shining after the storm has passed.

Evil is but transitory, and has sway only for a moment. The good shall abide forever, when the last remains of sin will be banished to the lake of fire, and there shall be new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless… Therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:14, 17, 18).

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/malachi-4.html. 1914.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I send you Elijah — as a means towards your “remembering the law” (Malachi 4:4).

the prophet — emphatical; 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, Luke 1:17), 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 fulfil all that is included in this prophecy: that there is a further fulfillment (compare Note, see on 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; compare Matthew 17:11). 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 (compare 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 (compare Acts 3:21). However, the future forerunner of Messiah at His second coming may be a prophet or number of prophets clothed with Elijah‘s power, who, with zealous upholders of “the law” clothed in the spirit of “Moses,” may be the forerunning witnesses alluded to here and in Revelation 11:2-12. The words “before the  …  dreadful day of the Lord,” show that John cannot be exclusively meant; for 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).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/malachi-4.html. 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 (), 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).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/malachi-4.html. 1871-8.

James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

FOURTH DIVISION (Malachi 4:4-6) This part is a grand conclusion in which the great day of the Lord is once more referred to, and Elijah the prophet named as His forerunner. We learn from Matthew 11:14; Mark 9:11 and Luke 1:17 that John the Baptist is to be considered the type of this forerunner, but that Elijah is to come again to this earth is the opinion of many. There are those who believe that he and Moses are the two witnesses in Revelation 11 that shall do wonders in Jerusalem during the reign of the Antichrist.

QUESTIONS

1. What is the peculiarity of this book?

2. Give the proof that Malachi is contemporary with Nehemiah.

3. How do you explain God’s “hatred” of Esau?

4. What argument against divorce is found here?

5. How do some interpret the prediction about Elijah?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". The James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgc/malachi-4.html. 1897-1910.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

A Gallery of Pictures

Malachi 1-4

We have some pictures in the prophecy that are very vivid, and some of them very humiliating. For example, we have a picture of the utterest selfishness in Malachi 1:10 :—

"Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought."

Yet they sang how good a thing it was to be but a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. Men do not come to this kind of selfishness all at once. For some degrees of wickedness we must patiently and skilfully graduate. We do not attain the highest quality of iniquity at a bound; we cannot, speaking generally, extemporise the supremest kind of devilishness. We begin carefully, we proceed slowly, we take pains with the details of our action, and not until we have become inured to certain practices and usages do we take the final step that lands us in the very refinement and subtlety of evildoing. Nothing is so soon lost as spiritual apprehension, the power of taking hold upon the invisible, the eternal, the spiritual. There is so much against it We unhappily have eyes that can only see what we describe as the material, and in our folly we describe it as the real. That is the very lowest kind of philosophy. There is a metaphysic that denies the existence of everything we see; I would rather belong to that school of negation than to the school which affirms that there is nothing but what we can see with the eyes of the body. We are always tempted away from the higher lines. Who would shut his eyes and talk to nothing, and call it prayer? Who would have so many of his own aspirations dropping back upon his heart like dead birds, and still believe in an answering, benignant, loving God? Who would refuse the great bribe? There it Isaiah, visibly, tangibly, immediately; you can lay your hand upon it, and secure it, and if there is any need by-and-by to pray yourselves back again from the felony, and still retain its produce, then see the man of God and take his ghostly counsel. The distinction of Christianity is its spirituality. Christianity lives amongst the spirits. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." When we make Christianity a mere argument or a mere philosophy, we lose its whole genius and meaning. Christianity comes to kill the visible by putting it into its right perspective, and investing it with its right value, which is nothing beyond a mere convenience. Christianity comes to lift up the soul to God, and to fix the heart upon things unseen and eternal. Christianity comes to make a man blind to everything but God, and therefore to see everything aright because to see it in its relation to God. How far are we to blame for degrading Christianity from its proper level, and making it stand amongst Song of Solomon -called other religions to take its chance with the general mob? We can be attacked with some success, not to say with desperate savageness, if we fight the battle on wrong lines; but not when we stand upon Christ"s lines, of direct living fellowship with God, doing everything for Christ"s sake, glorifying God in our body, which is Song of Solomon -called matter, our soul, which plays a part in the psychical philosophies, and our spirit, the touch that makes us one with God. If we pray ourselves into higher prayers, ever-ascending until speech must be displaced by music, then we are upon a way where we shall find no lion, neither shall any ravenous beast go up thereon, it shall not be found there. And as for dying, we shall not die—"he was not, for God took him," shall be the rhythmic ending of a noble, beautiful, spiritual life. Losing this spiritual apprehension, what do we come to?—to men-service; we come to be men-pleasers, time-servers, investors, hirelings. When the true spirituality reigns in us we shall have no fear of Prayer of Manasseh, we shall see the richest patron of all going out of the sanctuary, not because he is wounded in the back, but because he is wounded in the heart by the Spirit of God, on account of his unrighteousness, unfaithfulness, vanity, and worldliness; the Church will be the richer for his absence. Never let the spirituality of the Church go down, for then you open the door to every kind of invader; you make devastating encroachment possible; but laying hold of God, you shall be safe even from the insidious assaults and invasions of selfishness.

We have also a picture of the true priest:—

"The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest"s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" ( ).

What was said of Levi should be said of every man in the varied ministry of the Church; he ought to be as beautiful as this. Yet not only beautiful, but massive, strong, pure, dominating; not asking permission to live and to preach, but granting permission to millionaires to chink their gold. It is quite true that here we have an ideal picture. It satisfies the imagination to have a word like "ideal" in its vocabulary. But may we not so use the word "ideal" as to find in it a temptation to a continual lowering of the spiritual stature, and a continual cooling of the spiritual temperature? Certainly these words are ideal; this is God making another Adam, this time out of marble, breathing into him the breath of life, and making him majestic and noble: this is God"s conception of the true priest. Yet we call it ideal, and then go away to our commonplace. The minister of Christ cannot rise to perfection. If any man were to assume himself to be perfect he would justly discredit himself by that very assumption. What is it that is required of the true priest, preacher, minister, or pastor? It is required of him first that he be found faithful to his light, to his immediate inspiration; he is not to live for tomorrow, he is to live for this present day, with all its clamour and all its importunate necessity. But should not a man study consistency? Yes—No. Is it possible for an answer to be both in the affirmative and in the negative? Certainly. Wherein is to be the consistency of the preacher? In his spiritual sincerity. There he must never fail. As to his words and views, do we not live in an atmosphere? Are we not environed? Do not ten thousand ministries continually play upon every line and fibre of our nature? There may be inconsistency in words, phrases, terms, and statements, and yet there may be consistency of the finest quality and fibre in the moral purpose, the spiritual intent, the unchangeable loyalty to the Cross of God the Son. A preacher"s perfectness should be found in the continuance of his aspiration, and the continuance of all practical endeavour to overtake his own prayers. Do not mock a man because his life is not equal to his prayer; when a man has no higher prayer to offer than he can live he may pass on into some other world in the Father"s universe. Meanwhile, no man can pray sincerely, profoundly, continually, and want to be like Christ without growing,—not always upwards; there is a growth in refinement, in susceptibility, in moral tenderness, in sympathy of the soul for others, as well as a growth in knowledge, and stature in intellectual majesty. It is well to have an ideal before us. One of two things must happen in the case of the priest. "... Did turn many away from iniquity." That is a beautiful work for you, my preaching brother, to have done. You may never have been heard of beyond your own sphere, and yet within that sphere you may have been working miracles which have astounded the angels. You have kept or turned many away from iniquity. I have a brother who had great influence over one of his leading men, and that brother, though his name was never heard of beyond his own circle of ministerial exertion, laid himself out to save that man. That man"s temptation was drink. The minister followed him, turned swiftly upon him at the public-house door, and said, No, not here! It was not much of a sermon to preach from a public point of view, but the poor tempted soul quailed under the interdict, and went home. Why, to have been the means of giving him one night"s release from the devil was to have done a work worthy of the Cross! You cannot tell what your negative work amounts to—how many you have kept from going wrong, doing wrong, or speaking unwisely, untruly, or impurely; you do not know what your example has done. Be cheered, be encouraged; you do not always live in the miracle of Pentecost; sometimes you live in the quietness that can only do a negative work, but blessed be God, when he comes to judge our work there will be nothing negative about it He who has turned away a man from iniquity shall be accounted as one who has turned a soul to righteousness; he is a great Judges, and he gives great heavens to those who serve him.

There is another line of thought—

"Ye have caused many to stumble" ( Malachi 2:8).

How acute, how penetrating, how ruthless is the criticism of God! Here again we may not have been wanton in our irreligion, we may not have been irreligious at all in the ordinary sense of the term, but for lack of zeal, for lack of honesty, for lack of character, we may have caused the citizens of Gath to mock, and the daughters of Philistia to sneer at the Lord. "Caused many to stumble": how could they help it? They looked to the priests, pastors, guides, and teachers of the community for example, and they saw nothing but warning. They said, The speech of these men will be pure, gentle, courteous, gracious; they will especially speak of one another in terms of appreciation and brotherly regard. Hark! Why, this is talk we might have heard at the tavern; this is criticism we might have heard at hell"s gate; this is censoriousness that would shame an infidel. What if they have gone away to mock the God whose name his own professors had forgotten? "Caused many to stumble"—by little-mindedness, by narrowness of soul, by lack of sympathy, by idolatry instead of worship, by pointing at a church-roof and calling it God"s own sky. Here we should daily pray that we give offence to no man needlessly; here we should do many things that the Gospel be not hindered; here we may work miracles in the name and power of the Cross.

Another picture is that of a terrible judgment:—

"And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts" ( Malachi 3:5).

O God, send some man to testify against us, and we can contradict him; send the oldest and purest of thy prophets to charge us, and we can recriminate, and remind him of his human nature, and tell him to take care of himself lest he fall, rather than waste his criticism upon us who have fallen. Send Isaiah,, Jeremiah, Daniel; send all the minstrels of Israel, let them mass themselves into a cloud of witnesses, and we can laugh them to scorn, and tell them not to mock our fallibility by an assumption of infallibility of their own; but thou wilt not do this, thou dost come thyself. Who can answer thunder? Who can reason with lightning? Who can avert the oncoming of eternity? "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." He will be not only a witness, but a "swift witness"; he will break upon us suddenly, he will come upon us from unexpected points; where we say, All is safe here, there shall the fire leap up, and there through a hedge, where we thought to make a resting-place, shall a serpent break through to bite us. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." Yea, I call mine a man"s hand, but to thee it is the hand of a little child; take hold of it, for the way is slippery, the crags are here and there very sharp, and the steep is infinite, and the enemy is already breathing upon my neck. O God, save me, or I perish! In that modesty we have strength; in that reliance upon God we have a pavilion that the thunder cannot shake, that the lightning cannot penetrate. I would hide me in the house of my Saviour"s heart.

Then we have a picture of a perfect restoration:—

"And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts" ( ).

One nation cannot be good without another nation feeling it. When England is noble the whole world is aware of the transformation; when America has responded to the appeal of righteousness the whole globe feels as if a Sabbath were dawning upon the shores of time; when any nation does a noble deed it is as if all the world had prayed. Let us remember the might, the immeasurable might, of spiritual influence. Convert England, and you convert the world; convert London, and you convert England, speaking after the manner of men. Leave God to look after the results which you call material. Is there a devourer? God will rebuke him for our sakes. Does the vine cast her fruit before her time? Angels shall keep that fruit on the stem until it be purple with hospitality, yea, with the very love of God"s heart; and as for the fields, their hedges will become fruit trees, and all the fences shall bloom and blossom because the Lord"s blessing has fallen upon the earth. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." God will take care of the vine if we take care of the altar.

Then, lastly, we have a picture of a sun-lighted world:—

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" ( Malachi 4:2).

The last verse of the Old Testament is terrible; it reads"—"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers"—that is good, but the last words—"lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." The Rabbi would never end with that; the Rabbi said, "No, I will go back and read the last verse but one." The Rabbi could not end with a curse. There are several books in the Bible that end with doleful words: "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." The Rabbi could not defile the synagogue with making "evil" the climacteric word, so he read the verse before. Isaiah ends: "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." And the Rabbi said, We cannot end with that, we must end with the verse before. And the Lamentation,—"But thou hast utterly rejected us: thou art very wroth against us." And the Rabbi said, Read the verse before that; we cannot end with storm and darkness, and tempests of imprecation. Oh let us close with some word of comfort! So must it ever be with the true messenger of God. He will have to deliver his tremendous message; but blessed be the Cross of Christ, every sermon may end with music and light and joy. There is no text in the Bible that lies half a mile from Calvary. I do not care what the text Isaiah, there is a road from it right into Golgotha. Malachi has for his last word curse; but we may have for our last word blessing, we may have for our closing word peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. " Hosea, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon." If we added to that we should be attempting to paint the lily and gild refined gold. There is but one word that can be added to it, and that is not our own: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/malachi-4.html. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Malachi 4:1. Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven. The anger of God against the jews for crucifying “the Lord of glory,” and persecuting his saints. The sin of rejecting the remedy is more than the disease.

It shall burn them up—it shall leave them neither root nor branch. It shall make an utter end of all the nobles that condemned the Saviour, and cut off all their infant offspring during the tremendous siege. Surely there is with God a day of retribution for the crimes of men; surely there is a day of redress for a bleeding church, and for suffering saints.

Malachi 4:2. Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. While the destruction of the jewish nation, and finally of all the impenitent, is foretold in the most terrific language, and the whole earth threatened with a general conflagration, mercy looks with a tender eye upon the righteous, provides for them an asylum when the storm descends, and calms their fears with the brightest hopes of immortality. The sacred scriptures delight in this sort of contrasted grandeur, where all that is appalling and all that is cheering and delightful commingle in the same sentence. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not his gospel, he shall at the same time be glorified in his saints and admired in all them that believe. So when it is here foretold by the prophet that storms of vengeance would desolate Judea, and extinguish all their national glory, it is promised to the lowly and tender-hearted, who fear the name of the Lord, that the Sun of righteousness should arise and shed upon them his morning beams, should chase away the long and dreary night, and cheer them with the brightness of the long-expected day. How strikingly was this exemplified in the case of Simeon and Anna, of Zachariah and Elizabeth, and as many as were waiting for the consolation of Israel; and what a glow of holy feeling did the first intimations of the Saviour’s advent create in their bosoms, when they burst into a song of praise, that the day-spring from on high had visited them, to give light to them that sat in darkness, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Malachi 4:5. Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet. John the baptist, as the gospel indicates, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, whose ministry shall produce a great reformation. But as Elijah was promised, chap. 3. l, why should it be repeated here? And why after Jerusalem is burned, and Christ the sun risen on the earth? Some doctors of great name in the ancient church, think, as some rabbins, that Elijah is yet to be expected in person to effectuate the conversion of the jews to Christ; for at present, the fathers among them seem as though they would kill their children, and the children as though they would kill their parents for believing in Christ.

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The coming of Christ is generally described by the prophets as an event that would excite the greatest joy, and fill the whole creation with songs of praise. Psalms 96:11; Psalms 96:13. Yet here it is called the great and terrible day of the Lord. Isaiah, when personating the Saviour, gives also a twofold character to his advent. “The day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.” The same event which afforded joy to those who received the Saviour, brought destruction upon those who received him not. The rejection of him and his crucifixion by the unbelieving jews brought such tribulation upon them as had not been since the beginning of the world, in the awful destruction of their city and temple by the Romans. That was the day more immediately referred to in Malachi 4:1, which should burn as an oven, when all the proud, and all that do wickedly, would be as stuble to be burned up, without leaving either root or branch, though this awful threatening will receive its full accomplishment in the last day.

Malachi 4:6. He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and of the children to their fathers. Sin has not only made a breach betwixt God and man, but has also separated chief friends, and filled the earth with strife and violence. So baneful are its effects that it turns the tide of natural affection out of its usual course, and alienates even the hearts of parents and children from each other. In addition to its ordinary operation upon society, it appears from well-authenticated history that the jewish people especially were encreasing in crime, from the days of Malachi to the coming of Christ. Having been brought under the authority of the Roman government, one part attached themselves to the interests of their foreign rulers, for the sake of some private advantage, and accepted offices of emolument under them, which rendered such mercenaries sufficiently odious to their countrymen. Some enlisted themselves in the Roman army, and treated their brethren with violence and outrage, as is plainly intimated by the admonitions of John the baptist. Luke 3:14. Others became publicans, or farmers of the public taxes, coöperating with the government in a system of oppression. A spirit of selfishness pervaded all ranks and orders of men, prompting one party to acts of injustice, and exciting in another feelings of discontent and of bitter antipathy. In addition to this, the jewish community were divided into religious sects and parties, hearing the most inveterate hatred to each other, while they were as much opposed to truth and righteousness as they could be to one another.

Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The ministry of John the baptist, it is here foretold, would have a conciliatory tendency, turning men’s hearts to each other, and so averting the curse suspended over that sinful people. This effect however was not produced by merely attempting to effect an outward reformation among the people, but by first bringing them to true repentance, to a state of reconciliation with God through the mediator, and so to peace and harmony among themselves. John’s ministry is described by an evangelist as turning the hearts of the fathers to the children by turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and thus making ready a people prepared for the Lord. His errand was to call sinners to repentance, and to faith in Him whose harbinger he was; and wherever this effect was produced a new bond of union existed, and former antipathies were forgotten. Those who repented and believed the gospel were as the salt of the land, and it seems to have been for their sakes that its punishment was deferred till forty years after they had crucified the Lord of glory. When God had taken out a people from among them, the remnant grew worse and worse, till at last the curse overtook them. Having “killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets,” they filled up the measure of their iniquity, by persecuting the followers of Christ with unmitigable rage and fury, until “the great and terrible day of the Lord” came, and utterly destroyed them as a nation. From that time the land of Judea has been “smitten with a curse,” and under the curse it continues to this day, an awful proof of the truth of prophecy, and a lasting warning to the enemies of Christ.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/malachi-4.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Ver. 5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet] Not Elijah the Tishbite, as the Septuagint corruptly read; and the Popish expositors make no small use of it, to prove that the Pope is not antichrist, because Enoch and Elijah are not yet come, and yet are to come in his time, before the day of judgment (as they fondly fable), to preserve the elect in the faith of Christ, and to convert the Jews. But we have better interpreters of this text. 1. An angel, who applies it to John Baptist, Luke 1:17 2. Christ, that angel of the covenant, Matthew 17:10-11; Matthew 11:14. Hear ye him, against all antichrist’s agitators. St Mark begins his Gospel with these very words of Malachi, to let us know that this Elias is the Baptist, who is called Elijah the prophet, because of the like gifts, calling, and ministry, office of reforming habit, people with whom they dealt, &c. The like almost may be said of Luther, a third Elias for boldness, courage, zeal, knowledge, success, &c. But yet we see no footing in this text for Lucas Osiander’s conceit, viz. that the prophet here pointed at Luther as well as at John Baptist; and that men must receive his doctrine, or else look to be smitten with a curse. Howbeit this is more passable and possible than that of the Jesuits, who presume to control Christ’s own exposition; and infer, that as the devil stirred up Luther to call the Pope antichrist, so God raised up them to resist Luther. But what a mad fellow was that Spaniard (of whom Severus Sulpitius writeth) that professed himself, first, to be the prophet Elias, and afterward, when he had gained authority, to be the Christ; carrying himself so cunningly in his collusion, that Bishop Ruffus was led away with the error, believing in him, and adoring him as God; for which he was justly deprived of his dignity! Had we not need receive the truth in the love of it, lest God give us up to the efficacy of error, 2 Thessalonians 2:10? lest being first infatuated, we be seduced, and then being seduced, we be damned, as Austin glosseth on that text?

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord] Great, in respect of the good, and dreadful, or horrible, in respect of the wicked, as Montanus interprets it, paralleling it with Matthew 3:12. Or great, because it shall be a beginning of great changes, both to the godly and the ungodly; and dreadful to the bad, yea, and to the best also at first, till they have recollected and better bethought themselves, as another senseth it; as taking it of the last day, which is the general mistake of Popish expositors, and that upon this ground, because Christ’s first coming was an acceptable time, and a day of salvation. But though it be so to God’s people, yet to others it was terrible, as hath been shown: {See Trapp on "Malachi 3:2"} and is so described, Luke 2:34; Luke 3:9; Luke 3:17; Luke 19:44;, Matthew 21:44; Isaiah 11:4. He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with his two-edged sword he shall slay the wicked. See the like, Revelation 2:16. And by his ministers he doth it still, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, 2 Corinthians 10:6. Vengeance is as ready in Christ’s hand as in the minister’s mouth, for the disobedient. Some read the words thus, Before the day of the great and dreadful Lord come: like as others read that, James 2:1, Have not the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus Christ in respect of persons. Both readings are good, and the text will bear both.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/malachi-4.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Concluding Admonition. - Malachi 4:4. “Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him upon Horeb for all Israel, statutes and rights.

(Note: The lxx have put Malachi 4:4 at the end of the book, not to call attention to its great importance, but probably for the very same reason for which the Masora observes, at the close of our book, that in the יתקק, i.e., in the books of Isaiah, the twelve prophets, the Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes, the last verse but one of these books was to be repeated when they were read in the synagogue, namely, because the last verse had too harsh a sound. The transposition is unsuitable, inasmuch as the promise in Malachi 4:5 and Malachi 4:6 does not fit on to the idea expressed in Malachi 4:2 and Malachi 4:3, but only to that in Malachi 4:4. According to the Masora, the ז in זכרוּ should be written as litera majusc., although in many codd. it has the usual form; and this also is not to show the great importance of the verse, since these Masoretic indications have generally a different meaning, but in all probability it is simply to indicate that this is the only passage in the book of the twelve prophets in which the word is pronounced זכרוּ (cf. זכרו in Hosea 12:6; Hosea 14:8), whereas in the other books, with the exception of Job 18:17, this is the only pronunciation that is met with.)

Malachi 4:5. Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the day of Jehovah comes, the great and terrible one. Malachi 4:6. And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, that I may not come and smite the land with the curse” ( mit dem Banne , with the ban). The admonition, “Remember ye the law of Moses,” forms the conclusion not only of the last section (Malachi 3:13-4:3), but of the whole of the book of Malachi, and cannot be connected with Malachi 4:3 in the sense of “Remember what Moses has written in the law concerning Christ, or concerning the judgment,” as Theod. Mops. and others maintain; nor must it be restricted to the time previous to the coming of the Messiah by the interpolation of interim (v. Til and Mich.). It is rather a perfectly general admonition to lay to heart and observe the law. For this is referred to here, “not according to its casual and transient form, but according to its real essence as expressing the holiness of God, just as in Matthew 5:17” (Hengstenberg). Malachi thus closes by showing to the people what it is their duty to do, if on the day of judgment they would escape the curse with which transgressors are threatened in the law, and participate in the salvation so generally desired, and promised to those who fear God. By the expression “my servant,” the law is traced back to God as its author. At the giving of the law, Moses as only the servant of Jehovah. אשׁר צוּיתי אותו is not to be rendered “whom ( אשׁר אותו ) I charged with statutes and rights to all Israel” (Ewald, Bunsen), for we do not expect any further explanation of the relation in which Moses stood to the law, but “which I commanded him upon (to) all Israel.” Tsivvâh is construed with a double accusative, and also with על governing the person to whom the command refers, as in Ezra 8:17; 2 Samuel 14:8; Esther 4:5. The words chuqqı̄ı̄m ūmishpâtı̄m are an epexegetical definition belonging to אשׁר : “which I commanded as statutes and rights,” i.e., consisting of these; and they recall to mind Deuteronomy 4:1 and Deuteronomy 8:14, where Moses urges upon the people the observance of the law, and also mentions Horeb as the place where the law was given. The whole of the admonition forms an antithesis to the rebuke in Malachi 4:4, that from the days of their fathers they went away from the ordinances of Jehovah. These they are to be mindful to observe, that the Lord when He comes may not smite the land with the ban.

In order to avert this curse from Israel, the Lord would send the prophet Elijah before His coming, for the purpose of promoting a change of heart in the nation. The identity of the prophet Elijah with the messenger mentioned in Malachi 4:1, whom the Lord would send before Him, is universally acknowledged. But there is a difference of opinion as to the question, who is the Elijah mentioned here? The notion was a very ancient one, and one very widely spread among the rabbins and fathers, that the prophet Elijah, who was caught up to heaven, would reappear (compare the history of the exposition of our verse in Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. iv. p. 217 translation). The lxx thought of him, and rendered אליּה הנּביא by Ἠλίαν τὸν Θεσβίτην ; so also did Sirach (48:10) and the Jews in the time of Christ (John 1:21; Matthew 17:10); and so have Hitzig, Maurer, and Ewald in the most recent times. But this view is proved to be erroneous by such passages as Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24, and Jeremiah 30:9, where the sending of David the king as the true shepherd of Israel is promised. Just as in these passages we cannot think of the return or resurrection of the David who had long been dead; but a king is meant who will reign over the nation of God in the mind and spirit of David; so the Elijah to be sent can only be a prophet with the spirit or power of Elijah the Tishbite. The second David was indeed to spring from the family of David, because to the seed of David there had been promised the eternal possession of the throne. The prophetic calling, on the other hand, was not hereditary in the prophet's house, but rested solely upon divine choice and endowment with the Spirit of God; and consequently by Elijah we are not to understand a lineal descendant of the Tishbite, but simply a prophet in whom the spirit and power of Elijah are revived, as Ephr. Syr., Luther, Calvin, and most of the Protestant commentators have maintained. But the reason why this prophet Elijah is named is to be sought for, not merely in the fact that Elijah was called to his work as a reformer in Israel at a period which was destitute of faith and of the true fear of Jehovah, and which immediately preceded a terrible judgment (Koehler), but also and more especially in the power and energy with which Elijah rose up to lead back the ungodly generation of his own time to the God of the fathers. The one does not exclude but rather includes the other. The greater the apostasy, the greater must be the power which is to stem it, so as to rescue those who suffer themselves to be rescued, before the judgment bursts over such as are hardened. For Malachi 4:5, compare Joel 3:4. This Elijah, according to Malachi 4:6, is to lead back the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers. The meaning of this is not that he will settle disputes in families, or restore peace between parents and children; for the leading sin of the nation at the time of our prophet was not family quarrels, but estrangement from God. The fathers are rather the ancestors of the Israelitish nation, the patriarchs, and generally the pious forefathers, such as David and the godly men of his time. The sons or children are the degenerate descendants of Malachi's own time and the succeeding ages. “The hearts of the godly fathers and the ungodly sons are estranged from one another. The bond of union, viz., common love to God, is wanting. The fathers are ashamed of their children, the children of their fathers” (Hengstenberg). This chasm between them Elijah is to fill up. Turning the heart of the fathers to the sons does not mean merely directing the love of the fathers to the sons once more, but also restoring the heart of the fathers, in the sons, or giving to the sons the fathers' disposition and affections. Then will the heart of the sons also return to their fathers, turn itself towards them, so that they will be like-minded with the pious fathers. Elijah will thereby prepare the way of the Lord to His people, that at His coming He may not smite the land with the ban. The ban involves extermination. Whoever and whatever was laid under the ban was destroyed (cf. Leviticus 27:28-29; Deuteronomy 13:16-17; and my Bibl. Archäol. i. §70). This threat recals to mind the fate of the Canaanites who were smitten with the ban (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). If Israel resembles the Canaanites in character, it will also necessarily share the fate of that people (cf. Deuteronomy 12:29).

The New Testament gives us a sufficient explanation of the historical allusion or fulfilment of our prophecy. The prophet Elijah, whom the Lord would send before His own coming, was sent in the person of John the Baptist. Even before his birth he was announced to his father by the angel Gabriel as the promised Elijah, by the declaration that he would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the unbelieving to the wisdom of the just (Luke 1:16-17). This address of the angel gives at the same time an authentic explanation of Malachi 4:5 and Malachi 4:6 of our prophecy: the words “and the heart of the children to their fathers” being omitted, as implied in the turning of the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the explanatory words “and the unbelieving to the wisdom of the just” being introduced in their place; and the whole of the work of John, who was to go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, being described as “making ready a prepared people for the Lord.” The appearance and ministry of John the Baptist answered to this announcement of the angel, and is so described in Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:2-18, that the allusion to our prophecy and the original passage (Isaiah 40:3) is obvious at once. Even by his outward appearance and his dress John announced himself as the promised prophet Elijah, who by the preaching of repentance and baptism was preparing the way for the Lord, who would come after him with the winnowing shovel to winnow His floor, and gather the wheat into His granary, but who would burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Christ Himself also not only assured the people (in Matthew 11:10., Luke 7:27.) that John was the messenger announced by Malachi and the Elijah who was to come, but also told His disciples (Matthew 17:1.; Mark 9:1.) that Elijah, who was to come first and restore all things, had already come, though the people had not acknowledged him. And even John 1:21 is not at variance with these statements. When the messengers of the Sanhedrim came to John the Baptist to ask whether he was Elias, and he answered, “I am not,” he simply gave a negative reply to their question, interpreted in the sense of a personal reappearance of Elijah the Tishbite, which was the sense in which they meant it, but he also declared himself to be the promised forerunner of the Lord by applying to his own labours the prophecy contained in Isaiah 40:3.

And as the prophet Elijah predicted by Malachi appeared in John the Baptist, so did the Lord come to His temple in the appearing of Jesus Christ. The opinion, which was very widely spread among the fathers and Catholic commentators, and which has also been adopted by many of the more modern Protestant theologians (e.g., Menken and H. Olshausen), viz., that our prophecy was only provisionally fulfilled in the coming of John the Baptist and the incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus Christ, and that its true fulfilment will only take place at the second coming of Christ to judge the world, in the actual appearance of the risen Elijah by which it will be preceded, is not only at variance with the statements of the Lord concerning John the Baptist, which have been already quoted, but as no tenable foundation in our prophecy itself. The prophets of the Old Testament throughout make no allusion to any second coming of the Lord to His people. The day of the Lord, which they announce as the day of judgment, commenced with the appearance on earth of Christ, the incarnate Logos; and Christ Himself declared that He had come into the world for judgment (John 9:39, cf. John 3:19 and John 12:40), viz., for the judgment of separating the believing from the ungodly, to give eternal life to those who believe on His name, and to bring death and condemnation to unbelievers. This judgment burst upon the Jewish nation not long after the ascension of Christ. Israel rejected its Saviour, and was smitten with the ban at the destruction of Jerusalem in the Roman war; and both people and land lie under this ban to the present day. And just as the judgment commenced at that time so far as Israel was concerned, so does it also begin in relation to all peoples and kingdoms of this earth with the first preaching of Christ among them, and will continue throughout all the centuries during which the kingdom spreads upon earth, until it shall be ultimately completed in the universal judgment at the visible second coming of the Lord at the last day.

With this calling to remembrance of the law of Moses, and this prediction that the prophet Elijah will be sent before the coming of the Lord Himself, the prophecy of the Old Testament is brought to a close. After Malachi, no other prophet arose in Israel until the time was fulfilled when the Elijah predicted by him appeared in John the Baptist, and immediately afterwards the Lord came to His temple, that is to say, the incarnate Son of God to His own possession, to make all who received Him children of God, the s e gullâh of the Lord. Law and prophets bore witness of Christ, and Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil them. Upon the Mount of Christ's Transfiguration, therefore, there appeared both Moses, the founder of the law and mediator of the old covenant, and Elijah the prophet, as the restorer of the law in Israel, to talk with Jesus of His decease which He was to accomplish in Jerusalem (Matthew 17:1.; Mark 9:1.; Luke 9:28.), for a practical testimony to the apostles and to us all, that Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for us, to bear our sin and redeem us from the curse of the law, was the beloved Son of the Father, whom we are to hear, that by believing in His name we may become children of God and heirs of everlasting life.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/malachi-4.html. 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Elijah

In the previous verse Moses is presented as the legislator. In these last two verses we see Elijah. His service was to bring the people who had deviated from God's law back to obedience to the law. In these last verses, Moses and Elijah are connected. The law and the prophets remain as long as the earth exists. We also see in Moses a look back to the origins and in Elijah a glimpse into the future, what it will be like. The assessment of the present must always take place in the light of the past or that of the future.

Both men together have been of great significance to the people of God and the significance of their service remains for future generations. We meet them together on the mountain of transfiguration in the presence of the Lord Jesus (Mt 17:3). This is a foretaste of the time when Christ reigns in glory and everything will be in conformity with everything they, by order of God, have presented to the people.

When the Lord has come down from the mountain with His three disciples, they ask about Elijah (Mt 17:9-13). On the mountain they have tasted something of the coming kingdom. But they also know about this verse here, in Malachi. They have understood from what the scribes say that Elijah must first come before the Messiah can be revealed. Now they have seen the Messiah in the Lord Jesus, but without seeing Elijah coming beforehand.

The Lord answers that Elijah certainly comes first. In this the scribes are right, for it is in accordance with the prophecy. At the same time, He adds that Elijah will restore all things. The effect of the coming of Elijah is the restoration of all things. Also the Son of man has yet to come, that is to say in glory on earth. The Lord Jesus speaks about that coming in glory and in connection with what Malachi here (Mal 4:5) speaks about, namely, the coming of Elijah. Also in Revelation 11 we have a reference to the service of Moses and Elijah in connection with the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth (Rev 11:3-6).

Before He will come in that way, it is necessary that He be presented to the people as the promised Messiah to see if the people will accept Him. He has come to His people in humiliation, to test His people. The result is that He is rejected, as God has prophesied in the prophets. Because John the baptist has come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17), the Lord Jesus can say that Elijah has already come. But they have rejected John as His forerunner (Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1).

After this explanation, the disciples understand that in John the baptist Elijah has already come, but that the people as a whole have not listened to his message and are therefore not ready to receive the Messiah. Malachi has also spoken about the coming of John the baptist (Mal 3:1). If John the baptist had been accepted with his message, he would have been Elijah. He performed his service in the spirit and power of Elijah and testified of the coming Messiah.

But John is beheaded and Christ is crucified. That is why Elijah will come once again. He will come again to test the hearts in view of the coming Messiah Who then will not come in humiliation but in glory. Malachi speaks about the coming of Elijah here in Mal 4:5-6.

The purpose of the coming of Elijah is to work restoration between the generations to make them spiritually fit to receive the Messiah (Mal 4:6). Families are ruined by the loss of parental authority. Authority is the framework within which the right relationships between parents and children are developed. The devil is busy spiritually robbing us of our children. It is because of our changed view of them that he succeeds. That is why first the hearts of the fathers have to be restored to their children. Then the hearts of the children will be restored to their fathers.

This reunion is the basis of blessing. If there is no breakthrough here, this means that the LORD will have to smite the land with a curse when He comes. The Lord Jesus will indeed have to smite the land with a curse at His coming. We see how children increasingly disobey their parents (2Tim 3:2). More and more children do not even know who their parents are. A normal, biblical family life is disappearing more and more from society.

But there will also be those who will come to repentance through the work of God's Spirit. They will listen to the call to repentance and be restored in their family relationships. The curse does not affect them. When the Lord Jesus comes, they go with Him into the realm of peace. There, under His blessed reign, they will enjoy all the blessings a family on earth can enjoy.

With these words about the service of Moses and Elijah, the prophetic testimony of the Old Testament ends. God no longer sends messengers to His people until He again speaks to them through John the baptist in the New Testament.

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Malachi 4:5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kng/malachi-4.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Sun of Righteousness and His Forerunner.

The prophet, having addressed the scoffers in words of warning, in conclusion describes the results of the Lord's appointing that day of which He had spoken.

v. 1. For, behold, the day cometh, the entire New Testament period being considered a day of sifting and of judgment, because it culminates in the Day of Judgment, that shall burn as an oven, one which holds the refiner's fire; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, under the fire of His wrath, Cf Mat_3:10-12; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, Cf Isa_5:24; Zep_1:18, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch, the final, eternal destruction of the wicked being coincidental with the last Judgment. Such is the terrible fate of those who do not avail themselves of the Lord's mercy.

v. 2. But unto you that fear My name, those who believe in Jehovah, the God of the covenant, and His redemption, shall the Sun of Righteousness, the Messiah, with the fullness of His salvation, arise with healing in His wings, in the rays of His mercy sent out through His Word; and ye shall go forth, with joyfully uplifted heads, and grow up as calves of the stall, nourished by the Word of Truth and Grace. Cf Joh_1:14.

v. 3. And ye shall tread down the wicked, whose final overthrow is consistently prophesied in Scripture; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet, powerless and worthless, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. All believers are happy in their faith, in the enjoyment of Jehovah's mercy; they enjoy true liberty and will finally celebrate an eternal victory over all their enemies. The prophet therefore, in concluding his message, adds an admonition:

v. 4. Remember ye the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded unto him In Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments, the Word which contained His solemn covenant.

v. 5. Behold, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, a prophet like him, namely, John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, Mat_11:10-14; Mat_17:10-13; Luk_1:17, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, Joe_2:31, namely, before the Lord Himself would begin His ministry, which ushered in the period of the New Testament, culminating in the Last Judgment;

v. 6. and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, in having them both realize the love of Jehovah in sending the Messiah and in the subsequent salvation wrought for all men, Luk_1:17, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse, namely, in the event that men will not heed the preaching of repentance unto the forgiveness of sins. The Jews as a nation rejected the Messiah and have come under the curse. But this did not result in the overthrow of the kingdom of God and Christ. The spiritual Israel, rather, has heeded, and is heeding, the Word of Grace and is enjoying the fullness of the blessings promised throughout the Old Testament and so gloriously fulfilled in the New Dispensation.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/malachi-4.html. 1921-23.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Malachi

‘STOUT WORDS,’ AND THEIR CONFUTATION

Malachi 3:13 - Malachi 3:18; Malachi 4:1 - Malachi 4:6.

This passage falls into three parts,-the ‘stout words’ against God which the Prophet sets himself to confute [Malachi 3:13 - Malachi 3:15]; the prophecy of the day which will show their falsehood [Malachi 3:16 - Malachi 4:3]; and the closing exhortation and prediction [Malachi 4:4 - Malachi 4:6].

I. The returning exiles had not had the prosperity which they had hoped.

So many of them, even of those who had served God, began to let doubts darken their trust, and to listen to the whispers of their own hearts, reinforced by the mutterings of others, and to ask: ‘What is the use of religion? Does it make any difference to a man’s condition?’ Here had they been keeping God’s charge, and going in black garments ‘before the Lord,’ in token of penitence, and no good had come to them, while arrogant neglect of His commandments did not seem to hinder happiness, and ‘they that work wickedness are built up.’ Sinful lives appeared to have a firm foundation, and to rise high and palace-like, while righteous ones were like huts. Goodness seemed to spell ruin.

What was wrong in these ‘stout words’? It was wrong to attach such worth to external acts of devotion, as if these were deserving of reward. It was wrong to suspend the duty of worship on the prosperity resulting from it, and to seek ‘profit’ from ‘keeping his charge.’ Such religion was shallow and selfish, and had the evils of the later Pharisaism in germ in it. It was wrong to yield to the doubts which the apparently unequal distribution of worldly prosperity stirred in their hearts. But the doubts themselves were almost certain to press on Old Testament believers, as well as on Old Testament scoffers, especially under the circumstances of Malachi’s time. The fuller light of Christianity has eased their pressure, but not removed it, and we have all had to face them, both when our own hearts have ached with sorrow and when pondering on the perplexities of this confused world. We look around, and, like the psalmist, see ‘the prosperity of the wicked,’ and, like him, have to confess that our ‘steps had wellnigh slipped’ at the sight. The old, old question is ever starting up. ‘Doth God know?’ The mystery of suffering and the mystery of its distribution, the apparent utter want of connection between righteousness and well-being, are still formidable difficulties in the way of believing in a loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God, and are stock arguments of the unbeliever and perplexities of humble faith. Never to have felt the force of the difficulty is not so much the sign of steadfast faith as of scant reflection. To yield to it, and still more, to let it drive us to cast religion aside, is not merely folly, but sin. So thinks Malachi.

II. To the stout words of the doubters is opposed the conversation of the godly.

Then they that feared the Lord spake one with another,’ nourishing their faith by believing speech with like-minded. The more the truths by which we believe are contradicted, the more should we commune with fellow-believers. Attempts to rob us should make us hold our treasure the faster. Bold avowal of the faith is especially called for when many potent voices deny it. And, whoever does not hear, God hears. Faithful words may seem lost, but they and every faithful act are written in His remembrance and will be recompensed one day. If our names and acts are written there, we may well be content to accept scanty measures of earthly good, and not be ‘envious of the foolish’ in their prosperity.

Malachi’s answer to the doubters leaves all other considerations which might remove the difficulty unmentioned, and fixes on the one, the prophecy of a future which will show that it is not all the same whether a man is good or bad. It was said of an English statesman that he called a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old, and that is what the Prophet does. Christianity has taught us many other ways of meeting the doubters’ difficulty, but the sheet anchor of faith in that storm is the unconquerable assurance that a day comes when the righteousness of providence will be vindicated, and the eternal difference between good and evil manifested in the fates of men. The Prophet is declaring what will be a fact one day, but he does not know when. Probably he never asked himself whether ‘the day of the Lord’ was near or far off, to dawn on earth or to lie beyond mortal life. But this he knew-that God was righteous, and that sometime and somewhere character would settle destiny, and even outwardly it would be good to be good. He first declares this conviction in general terms, and then passes on to a magnificent and terrible picture of that great day.

The promise, which lay at the foundation of Israel’s national existence, included the recognition of it as ‘a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people,’ and Malachi looks forward to that day as the epoch when God will show by His acts how precious the righteous are in His sight. Not the whole Israel, but the righteous among them, are the heirs of the old promise. It is an anticipation of the teaching that ‘they are not all Israel which are of Israel,’ And it bids us look for the fulfilment of every promise of God’s to that great day of the Lord which lies still before us all, when the gulf between the righteous and the wicked shall be solemnly visible, wide, and profound. There have been many ‘days which I make’ in the world’s history, and in a measure each of them has re-established the apparently tottering truth that there is a God who judgeth in the earth, but the day of days is yet to come.

No grander vision of judgment exists than Malachi’s picture of ‘the day,’ lurid, on the one hand, with the fierce flame, before which the wicked are as stubble that crackles for a moment and then is grey ashes, or as a tree in a forest fire, which stands for a little while, a pillar of flame, and then falls with a crash, shaking the woods; and on the otherhand, radiant with the early beams of healing sunshine, in whose sweet morning light the cattle, let out from their pent-up stalls, gambol in glee. But let us not forget while we admire the noble poetry of its form that this is God’s oracle, nor that we have each to settle for ourselves whether that day shall be for us a furnace to destroy or a sun to cheer and enlighten.

We can only note in a sentence the recurrence in Malachi 4:1 of the phrases ‘the proud’ and they ‘that work wickedness,’ from Malachi 3:15 The end of those whom the world called happy, and who seemed stable and elevated, is to be as stubble before the fire. We must also point out that ‘the sun of righteousness’ means the sun which is righteousness, and is not a designation of the Messiah. Nor can we dwell on the picture of the righteous treading down the wicked, which seems to prolong the previous metaphor of the leaping young cattle. Then shall ‘the upright have dominion over them in the morning.’

III. The final exhortation and promise point backwards and forwards, summing up duty in obedience to the law, and fixing hope on a future reappearance of the leader of the prophets.

Moses and Elijah are the two giant figures which dominate the history of Israel. Law and prophecy are the two forms in which God spoke to the fathers. The former is of perpetual obligation, the latter will flash up again in power on the threshold of the day. Jesus has interpreted this closing word for us. John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah,’ and the purpose of his coming was to ‘turn the hearts of the fathers to the children’ [Luke 1:16 - Luke 1:17]; that is, to bring back the devout dispositions of the patriarchs to the existing generations, and so to bring the ‘hearts of the children to their fathers,’ as united with them in devout obedience. If John’s mission had succeeded, the ‘curse’ which smote Israel would have been stayed. God has done all that He can do to keep us from being consumed by the fire of that day. The Incarnation, Life, and Death of Jesus Christ made a day of the Lord which has the twofold character of that in Malachi’s vision, for He is a ‘saviour of life unto life’ or ‘of death unto death,’ and must be one or other to us. But another day of the Lord is still to come, and for each of us it will come burning as a furnace or bright as sunrise. Then the universe shall ‘discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.’

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Bibliographical Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/malachi-4.html.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Evangelical Predictions. B. C. 400.

4Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 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.

This is doubtless intended for a solemn conclusion, not only of this prophecy, but of the canon of the Old Testament, and is a plain information that they were not to expect any more sayings nor writing by divine inspiration, any more of the dictates of the Spirit of prophecy, till the beginning of the gospel of the Messiah, which sets aside the Apocrypha as no part of holy writ, and which therefore the Jews never received.

Now that prophecy ceases, and is about to be sealed up, there are two things required of the people of God, that lived then:--

I. They must keep up an obedient veneration for the law of Moses (Malachi 4:4): Remember the law of Moses my servant, and observe to do according to it, even that law which I commanded unto him in Horeb, that fiery law which was intended for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments, not only the law of the ten commandments, but all the other appointments, ceremonial and judicial, then and there given. Observe here, 1. The honourable mention that is made of Moses, the first writer of the Old Testament, in Malachi, the last writer. God by him calls him Moses my servant for the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance. See how the penmen of scripture, though they lived in several ages at a great distance from each other (it was above 1200 years from Moses to Malachi), all concurred in the same thing, and supported one another, being all actuated and guided by one and the same Spirit. 2. The honourable mention that is made of the law of Moses it was what God himself commanded he owns it for his law, and he commanded it for all Israel, as the municipal law of their kingdom. Thus will God magnify his law and make it honourable. Note, We are concerned to keep the law because God has commanded it and commanded it for us, for we are the spiritual Israel and, if we expect the benefit of the covenant with Israel (Hebrews 8:10), we must observe the commands given to Israel, those of them that were intended to be of perpetual obligation. 3. The summary of our duty, with reference to the law. We must remember it. Forgetfulness of the law is at the bottom of all our transgressions of it if we would rightly remember it, we could not but conform to it. We should remember it when we have occasion to use it, remember both the commands themselves and the sanctions wherewith they are enforced. The office of conscience is to bid us remember the law. But how does this charge to remember the law of Moses come in here? (1.) This prophet had reproved them for many gross corruptions and irregularities both in worship and conversation, and now, for the reforming and amending of what was amiss, he only charges them to remember the law of Moses: "Keep to that rule, and you will do all you should do." He will lay upon them no other burden than what they have received hold that fast, Revelation 2:24,25. Note, Corrupt churches are to be reformed by the written word, and reduced into order by being reduced to the standard of the law and the testimony, see 1 Corinthians 11:23. (2.) The church had long enjoyed the benefit of prophets, extraordinary messengers from God, and now they had a whole book of their prophecies put together, and it was a finished piece but they must not think that hereby the law of Moses was superseded, and had become as an almanac out of date, as if now they were advanced to a higher form and might forget that. No the prophets do but confirm and apply the law, and press the observance of that and therefore still Remember the law. Note, Even when we have made considerable advances in knowledge we must still retain the first principles of practical religion and resolve to abide by them. Those that study the writings of the prophets, and the apocalypse, must still remember the law of Moses and the four gospels. (3.) Prophecy was now to cease in the church for some ages, and the Spirit of prophecy not to return till the beginning of the gospel, and now they are told to remember the law of Moses let them live by the rules of that, and live upon the promises of that. Note, We need not complain for want of visions and revelations as long as we have the written word, and the canon of scripture complete, to be our guide for that is the most sure word of prophecy, and the touchstone by which we are to try the spirits. Though we have not prophets, yet, as long as we have Bibles, we may keep our communion with God, and keep ourselves in his way. (4.) They were to expect the coming of the Messiah, the preaching of his gospel, and the setting up of his kingdom, and in that expectation they must remember the law of Moses, and live in obedience to that, and then they might expect the comforts that the Messiah would bring to the willing and obedient. Let them observe the law of Moses, and live up to the light which that gave them, and then they might expect the benefit of the gospel of Christ, for to him that has, and uses what he has well, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance.

II. They must keep up a believing expectation of the gospel of Christ, and must look for the beginning of it in the appearing of Elijah the prophet (Malachi 4:5,6): "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet. Though the Spirit of prophecy cease for a time, and you will have only the law to consult, yet it shall revive again in one that shall be sent in the spirit and power of Elias," Luke 1:17. The law and the prophets were until John (Luke 16:16) they continued to be the only lights of the church till that morning-star appeared. Note, As God never left himself without witness in the world, so neither in the church, but, as there was occasion, carried the light of divine revelation further and further to the perfect day. They had now Moses and the prophets, and might hear them but God will go further: he will send them Elijah. Observe,

1. Who this prophet is that shall be sent it is Elijah. The Jewish doctors will have it to be the same Elijah that prophesied in Israel in the days of Ahab--that he shall come again to be the forerunner of the Messiah yet others of them say not the same person, but another of the same spirit. It should seem, those different sentiments they had when they asked John, "Art thou Elias, or that prophet that should bear his name?" John 1:19-21. But we Christians know very well that John Baptist was the Elias that was to come, Matthew 17:10-13 and very expressly, Matthew 11:14, This is Elias that was to come and Malachi 4:10, the same of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger, Malachi 3:1. Elijah was a man of great austerity and mortification, zealous for God, bold in reproving sin, and active to reduce an apostate people to God and their duty John Baptist was animated by the same spirit and power, and preached repentance and reformation, as Elias had done and all held him for a prophet, as they did Elijah in his day, and that his baptism was from heaven, and not of men. Note, When God has such work to do as was formerly to be done he can raise up such men to do it as he formerly raised up, and can put into a John Baptist the spirit of an Elias.

2. When he shall be sent--before the appearing of the Messiah, which, because it was the judgment of this world, and introduced the ruin of the Jewish church and nation, is here called the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John Baptist gave them fair warning of this when he told them of the wrath to come (that wrath to the uttermost which was hastening upon them) and put them into a way of escape from it, and when he told them of the fan in Christ's hand, with which Christ would thoroughly purge his floor see Matthew 3:7,10,12. That day of Christ, when he came first, was as that day will be when he comes again--though a great and joyful day to those that embrace him, yet a great and dreadful day to those that oppose him. John Baptist was sent before the coming of this day, to give people notice of it, that they might get ready for it, and go forth to meet it.

3. On what errand he shall be sent: He shall turn the heart of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers that is, "he shall be employed in this work he shall attempt it his doctrine and baptism shall have a direct tendency to it, and with many shall be successful: he shall be an instrument in God's hand of turning many to righteousness, to the Lord their God, and so making ready a people prepared for him," Luke 1:16,17. Note, The turning of souls to God and their duty is the best preparation of them for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It is promised concerning John, (1.) That he shall give a turn to things, shall make a bold stand against the strong torrent of sin and impiety which he found in full force among the children of his people, and beating down all before it. This is called his coming to restore all things (Matthew 17:11), to set them to rights, that they may again go in the right channel. (2.) That he shall preach a doctrine that shall reach men's hearts, and have an influence upon them, and work a change in them. God's word, in his mouth, shall be quick and powerful, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Many had their consciences awakened by his ministry who yet were not thoroughly wrought upon, such a spirit and power was there in it. (3.) That he shall turn the hearts of the fathers with the children, and of the children with the fathers (for so some read it), to God and to their duty. He shall call upon young and old to repent, and shall not labour in vain, for many of the fathers that are going off, and many of the children that are growing up, shall be wrought upon by his ministry. (4.) That thus he shall be an instrument to revive and confirm love and unity among relations, and shall bring them closer and bind them faster to each other, by bringing and binding them all to their God. He shall prepare the way for that kingdom of heaven which will make all its faithful subjects of one heart and one soul (Acts 4:32), which will be a kingdom of love, and will slay all enmities.

4. With what view he shall be sent on this errand: Lest I come and smite the earth, that is, the land of Israel, the body of the Jewish nation (that were of the earth earthy), with a curse. They by their impiety and impenitence in it had laid themselves open to the curse of God, which is a separation to all evil. God was ready to smite them with that curse, to bring utter ruin upon them, to strike home, to strike dead, with the curse but he will yet once more try them, whether they will repent and return, and so prevent it and therefore he sends John Baptist to preach repentance to them, that their conversion might prevent their confusion so unwilling is God that any should perish, so willing to have his anger turned away. Had they universally repented and reformed, their repentance would have had this desired effect but, they generally rejecting the counsel of God in John's baptism, it proved against themselves (Luke 7:30) and their land was smitten with the curse which both it and they lie under to this day. Note, Those must expect to be smitten with a sword, with a curse, who turn not to him that smites them with a rod, with a cross, Isaiah 9:13. Now the axe is laid to the root of the tree, says John Baptist, and it is ready to be smitten, to be cut down, with a curse therefore bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Some observe that the last word of the Old Testament is a curse, which threatens the earth (Zechariah 5:3), our desert of which we must be made sensible of, that we may bid Christ welcome, who comes with a blessing and it is with a blessing, with the choicest of blessings, that the New Testament ends, and with it let us arm ourselves, or rather let God arm us, against this curse. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/malachi-4.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Here is a solemn conclusion, not only of this prophecy, but of the Old Testament. Conscience bids us remember the law. Though we have not prophets, yet, as long as we have Bibles, we may keep up our communion with God. Let others boast in their proud reasoning, and call it enlightening, but let us keep near to that sacred word, through which this Sun of Righteousness shines upon the souls of his people. They must keep up a believing expectation of the gospel of Christ, and must look for the beginning of it. John the Baptist preached repentance and reformation, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God and their duty, is the best preparation of them for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John shall preach a doctrine that shall reach men's hearts, and work a change in them. Thus he shall prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven. The Jewish nation, by wickedness, laid themselves open to the curse. God was ready to bring ruin upon them; but he will once more try whether they will repent and return; therefore he sent John the Baptist to preach repentance to them. Let the believer wait with patience for his release, and cheerfully expect the great day, when Christ shall come the second time to complete our salvation. But those must expect to be smitten with a sword, with a curse, who turn not to Him that smites them with a rod. None can expect to escape the curse of God's broken law, nor to enjoy the happiness of his chosen and redeemed people, unless their hearts are turned from sin and the world, to Christ and holiness. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/malachi-4.html. 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I will send; though the spirit of propheey cease for four hundred years, yet at the expiring of those years you shall have one sent, as great as Elijah, and therefore he is now called Elijah, that shall prepare Messiah’s way.

Elijah; not the same in person who reproved idolatrous Israel, who destroyed Baal, though both Jews and many Christians would gladly have it so, in favour of some errors they have adopted and would maintain. But this person here called Elijah was John Baptist, as is clear from Matthew 17:12 13,

Elias is come, and they have done to him whatsoever they listed. Then the disciples understood that he spake of John the Baptist. And he was that Elias, if they would receive him, Matthew 11:14. Elias, was to come when Malachi lived; Elias was come, and the Jews had ill treated him, and Herod had beheaded him, when Christ here lived; this Elijah then was John the Baptist, who came

in the spirit and power of Elias, Luke 1:17, and therefore bears his name in this prophecy.

The prophet; who foretold Christ the true Messiah’s sudden manifestation, who indeed was already among them, but had not yet diseovered himself; on whom he persuades the Jews to believe, and receive his person and his law, Luke 1:15-17 Mark 1:7,8; who was greater than a prophet, Matthew 11:9; nor doth John’s denying himself to be a prophet, John 1:21, in their sense contradict this.

Before; that is, immediately before; so he was born six months before Christ, and began his preaching but few years before Christ began to exercise his public office.

Great: this day was great indeed, yet it is not the day of the last and great judgment, though the Jews perversely affirm it to evade the acknowledgment of Messiah’s being already come. But this day of Messiah was great for the alterations he was to make in worship and church affairs, taking down the Mosaic ceremonies and enlarging the church; great for the miracles he wrought, and empowered others to do; great for the reconciliation between God and man, for the conquering of Satan, and casting him out of his throne. It was great too against the Jews his obstinate enemies.

Dreadful: it was a time of vengeance executed upon a people whose sins were full ripe; and such sufferings fell on the Jews at that time, as may very well be an emblem of the day of judgment, and which may be remotely meant hereby. But the first, the literal and plain, meaning of the words refer to the times of vengeance upon the Jews from either the birth, or first preaching, or death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and irrecoverable overthrow of their government, of which Christ speaks at large, Mt 24 Mr 13; which places point out first the sad and dismal miseries of the Jews, and next, by accommodation, the end of the world and last judgment. Such a description of this day, Joel 2:31, by St. Peter interpreted and applied to this day of Christ, Acts 2:20, more fully clears this. The Lord; Jesus Christ, preaching to the Jews, calling them to repentance, reproving their sins, encouraging their compliance, threatening their impenitence, and labouting to gather the children of Jerusalem together under his wings, but they would not, Matthew 23:34-39; and therefore at last destroying by the Romans these obstinate and incorrigible sinners.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/malachi-4.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

The Final Exhortation (Malachi 4:4-6).

YHWH finalises Malachi’s prophecy by pointing to ‘the Law and the prophets. Firstly He turns their thoughts to His Instruction given through Moses, and then to the powerful preaching of the prophets as epitomised by Elijah, as they bring home to men the words of Moses. Let them listen and take heed lest a curse come upon them.

Malachi 4:4

‘Remember you the law of Moses my servant,

Which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel,

Even the statutes and ordinances.

YHWH makes His final plea to them They have no excuse for they have His word. ‘Remember you the Instruction of Moses My servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb (Sinai) for all Israel.’ This is what they must now do. They must deliberately and genuinely call to mind the words of Moses, the true servant of God. Jesus gave the same reminder to the people of His day. ‘If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). So they are to diligently study God’s word and obey it.

The same command was given to Joshua as he stood on the edge of the promised land. ‘Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the Instruction which Moses My servant commanded you, turn not from it to the tight hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:7).

So the call comes to them to study and live in accordance with God’s word brought to them by Moses, not as a list of regulations, but as a loving response to their covenant God. Let them delight to do His will. Then they will be ready for that Day.

‘Even the statutes and ordinances.’ The Torah included direct commands, statutes (‘you shall not’) and case law, ordinances (‘if this -- then that --’). All aspects are to be observed for they are ‘commanded’ by the Commander-in Chief Himself.

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,

Before the great and terrible day of YHWH come.

And he will 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.

YHWH finishes with a message of hope. He will not just leave it like that. Before that great and terrible Day of YHWH comes, He will send to them Elijah the prophet, and he will prepare many for that Day. He will bring home to them the Instruction of Moses. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. He will cause right relationships and responses to grow. He will cause fathers to love their children and guide them aright, and children to lovingly obey their fathers. And He will remove antagonisms from between generations. He will bring peace and harmony. He will cause them all to love one another. And this will be necessary so as to avoid a curse upon the land. The assumption is thus that this preaching will be needed. The world will not grow slowly more righteous. Left to itself it would end up being cursed. But God is saying that in His graciousness, He will intervene to prevent the worst happening.

Elijah was the prophet who arrived suddenly on the scene from nowhere (1 Kings 17:1) and who departed equally suddenly to no one knew where (2 Kings 2:11-12). This was what made the Jews think that he would come back again in person. But Jesus Christ Himself made clear that Elijah had come in the person of John the Baptist (although John quite rightly denied actually being Elijah himself). For Jesus emphasised that ‘this is the Elijah who was to come’ (Matthew 11:14). These very words in Malachi 4:6 were cited by the angel who announced John’s birth, about his future ministry. ‘He will go before His face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’ (Luke 1:17).

Of course Elijah did also come in person, for he appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration when the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed (Mark 9:2-8; 2 Peter 1:16), but it was immediately after this that Jesus again confirmed that John the Baptist was the coming Elijah. ‘I say to you Elijah is come, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted’ (Mark 9:13).

‘The great and terrible Day of YHWH’. As we have already seen ‘in the Day that I do make’ has referred to both blessing on the righteous in Malachi 3:17, and to judgment on the wicked in Malachi 4:3. For the former it is a great Day, when they become God’s own treasured possession, for the latter a terrible Day when they become ashes beneath men’s feet.

And we know now that Elijah has come, and ‘the great and terrible Day of YHWH’ followed, for it began with the crucifixion (Luke 23:28-31), was stated to have come at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21) continued on in the destruction of Jerusalem and the great tribulation that followed for the Jews (Matthew 24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24), and would manifest itself through the ages in wars, pestilences, earthquakes and tribulation (Matthew 24:4-14), before the end finally arrives with the coming of Jesus Christ in His glory. It is depicted throughout the Book of Revelation in which the present era unfolds (Revelation 1:10). And it will come to its culmination with war on earth (Joel 3:9-14; Revelation 20:8-9) and victory in Heaven (Revelation 19:11-16). And during all this time God will be drawing His elect to Himself. And the sign of those who are His will be the amazing unity and loved depicted among them (John 13:35) because their hearts have been turned towards each other. That is why the disciples spoke of the days in which they lived as ‘the last days’, ‘the end of the ages’, and the equivalent (Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 Peter 4:7). And those ‘last days’ will continue until His coming. It was this intervention of John the Baptist, (‘My messenger’ - Malachi 3:1 a) and supremely our Lord Jesus Christ (‘the Lord and Messenger of the covenant’ - Malachi 3:1 b) that has saved the world from God’s curse.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/malachi-4.html. 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Conclusion.—The book closes with an exhortation to observe the Torah or instruction given through Moses; the mention of Horeb, a Deuteronomic trait (P prefers Sinai) perhaps indicates that Malachi has especially in mind the moral and spiritual teachings of Dt. These, if faithfully observed, would heal the strife spoken of in Malachi 4:6, and avert the impending doom. Before the judgment falls, another way of escape is promised: Elijah will reappear (with Malachi 4:5 cf. Joel 2:31), to set right the social and family discord which is wrecking the community (cf. Micah 7:1-6). The frequent references to Elijah in the Gospels (e.g. Mark 9:11 f; Mark 15:35, Luke 1:17, Matthew 11:14, John 1:21; John 1:25) show how largely the prophet bulked in late Jewish thought. See also Ecclus. 481-11, Justin Martyr, Trypho, §§ 8, 49, and Schürer, § 29. In Malachi 4:6 mg., "with" necessitates our supplying "to God" in the text; mg., "land" is better than "the earth"—Malachi is speaking of Israel. It is possible that these three concluding verses are an appendix to the whole "Book of the Twelve."

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/malachi-4.html. 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.] The ungodly admonished for the day] of judgment. Results to the wicked awful. Burn] as an oven] or furnace (cf. Mat ). "A fire burns more fiercely in a furnace than in the open air" [Hengs.]. The proud] called happy (ch. Mal 3:15), and all the wicked] like stubble] fit for fire: destroyed "root and branch," i.e. utterly. 2]. To the righteous, the day an advent of justice and salvation. Sun] The Messiah set forth as most glorious and beneficent. What the sun is to the natural, he is to the moral world; the source of light, life, and beauty. Wings] i.e. beams, "on account of the velocity and expansion with which they spread over the earth" (cf. Psa 139:9) [Henderson]. Go forth] as from the prison of darkness and misery. Grow up] Lit. leap in joy and freedom, like calves let loose from the stall. "The simile is designed to convey the ideas of freedom from outward restraint and the enjoyment of self-conscious liberty" [Henderson].

Mal . Tread] The wicked, who were said to prosper, will be overcome: destroyed by the fire of judgment, they will lie like ashes on the ground. The condition of the godly reversed then.

HOMILETICS

THE APPROACH OF THE JUDGMENT DAY.—Mal

The prophet confirms the preceding truth, awakens sinners in their slumber, and encourages saints in their faith by the prospect of a day of judgment: to punish some, reward others, and vindicate the ways of God.

I. A day of retribution to the wicked. To the ungodly "the day cometh that shall burn as an oven." Those who are called blessed will then be cursed, and like stubble consumed by the fire.

1. Utter destruction. "It shall leave them neither root nor branch." "There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again;" but if torn up by the roots there is no hope, no chance of life. So there will be no escape nor mitigation of punishment.

2. Universal destruction. "All the proud" and "all that do wickedly" will be unable to resist when God reveals his justice. That day will test every man's character and condition. "Wood and hay will be consumed, gold and silver will abide and be purified. "Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it (lay it open) because it shall be revealed by fire (judgment); and the fire shall try (prove) every man's work of what sort it is" (1Co ).

II. A day of salvation to the godly. The day will be as an oven to the wicked, but a source of joy, a sun to the righteous. "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise." The sceptical complained that judgment did not fall upon the ungodly, and that justice was not given to the godly. But health, light, and everlasting salvation are promised.

1. The light of life. Darkness and disease shall be scattered away; warmth and gladness shall shine in Divine effulgence "Thy sun shall no more go down, for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light."

2. The joy of freedom. "Ye shall go forth" from darkness and captivity; become free and active, frisky and playful "as calves of the stall." This freshness of first love is only a foretaste of "the joy unspeakable, and full of glory."

3. The conquest of foes. Not mere freedom from oppression, but complete triumph over enemies. The wicked often prosper and trample upon the godly; but a reversal shall come to both classes. "He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

III. A day of warning to all. "For, behold, the day cometh," and lest any, even sinners, should be surprised, the trumpet-blast warns every one.

1. By teachers commissioned from God. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet." Ministers and messengers announce the coming King, are sent to prepare the way, and call upon proud scoffers and wicked priests to heed the word.

2. By the written word of God. Prophecy and preaching may be temporary and uncertain, but the law of God is never suspended. The Scriptures warn and invite, encourage and threaten. If men forget the living voice, they must remember the written law.

3. By the corrective providences of God. Compassionate judgments come before the final judgment—providences which correct and do not destroy. God seeks to separate and purify men now, before the final separation and settlement, "to bring the disobedient to the wisdom of the just." Heed the warning now, lest you be smitten "with a curse" hereafter.

THE SUN OF RIGHTROUSNESS.—Mal

There can be no doubt with respect to the application. Our Lord is elsewhere called Light, which in Hebrew poetry is used of the sun, as the source of light. What the sun is to the natural world, that the Messiah is to the moral. The invaluable spiritual blessings which he dispenses are all comprehended under the two heads here specified—righteousness and moral health (cf. Isa ). Both of these are indispensably requisite to the happiness of our guilty and depraved race, and from no other quarter can they be obtained than from him "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" [Henderson]. In this image we have many truths suggested.

1. Christ is the source of light. Whatever be the radiance of other lights, they borrow from him. The moon in her beauty and the stars in their brilliance only shed reflected lustre upon the world. Amid ignorance, error, and sin, he is the light of truth, holiness, and God, in person, doctrine, and work. "I am the light of the world."

II. Christ is the source of life. "With healing in his wings." Sin brought death into the world. Christ quickens the dead in trespasses and sins. As the sun in spring rouses dormant energies of nature, and clothes trees and fields with beauty, so Christ is the essential principle and primal source of spiritual life. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."

III. Christ is the source of beauty. To the sun we owe the bright colours which delight our eyes, and the golden beams which gladden our hearts. He tints the sky, paints the flowers, and adorns all nature. Beauty "is the fringe of the garment of God." Christ blesses the soul and beautifies the life with purity and praise. His grace removes moral deformity, and prepares for eternal perfection.

IV. Christ is the source of joy. When the sun bursts through the clouds, and pours floods of light over the earth, the birds begin to sing, and children shout for joy. It smiles upon the cottage of the poor, cheers and brings new life to the fainting heart. Joy in Christ may be overcast, but will break out again with greater sweetness and splendour. "And as the morning light he shall arise—a sun" (2Sa ).

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Mal . The oven, the fuel, the intensity of the heat. The throne (of the Ancient of days) was a fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him.

Mal . Sun of righteousness.

1. As asserting and vindicating the righteousness of God, called in question by blasphemers.

2. As bestowing upon his people a double righteousness (imputed and imparted), as the sun doth light (Joh ). It is further said that he shall arise, that is, he shall appear and show himself on earth, who now lieth hid, as it were, in heaven, as the material sun doth under the horizon.

1. He was manifest in the flesh, out of the bosom of the Father, out of the types of the law.

2. In the whole course of his life he enlightened and warmed the dark and dry hearts of men, and filled them with fruits of righteousness (Joh ).

3. He is still in continual motion for the good of the Church, as the sun in heaven for the good of the world. Under a cloud in his passion, he broke forth again in his resurrection. From heaven he daily darts forth his beams of righteousness, and showers down all spiritual blessings in heavenly privileges (Eph ). Lastly, at the great day he will show himself in a special manner a "Sun of righteousness;" clearing all obscurities, bringing to light the hidden things of darkness, causing his people's most holy faith, that now lies hid in great part, to be found to praise, honour, and glory, cheering up their spirits after manifold tribulations, and healing all their spiritual maladies [Trapp].

Healing in his wings.

1. Moral sickness of men.

2. Christ the great Physician.

3. Faith the method of cure. Trust, rest under his wings, for shelter and salvation.

Go forth and grow up as calves. The figure sets forth—

1. Slavery.

2. Freedom.

3. Activity.

4. Growth.

5. Joy. "Grow up; more probably bound, as the animal which has been confined exults in its regained freedom, itself full of life and exuberance of delight" [Pusey]. They were before in darkness and disease, both of which confine. But the Sun of righteousness arises, health is restored, they become free and active. They go forth and grow up as calves of the stall. No creatures, perhaps, increase so rapidly and observedly as these, when, as here, they are well attended and fed, for the very purpose of fattening [Jay].

Mal . The great reversal. The wicked overcome, trampled upon as ashes. Victory visible and complete to the saints (Mic 4:12-13; Joe 3:14; Rom 16:20).

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 4

Mal . Proud. Heaven often regulates effects by their causes, and pays the wicked what they have deserved [Corneille].

Mal . Sun. The self-same sun that shines upon his court hides not his visage from our cottage, but looks on both alike [Shakespeare].

"O sun! of this great world both eye and soul" [Milton].

Mal . Law. Prize the word of God by the worth of it, that you may not come to prize it by the want of it [Dyer]. There never was found, in any age of the world, either religion or law that did so highly exalt the public good as the Bible [Bacon]. Remember. Memory, like books which remain a long time shut up in the dust, needs to be opened from time to time; it is necessary, so to speak, to open its leaves, that it may be ready in time of need [Seneca].

Mal . Elijah. Since the days that John began to preach, since he began to call the world to repentance, there has been a rush into the kingdom of God. Men, roused from their spiritual slumbers, startled by a sense of their own sin and ruin, have earnestly applied for pardon and salvation. The echo of the words he proclaimed on the Jordan still lingers and rings in the souls of men, and the result is a pressing every day into the empire of redemptive truth [Dr. Thomas].

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/malachi-4.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.

Mal .] Exhortation to avert coming judgment. Since no further communications were to be given, they were to remember those they already possessed. The law] A solemn admonition to Israel and to us, not to disregard God's word with its statutes] and judgments], its morals and religion.

Mal .] To avert the curse from Israel the prophet] would be sent to reform the nation—a prophet in the power and spirit of Elijah. This applied to the Baptist (Mat 11:14; Mat 17:12-13. Dreadful day] (cf. Joe 2:31), the destruction of Jerusalem, but applicable to the last day; for "all God's judgments are hours, marked on the dial plate, and struck by the alarm of that great day" [Words.].

Mal . Turn] Family harmony restored, say some; better, a reconciliation of ungodly, estranged from the piety of their ancestors and pious forefathers, by repentance. John's ministry removed family feuds, prepared multitudes for the Messiah, and thus laid the foundation for the recovery of thousands to the faith of the Gospel (cf. Luk 1:16-17; Act 21:20). A curse] Lit. a ban, one of the most awful words the Jews could use; fell upon Judea, by which it is devoted to destruction and excluded from common use—a desolation remaining to this day. This word, which closes the prophecy, and with it the Old Testament, should ever ring in our ears, and remind us of the more awful curse of the ungodly (1Co 14:22; Rev 20:15).

HOMILETICS

REMEMBERING THE LAW.—Mal

The prophet closes with special directions to the people. Since no other messenger was to follow him, till Jesus and his forerunner should come, they must consult and remember the written word. Malachi thus closes by showing what must be done to escape the curse and secure the salvation of God at the judgment day. A needed lesson for us.

I. Remember the end of the law. To be the standard of faith and practice; to guide our feet in paths of righteousness; to help in times of darkness and perplexity; and never to supersede, but ever confirm, the teaching of the ministry. The law foreshadows the gospel. Malachi, the last of the prophets, exhorts us to remember Moses, and preaches Christ, in whom the law and the prophets are fulfilled. Thus in every age we learn the importance and the necessity of a careful study of the written word.

II. Remember the auth rity of the law. "Which I commanded him." The law of Moses is the word of God, given in thunder and smoke, by the ministry of angels and the finger of God. Nature teaches that if we believe in the existence we should submit to the authority of God. Hence Numa, Lycurgus, and Mahomet derived their laws from heaven to secure obedience on earth. The Bible takes the place of "open vision," and is the representative of God in the world. To neglect it is to despise and to disobey it, to reject the authority of God. "Obey my voice, and do all which I command you."

III. Remember the reward of obedience to the law. Duty is performed not by respect to some enactment, nor by general consent, but sincere obedience to the whole law, "with the statutes and judgments." Forgetfulness is the source of every evil. Faithful remembrance will lead to Christ, and prepare for judgment. "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

ELIJAH'S MINISTRY A TYPE OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.—Mal

Christ is not easily recognized in his coming among men. Hence, lest they should mistake, warnings are given, and messengers are sent to prepare the way. Elijah's ministry is again realized in the person of the Baptist. Like the prophet, John was to be endowed with extraordinary gifts to fit him for his work. His ministry is commended for the aim and the efficacy of it, and may be taken as a type of the Christian ministry.

I. A ministry Divinely commissioned. "I will send you Elijah." It was presumption to intrude into the priestly office of old, and to take unwarranted commission is to usurp authority in the Church. Christ himself was not self-commissioned. How then shall his servants "preach except they be sent"? An ambassador must have express authority and instructions from his sovereign. "He who is called to instruct souls is called of God, and not by his own ambition," says Bernard. John appeared by command, in the name of a royal personage, and made a royal proclamation. What John's preaching was all preaching should be—the voice, the vocation of God to men. To the uncalled awful failure may-result. "I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord" (Jer ).

II. A ministry moral in its design. John was a reformer. Political theories and metaphysical disputes were not for him to settle. "Repent," was the cry which resounded in the wilderness, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

1. It prepared for Christ. "I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." The true minister by his life and preaching will "make ready a prepared people for the Lord."

2. It saved from curse. Elijah was to come to prepare God's people, lest at his coming he "smite the earth with a curse." The destruction of Jerusalem, the curse of Juda, and the sufferings of the Jews remind us of the Canaanites in the past, and of the impenitent in the future. But the minister of God will warn every man, and urge every man to flee for refuge to the hope set before him in the gospel.

III. A ministry blessed in its results. "He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children," &c. Alienated from God, men are alienated from one another. The Jews had fallen away from the faith of their ancestors, and were at strife with the Gentiles. But John, in the spirit and power of Elias, brought back the faithless generations of his day to the God of their fathers, and "restored (regulated, reformed) all things" (Mat ). Families are now disturbed by worldliness, hatred, and apostasy. Ungodly sons are at variance with godly parents. Society is estranged from God. Love, the bond of union, is broken. Ministers have to fill up the chasm, unite all classes, and bring men back to God. Their work is a reformation, a restitution to original peace and purity, "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to (by) the wisdom of the just" (or righteous) (Luk 1:17). Thus men will be restored to mutual affection, benevolence will accompany true religion, and morally a new heaven and earth will be created by the gospel. Hearts and lives will be prepared for the coming, and people will enroll themselves as willing subjects of the heavenly kingdom. "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Mal .

1. Men never left without a rule of life. If not the living voice, they have the written law, a law "for all Israel."

2. Men apt to forget this rule of life. "Remember the law of Moses." "Even when we have made considerable advances in knowledge, we must still retain the first principles of practical religion, and resolve to abide by them. Those that study the writings of the prophets and the Apocalypse must still remember the law of Moses and the four Gospels."

"Men are men; the best sometimes forget" [Shakespeare].

Mal . John's resemblance to Elijah.

1. In the endowments of his mind.

2. In the habits of his life.

3. In the exercise of his ministry. There were many points between Elijah and John. Both prophesied in a time of great unbelief and apostasy from the law; both sought to bring back the people to the piety of their fathers; both prophesied before great and terrible judgments. The historical circumstances in which they lived were remarkably parallel. Ahab appears in Herod, Jezebel in Herodias. The words of Mar, where he speaks of Herod fearing John, and did many things, may apply without any alteration to Ahab. Their very appearance, the fashion of their dress, and their mode of life were identical [Lange]. Both fell on evil times; both witnessed fearlessly for God; neither was much seen save in the direct exercise of their ministry; both were at the head of schools of disciples; the result of the ministry of both might be expressed in the same terms: "many (not all, nor even the majority, but still many) of the children of Israel did they turn to the Lord their God [D. Brown].

Mal . The words indicate the work of the Christian minister. A reconciler turning men's hearts towards God and one another. A herald to announce the approach of Christ. A pioneer to prepare the way. He has to awaken right feeling, warn of coming judgment, and point to Christ as the only hope of escape. "Flee from the wrath to come."

The closing of the Old Testament in Malachi is unspeakably solemn. On its last leaf we find the blessing and the curse, life and death, set before us. As its first page tells us of the sin and curse of our first parents, so its last speaks of the law given by Moses, of sin, and the curse following, mingled with promises of the grace which was to come by Jesus Christ. So on the last page of the New Testament we read of "plagues written in this book," but its last words are gracious words: "Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" [Lange].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 4

Mal . Law. Prize the word of God by the worth of it, that you may not come to prize it by the want of it [Dyer]. There never was found, in any age of the world, either religion or law that did so highly exalt the public good as the Bible [Bacon]. Remember. Memory, like books which remain a long time shut up in the dust, needs to be opened from time to time; it is necessary, so to speak, to open its leaves, that it may be ready in time of need [Seneca].

Mal . Elijah. Since the days that John began to preach, since he began to call the world to repentance, there has been a rush into the kingdom of God. Men, roused from their spiritual slumbers, startled by a sense of their own sin and ruin, have earnestly applied for pardon and salvation. The echo of the words he proclaimed on the Jordan still lingers and rings in the souls of men, and the result is a pressing every day into the empire of redemptive truth [Dr. Thomas].

Mal . Curse. Parting words are always solemn, as closing the past, and opening out a future of expectation before us. The position of Malachi, as the last of the prophets, bids us more solemnly prepare for that dread day—our Lord's second coming—which he foretold, in one with the first, warning us that we deceive not ourselves, in unconsciousness of our own evil and remembrance of our seeming good, until he profess unto us, "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity" [Pusey].

And of the twelve prophets let the memorial be blessed, and let their bones flourish again out of their place (Sir ).

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/malachi-4.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

I cannot but suppose that Elijah, and not John the Baptist, is intended here. I do not presume to say so much, but I venture to think it. Malachi had already declared the coming of John the Baptist, as the Lord's forerunner, in the days of his flesh; and therefore there needed no note of admiration, saying, behold! in speaking of him again. Moreover, the awful day of God here spoken of, as burning like an oven, should seem to refer more to the day of judgment than to the first coming of Christ, which is always called glad tidings of good and great joy to all people. And as at the resurrection of Christ many saints arose from the grave: Why may not Christ's second coming be so commemorated? Add to these, that as Elijah did not die the natural death of all men, but was carried up to heaven in a whirlwind, is it not possible, that when Christ returns to reign on earth, Elijah may be among those that shall reign with him? What the events of that reign upon earth may be, I presume not to say; but from the book of the Revelations, which describes in some measure the wonderful history, I can see no objection to the idea, that Elijah is here meant, and not John the Baptist. See Re 20 throughout. However, I beg the Reader to ponder well the subject, and look to God the Spirit for instruction in it. I only add on this Chapter, and indeed on the whole volume of the Old Testament together, that it is somewhat remarkable the close of it should be with the word curse, as the New Testament, in the word Gospel, implies in its very title at the opening, blessing. If, however, Reader, it meant to say, that out of Christ everything is a curse, it is certainly as true as it is significant. And then it will equally follow, that in Christ everything is a blessing, which is a glorious and incontestable truth. The Lord hath united both Testaments, that while in one we read our condemnation, in the other we may, through grace, discover our deliverance; and as in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive. Amen and Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/malachi-4.html. 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Malachi 4:5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet — The first prophet that I shall send to you, after him who now speaks to you, will be Elijah the messenger, that shall go before the Messiah to prepare his way. In him the spirit of prophecy shall be revived; and he shall be another Elijah for zeal, for courage, austerity of life, and labour for reformation. “It was the universal opinion in Christ’s time, received by the learned and unlearned, the governors and the common people, that Elijah should usher in the Messiah, and anoint him; all expected that Elijah should first come and restore all things; and long before that time the son of Sirach grounded his expectation of him on the passage now before us: see Sirach 48:10. The Jews have not since varied from this notion: in all their later writings the coming of Elijah and of the Messiah are usually mentioned together; and this is the reason why they pray so heartily for the coming of Elijah, even without mention of the Messiah, because the coming of the one, according to Malachi, infers the coming of the other.” But it is neither said nor implied in the text that Elijah the Tishbite should come in person, but only that one should come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and when such a one did come, Malachi’s words were fulfilled; who meant no more that Elijah should rise again, than Hosea and Jeremiah did that David should be restored to life, in order to reign over Israel and Judah, when they prophesied that the tribes should hereafter serve David their king. Whoever this Elijah was, he must, according to the next clause of this verse, precede the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, that is, the time of the final destruction of the Jewish city, temple, and commonwealth, which events actually took place near one thousand seven hundred years ago, and no other Elijah than John the Baptist, followed by the Messiah, came to warn them of it, as is confessed by them.

It is allowed by the Jews as a fact, that prophecy was sealed up with Malachi, and that when he died the Holy Spirit was taken away from Israel. They expected, however, that it would be restored in the days of the Messiah, and they ought, therefore, to have concluded that John the Baptist, in whom this gift did revive, must be the Elijah of Malachi: for all the people held John as a prophet, Matthew 14:5; Matthew 21:26. Even the members of the Sanhedrim, astonished at his preaching and actions, (see John 1:19-25,) thought he must be Elijah, or that prophet, namely, the Messiah, mentioned by Moses: and the scribes and Pharisees, as well as the rest of the country, went to be baptized of him, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:5-7. Add to this, that his preaching exactly answered the description given of it by Malachi. As Elijah was to give notice of the coming of the day that should burn as an oven, Malachi 4:1, that great and dreadful day, wherein the Lord, Messiah, should smite the land of Judea with a curse: Malachi 4:6; so did John the Baptist exhort to repentance, from this motive, that the kingdom of God was at hand, that wrath was coming, from which they ought to flee, and that the person coming after him, who was mightier than he, with his fan in his hand, would thoroughly purge his floor, and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire: see Matthew 3:2; Matthew 3:7; Matthew 3:10-11; and Bishop Chandler’s Defence. The reader will be pleased to see the sacred historians’ account of John confirmed by a wise, learned, and well-disposed Jew, who was not a Christian, namely the well-known historian Josephus: “It was the opinion of the Jews,” says he, “that Herod’s army was cut off by the Arabs through God’s just judgment, for the sake of John, who was surnamed the Baptist. For he killed that excellent man, who excited the people to the exercise of all virtues, especially piety and justice, and to receive his baptism, which, he assured them, would be pleasing to God, if to purity of body they added purity of life, and first cleansed their souls, not from one or two, but every sin. But when the people resorted in numbers to him, eager to hear his doctrine, and ready to do any thing by his counsel, fearing what might be effected through so great authority of the man, he first imprisoned and then slew him.” — Antiq., lib. xviii, cap. 7.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/malachi-4.html. 1857.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Malachi 4:4-5

Notice:—

I. Some points of resemblance between Moses and Elijah in their respective histories. (1) Moses and Elijah were both witnesses for God in a wicked age. They were confessors in their generation. (2) They were both summoned to a mountain, and there conversed with God. (3) Both of these prophets were endued with power to sustain an extraordinary fast of forty days; herein prefiguring the fast of our Blessed Lord in the wilderness. (4) Their miracles of power resembled one another. (5) In the manner of their departure from the world, there were points of resemblance. They were both forewarned of their departure; they were found of God in the midst of their work, and heard His call and went on their way till they were taken by Him; and after their translation their bodies could nowhere be found.

II. Why did Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain beside the Lord? The obvious answer will be, that the Law and the Prophets, as represented respectively by them, might witness to the Gospel. The law, in itself so good, may become a dead letter; and if it be revived by the Prophets, it cannot convey life. Our nature needs a living Saviour, ever living, ever present; not a Law to obey, nor a Prophet to hear, but a living person to fear, to love, to worship, in whom, it may lose itself, and crown itself with His own glory.

III. But to conclude with a few remarks on the practical influence of this scene upon ourselves. Perhaps the thought of heaven is the point of highest light in our hearts; but after all is it more than a point? The details of this life are almost infinite. How small in proportion is the space filled up by the thought of the life to come! Look at Moses on the mount. His life on earth was long and varied. And his apparition with Christ in glory, how short it was, how briefly told, a point of high light indeed, but only a point. And yet as every heart will own, that moment with his Lord in glory, comprised all his life. So will it be with you. Your life on earth seems long, and all its cares and interests a great matter. Nevertheless, you are really nothing, but what you are in God; in a sense far more profound than most of us feel, when we lightly use the words, "In Him we live and move and have our being."

C. W. Furse, Sermons Preached at Richmond, p. 189; see also Anglican Pulpit Today, p. 72; C. Kingsley, Sermons for the Times, p. 1.


References: Malachi 4:5.—G. Moberly, Brightstone Sermons, p. 244. Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6.—J. Fraser, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 401.

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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 1277

ELIJAH TO PRECEDE OUR LORD

Malachi 4:5-6. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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.

THE advent of our blessed Lord has been foretold from the beginning of the world. No sooner had man in Paradise fallen, than God promised him a Saviour in that seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent’s head [Note: Genesis 3:15.]. From that time has it been predicted with increasing clearness by many successive prophets, that so he might be easily and clearly discovered at the period of his arrival. At last, the Prophet Malachi foretold the very person who, as his harbinger, should precede him, and point him out to the people.

The day of his arrival is here, as well as in the Prophet Joel, called, “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” But St. Luke, quoting the Prophet Joel, calls it “the great and illustrious day of the Lord [Note: Compare Joel 2:31 and the text, with Acts 2:20. ἐπιφανῆ].” And it was, indeed, both illustrious and “dreadful:” for then did God himself become incarnate, for the salvation of all who would believe in him; but then also were inflicted, on those who rejected him, such judgments as were altogether unprecedented in the annals of the world [Note: Luke 21:22-27.]. Truly, from that day to this, has “their whole land been smitten with a most dreadful curse.”

The prophecy before us closes the canon of Scripture under the Mosaic dispensation, and is peculiarly worthy of our closest attention. In two points of view I propose to consider it:

I. As evincing the truth of Christianity—

In this view this prophecy is considered by all who have written on the evidences of our holy religion—

[It was a prophecy pre-eminently insisted on at the time of our Saviour’s advent. When our blessed Lord had manifested to his disciples his glory on the mount of transfiguration, where he had conversed with Moses and Elijah, “he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from the dead. Upon which they asked him, “Why say the Scribes that Elias must first come [Note: Mark 9:9-11.]?” that is, ‘Why, now that we have had this accumulated evidence of thy Messiahship, are we to conceal it from others, more especially since it is, in part at least, that very evidence which the Scribes, and all who are instructed in the prophecies, are looking for?’ Moreover, when almost the whole of the Jewish nation flocked to John’s baptism, the rulers sent priests and Levites to him, to inquire, “Whether he was himself the Christ; or whether he was Elijah,” whom they expected as his Forerunner [Note: John 1:19-21.]? Hence it appears that the people at large expected, about that time, the literal accomplishment of this prophecy.

And accomplished at that time it was. Previous to John’s conception in the womb, the angel, who announced to his parents God’s merciful intentions towards them, said of him, “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 [Note: Luke 1:16-17.]:” in other words, he shall fulfil the prophecy of Malachi, which you are all now expecting to see accomplished. Our blessed Lord yet more strongly declares, that John was the person ordained of God to fulfil that prophecy. John, being shut up in prison, and hearing of the miracles which Jesus had wrought, sent two of his disciples to Jesus, to inquire, whether he was the predicted Messiah; or whether they were to look for some other person to sustain that office? Our Lord referred them to the miracles which he wrought before their eyes, in proof of his Messiahship; and then expressly declared concerning John, that he was that very “Messenger,” whose coming the Prophet Malachi had foretold; and that very Elias also, of whom the same prophet had spoken as the precursor of the Messiah: “If ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come [Note: Compare Matthew 11:10; Matthew 11:14. with Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5-6. See: also Matthew 17:11-13.].” And here you will see, that our Lord himself explains the two prophecies as relating to one and the same person; the messenger being Elias, and Elias the messenger.

The messenger then, even Elijah, having come, and borne his testimony to Jesus as the Messiah; the Messiah is come, and the religion introduced by him is of divine authority; or, in other words, Christianity is true.]

The objections by which the Jews would set aside this conclusion, though plausible, are of no real weight—

[A Jew would say, ‘It is confessed by all, that Elias must come before the Messiah: but John was not Elias: yea, when expressly interrogated upon that subject, he himself plainly and unequivocally stated, that he was not Elias [Note: John 1:19-21.]: therefore Elias not having appeared, the Messiah cannot be yet come; and, consequently, Christianity is an imposition upon the world.’

This being one of the strong-holds of Judaism, it must be overthrown, before we can hope to convert the Jews to Christianity.

It is said by the Jews, that, because Elias did not personally appear, the prophecy before us cannot have been fulfilled. But I will ask a Jew; Are you not told, by Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Hosea, no less than six times, that in the latter day your whole nation, Israel as well as Judah, shall be restored, and that they shall be “united under one Head, even David, who shall be king over them all for ever [Note: Compare Jeremiah 30:9. Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25. Hosea 3:5.]?” But is there any learned Jew that expects David personally to come and reign on earth again? Have not all commentators, both ancient and modern, agreed, that the person here spoken of is the Messiah; who yet is called David, because he was typified by David, and shall inherit, as it were, his throne? Then why may not John, who came in the spirit and power of Elias, bear his name; when, in fact, there was as striking a correspondence between the two, in their whole office and character, as can be conceived? If an absolute identity of person be dispensed with in the one case, it may also be dispensed with in the other: and, so far as that is concerned, the objection falls to the ground.

But it is said, that John acknowledged that he was not Elias. True; he did so. The Jews supposed him to be Elijah the Tishbite, or probably Jeremiah: but he declared he was neither the one nor the other: but, at the very time that he declared this, he informed them, that he was the Forerunner of the Messiah, even the person whom Isaiah had described as “a voice crying in the wilderness.” “They said to Him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Esaias [Note: Isaiah 40:3. with John 1:22-23.].” Now, there is not a learned Jew in the universe who does not interpret this passage of Isaiah as referring to the Forerunner of our Lord: and therefore we see, not only that our blessed Lord assigned that office and character to John, but that John himself claimed it, at the very time that he denied himself to be Elijah the Tishbite: and it is remarkable, that our blessed Lord, in asserting his own Messiahship, appealed to the testimony of John as decisive of the point; and thus put all his adversaries to silence. When the chief priests asked him “by what authority he did the things which they saw,” he answered by putting another question to them: “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” And, when they saw to what a dilemma they were reduced, and declined giving him an answer, he disdained to give any reply to their question; which, in fact, needed no answer at all; for it was self-evident, that if John was indeed a prophet, as he had clearly proved himself to be, his testimony must be received; and Jesus, of whose Messiahship he had testified, must be the Messiah.

Thus, then, have we shewn, that there was no necessity for Elijah personally to come, in order to fulfil this prophecy: it was sufficient that John came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and fulfilled all that the person spoken of in my text was to execute. That he did this, he himself declared: and, when his testimony was appealed to as decisive, the Jews themselves were put to silence. The objection, therefore, which the Jews found on this passage, is obviated; and the truth of Christianity is proved from the very passage which the Jews adduce to overthrow it.]

The prophecy, however, may be considered yet further,

II. As illustrating the scope and intent of Christianity—

That which was the primary scope of John’s mission was, to bear witness to Christ. But, in conjunction with this, his office was to turn men to God, and thus to prepare them for Christ as his peculiar people. And these are the two great objects of Christianity in the world:

1. To convert men to God—

[It was said of John, “He shall turn many to the Lord their God [Note: Luke 1:16.].” This he was to effect amongst persons of every age in life, and every order in society: he was to “turn the heart of fathers to their children, and the heart of children to their fathers.” According to the general effect of divine truth, it must be expected that the Gospel will create only division in families, “setting the father against the son, and the son against the father [Note: Luke 12:51-53.]:” but his ministry was to operate rather in a contrary way, bringing all the nation, as it were, old and young, to an earnest and harmonious expectation of the Messiah; “fathers with their children, and children with their fathers.” And thus the Gospel is to work on all, without exception; so that they may move harmoniously, like a river turned by the tide, up towards the fountain-head. However contrary to nature this may be, even like a river ascending a lofty mountain, it shall be effected: for “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and all nations shall flow unto it [Note: Isaiah 2:2.].” Wherever it prevails, it produces this union, this harmony, this progress contrary to the course of nature [Note: Philippians 2:2.]: and if, either in individuals or communities, it fails of this object, it is published in vain, and the grace of God is so far “received in vain.”]

2. To prepare men for Christ—

[This was done by John, to a very extraordinary degree: for, in a very short space of time, a few months at the utmost, “there went out to him Jerusalem, and all Jud ζa, and all the region round about Jordan; and were baptized by him in Jordan, confessing their sins [Note: Matthew 3:5-6.].” “He went before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to them, for the remission of their sins [Note: Luke 1:76-77.].”

And this is the great scope of the Gospel ministry—to “preach Christ crucified [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:23.];” and to bring all to “behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world [Note: John 1:29.].” Every faithful minister has, like John, “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord [Note: Luke 1:17.].” It is said in the book of Revelation “Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints [Note: Revelation 19:7-8.].” And may I not say, that we ministers are assistants to the Bride? O blessed office, to prepare you, brethren, for that great solemnity, when you shall be for ever united to the heavenly Bridegroom! Gladly would we see you adorned with all the graces of the Spirit, Gladly would we see you habited in white raiment from head to foot, without one spot, that should be unsuited to your high character [Note: Revelation 3:4.]. And we do indeed account it an honour to be instrumental, in any measure, to the preparing of you for this glorious consummation. Beloved brethren, concur with us in this good work. Attend to all the counsels which are given you from the Lord; and readily adopt “every method which he has ordained for your purification;” that, when you come into his presence, you may find the most “cordial acceptance with him,” and “receive at his hands a crown, of glory that fadeth not away [Note: Esther 2:12; Esther 2:17. with 1 Peter 5:4.].”]

END OF VOL. X.

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/malachi-4.html. 1832.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Malachi 4:1-2. 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. But unto you —

Here is the difference: “But unto you” —

Malachi 4:2. That fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise-

Not like a scorching and burning oven as the sun of the heavens is in the East, but he shall arise —

Malachi 4:2. With healing in his wing; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

All is right with those who are right with God.

Malachi 4:3-6. 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.

Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their father, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The Old Testament ends with the mutterings of a curse, but the New Testament begins with a message of blessing concerning the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What a mercy to come from under the old covenant unto the new!

This exposition consisted of readings from Malachi 3:4.

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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/malachi-4.html. 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Malachi 4:5". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/malachi-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Malachi 4:5". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/malachi-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet.

Malachi’s predictions

Of the prophecies relating to the Messias some were so obscure, and had such an appearance of inconsistency, if applied to one and the same person, that they could not well be understood, till the event reconciled and unfolded them; for which obscurity many good reasons have been assigned. But it is reasonable to suppose, that as the time of Christ’s coming drew nearer, the later predictions concerning Him should be more distinct and plain than the former.

I. Explain the prophecies of Malachi relating to the Messias. The Jews, after their deliverance from Babylon, were free from idolatry, but in other respects they were base and wicked; and as unsettled people go from one extreme to another, they had exchanged a pagan superstition for a kinder religious libertinism and cold indifference; and this nation, which had once adored any and every idol, was become remiss in the worship of the true God. Malachi reproaches the Jews for their ingratitude to God, who had so lately showed them so much favour and mercy. He accuses them of irreligion and profaneness; he tells them that God abhorred their offerings, and would raise up to Himself better worshippers amongst the Gentiles. Then the prophet proceeds to declare the coming of a very considerable person. The passage indeed describes two persons. The messenger, and another person who, being called the Lord, and having a prophet to go before Him, must be one of the highest dignity. This same person is also called the “Angel of the Covenant.” He is to come suddenly, and to come to His temple. He should make and confirm a covenant between God and men. Who may abide the day of His coining? How few will be found fit to appear before Him! He may be compared to fire which tries metals and purges them from dross, and to soap which cleanses garments; for He shall pass a just and impartial judgment upon the lives and doctrines of His people, distinguishing false opinions from the Word of God, and false appearances of holiness from true piety. He shall find religion greatly corrupted, and the priests and Levites as bad as those whom they should instruct; but He shall correct all that is faulty, and so reform the worship of God that it shall be again acceptable to Him. The day of His coming shall be destructive to the wicked. A new Elijah was to prepare His way. He was to make converts by his ministry, but not to produce a general messenger.

II. The completion of these predictions. Jesus fulfils these predictions. He came suddenly; came to His temple; was the messenger of the covenant; was a refiner s fire; purified the sons of Levi; freed the law and the worship of God from all defects and innovations, from all that was superfluous, burdensome, and temporary. Jesus Christ arose as a Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. His coming was truly the great and terrible day of the Lord. The prophecy of Elijah’s coming was fulfilled in John the Baptist. He might be, not improperly, said to turn the hearts of the people, and to restore all things, as he did all that was requisite for that purpose. Elias in Malachi was to prepare the way of the Lord: to turn the hearts of men, and to call the Jews to amendment: not to cause a general conversion of the Jews; to convert several and thereby to save them from destruction. John the Baptist was like Elias in his prophetic office; in living in a corrupted age; in fervent zeal; in restoring decayed religion; in rebuking vice; in suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake; in offending wicked princes by reproving them for their sins; in austerity of life, in habit, and in dwelling in retired places. By the ministry of our Lord and His apostles is that remarkable passage in Malachi fulfilled. “From the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles.” (J. Jortin, D. D.)

The herald of the day of the Lord

The last of prophets, who heralds the day of the Lord, is to restore the spiritual continuity between the generations of God’s people; he is to bring the spiritual fathers of the race to recognise in the men of his own age their spiritual sons; he is to make the men of his own age welcome with the affection of sons their spiritual progenitors. He is to restore spiritual continuity, “lest God come and smite the earth with a curse.” For breaches of spiritual continuity, that is, religious revolutions, are almost always disastrous. There are times, indeed, when God has willed nations to break with the past. But such exceptional moments we need not now consider. Breaches of religious continuity are not always permanent. The incoming of some flood of new knowledge may antiquate received statements of the current religious teaching, and the men of the “new learning” may revolt from what seems like intellectual bondage, and yet after all it may appear that what they revolted against was rather the parody of their faith than their faith in its true character, and a harmony between the combatants may yet be arrived at again, which is a victory of the faith, but not a victory to either side. There are reformations and counter-reformations; these are revolts and reactions. There are “blindnesses in part” which happen to our Israels, which may be necessary to let loose new and suppressed forces, and which may lead at last to reconciliation. There are revolts which are not apostasies. But so it is not always. There are breaches which are never healed, at least in this world. And in any case such losses of spiritual continuity are terrible evils. More and more, as we go on in life, we feel our responsibility for making the best of the heritage which the past has bequeathed to us--the heritage of Christian creed and character. Verily, we have entered into the labours of other men. How are we to get the old religion to recognise the men of our day? How are we to “turn” them from the one to the other! Let a man get at all into the heart the Christian religion, and he becomes conscious at once that what that religion corresponds to is nothing which is changeable in human nature. Knowledge grows and past knowledge is outgrown; criticism develops, and its method alters, and a past criticism is a bygone criticism. But underneath all these developments there does lie a humanity that is permanent. The dress, the circumstances of a particular epoch fall easily off the Christ, and He stands disclosed the spiritual Lord of all the ages. The consciousness to which He appeals, the need of God, the desire for the Divine Fatherhood, the sense of sin, the cry for redemption, the experience of strength which is given in response to the self surrender of faith, the union of men of all sorts and classes in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost--this consciousness, this experience, does not belong to any one age or class. It belongs to us now as much as to the men of old. The pledge that a Catholic religion is possible lies in the recognition (in the moral and spiritual departments only) of a Catholic humanity, which may be dormant in superficial ages and men, but can everywhere be awakened by life’s deeper experiences or the profounder appeals of the men of God. How then are we to play our part, in keeping unimpaired, or in restoring, the spiritual continuity of our age with the past?

1. The task is to be wrought out in the character by spiritual discipline. Christianity finds its chief witness in life, in character. All down the ages it is character which has been the chief instrument in propagating the truth. The Christian character is sonship; something which is peculiar to Christianity; much more than mere morality, or abstinence from sin. It is the direct product of a conscious relation to the Divine Father, a fellowship with the Divine Son, a freedom in the Spirit. Christian sonship is the direct outcome of Christian motives, and its chief evidence lies in itself. Certainly the chief witness for Christ in the world is the witness of Christian sonship. Here then is your first vocation--realise and exhibit the temper of sonship. It is developed by generous correspondence with the movement of God’s Spirit within us, by constant ventures of faith and acts of obedience: it comes of the deliberate and regular exercise of those faculties of the spirit to which Christ most appeals, of prayer, of self discipline, of faith, of self-knowledge, of penitence. The obligation of keeping up the spiritual continuity of the generations, presses with especial force on the Church’s teachers. The prophetic office of the Church consists in the permanent function of maintaining an old and unchanging faith, by showing its power of adapting itself to constantly new conditions; it is to interpret the old faith to the new generation, with fidelity to the old, and with confidence in the new. The old dogmas are to many men, and to many of the best men, as an unknown tongue. The prophetic office of the Church is to interpret the unknown tongue of old doctrine till they speak in the intelligible language of felt human wants. How is this to be done? By knowing the wants. By being in touch with the movements. There is a special sense in which the task of maintaining spiritual continuity down the generations belongs to the Christian student. Two things are necessary, as for the pastor: the knowledge of the old, and the appreciation of the new. The Christian student will study with reverent care, irrespective of modern wants, the genius of historical Christianity: making himself at one with the religion of Christ in that form in which it has shown itself in experience most catholic, most capable of persistence through radical changes, least the product of any particular age, or state of feeling. So with frankness and freedom he will study the conditions of the present. Mostly the same person does not do both these things. There is much work before us to emancipate Christianity from the shackles of mediaeval absolutism, of Calvinism, of mere Protestant reaction, and to reassert it in its largeness, in its freshness, and in its adaptability to new knowledge and new movements. We live in an age of profound transition, socially and intellectually. What is wanted is for the same people to take measure of the ancient faith, and to discern the signs of the times. (Canon C. Gore, M. A.)

The gilt of prophecy the supreme need of our age

A strange and weird figure is this of the prophet Elijah, the Tishbite. A unique person, with a unique mission. John the Baptist was one of his spiritual successors, and the greatest. Athanasius, perhaps, was another, and Martin Luther, and perhaps John Wesley; or, at least, these latter have been like Eliseus, catching up his mantle, baptised with a potion of his spirit. They have been the men who have accomplished the great social and spiritual revelations of the world. Rough, earnest, strong-willed men most of them, not given to mince their words or to stand upon courtesies; but they have been the men to keep alive the flame of religion, and to prevent its dying out. Mark their ages, and then compare the work of the man with the needs of his age. There were giants in the earth in those days, and people say we shall never see giants again. The individual grows less as the world grows more. Knowledge has got to be so diffused, and the elements of life so manifold, society so vast and complicated, that an Elijah whom all would recognise as a messenger from God seems impossible. The age of prophets, at least of Elijahs of the old type, has passed away. Yet, though no Elijah, there may be an Elisha; though no Isaiah, yet a Malachi. St. Paul tells us that prophecy is the highest gift bestowed by Christ upon His Church; and it is certain that all who feel that our call is to proclaim God’s truth to men may well pray to be endowed with a portion of it. Whatever spiritual gifts may have been necessary or profitable to the Church at other times, I am persuaded that the gift of prophecy is the most necessary and profitable now. Men felt the difference between a Paul and a Philetus, for Paul spoke “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” A man may well pray for a portion of this power, and for grace to use it in the noblest cause. It is not eloquence, it is not popularity, it is not the power of attracting the crowd; it is something impalpable, but most real, when men bend their wills and hearts and consciences before the uttered truth. It is strange how even educated men misread the signs of the times. This age wants, and is prepared to receive, not the priest, but the prophet: not the man who claims to stand between them and God, and says, “No access to the Heavenly Father but by me”; but the man who can teach the truth, and help them, in their blindness, and waywardness, and ignorance, to discern the way of peace and righteousness. The prophet must be in earnest, or men will not receive him as a prophet; must himself believe his message, or he will carry no conviction to his hearers. We have a message able to stir the most phlegmatic feeling, and to arouse the dullest conscience, if only we knew how to deliver it. If our own hearts have found out the secret, we can speak of present peace and joy in believing, of the kingdom of God standing in righteousness, of the nearness of a Father to us in our dangers, difficulties, troubles. There are those who can speak of these things with a strange and moving power, and their arguments will rise high above the clouds of doubt and speculation, till they seem to bring us almost face to face with God. Such men are in very truth the Lord’s prophets; such teachers build on immovable ground the fabric of faith. They are sure and trustworthy guides; for they are leading men to God through grace by the ways of holiness: they have themselves travelled, or are now travelling the road; they are testifying to us out of their own experience; they speak that which they know. It is a faith thus quickened, and faith cometh by hearing,” that vitalises sacraments and prayers and worship. Without such faith, all these things are dead; with it they become living, quickening powers. It is the spirit of the prophet, before all other gifts, that the Churches need to enable them to evangelise the world. (Bishop Fraser.)

And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children.

The reconciliation of the old and young

I. The prophet was thinking of what may fairly be called a time of transition. The passing from one dispensation, or order of things, to another. Such a period was that under Moses, when the people passed from a patriarchal to a national life. The bringing in of the only begotten Son was the greatest event of the sacred history. All that had gone before seems trivial in comparison with it. It was a change from law to grace, from a religion limited to one nation to a universal faith, from a system of rite and ceremony to one of inward spirit, But all times of great change are full of danger. They give great anxiety to all thoughtful minds. Ours is a time of transition, and the grave danger of our times is, the possibility of estrangement between the fathers and the children, i.e., between the old and the young. The fathers are disposed to be conservative; the older we get the harder we find it to receive new thoughts, or accustom ourselves to new ways. So when the fathers see the children entering on new ways, adopting new methods, forming new parties, there is a danger that their hearts should be turned away from them and on the other hand, the young are disposed to that which is new; their minds are receptive and plastic. They are tempted to think their fathers’ ways and thoughts are old-fashioned, to underrate the good of the past, and to leave their fathers behind.

II. Our duty in such a time of transition. There is a duty peculiar to such an age. To fulfil it was part of the mission of John the Baptist. He did much to break the abruptness of the transition from the one dispensation to the other.

1. The duty of the fathers to the children. That “the fathers should recognise the new needs, and the new powers of the children.”

2. The duty of the children to the fathers, the young to the old. “The children should recognise the value of the institutions and traditions which they inherit from their fathers.” The opinions of the fathers are certainly entitled to respectful consideration. Age should prejudice you not against them, but in their favour. Be not swift to remove the ancient landmarks.

III. Our safe guard in such a time of transition. There is a certain deep interest in this as the last word of the Old Testament. It is filled with the hope of one who should be the messenger of the Highest; but lying close behind it is the thought and hope of Him whose way should be thus prepared. We think not of the herald, but of the King before whose face he went. The true safeguard amid the perils of our day is in Christ. The young may outgrow the special forms in which His doctrine has been cast, but they cannot outgrow the Christ. Christ, rightly regarded, meets the needs of old and young. It is absurd to talk of outgrowing Jesus Christ. He is the true gathering point for the old and the young. (W. Garrett Horder.)

Religion in the Family

The family is a radical and fundamental organisation and agency in human society. It is the original source of authority, government, morality, and religion. Without family ties, family government and discipline, family virtue and piety, the Church could not exist, and society would quickly relapse into anarchy and barbarism, and fall to pieces. Here are the roots of godliness, of self-government, of right development. Is it any marvel, then, that God guards the family sanctity and life with such jealousy, and lays upon the marital and parental relations such solemn sanctions and obligations? There is no more alarming sign of the times than the decay of family religion. And the decay is not superficial but radical, and the effects are far reaching, disastrous, and permanent. Family government is fearfully relaxed, family religious instruction is almost a thing of the past, parental restraints have come to be obnoxious, children have lost reverence for their parents, the home altar, in ten thousand households, is broken down, and the children even of Christian parents grow up without the fear of God, without Christian training and restraint, and go forth into the world, wholly unprepared to resist temptation, or to meet the responsibilities of life. We must have a speedy and grand revival of family religion, or we are doomed. Nothing else can stay the tide of religions declension, in faith and in practice, the tide of demoralisation that threatens to make a clean sweep of social integrity, of law and order, and self-government. We must heed the Divine warning uttered by Malachi, or God will smite us with a still more fearful curse. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

Our debt to childhood

There are encouraging hints that the study of the young is not to be always undervalued. One is, the careful observation of child-life which men of science are beginning to make simply in the interests of science. Legislators also are beginning to see that in order to have good citizens we must educate the young. The Church needs to establish an early tutelage of her children. In the old New England meeting-house all was stately and sterile, rigid and unattractive, to the children. Notice some of the advantages of the modern method of youthful Sabbath instruction.

1. Children learn more in company than alone. It is good to see truth through the eyes of others.

2. There are elements in the Church which are brought out by the effort to discharge our debt to the young. Here is a field for lay activity. It is an inexplicable fact, that a teacher, or some one outside the family, will sometimes get nearer the child’s heart than the dearest home-friend. How can we all co-operate? As this enlarging interest in childhood is the hope of the world, so the growth of this spirit of helpfulness in individual lives is the guarantee of the healthful and happy development of Christian character. (Jesse B. Thomas, D. D.)

Parental responsibilities

Malachi, in his last chapter, prepares the people for the long silence of revelation by two words, of which one is a promise, and the other a precept. The command is, to walk by the law of Moses. The promise is, that in due time the Messiah’s forerunner, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, shall usher in the solemn yet glorious day of Christ, by his preparatory ministry. This was to be the next prophet whom the Church was entitled to expect. But his work was to be prominently a revival of parental fidelity and domestic piety. The work upon fathers and mothers was to be far more than the removal of domestic alienations. It was to embrace a great revival of parental and filial piety, an awakening of parents’ hearts to the salvation of their children, and the docile seeking and reception of parental instruction by the children. This revival of domestic piety and parental fidelity is necessary to prevent the coming of the Divine Messiah from being a woe instead of a blessing to men. God’s way of promoting revival is, not to increase” the activity of any public, and outward means only, but to “turn the hearts of the parents to the children. The duty of parental fidelity is equally prominent in both dispensations.

1.The old terminates with it, the new opens wire it. This is the connecting link between both. The fidelity of the parents ought to imply the docility of the children. The duties are mutual.

I. The urgency of parental responsibility appears in a solemn manner from the nature of the parental relation itself. Wherever human society is, there a parent is. Every human existence begins in a parental relation. The glory of the Divine beneficence towards the human race appears in this, that the parents, without alienating anything of their own immortality, are able to multiply immortalities in ever-widening and progressive numbers. Here are the two facts which give so unspeakable a solemnity to the parent’s relation to his children. He has conferred on them, unasked, the endowment of an endless, responsible existence. He has also been the instrument of conveying to this new existence the taint of original sin and guilt. Can the human mind conceive a motive more tender, more urgent, prompting a parent to seek the aid of the great Physician, for dealing with the spiritual disease which they have conveyed?

II. From the unique and extensive character of parental authority. Men win be held accountable according to the extent of the powers intrusted to them. The trust is that of immortal souls. Let the extent of the parent’s legitimate or unavoidable power over his children be pondered. Neither Divine nor human law gives the parent a right to force the tender mind of the child, by persecutions, or corporeal pains or penalties; or to abuse it, by sophistries, or falsehoods, into the adoption of his opinions. But this power the providential law does confer: the parent may and ought to avail himself of all the influences of opportunity and example, of filial reverence and affection, of his superior age, knowledge, and sagacity, to reinforce the power of truth over the child’s mind, and in this good sense to prejudice him in favour of the parental creed.

III. But this power has suitable checks and guards. One is found in the strict responsibility to which God holds the domestic ruler. Another is found in the affection which nature binds up with the parental relation.

IV. The parent’s influence for good and evil will be more effectual than any other. As parents perform or neglect their duties, the children usually end in grace or impiety. The parent has the first and all-important opportunity. Application--

1. The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth.

2. The Church-membership of the children of believers may be reasonable and scriptural. (R. S. Dabney, D. D.)

Family government

True family government is instituted for the sole benefit of the governed. “The true end of government is to make the pathway to virtue and morality easy, and the pathway of crime difficult and full of peril.”

I. The vast importance of family government. Of Abraham it was said, “He will command his children.” Neglect of commanding is seen in the failure of Eli. By “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children,” the text means that the chief duty of every father is to bring his children to God. In every ease where family government has been enforced the pious parents have fully realised the truth of the glorious promise, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We may learn the importance of family government from the teachings of all the greatest philosophers and statesmen, of all ages and climes. The Greeks and the Romans, the rulers of the world, and our grander Old English and Puritan fathers, all taught and practised family government. Every pastor knows that young converts who have had no family government make as a general thing worthless Church members. The last argument on the importance family government, is the happiness of the child. An ungoverned child is a bundle of bad passions, a seething volcano of untamed and ungovernable passions, hating everybody, and hateful to everybody.

II. How shall i govern my child? Lay down seven golden rules.

1. Begin, continue, and end in prayer.

2. Begin early.

3. Be tender.

4. Be firm.

5. Have no partiality among your children.

6. Let father and mother be united.

7. Imbue the soul of your child with reverence for God and right.

A strong wall, and safe quarantine, may be made of four great laws. No bad company; no idle time; no fine clothes; and make home happy. (Rufus C. Beveleson, D. D.)

The home school

With this verse the Old Testament ends. So far down had Malachi come towards the Messiah, that the East was already growing bright with His coming. He predicts the end of sacrifices, and the coming of a more glorious era. What were the words that, when the last record was ended, were to come with blessed undulations down to our time? See the text. The institution nearest to the heart of society is the family. The most important office in society is the parental office. The sphere of each family is small, but the number of these spheres is incalculable. As each drop is small, but the sea is vast, so is it in society. Families are the springs of society. Declension in religion will be found to be accompanied with carelessness in the family; and the earliest steps of religious reformation ought to take place in the family. If all the families of a nation were to reform, the nation would be reformed. All preparation for God’s work should begin in the household. Many persons are for ever running round for revivals, careless of home, neglectful of children, and seeking their own pleasurable excitement, frequently in a kind of religious carnival. Any conception of religious culture and life that leaves the family out, or that is at the expense of the family, is fundamentally wrong, and in the end cannot but be mischievous. The divinity of revivals may be tested by their effect on the family. If religious excitements make home dull, and parental and filial duties and religions tame and tasteless, they may be suspected of being spurious, carnal, worldly.

I. Parents are responsible to God and to human society for their children. It is a responsibility assumed by every parent, to look after the welfare, temporal and eternal, of his child.

II. This responsibility is just. Because God has framed the family so that nothing can exceed the advantage which parents have in rearing their children. They take the child before all other influences. None gains ascendency over the child before the parent. The parent receives the child in a condition perfectly fitted to be moulded and stamped. The child comes to us with all natural adaptations for taking impressions. It is sympathetic, trustful, and imitative. The hardest work we have to do in this world is to correct the mistakes of parents in the education of their children. The parent receives the child into an involuntary atmosphere of love, which is that summer in which all good dispositions must grow. Justice, and all other feelings, in the family, act in the sphere, and under the control, of parental love. Nowhere else is love so much the predominating element. Love is the atmospheric condition in which we are to mould and teach the child. Besides, the family is sheltered from contact and temptation and interruption. The family is the” only institution in which one can repel all invasion and all despotism from state and from meddling priests. God has nut our children into our hands with the declaration that they are His; that they have in them the germ of immortality, and that He commits them to our charge that we may fit them for the future life that is prepared for them.

III. The destiny of a child renders it worthy of a parent’s whole heart, thought, and time. Your child is given to you to be brought up in the manner best calculated to qualify it for the life to come. Your supremacy over it is absolute. With such a charge it is worth while to stay at home. Sometimes mothers think it is bard to be shut up at home with the care of little children. But she who takes care of little children takes care of great eternities.

IV. When a child has gone forth from parental care, parental neglect cannot be made up to it. Some alleviation there may be, and some after-refuge, but there can be no complete remedy. There is no way of compensating for neglect to sow the seed at the proper time. The most precious legacy that a parent can give to a child is that throughout all its after life it should in connection with everything that a wise and true and just and pure and spiritual call to mind father and mother. (H. Ward Beecher.)

Decay of family power

The text is in the form of a prediction. The object and effect of Elijah s coming mission shall be what is set forth in the text, namely, to reform mankind and bring the world back to those elementary principles or institutes ordered of old for human improvement and salvation. The special mission of John the Baptist was that of a reformer. He come to preach repentance. Degeneracy and corruption were so deep-seated and universal that it was necessary to begin at the beginning; not with the church or the state or society, but with the family, the fountain of moral influence; and build up again the family constitution which irreligion and vice had overthrown. We have here, then, the Divine plan of reforming and saving mankind. This prophetic utterance has application to all ages and nations. Christianity is God’s ordained instrument to plant and extend His kingdom on earth; and, contrary to the teachings of the schools and the expectations of the wise, it shall not do this by the power of the state, by the force of law, by ecclesiastical organisms, by the influence of fraternities, or by means of patronage, learning, and wealth, but by simply recognising and working the original elemental principles of society; by simply “turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” The Gospel seeks to accomplish the mission of life by the power of family religion--by invigorating and purifying the family constitution, by drawing close and sanctifying the bonds of domestic affection and life, and if it fails to do this it fails of its end. Affection is the great family bond and the chief element of power in domestic life. And Christianity appeals powerfully to the affections of our nature. There is a mighty force in it to excite and purify, to strengthen and exalt our nature. A family not under a religious training and influence is a fountain of social corruption. Here are the sources of infidelity and vice and disorder, of social, political, and religious declension and overthrow. Is there a widespread corruption of morals pervading society? Depend upon it, the main and primary cause of it all may be traced up to the family. This fundamental, elementary justification is not honoured, but abused and perverted. There are three fundamental agencies by which Divine wisdom seeks to reform and save the world--the family, the state, and the Church. They sustain most intimate relations to each other. They underlie all goodness, all prosperity, all order. The family is more radical than the others, and they cannot exist without it. It is a wonderful arrangement, this division of the whole human family into little separate communities, each community a little government, a miniature world by itself--marriage the foundation, love the bond, and Divine authority the governing power. Such an arrangement, simple as it is, touches all the elementary and radical principles of human nature. The family power is the fountain of all moral power in the world. Without such an agency we cannot see how religion could ever have gained a footing in it. During all the patriarch ages the family alone preserved the knowledge and worship of God. We cannot estimate the full value of such an agency. We cannot tell all its vital bearings on the kingdom of Christ, on the world at large. Where the family power is neglected or perverted religion has nothing to build upon. The only way to build up Christ’s kingdom is to make the family what it should be. The household must be sanctified. There is no agency that can be substituted for the family. It is a shallow and miserable philosophy which would set it aside, or endeavour to improve upon it. It belongs to all time, to universal humanity. (J. M. Sherwood.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Malachi 4:5". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/malachi-4.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Malachi 4:5-6. Behold, I will send you Elijah, &c.— This prophesy, says Bishop Chandler, is a repetition of that in chap. Malachi 3:1 only the name of the messenger is added to it, with the manner of his preparing the way, which is declared to be spiritual: he shall turn the hearts of the fathers with the children; and of the children with the fathers (as Kimchi properly renders the particle על al); that is to say, he shall do his part to cause a national reformation to convert fathers and children all together from their evil practices, and restore a true sense of religion, which was then dwindled into form, and so remove the curse, the utter excision denounced upon this land, namely Judaea; lest I come, and smite the land with a curse. The coming of the day of the Lord, and Jehovah's coming to smite the land with a curse, is the coming of the Lord, Messiah; which should prove a terrible time to the wicked Jews, though to the godly he should arise as the Sun of righteousness. It was the universal opinion when Christ was upon earth, received by the learned and unlearned, the governors and the people at large, that Elijah should usher in the Messiah, and anoint him: all expected that Elijah should first come, and restore all things; and long before that, the son of Sirach grounded it on the passage now before us. Thus he speaks to the true Elijah: Thou wast ordained for reproof,—(thou wast written of as a type) in after-times to pacify the wrath of the Lord's judgment, before it break into fury, and to turn the heart of the father unto the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob; which is part of the Messiah's office, Isaiah 49:6. The Jews have not since varied from this notion: in all their later prophets the coming of Elijah and of the Messiah are usually mentioned together; and this is the reason why they pray so heartily for the coming of Elijah, even without mention of the Messiah; because the coming of the one, according to Malachi, infers the other. But it is neither said nor implied in the text, that Elijah the Tishbite should come in person: if any one else came in the spirit and power of Elijah, Malachi's words were fulfilled; who meant no more that Elijah should rise again, than Hosea and Jeremiah did that David should be restored to life, in order to reign over Israel and Judah, when they prophesied that the tribes should hereafter serve David their king. It is common with them to describe persons by the names of others whom they resemble in the most eminent qualities. And as it is not said, so it could not be intended, here, that Elijah should come again in person. Whoever he was, he must precede the final destruction of the Jews, which has been over 1700 years ago, and no real Elijah come to warn them of it, as is confessed by them. But, take the words as they are interpreted by the very learned Grotius, and the sense is easy, and the completion manifest. "After me you shall have no prophet for a long time: the next shall be the harbinger of the Messiah, in whom prophesy shall revive. He shall be another Elijah for zeal, for courage, austerity of life, and labour for reformation." The fact is allowed by the Jews, that prophesy was sealed up with Malachi, and to be restored in the days of the Messiah. Had they been able to receive it, they would have concluded that John the Baptist, in whom this gift did revive, must be therefore the Elijah of Malachi: for all the people held John as a prophet, Matthew 14:5; Matthew 21:26. The Sanhedrim, astonished at his preaching and actions, thought that he must be Elijah; that prophet in Moses, or the Messiah: and many of the scribes and pharisees, as well as the rest of the country, went to be baptized of him, confessing their sins; John 19:25. Matthew 3:5-7. His preaching exactly answered the description of it by Malachi. As Elijah was to notify the coming of the day that shall burn, &c. Malachi 4:1 that great and dreadful day, wherein the Lord, Messiah, shall smite the land of Jewry with a curse; so did John the Baptist exhort to repentance from this motive, that the kingdom of God was at hand; and to flee from the wrath to come, for there was one to come after him, mightier than he, whose fan was in his hand, to purge the floor, and to burn the chaff with unquenchable fire; Matthew 7:10-11. Josephus confirms the account given of him in the sacred historians: "It was the opinion of the Jews," says he, "that Herod's army was cut off by the Arabs, through God's just judgment, for the sake of John, who was surnamed the Baptist. For he killed that excellent man, who stirred up the people to the exercise of all virtues, especially piety and justice, and to receive his baptism, which he assured them was grateful to God, if to purity of body they added purity of life, and first cleansed their souls, not from one or two, but every sin. But when the people resorted in numbers to him, greedy of his doctrine, and ready to do any thing by his counsel, fearing what might be effected from so great authority of the man, he imprisoned and then slew him." Antiq. lib. 18: cap. 7. If there were nothing else for it, the fulfilling of his predictions demonstrated John to be a true prophet: for, as John had foretold, Jesus suddenly after him appeared in the temple, preaching likewise repentance for remission of sins, and warning the Jews of the impending desolation of their country; which he executed accordingly, as he threatened he would, within a few years after they put him to death, and rejected his doctrine. No such events fell out at any time before; and these at this time came up to the words of the prophesy. The events, therefore, are another proof of the sense of the prophesy. The coming of John the Baptist as a prophet, and of Jesus as the Messiah, and the final destruction of Judaea following their coming, according to their preaching, is a plain evidence, that they only were intended in the present prophesy. See Bishop Chandler's Defence, p. 64, &c. We shall have occasion to speak more on this subject when we come to the history of John the Baptist in the Evangelists; and in the meantime have great pleasure in recommending the reader to the very ingenious Dr. Bell's "Inquiry into the Divine Missions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ."

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The coming of Christ, spoken of in this chapter, for the destruction of Jerusalem and the wicked Jews, is the type and figure of his appearing at the last for the perdition of the ungodly; and the day of their final judgment will be the day of final recompence for the faithful saints of God.

1. The Lord Jesus will be a consuming fire to the wicked. Behold, with surprise and terror, the day cometh, the evil day, which the transgressor put far away, that shall burn as an oven; when the wrath of God shall be revealed, and the fire be kindled around the devoted city; and all the proud, the scribes and pharisees who rejected the Lord Jesus; and all that do wickedly, the apostate Jewish people; shall be as stubble to the devouring flames; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch; the whole nation being destroyed, and the city and temple burnt and razed to their foundations.

Thus in the great day of the wrath of the Lamb, he shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on the proud, the self-righteous, and unhumbled sinner, who trusted for salvation on his own doings and duties; and on all that do wickedly, the careless and profane, who know not God and obey not his Gospel; they shall be all devoted to destruction, and fuel for the flames, and cast together into the everlasting burnings of hell, where their worm never dies, and their fire is not quenched.

2. He will be a reviving sun to his people. Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; he led his people out of Jerusalem to Pella, when it was ready to be destroyed; and more generally on all his believing people he thus arises, when first they yield in faith to his gracious invitations, and he then calls them out of darkness into his marvellous light; he is their sun, the fountain of all spiritual light and life; by his bright beams they are quickened, bring forth fruit abundantly, rejoice before him, and walk in the light of truth, which leads the faithful soul to the mansions of glory. He is their Sun of righteousness, shining without spot himself, the author of everlasting righteousness to his faithful people, and the powerful and effectual agent, who by his mighty working transforms them into his own image of righteousness and true holiness: in his wings, his rays of light and grace, there is healing; our spiritual diseases are cured, the native darkness of the mind removed, and our sin-sick souls restored to health and strength by the genial influences of his reviving beams: and in the resurrection-morn with brighter lustre shall this glorious sun appear, and shine for ever upon his glorified saints.

3. In consequence of this, ye shall go forth, either out of Jerusalem to Pella, where the Christians found a place of refuge; or rather, the faithful shall go forth to walk in the light of the Lord, rejoicing in his salvation, steadily advancing in the path of grace, and running with delight the way of God's commandments; and grow up as calves of the stall, fat and well-liking; so replenished shall they be with the influences of God's spirit, and fed with the bread of life, strengthening and increasing with the increase of God. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of Hosts: the wicked Jews who persecuted them shall now be burnt with their cities, and trod into the dust. Thus when the conquests of the Redeemer shall be completed, and death itself destroyed, then shall the wicked be brought low, and every foe that troubled God's saints be trodden under foot; while the triumphs of the glorified shall be everlasting. See the Notes.

2nd, The canon of the Old Testament now receives a solemn close. The Jewish people are to expect no more prophets till the great forerunner of the Messiah appears; and therefore,

1. They must keep stedfast to the law and the testimony, and be guided only by God's past revealed will. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments, moral and ceremonial; all which would have a direct tendency to lead them to Christ; for which purpose the law was their schoolmaster, and it must now be their only rule, in contradistinction to the corrupt glosses which their teachers shortly after began to put upon it. Note; The word of God alone, exclusive of all traditions and human expositions, must be our rule; the labours of others may assist our inquiries after truth; but, after all, we must call no man master; one is our master, even Christ, and he has promised that we shall be taught of him; and by prayer and meditation on his word, humbly desiring to know his mind, he will lead us into all truth.

2. They must live in the constant expectation of the Messiah, and his forerunner John the Baptist. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, one in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17 one in zeal, courage to rebuke sin, piety and austerity of manners resembling him, Matthew 11:14 before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, when, for the rejection of the true Messiah, wrath to the uttermost should be poured out upon their land, and their city and temple be utterly destroyed; Acts 2:20. He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, or of the fathers with the children; both one and the other by his preaching shall be turned to Christ, and directed to the Lamb of God, who is come to take away the sin of the world; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse, which would be the certain consequence of their rejecting the Lord's Christ, and which visibly remains upon the Jewish people to this day.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/malachi-4.html. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

4; Malachi 2:1-17; Malachi 3:1-18; Malachi 4:1-6

PROPHECY WITHIN THE LAW

"MALACHI" 1-4

BENEATH this title we may gather all the eight sections of the Book of "Malachi." They contain many things of perennial interest and validity: their truth is applicable, their music is still musical, to ourselves. But their chief significance is historical. They illustrate the development of prophecy within the Law. Not under the Law, be it observed. For if one thing be more clear than another about "Malachi’s" teaching, it is that the spirit of prophecy is not yet crushed by the legalism which finally killed it within Israel. "Malachi" observes and enforces the demands of the Deuteronomic law under which his people had lived since the Return from Exile. But he traces each of these to some spiritual principle, to some essential of religion in the character of Israel’s God, which is either doubted or neglected by his contemporaries in their lax performance of the Law. That is why we may entitle his book Prophecy within the Law, The essential principles of the religion of Israel which had been shaken or obscured by the delinquency of the people during the half-century after the rebuilding of the Temple were three-the distinctive Love of Jehovah for His people, His Holiness, and His Righteousness. The Book of "Malachi" takes up each of these in turn, and proves or enforces it according as the people have formally doubted it or in their carelessness done it despite.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/malachi-4.html.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

8. THE RETURN OF ELIJAH

Malachi 4:4-6;, Hebrews 4:3-5

With his last word the prophet significantly calls upon the people to remember the Law. This is their one hope before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. But, in order that the Law may have full effect, Prophecy will be sent to bring it home to the hearts of the people-Prophecy in the person of her founder and most drastic representative. Nothing could better gather up than this conjunction does that mingling of Law and of Prophecy which we have seen to be so characteristic of the work of "Malachi." Only we must not overlook the fact that "Malachi" expects this prophecy, which with the Law is to work the conversion of the people, not in the continuance of the prophetic succession by the appearance of original personalities, developing further the great principles of their order, but in the return of the first prophet Elijah. This is surely the confession of Prophecy that the number of her servants is exhausted and her message to Israel fulfilled. She can now do no more for the people than she has done. But she will summon up her old energy and fire in the return of her most powerful personality, and make one grand effort to convert the nation before the Lord come and strike it with judgment.

"Remember the Torah of Moses, My servant, with which I charged him in Horeb for all Israel: statutes and judgments. Lo! I am sending to you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible day of Jehovah. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, ere I come and strike the land with the Ban."

"Malachi" makes this promise of the Law in the dialect of Deuteronomy: "statutes and judgments with which Jehovah charged Moses for Israel." But the Law he enforces is not that which God delivered to Moses on the plains of Shittim, but that which He gave him in Mount Horeb. And so it came to pass. In a very few years after "Malachi" prophesied Ezra the Scribe brought from Babylon the great Levitical Code, which appears to have been arranged there, while the colony in Jerusalem were still organizing their life under Deuteronomic legislation. In 444 b. c. this Levitical Code, along with Deuteronomy, became by covenant between the people and their God their Canon and Law. And in the next of our prophets, Joel, we shall find its full influence at work.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/malachi-4.html.

The Pulpit Commentaries

EXPOSITION

Malachi 4:1-3

4. The final separation of the evil and the good at the day of judgment.

Malachi 4:1

Burn as an oven (a furnace). Fire is often spoken of in connection with the day of judgment and the advent of the Judge. It is a symbol of the holiness of God, which consumes all impurity, and also represents the punishment inflicted on the ungodly (Psalms 1:1-6 :8; Isaiah 10:17; Isaiah 66:15, Isaiah 66:16; Daniel 7:9, Daniel 7:10; Joel 2:30; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Peter 3:7, etc.). The LXX. adds, "and it shall burn them." Stubble (see note on Obadiah 1:18); or, perhaps, chaff, as Matthew 3:11, Matthew 3:12. Root nor branch The ungodly are regarded as a tree which is given up to be burned so that nothing of it is left. The same metaphor is used by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:10; comp. Amos 2:9). The Hebrew text includes this chapter in Matthew 3:1-17.

Malachi 4:2

The Sun of Righteousness. The sun which is righteousness, in whose wings, that is, rays, are healing and salvation. This Divine righteousness shall beam upon them that fear the Name of God, flooding them with joy and light, healing all wounds, tee moving all miseries, making them incalculably blessed. The Fathers generally apply the title of "Sun of Righteousness" to Christ, who is the Source of all justification and enlightenment and happiness, and who is called (Jeremiah 23:6), "The Lord our Righteousness." Grow up; rather, gambol; σκιρτήσετε; salietis (Vulgate). "Ye shall leap!" comp. Jeremiah h 11). The word is used of a horse galloping (Habbakuk Jeremiah 1:8). The happiness of the righteous is illustrated by a homely image drawn from pastoral pursuits. They had been, as it were, hidden in the time of affliction and temptation; they shall go forth boldly now, free and exulting, like calves driven from the stall to pasture (comp. Psalms 114:4, Psalms 114:6; So Psalms 2:8, 17).

Malachi 4:3

Ye shall tread down the wicked (comp. Micah 4:13). They who were once oppressed and overborne by the powers of wickedness shall now rise superior to all hindrances, and themselves tread down the wicked as the ashes under their feet, to which the fire of judgment shall reduce them. In the day that I shall do this; rather, as in Malachi 3:17, in the day which I am preparing.

Malachi 4:4-6

§ 5. Concluding admonition to remember the Law, lest they should be liable to the curse. In order to avert this, the Lord, before his coming, would send Elijah to promote a change of heart in the nation.

Malachi 4:4

If the people would meet the judgment with confidence and secure for themselves the promised blessings, they must remember and obey the Law of Moses. Thus the last of the prophets set his seal to the Pentateuch, on obedience to which depended, as of old (see Leviticus 26:1-46.; Deuteronomy 28:1-68.), so now, the most abundant blessings. My servant. Moses was only the agent and interpreter of God. The origin and authority of the Law were Divine. Horeb. The mention of the mountain would remind the people of the awful wonders that accompanied the promulgation of the Law (Exodus 19:16, etc.; Deuteronomy 4:10-15) For all Israel Not merely for the people who heard the Law given, but for the nation unto all time. Nor could they be true Israelites unless they observed the terms of the covenant then made. With the (even) statutes and judgments. These terms, which explain the word "Law," include all the enactments, legal, moral, ceremonial. Malachi might well remind the people of their duty, and thus support Nehemiah in his struggle to win them to obedience (see Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:29). The LXX. places this verse at the end of the chapter, probably because the original conclusion (verse 6) was thought too harsh to be left as the close of the Old Testament. The Jews had a feeling that books in the Bible should end with the name Jehovah. In the case of Isaiah and Ecclesiastes, they repeated, after the last verse, the last but one.

Malachi 4:5

Elijah the prophet. This is not the same personage as the "messenger" in Malachi 3:1; for the latter comes before the first advent of the Lord, the former appears before the day of judgment; one comes to prepare the way of the Lord, and is followed immediately by Messiah's coming to his temple; the other is sent to convert the chosen people, lest the land be smitten with a curse. There seems to be no valid reason for not holding the literal sense of the words, and seeing in them a promise that Elijah the prophet, who was taken alive from the earth, shall at the last day coma again to carry out God's wise purposes. That this was the view adopted by the Jews in all ages we see by the version of the LXX; who have here, "Elijah the Tishbite;" by the allusion in Ecclesiasticus 48:10; and by the question of our Lard's disciples in Matthew 17:10, "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come." Christ himself confirms this opinion by answering, "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." lie cannot be referring here to John the Baptist, because he uses the future tense; and when he goes on to say that "Elias is come already," he is referring to what was past, and he himself explains that he means John, who was announced to come in the spirit and power of Elias (Luke 1:17), but of whom it could not be said that he "restored all things." The same opinion is found in the Revelation (Revelation 11:3, Revelation 11:6), where one of the witnesses is very commonly supposed to be Elijah. It is argued by Keil, Reinke, and others, that, as the promise of King David in such passages as Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5, etc; cannot imply the resurrection of David and his return to earth, so we cannot think of an actual reappearance of Elijah himself, but only of the coming of some prophet with his spirit and power. But, as Knabenbauer points out, for the attribution of the name David to Messiah, long and careful preparation had been made; e.g. by his being called "the rod of Jesse," the occupant of David's throne, etc.; and all who heard the expression would at once understand the symbolical application, especially as David was known to have died and been buried. But when they found Malachi speaking of the reappearance of "Elijah the prophet," who, as they were well aware, had never died, of whose connection with the coming Messenger they had never heard, they could not avoid the conclusion to which they came, viz. that before the great day of judgment Elias should again visit the earth in person. This prophecy concerns the very last days, and intimates that before the final consummation, when iniquity shall abound, God will send this great and faithful preacher of repentance, whose mission shall have such effects that the purpose of God for the salvation of Israel shall be accomplished. We may therefore assume that in the gospel the appellation "Elias" stands both for John and for Elijah himself; for the messenger who prepared the way for Christ's first advent, and for the prophet who was to convert the Israelites before the judgment day; for him who came in spirit and power, and him who shall come in bodily presence. The great and dreadful day. The day of final judgment. No other crisis could be named in such terms (see Joel 2:31, whence the words are taken).

Malachi 4:6

He shall turn, etc.; i.e; taking the preposition, rendered "to," in the sense of "with," he shall convert one and all, fathers and children, young and old, unto the Lord. Or, in agreement with the versions, he shall bring back the Jews then living to the faith of their ancestors, who rejoiced to see the day of Christ (John 8:56); and then the patriarchs, who for their unbelief had disowned them, shall recognize them as true Israelites, true children of Abraham. Others explain—He shall unite the Jews who are our fathers in the faith to us Christians who are their children (see Luke 1:17, where the angel Gabriel quotes part of the passage, and applies it to John the Baptist). The heart. Here not the seat of the intellectual powers, but of love and confidence, which lead to union and concord. Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse; or, smite the land with the ban. This is an allusion to the ban threatened in the Law, which involved extermination (see Le 27:29; Deuteronomy 13:16, Deuteronomy 13:17; Deuteronomy 20:16, Deuteronomy 20:17). So Elijah shall come and preach repentance, as the Baptist did at Christ's first coming; and unless the Jews listen to him and turn to Christ, they shall be destroyed, shall share in that eternal anathema which shall fall on the ungodly at the day of judgment.

HOMILETICS

Malachi 4:2

The Sun of Righteousness.

In Malachi 4:1 and Malachi 4:2 we are once more presented with the twofold aspect of a Divine fact. (See homilies on Malachi 3:2 and Malachi 3:6.) "Dies irae, dies ilia." But "that day" need not be a "day of wrath." It may be memorable, admirable, as the day of full salvation. As the first coming of Christ was for the "rising again" of some, "that they which see not might see" (John 9:39), so at his second coming, though "revealed from heaven in flaming fire," he shall be "admired in all them that believe;" for he shall bring "rest" and full redemption to them (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). The great and terrible day of the Lord will have both a bright and a dark side, like the cloud that came between the Egyptians and the Israelites. To "the proud and all that do wickedly" it will be a day of utter destruction. It will "burn like an oven," fire burning more fiercely in a furnace than in the open air. The wicked, having made themselves like "the dry tree," "ready for the burning," will be consumed root and branch, with no hope of renewed life such as might survive the stroke of the feller's axe (Job 14:7-9). These threats are applicable to all times of judgment, when "the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud … and upon all the cedars of Lebanon," etc. (Isaiah 2:12-17). We may see fulfilments of them in successive epochs of judgment, from the troublous times that followed the days of Malachi down to the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgment of the great day. Similar figures of destruction by fire justify this extended application (Psalms 21:9, Psalms 21:10; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 10:17, Isaiah 10:18; Nahum 1:5; Zephaniah 1:18; Matthew 3:12; 2 Peter 3:7-10). But such times need be no terror to the faithful servants of God, for "unto you that fear my Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings. As we do not confine the prediction of the day of the Lord to any one day, so we do not limit the promise of "the Sun of Righteousness" to any one person. Whenever a signal manifestation of God's righteousness is displayed on behalf of his servants, it is like the rising of the sun on a dark, cold, and unhealthy land. But the manifestation of the righteousness of God in the Person and work of Christ so far excels all other manifestations that we may limit our further application of the words to our Lord Jesus Christ, "that in all things he may have the pre-eminence." What the sun is to the material world, the Messiah is to the moral world. The following blessings are suggested by the figure.

1. Light after darkness. Such is Christ to all men (John 1:4, John 1:9), especially to his own countrymen (Luke 1:78, Luke 1:79; Matthew 4:12), but in a deeper sense to all that followed him (John 8:12). He brought the light of truth (Isaiah 9:2), for he was himself" the Truth." Where he rises, like the dawn, upon the benighted and bewildered traveller, he guides into the way of peace and of salvation. The light of truth shows us "the paths of righteousness" (Psalms 143:8, Psalms 143:10).

2. Warmth after cold (Psalms 19:6). Christ not only gives light, but life. His presence causes that spiritual warmth which is a life giving power. He is "a quickening Spirit" (John 5:21, John 5:25; John 6:47, etc.). There is a spiritual as well as a solar chemistry. The beams of the Sun of Righteousness both enlighten, warm, and quicken (1 Corinthians 1:30).

3. Health after sickness. The figure of "wings" may allude to the rays of the sun, or perhaps to the breeze which in many hot regions, especially in the zones of the trade winds, begins to blow over the land early in the morning, bringing freshness and health with it. The Jews had a proverbial saying, "As the sun riseth, infirmities decrease." Christ, when in our midst, scattered around him blessings of healing, both physical and spiritual. At Jericho he brought sight to blind Bartimaeus and life to dead Zacchaeus. So is it wherever he rises, like the light of life, on the souls of men (Psalms 147:3; Isaiah 57:19; Ezekiel 47:12; 1 John 5:11, 1 John 5:12). The terms "righteousness" and "healing," being very comprehensive, remind us of the blessings brought by Christ at both his first and second comings. At the first advent he diffused the rays of righteousness, whereby he both justifies and sanctifies those who turn to him, just as the sun imparts light, life, and joy to all who turn towards it. At the second, he will own the righteousness which he gave, and will exhibit it, cleared of all the misjudgments of the world, before men and angels. By his first advent he gave spiritual healing, justification, and all its allied blessings, summed up in the royal gift of "eternal life." At his second he will bring full salvation, when, as one has said, there shall be "understanding without error, memory without forgetfulness, thought without distraction, love without simulation, sensation without offence, satisfying without satiety, universal health without sickness" (Isaiah 55:1-13 :20, 21; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:1-5).

Malachi 4:4-6

The sufficiency of God's successive revelations.

The introduction of the appeal in Malachi 4:4 between the predictions and promises of Malachi 4:2, Malachi 4:3 and Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6 has at first sight an appearance of abruptness. The promise of Malachi 4:5 lay in the indefinite, and as we know the distant, future. Malachi proved to be the last of the prophets of the old covenant. In the long interval between Malachi and John the Baptist there were times when Israel looked and longed for a new prophet to arise (1 Macc. 9:27; 14:41). though sometimes this was only for the purpose of settling very unimportant questions (e.g. 1 Macc. 4:41-46). But all the while they had in their hands a revelation from God that was amply sufficient for their present guidance, and the right use of which would prepare them for further blessings and preserve them from wrath to come. We are thus reminded of the truth of the sufficiency of God's revelations for those to whom they are granted. We may apply this truth—

I. TO GOD'S UNWRITTEN REVELATIONS. The declarations of God's truth and of his will to Adam and the patriarchs were less definite than when "the Law came in beside" (Romans 5:14, Romans 5:20). But though in one sense "exceeding broad" as compared with the multifarious laws of Moses, they were sufficient to produce a conviction of sin (e.g. Genesis 4:7; Genesis 42:21, Genesis 42:22, etc.), and therefore of the need of forgiveness, and to enable men to walk with God (Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9). So is it with the heathen (Romans 1:20; Romans 2:14, Romans 2:15). The revelations through the worlds of matter and of mind are sufficient as a rule of life, though not as a means of full salvation (comp. Acts 10:35, "acceptable" ( δεκτὸς) and Acts 4:12).

II. TO THE LAW OF MOSES. This answered all needful questions as to the character and the will of God. Moses, the first writer in the Bible, and his Law are honourably mentioned by the last writer, this fact supplying one out of many testimonies to the unity of the Bible. Similar witness to the value and the sufficiency of the Law of Moses "for the time then present" is borne by Christ. The prophets came not to supersede but to expound the Law, to bring out the fulness of its morality, and to apply its fundamental teachings to the changing scenes of national life (Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 34:12-14, etc.). Moses and the prophets "received not the promise" (Hebrews 11:32, Hebrews 11:39), yet Christ could say, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).

III. TO THE CHRISTIAN REVELATION. Upon us "the ends of the ages are come" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Yet there is an eternity beyond. We cannot believe that God has spoken his last word to the sons of men. Now we know in part. There are treasures of wisdom and knowledge still hidden in Christ. At times we long to have fuller access to them. We should be thankful if some infallible living teacher could expound to us "the book," or guide us in the path of duty. But we find ourselves between two great epochs, the first advent and the second. We live in what a distinguished writer has called one of the great "pauses" of the world. "Miracles have ceased. Prophecy has ceased. The Son of God is ascended. Apostles are no longer hare to apply infallible judgment to each new circumstance as it arises, as St. Paul did to the state of the Corinthian Church." The written Word must be our appeal, and the Divine Spirit, leading each believer into the truth, must be our Interpreter. He may show us fresh truths in the old familiar Word, just as Christians after the destruction of Jerusalem saw further and fuller meaning in our Lord's predictions of his second coming. But the revelations of doctrine and duty in that written Word are all we now need, and all we have a right to expect. If there are future revelations, they are among "the secret things" that "belong unto the Lord our God;" it is "those things that are revealed" which "belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words" of God's Law (Deuteronomy 29:29). Then we may expect to "see greater things than these" (Matthew 13:12). As the Old Testament closes with promises of larger blessings (Acts 4:5, Acts 4:6), so does the New Testament (Revelation 21:1-7, Revelation 21:9-27; Revelation 22:1-5). We know that a glorious future awaits the sons of God (1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:2). Yet in the midst of the most glowing promises occur awful threats. Here we read of "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" and "the curse." In the New Testament we find, embedded in its final chapters, such words as Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:11, Revelation 22:15, Revelation 22:18, Revelation 22:19 (like traces of a past volcanic eruption and warnings of a future one amidst the flowers and foliage of some sun lit mountain). These warnings emphatically bid us "remember the Law," take heed to that gospel of Christ which comes to us with all the authority of a law (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23), and is all that we need for salvation. The Jews, who would be wiser than the prophet, insert the fifth verse again, and read it a second time, because Malachi ends so awfully. But the Creator of men's hearts knew best how to reach the hearts he had created. In a somewhat similar way some Christians would not end God's present revelation where he ends it. In Christ's description of "the last day" which is revealed to us, they would, as it were, after Matthew 25:46, read again Matthew 25:34, and apply it to all. They would interpolate their own speculations of what God may do among the revelations of what God would have us to do. Instead of pursuing such a perilous path, we bid men "remember." We point them back to the only and unchangeable Saviour and the unalterable gospel (John 3:18, John 3:36; Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9), which is all that we need for salvation, and "whereunto we do well that we take heed,: etc. (2 Peter 1:19).

HOMILIES BY R. TUCK

Malachi 4:1

The Divine fire.

"The day cometh that shall bum as an oven." Fire is one of the most familiar figures of the Divine working. It is one of the forces which man most dreads when it gets beyond control. And it is the force on which man most relies for the purifying of the good and the destruction of the evil. The fire of the oven is fire at its intensest. A hole is dug in the ground, a fire of stubble is kindled in it; by this time a large stone is heated, and on the stone the bread can be baked. Malachi has already dealt with the refining power of the fire of God. That which is good is freed and cleansed and improved by means of it. The prophet does not see the whole of the features of the day of God; only those which are directly related to the condition and needs of the people in his day. Every prophet is one-sided; and we must learn from all if we would apprehend the whole of truth, even concerning the Divine fire. Malachi had to adapt his teachings to some who were sincere but mistaken. To them the Divine fire is disciplinary. "He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver." But he had also to adapt his teachings to some who were wilfully and persistently wrong. To them the Divine fire is, In some sense, destructive consuming. "The proud shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up." There are two things characteristic of the Divine fire, which are suggested by the double figure of refining and consuming.

I. THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE FIRE DEPENDS ON WHAT IT OPERATES ON. This is one of the most marked peculiarities of common fire. It scatters water; it melts wax; it destroys wood; it hardens clay; it purifies metal. It makes silver valuable; it makes dross worthless. And so with the Divine fire. The apostle dwells on its testing power (1 Corinthians 3:13); but here its actual moral effect on differing characters is indicated. Take classes of character in Malachi's time, and show the different effects which Divine dealings had upon them. Take types of character now, and show how Divine dealings soften or harden.

II. THE DIVINE FIRE IS DESTRUCTIVE OF THE FORMS OF THINGS, NOT OF THINGS. Science now explains that common fire destroys nothing; it only Changes the forms and relations of things. When the state of the wicked is irremediable by any existing moral forces, then their form and relation must be changed. As in the time of the Flood, humanity had to be put in new conditions. God's fire destructions always begin a new regime.—R.T.

Malachi 4:2

The healing sunrise.

"The Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings." "As the rising sun diffuses light and heat, so that all that is healthy in nature revives and lifts up its head, while plants that have no depth of root are scorched up and wither away, so the advent of the reign of righteousness, which will reward the good and the wicked, each according to his deserts, will dissipate all darkness of doubt, and heal all the wounds which the apparent injustice of the conduct of affairs has inflicted on the hearts of the righteous" (W.H. Lowe). The figure of "healing in his wings" may be illustrated by the fact that, off Smyrna, every morning about sunrise a fresh gale of air blows from the sea across the land, which from its wholesomeness and utility in clearing the infected air is always called "the doctor."

I. THE WORLD UNDER THE DARKNESS OF REIGNING EVIL. Represented by those dark, depressing, unhealthy days when there is no light in the sky, and the damp mists lie low. Then the plants droop, the flowers do not care to open, and the leaves hang. The song birds are silent, and the hours drag on wearily. To the good the darkness of prevailing evil sentiment, evil opinion, evil practice, is necessarily afflictive. These things make an unnourishing atmosphere and bad circumstances. When the darkness of evil prevails in

As Malachi saw the people in his day, they were in the gloom of triumphant self-will, and there was no sunlight of God in their sky. That sunshine was his hope for the future.

II. THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF REIGNING RIGHTEOUSNESS. And that time he saw dawning when Messiah should appear. The birth of the Babe of Bethlehem was the strong sunrise of righteousness. Picture the dawning of the sun in full, clear strength after weeks of dulness, damp, and disease. How the sunbeams dry up the mists, warm the chilled earth, waken the music of the birds, make the flowers smile, and gladden man's heart. "Notice these flowers all around us, how they turn smiling to the sun's ardent gaze, bend forward in seeming reverence, throw open their pretty cups, and cast around their sweetest perfume. So, when the Sun of Righteousness shines, all moral goodness joyously responds. Evil slinks away into the shadows. When that Sun shines on through the eternal day, man's answering goodness may flourish abundantly."—R.T.

Malachi 4:3

The secret of triumph over wickedness.

The figure of "treading ashes" is suggested by the previous figure of "burning." When the wicked are burned up in the fire of God, all their power to injure the good will be gone. They will but be as ashes of the oven, ashes spread abroad, ashes made a path to walk over. The tone of the prophet is not one of glorying over the fate of the wicked, but of rejoicing in the removal of the hindrance which the wicked ever put in the way of God's faithful servants.

I. THE ILL ESTATE OF THE GOOD WHEN THE WICKED, OR GODLESS TRIUMPH. This may be illustrated in every sphere.

1. The National. Illustrate from the times of Jeremiah, when a godless party held power in the state, and tried to force an Egyptian alliance. Or from the times of Malachi, when formalist and careless Levites were corrupting the religious sentiments of the people. Or from the state of the Jewish nation in the time of our Lord, when the fountains of religious and secular authority were corrupt, and the crucifixion of ideal virtue was a possibility. Show in what an evil case good people, who feared the Lord, were placed at such times. See the sufferings of Jeremiah and of our Divine Lord. So there are national times now when evil sentiment prevails, and the servants of God have to "keep silence," because it is an "evil time."

2. The intellectual. The deistic age of our grandfathers was an evil time for devout believers. This critical age of ours is a time of sore strain for those who would preserve the simplicity of faith. The same truth may be illustrated in the smaller spheres of family, or school, or business. Whenever self-indulgence, bad sentiments, or evil characters have power, those who would live godly, sober, and righteous lives are sorely put to it. Though for them this need be but culturing discipline, the treading on the camomile plant that makes it yield freely its fragrance.

II. THE ILL ESTATE OF THE WICKED WHEN THE GOOD, OR GOD FEARING, TRIUMPH. This can be treated without any unworthy glorying over the disabilities of others. The point may be illustrated in every sphere, national, political, social, intellectual, or in the smaller spheres of the family, the school, the business, the Church. The point to dwell on is the distress of the wicked, not from personal suffering, hut from their inability to do mischief. We may rejoice that the wicked are made helpless by the triumph of goodness.—R.T.

Malachi 4:4

Loyalty to God's revealed will.

It was characteristic of the restored exiles that they endeavoured exactly to reproduce the old Mosaic system; but there was a grave danger involved in their effort. They could not precisely reproduce everything. There must be some adjustment to the very different social and religious sentiments and relations. But those who claimed the authority to make the adjustments would be almost sure to carry their authority too far, and claim to alter and amend the very laws and rules. Under the guise of translation, adaptation, and amplification, the new law of the rabbis became established; and the mischief that it had become in the time of our Lord is evident in its actually overlaying the revealed Law of God, and making the Jehovah religion a burden beyond bearing. Malachi seems to foresee the mischievous growth of an evil which had already begun in his time, and in this closing passage of his work solemnly calls the people back to the unquestionable and unrivalled authority of the Horeb revelation given to Moses. It is the great recall that has been again and again found necessary in the course of the ages. It is the recall needed today. "To the Law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).

I. THE SIGN OF GOODNESS IN GOD'S PEOPLE. Practical interest in God's revealed Word. The old Jew had none of the difficulties which modem infidelity and modern criticism have put in our fathers' way and in ours. Our fathers were troubled by being assured that a book revelation was impossible. They might have confidently, yet meekly replied, "But here it is." We are troubled by being told that the Bible is not at all what we think it to be, and is not trustworthy. We may quietly reply, "Whatever it is, it is 'a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.'" Treatment of the Word is the best test of the godly life.

II. GOD'S REVEALED WORD SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND, It is designed to replenish our life at its fountains of thought, knowledge, and feeling. Therefore the prophet says, "Remember ye the Law of Moses." Keep it in mind; freshen the memory continually.

III. GOD'S REVEALED WORD IS BEST KEPT IN MIND BY KEEPING IT IN THE LIFE. "If any will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." Practical obedience is

Malachi 4:5

The mission of the second Elijah.

There is no reason for doubting that John the Baptist is referred to. Our Lord's allusions to John as fulfilling this prophecy should suffice to settle the question. There need be no difficulty in admitting John to be the second Elijah, if we apprehend the figurative and poetical character of the prophetical Scriptures. One who would do for his age a similar work to that which was done by Elijah for his age would, in Scripture, be called an Elijah. There is no occasion whatever for imagining that any miraculous reappearance of Elijah was in the mind of Malachi, or a part of his prophetic message. The Jews overpressed a literal interpretation, and to this day they earnestly pray for the coming of Elias, which, they assume, will immediately precede the appearance of Messiah. Dean Stanley says, "Elijah was the prophet for whose return in later years his countrymen have looked with most eager hope It was a fixed belief of the Jews that he had appeared again and again, as an Arabian merchant, to wise and good rabbis, at their prayers or on their journeys. A seat is still placed for him to superintend the circumcision of the Jewish children. Passover after Passover the Jews of our own day place the paschal cup on the table, and set the door wide open, believing that that is the moment when Elijah will reappear. When goods are found, and no owner comes; when difficulties arise, and no solution appears, the answer is, ' Put them by till Elijah comes.'"

Twice in her season of decay,

The fallen Church hath felt Elijah's eye,

Dart from the wild its piercing ray,...

The herald star,

Whose torch afar

Shadows and boding night birds fly."

(Keble.)

Matthew Henry, in a few skilful sentences, suggests the likenesses and the contrasts of the two Elijahs. "Elijah was a man of great austerity and mortification, zealous for God, bold in reproving sin, and active to reduce an apostate people to God and their duty. John the Baptist was animated by the same spirit and power, and preached repentance and reformation, as Elias had done; and all held him for a prophet, as they did Elijah in his day, and that his baptism was from heaven, and not of men." Rabbi Eliezer closes a curious chapter on repentance with these words: "And Israel will not make great repentance till Elijah—his memory for blessing!—come." For fair comparison of the two Elijahs, it is necessary to make careful comparison of the times to which they were sent, noticing the essential sameness underneath the manifest differences. Rabbinism had really driven the spiritual religion of Jehovah from the land in John's days, just as the Astarte form of Baalism had driven the Jehovah worship from Israel in the days of Elijah. The two men may be compared in relation to—

I. THEIR PERSONS. In each case there was an arresting personal appearance, and an unusual power of personal impression. In each case we have a man markedly different from surrounding men. This is noticeable in the dress, but more in the men themselves. And their mission largely lay in their personnel. Men minister for God in what they are in figure, countenance, and impression.

II. THEIR HABITS. Both were wilderness men, whose very food was a reproach of prevailing luxury. Their indifference to personal pleasure declared their absorption in their work for God.

III. THEIR MISSIONS. Both were sent to be forerunners of a coming God, in grace, to his people. Both were sent to call the people to repentance. Turning—turning the people to God, was the work of both. Both had to make the same abrupt demand.

IV. THEIR SPIRIT. Both were absolutely loyal to Jehovah. Both were perfectly fearless of all consequences in doing their work. Both were stern in their tone, and saw the sterner side of truth. Both were humanly weak in times of unexpected strain.

V. THEIR INCOMPLETENESS. That characterizes the work of all who have preparing work to do. Neither Elijah nor John could count up results. To both life work might seem a failure. To Elijah, in a mood of depression, it did. But no life is incomplete that is but a piece of a whole, if, as a piece, it is complete. That is a comforting truth for the two Elijahs, and for us who now may have but pieces of work given us to do.—R.T.

Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6

The day of Divine manifestation.

The margin of the Revised Version gives the rendering with, as preferable to to, in the clause, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children," etc. Then the reference is to the work and influence of the second Elijah on all classes of society, on the hearts of both fathers and children. Keil, however, suggests a more difficult, yet more likely, explanation of the verse, "The fathers are rather the ancestors of the Israelitish nation, the patriarchs, and generally the pious forefathers .... The sons, or children, are the degenerate descendants of Malachi's own time and the succeeding ages." The Messiah is designed to be the bond of union for them all. What arrests attention in these closing verses of the Old Testament canon is that the stern side of Messiah's mission gains exclusive prominence. That sterner side specially interested the judgment prophets of Israel's degenerate days. And it was more particularly suitable for Malachi, because the very form of evil that was to hinder Messiah was beginning in his day. Malachi saw rabbinism taking root.

I. THE DREADFULNESS OF MESSIAH'S DAY FOR THE JEWISH NATION. All days of God, all Divine manifestations, are necessarily two sided. They are dealings with moral beings, and their results must depend on the response of the moral beings. Every day of God must be a "'savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.' What the coming of Christ was to Simeon and Anna, to the disciples, and to the Church of all the ages, we are constantly dwelling on. That is the bright and sunny side of Messiah's mission. But we may ask—What was Messiah's coming to the officials of the Mosaic religion, and for the Jewish nation that rejected him, under the leading of those officials? It was their last opportunity, their final testing. It proved them to be beyond moral recovery. It removed the last check, and their woe came. Their house was left unto them desolate."

II. THE DREADFULNESS OF CHRIST'S DAY FOR THE SELF-WILLED IN EVERY AGE. For Christ's test of the Jewish nation did but illustrate the test that he is, wherever and whenever he comes. Men reject him still at a peril which they seldom recognize. There is the stern side to a preached gospel. Christ proclaimed as Saviour makes forevery man a new and overwhelming condition for the testing of the judgment day.—R.T.

HOMILIES BY D. THOMAS

Malachi 4:1-3

The day of the world's retribution.

"For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven," etc. A graphic representation of these verses is given by Stanley: "The day spoken of was to be like the glorious but terrible uprising of the Eastern sun, which should wither to the roots the insolence and the injustice of mankind; but as its rays extended, like the wings of the Egyptian sun, God should, by its healing and invigorating influences, call forth the good from their obscurity, prancing and bounding like the young cattle in the burst of spring, and treading down under their feet the dust and ashes to which the same bright sun had burnt up the tangled thicket of iniquitous dealing." These words lead us to consider the day of the world's retribution.

I. IT WILL BE A TERRIBLE DAY TO THE WICKED. "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." Primarily this may refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, which was indeed a time of judgment, but it points on through the whole period of retribution. Mark two things.

1. How this retributive period regards the wicked. They are "stubble;" without life, beauty, or value; utterly worthless. They may be wealthy, learned, influential; yet they are nothing but "stubble," destitute even of one grain of moral wheat.

2. How this retributive period will destroy the wicked.

II. IT WILL BE A GLORIOUS PERIOD TO THE RIGHTEOUS. "But unto you that fear my Name shall the Bun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." This language may be regarded as indicating the blessedness of the world to a good man.

1. It is a world of solar brightness. "The Sun of Righteousness" arises on the horizon of his soul. There are souls that are lighted by sparks of their own kindling, and by the gaseous blaze springing from the bogs of inner depravity. All such lights, whether in the forms of philosophic theories or religious creeds, are dim, partial, transitory. The soul of a good man is lighted by the sun. The sun:

The soul of the good man is lighted by something more than the brightest lights of human genius; something more, in fact, than moon and stars; lighted by the Sun himself, the Source of all light and warmth and life. Christ is the Light of the good.

2. It is a world of Divine rectitude. "Sun of Righteousness." "The kingdom of God is within you." Eternal right is enthroned. God's will is the supreme law. The meat and drink of godly souls are to do the will of their Father who is in heaven. Such a soul is right:

3. It is a world of remedial influence. "With healing in his wings." The sun's beams are in Scripture called his wings (Psalms 139:9). The soul through sin is diseased, its eyes are dim, its ears are heavy, its limbs are feeble, its blood is poisoned. The godly is under remedial influences. The beams of the "Sun of Righteousness" work off the disease, repair the constitution, and enable it to run without being weary, and to walk without being faint. There is a proverb among the Jews that "as the sun riseth, infirmities decrease." The flowers which droop and languish all night revive in the morning. The late Mr. Robinson, of Cambridge, called upon a friend just as he had received a letter from his son, who was surgeon on a vessel then lying off Smyrna. The son mentioned in his letter that every morning about sunrise a fresh gale of air blew from the sea across the land, and from its wholesomeness and utility in cleansing the infected air the wind was called "the doctor." Christ is the Physician of souls.

4. It is a world of buoyant energy. "Ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." See the calf which from its birth has been shut up in the stall, let forth for the first time into the green fields of May, how full of buoyant energy! it leaps, and frolics, and frisks. This is the figure employed here to represent the gladsomeness with which the godly soul employs its faculties under the genial beams of the "Sun of Righteousness."—D.T.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/malachi-4.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
I will
3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 11:13,14; 17:10-13; 27:47-49; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:17; 7:26-28; 9:30; John 1:21,25
great
1; Joel 2:31; Acts 2:19,20; Revelation 6:17
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 18:37 - thou hast turned;  1 Kings 19:8 - Horeb;  Isaiah 2:12 - the day;  Isaiah 13:6 - for the day;  Ezekiel 13:5 - the day;  Zephaniah 1:14 - great;  Zechariah 14:1 - GeneralMatthew 3:4 - his raiment;  Matthew 11:10 - GeneralMatthew 16:14 - Elias;  Matthew 17:3 - Elias;  Matthew 24:27 - the coming;  Mark 6:15 - it is Elias;  Mark 8:28 - Elias;  Luke 1:76 - thou shalt;  Luke 7:27 - Behold;  Luke 9:19 - John;  John 1:6 - a man;  John 3:28 - but;  Acts 3:21 - the times;  1 Thessalonians 2:16 - for;  2 Peter 1:16 - coming;  2 Peter 3:10 - the day;  1 John 2:28 - at his;  Revelation 20:4 - the souls

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/malachi-4.html.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Behold I will send — Though the spirit of prophecy cease for four hundred years, yet at the expiring of those years, you shall have one sent, as great as Elijah.

Elijah — Namely John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17, and therefore bears his name.

Before — That is, immediately before; so he was born six months before Christ, and began his preaching a few years before Christ began to exercise his publick office.

The great and dreadful day of the Lord — This literally refers to the times of vengeance upon the Jews, from the death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and by accommodation, to the end of the world.

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Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/malachi-4.html. 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

CLOSING ADMONITIONS, Malachi 4:4-6.

The last three verses of the book of Malachi have no immediate connection with the preceding section; they must be understood rather as closing admonitions belonging to the entire book, added by Malachi himself or by a later writer (see on Hosea 14:9). Recent commentators are inclined to the latter view, though Nowack, who accepts the originality of Malachi 4:4, admits that the question can never be settled with absolute certainty. In favor of diversity of authorship Marti advances the following reasons: (1) The change in the persons addressed; in Malachi 4:3 the pious are addressed, in Malachi 4:4 the Jews in general. (2) The expansion of Malachi 3:1, in Malachi 4:5-6 is not in accord with Malachi’s thought in the former passage. (3) Malachi never says “day of Jehovah” or “the great and dreadful day of Jehovah” (Malachi 4:5; compare Malachi 4:1; Malachi 3:17; Malachi 4:3). (4) Malachi speaks only of “the law” (Malachi 2:8-9), these verses of the “law of Moses” (Malachi 4:4). (5). Malachi frequently uses the formula “saith Jehovah of hosts,”

which is never found in these verses.

That there is an abrupt transition from Malachi 4:3-4 must be admitted, that the linguistic peculiarities mentioned exist is true; but that Malachi 4:5-6, are not in accord with the thought of Malachi 3:1, is not so evident. The former is an expansion of the latter along a line that is perfectly admissible. The evidence is not definite enough to say that the verses cannot come from the author of the rest of the book; but if they do come from him it is quite likely that they were added by him subsequently to the writing of the rest of the book, as a general exhortation to prepare for the coming of Jehovah in judgment.

4.Remember — In a manner that will influence conduct. Only thus can they escape the terrors of the day of Jehovah.

The law of Moses — If the entire Pentateuch was in existence in the days of Malachi this term includes the whole of it; if only a part was known it includes all that in those days went under the name of Moses (see on Hosea 4:6). In postexilic times a greater emphasis was placed upon the law, because it was thought that by regulating every detail of life by law with state authority the religious and moral lapses of the past might be avoided. This legalism was needed at the time (see p. 555 and p. 703), and it did much toward preserving intact the religion of Jehovah. The religious leaders of the early postexilic period met the crisis of their age just as effectively as the eighth century prophets met the problems of their time; it was not their fault that in later days the religious leaders failed to see their opportunities, and that the emphasis of the letter of the law resulted in the end in entire neglect of the spirit, which brought about the decline of Judaism as a vital force in religion and morals.

My servant — See on Haggai 2:23; Zechariah 3:8.

Horeb — Mentioned several times in the Old Testament, especially in Deuteronomy, as the place where the law was given to Moses (Deuteronomy 1:6; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:2; Deuteronomy 29:1; 1 Kings 8:9).

Statutes and judgments — R.V., “and ordinances.” The former means literally that which is engraved or inscribed, that is, upon public tablets; hence that which is decreed by one in authority; in the Old Testament, the decrees of Jehovah intended to govern the conduct of his people. The primary idea of the second word is “judicial decision, made once authoritatively, and constituting a rule or precedent, applicable to other similar cases in the future.” The two words occur together quite frequently, especially in Deuteronomy. The difference between the two Driver indicates in these words: “Judgments being thus a term denoting primarily the provisions of civil and criminal law, statutes may be taken to refer more particularly to positive institutions or enactments, whether moral, ceremonial, or civil.”

Malachi 4:5-6deal with the messenger whose appearance is announced in Malachi 3:1, and with his work of preparing the way for the coming of the Lord.

Behold, I will send — See on Malachi 3:1.

Elijah the prophet — There can be no doubt that he is to be identified with the messenger of Malachi 3:1. Whether the author expected a literal fulfillment, in the sense that Elijah would come in person, or whether the name is to be understood, like David in Hosea 3:5 (see there), in the sense of a second Elijah, a prophet like Elijah, it may be difficult to say. That there was current even in New Testament times a belief in the coming again of Elijah himself as well as of other prophets is shown by passages like Matthew 16:14. Jesus and the New Testament writers declare that the prophecy found its fulfillment in the coming of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14; Mark 9:11; Mark 9:13). That Elijah should be singled out as the messenger from heaven was quite natural in view of the fact that he alone of all the prophets did not die a natural death, but “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11). On this promise G.A. Smith makes the following suggestive remarks: “Malachi expects this prophecy’ not in the continuance of the prophetic succession by the appearance of original personalities, developing further the great principles of their order, but in the return of the first prophet Elijah. This is surely the confession of Prophecy that the number of her servants is exhausted and her message to Israel fulfilled. She can now do no more for the people than she has done. But she will summon up her old energy and fire in the return of her most powerful personality, and make one grand effort to convert the nation before the Lord come and strike it with judgment.” The promise is the same as in Malachi 3:1, that the messenger will come before the appearance of Jehovah himself in judgment.

The great and dreadful day — See on Joel 2:11; Joel 2:31.

Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5, contain the promise that the messenger will prepare the way before the Lord; Malachi 4:6, explains wherein the preparation consists, namely, in an attempt to convert the nation, so that the terror of the day of Jehovah may be averted. This conversion is described as a turning of “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Two interpretations of these words have been proposed:

(1) The fathers are the patriarchs, the children their descendants, the contemporaries of the author. The patriarchs are ashamed of their descendants, and refuse to acknowledge them, on account of their corruption; on the other hand, the descendants have no heart fellowship with their ancestors, because they fail to understand and appreciate their lofty spiritual and moral ideals. Elijah will attempt to turn the hearts of the corrupt children to the fathers, so that they will seek to imitate the example of the latter and walk in their ways. When this is done the heart of the fathers will turn again to the children in paternal recognition and love.

(2)A second interpretation sees in the fathers and the children two classes in the prophet’s own time, the men of maturity and the younger generation, and between the two a great gulf. The younger generation, says Von Orelli, “had broken with the law which the fathers still held outwardly in high esteem; the latter, on this account, were estranged from the young. When that Elijah turns the nation to God, he will do away with this gulf. In again teaching the sons to fear God, he will again win the hearts of the fathers for them; and in again breathing into the fathers a fatherly spirit, he will again awaken in the hearts of the sons confidence and good will to the fathers.” On the whole, the second interpretation is to be preferred, but the correctness of the explanation of the nature of the gulf may be doubted. It is better to bring these words into connection with Micah 7:5-6, where the results of religious apostasy are described: even the closest and most sacred ties come to be disregarded and broken. A similar thought underlies the promise of Malachi 4:6. The present is hopelessly corrupt, but when Elijah comes he will try to change conditions and restore peace and good will in accord with the will and purpose of God. The words are, then, a figure of the restoration and reformation for which Elijah will labor, in order that this earth may become a fit dwelling place for Jehovah.

Smite the earth with a curse Curse is literally ban. Whatever is placed under a ban is given up to destruction (Deuteronomy 13:16-17; Leviticus 27:28-29). Jehovah will surely come, but unless sin is removed before he comes he must wipe it out by a terrible blast of judgment. This statement implies that, if the mission of Elijah is successful, Jehovah will come as King of peace, to dwell in peace in the midst of his people.

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Malachi 4:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/malachi-4.html. 1874-1909.