“The Book of Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament. Following this book there is about a four-hundred-year silence until the New Testament begins with the birth of John the Baptist. Malachi was prophesying around 400 B.C., during the final days of Nehemiah’s leadership. Haggai and Zechariah were encouraging the people in the rebuilding of the temple under the leadership of Ezra [actually, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, Ezra came a little bit later at the tail end of temple reconstruction]. Now Nehemiah was leading the people in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem, and Malachi was providing messages from God during this time. The name “Malachi” means “My Messenger,” and that is exactly what he was. We know almost nothing about the author, except that he was giving a message from God. At this time, people were getting complacent. Under Persian rule, they had been permitted to return to their land in Jerusalem. All the Persians wanted from them was their tax money; and as long as they paid their taxes, they enjoyed freedom. Life was so much better than it had been under the Babylonians. They were back home now and feeling comfortable. The temple was built, the city was looking good, and most of them had remodeled their houses and were starting their businesses. Life was good. But in the middle of their comfort and complacency, the prophet Malachi called them to spiritual renewal. He addressed the heart of worship. They were going through the motions of religion, but their hearts were not after God. And God wanted more than religion; He wanted a real relationship with His people. He was looking for sincerity, not just outward obedience. In the process of this exhortation, Malachi also foretold of another messenger, John the Baptist, who would call the people to repentance four hundred years later and, in turn, would introduce the ultimate messenger, the Lord Himself, “the Messenger of the covenant,” Jesus Christ the Messiah (Mal. 3:1).” [The Word For Today Bible (NKJV), p. 1214, par. 1-5] Historic as this is, applying to the Jews back in Nehemiah’s time, it also points directly at the Body of Christ during the end-times, and our attitudes toward our worship of God. Keep this in mind all the way through the Book of Malachi. Even though much is color coded in brown, representing its historic application, it also points directly at us believers in Jesus Christ during these end-times, as we go about the work of rebuilding Jesus’ spiritual Temple.
Verses 1-5, “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. ‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. Yet you say, ‘In what way have you loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ says the LORD. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.’ Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places,’ thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever. Your eyes shall see, and you shall say, ‘The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.” The LORD is calling them (and us too, don’t forget, if the shoe fits, wear it) on an attitude they had. He’s telling them it’s as if he’s having a conversation with Israel [the House of Judah at this point in time, the northern House of Israel is up around the northern shores of the Black Sea]. In this conversation the LORD says “I have loved you” and Judah responds “In what way have you loved us?” Judah had just been through some tough times. They had just returned from captivity, first being under Zerubbabel and then under Ezra, and had just finished reconstructing the Temple. Now under Nehemiah they had just reconstructed the wall around Jerusalem. But in all this life wasn’t a picnic either. They had faced great opposition and persecution from “the locals” who had come in and taken over their land like squatters, during their Babylonian absence. These squatters would be the mixed race of pagans Assyria had moved down into the land of Samaria just north of Judah when they took the northern 10-tribed House of Israel captive in 721BC. Nehemiah 4:7-8 shows some of this mixture, “Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.” But by the fact that Esau (the Edomites) are mentioned in verses 2b-5, it appears some Edomites, Idumaeans might have been in this mixture, making life miserable for the Jews who had just rebuilt the Temple, Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s walls. Now all that’s finished, normal life under the Pax-Persia has resumed and their attitude is ‘How have you loved us, LORD? We’ve just had to do all this reconstruction, in the midst of all this pagan persecution, and where is this great Messiah Haggai and Zechariah just prophecied to us about?’ That must have been on their minds too. Sort of like, ‘I’ve done all this service, and what did I get for all of it?---persecution. You love me, LORD? Yeah, right!’ Have you ever felt that way? Verse 4a, “Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places.’” The Edomites in southern Judah were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar II along with Judah. They must be back in the land giving Judah trouble. The LORD then said he’d take care of that, verse 4b, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.’” (Read the section on Obediah to see the history of Edom, and who they are today, and how god will ultimately deal with them.)
The LORD Deals With the Priesthood---Polluted Offerings and Attitude of ‘Check Your Heart at the Door, This is just a job’
Verses 6-14, “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is my honor? And if I am a Master, where is my reverence?’ says the LORD of hosts to your priests who despise my name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised your name?’ ‘You have offered defiled food on my alter, but say, In what way have we defiled you?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’ And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ says the LORD of hosts. [Yeah, trying doing that with the Persian emperor, or Caesar, or on your income taxes] ‘But now entreat God’s favor, that he may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will he accept you favorably?’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on my altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the nations,’ says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’ You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?’ says the LORD. ‘But curses be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the LORD what is blemished---for I am a great King,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations.’” Now the LORD deals with the Levitical priesthood. They have been infected with this attitude of “How have you loved us?” as well, and it was showing in how they served God. They were sacrificing lame and sick and blind (while keeping back the best for themselves, I’m sure), offering defiled food on God’s altar, saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’ They were saying about their Temple service ‘Oh, what a weariness, what a drag!’. Verse 11, “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered in my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the nations.” This verse shows a great work will be done with the Gentiles. This points to Judah’s coming rejection of their Messiah so that a massive Gospel work could go out to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 11). How does this apply to us? The priesthood here are a direct type for the “liberal Christian pastors” (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezek/Ezekiel%20pt3-1.htm). In Malachi chapter 1 the LORD really zeroes in on the problem. J. Vernon McGee has a lot to say about these verses, and he doesn’t spare his readers, nor will I. “What do we do today that corresponds to that which was taking place in Israel [Judah] in Malachi’s day? Remember that the apostle Paul described the men in the last days as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…(2 Tim. 3:5). Men will be very pious. There is a great deal of pompous piousness that is demonstrated by may so-called Christians today. Paul describes them as “having a form of godliness.” You can pour oleomargarine into a butter mold, and it may look like butter, it may even smell like butter, but it is not butter…We should recognize God’s rebuke here as a danger signal and as a red light for us. This is a message for folk who go to church---they listen, they are very orthodox, very fundamental, and they say amen. They know the language. They can quote any number of pious platitudes. They are satisfied with a tasteless morality. They go through a form of truth and all the shibboleths, and they are satisfied. But may I say to you, they actually despise God when they approach worship like that. It was Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who years ago made the statement, “I am more afraid of the profanity of the sanctuary than I am of the profanity of the street.” That profanity of the streets is bad enough, my friend. You may protest, “But I’ve never brought a sick cow to God and offered Him that!” Will you notice what God says here in our verse: “Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.” In other words, try paying your taxes with that old sick cow! This is a good question: Do you pay more in taxes than you give to the Lord? I want to say very candidly, shame on you if you are paying more taxes than you are giving to the Lord. [Now in some socialist nations, even in our own now, taxes can be in excess of 60 percent of ones wages, income, so naturally this doesn’t apply under those circumstances.] I believe that when offering is taken in the average church, there is actually lots more profanity taking place there than down in the slums of the city where the drunkards are. Why? Because there is a great deal of put-on, of hypocrisy, taking place in the sanctuary today…When we obtained our new headquarters facilities some years ago, I had a suggestion or two from folk who would be glad to give if the building were named in their honor. We simply don’t do business that way at the “Thru the Bible” radio ministry. When you give to this ministry, you’re giving to get out the Word of God. You’re not giving to get your name engraved on anything…The Lord Jesus told about the Pharisee who went down to the street corner to give to the poor, and he had somebody down there blowing a horn. Everybody said, “Oh, look at Pharisee So-and-so! Isn’t he generous? He’s down there on the street corner, just giving money away to the poor!”…When the One who was here nineteen hundred years ago sat by the treasury and watched how the people gave, I am sure that some of them thought, “What business has He to see how I give?” He happened to be the Lord Jesus Christ, and I’m not sure but that on Sunday [or Saturday] morning He looks over your shoulder as you give…I’m just telling you what the Lord says. He is saying here in a very definite way that you cannot bring Him a sick cow. You don’t pay your taxes with a sick cow. Are you giving to the Lord as much or more than you are giving in taxes today?...When the Lord Jesus looked over the treasury, He saw how the rich gave---and they gave large sums---but He didn’t commend them for it because they kept so much more for themselves. But He saw the poor widow---and those few little coppers which she dropped in there, compared to the wealth of temple, very candidly, were nothing---she gave nothing! [by comparison] But the Lord Jesus took those copper coins, He kissed them into the gold of heaven, and He said that she gave more than anybody else. I am amazed at how our Bible-teaching radio ministry is carried on. It is carried on by many widows who send in a dollar bill, and they always say “It isn’t anything.” Maybe in comparison to our costs, it isn’t much, but when a whole lot of widows get together it sure makes an impression. It is the people who regularly send in the five-dollar and ten-dollar gifts that sustain this radio ministry.” [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, pp. 995-996, selected parts]
Verses 1-4, “‘And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to my name,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that my covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the LORD of hosts.” This is all about the priesthood not doing their jobs properly, being sloppy and lazy. “The refuse [KJV: “dung”] of your solemn feasts” represents the dung still within the sacrificial animals which should have been removed (by removing the stomach and intestines, etc) from the animal being sacrificed. It was supposed to be removed to a place “outside the camp.” God said he’d spread that dung on their faces. They weren’t taking their jobs seriously. How’s this fit us today? J. Vernon McGee has a good comment on this one. “The third great sin of the ministry is to be dull and boring, to be tedious and wearisome. The reason this happens, of course, is that a man does not stay enough in the Book. A man doesn’t have to have charisma---many do not---but there is no excuse for being apathetic, very prosaic, colorless, and lackluster. I mentioned earlier that my wife and I went to see Richard III. Shakespeare was a great writer. I don’t think he just dashed it off, all of a sudden. We are told that he spent hours writing his plays. I listened to the two young men, one of them playing the part of Richard III and the other playing the one who was supposed to have been his friend but who finally dethroned him and put him in the Tower of London. Of course Shakespeare was a genius, but the thing that impressed me about the play above everything else was the way these two young men enunciated, how clearly they spoke, and how they had worked on their lines. I watched purposefully because I had been in Shakespearean plays when I was very young. They didn’t miss a cue. There wasn’t one slip of the tongue. They went right through it. Do you know why? They had rehearsed and rehearsed. If the actor in the world can spend all that time preparing for a performance, why can’t we spend time preparing to give out the Word of God? Any preacher who goes into the pulpit unprepared despises the name of the Lord, and he is causing people to say, “Boy, the Bible is boring! And going to church is tiresome”…” [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, p. 1000, col.1, col.2, par.1] (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm to learn of a highly effective method of preaching. But as J. Vernon McGee says, it takes work.)
What the Priesthood has made of God’s Law
Verses 4b-9, “…that my covenant with Levi may continue,’ says the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear me; so he feared me and was reverent before my name. And the law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice [unrighteousness] was not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and equity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in the law.’” Here the LORD tells the priesthood how they should be doing their jobs. He holds up the early tribe of Levi and Phinehas as an example. The priest, and yes, our modern-day Christian pastors, should “turn many away from iniquity…“for the lips of the priest should keep knowledge, and the people should [be able to] seek the law from his mouth.” But in verse 8 God says this priesthood, and by extension all liberal pastors, “have caused many to stumble at the law.” How so? By teaching a false Grace, teaching that the Law has been done away with (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm to gain a good concept of what Grace really is). God promised that priesthood, and by extension all these liberal Christian pastors, “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in the law” (verse 9).
Verse 10, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?” God is saying here in verse 10, ‘Haven’t you all got one Father, Me. Aren’t you, Judah, all one family under me? Then why are you acting like you’re not a family, why are you treating each other like you’re not a family, why are you treating each other so badly? [Comment: The Body of Christ is guilty of acting this way toward the various members that comprise it. Be sure to see the section on Zephaniah 2:1-3 in this commentary section of the Minor Prophets.] God then corrects them on a major sin they were committing. They were profaning God’s institution of marriage. This is what was happening. The Jews were divorcing their older Jewish wives, breaking up their families, and marrying these ‘hot young pagan chicks,’ and then going to Temple to make sacrifices to God. Oops! Verses 11-12, “Judah dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the LORD’s holy institution which he loves; he has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings offering to the LORD of hosts!” Boy does the LORD sound angry. Would you be? I mean, folks, how treacherous can one get, and hypocritical too. Verses 13-16, “And this is the second thing you do: you cover the alter of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so he does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and you wife by covenant. But did he not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring, therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” Bottom line, here folks, is that God desires godly offspring, he wants believing children. Now these husbands were ditching their older original Jewish wives for what we would call non-believer spouses, young and irreligious. If you are married to a non-believing spouse, and that spouse is either physically or emotionally abusive to you and your believing children, threatening the “godly offspring God desires”, then I would say the opposite holds true. By that persons actions they are proving they are not “pleased to dwell with you” (cf. 1st Corinthians 7), then divorce in such a case is allowable, and probably better for your children. The determining factor from this verse is producing “godly offspring” or as the King James has it “godly seed” (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor7.htm for the complete New Testament teaching on divorce and remarriage). These Jews were making a sham of God’s institution of marriage, and one of the central reasons for having a stable marriage, to produce “godly offspring.” Verse 16, “For the LORD God of Israel says that he hates divorce, for it covers one’s garments with violence,’ says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.’ ‘Covering one’s garment with violence’ has a special Scriptural meaning. It refers to the old custom of putting a garment over a woman to claim her as wife (see Deuteronomy 22:30; Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8) [Charles Feinberg]. “The garment,” according to “The Minor Prophets” symbolized wedded trust and protection.” “Take heed to your spirit” has deep meaning. Unfaithfulness begins in the thoughts of the mind. That is why pornography is so harmful. Wrong lustful thoughts turn into actions---and in this case it had led all these Jews to dump, divorce their wives, their older wives of their youth for these hot young pagan babes. The battle is in the mind. Christians are told to fight that battle, 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” Wow, what a verse! That’s where the battle is, that is where the war is, it’s in the mind. If that non-believer through abusive treatment (physical or emotional) is being spiritually damaging to you and especially your children, then that person by his or her actions is showing you he or she “is not pleased to dwell with you” and divorce is permissible (and probably advisable). That’s the spiritual intent of 1st Corinthians 7 in a nutshell when combined with this passage. But log onto that link and read it for yourself.
Verse 17, “You have wearied the LORD with your words; yet you say, ‘In what way have we wearied him?’ In that you say, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them,’ or, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” God’s final word on this correction, and what he says their response was. ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them’ was the people’s charge against God. They were accusing God of rewarding the evil doers and punishing the righteous. God will give those who were saying that his answer in the next chapter.
Verse 1-5, “‘Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the LORD, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, he is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.” This verse is a direct prophecy about Jesus Christ’s first coming, and this ‘messenger’ (Malachi means “messenger”, so this is a play on words). As Jesus said in Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27 this is talking about John the Baptist coming, preparing the way, preparing a people for Jesus at his first arrival. I have always thought the collective Body of Christ is a John the Baptist/Elijah type group of people and work, preparing the way and proclaiming the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 3:19-21; Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20). Verses 2-, “But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like a launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, as in former years. And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit the wage earners and widows and orphans, and against all those who turn away an alien---because they do not fear me,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Verses 2-5 contain a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming. This cross-references to Joel 2:11 and Revelation 6:17. These verses also show Jesus will purify his people, making the sons of Levi pure. Levi is the one tribe of Israel which had the responsibility to be the teachers of God’s Word to all the rest of the tribes of Israel. With the spiritual condition the tribe of Levi is in now, spiritual darkness, we could teach Levi a thing or two about God’s Word. Verse 6, “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” Verse 6 is meant to be a comfort to Israel, showing God’s love for them, in spite of their behavior. The next set of verses get into a vicarious conversation between God and his people, back then, and by extension we believers now. It’s sort of a “If the shoe fits, wear it” correction for the Body of Christ.
Tithes and Offerings to God
Verses 7-12, “‘Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the LORD of hosts. But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me!’ But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. [And this can and does apply to God’s “undesirable nation” he spoke about in Zephaniah 2:1-3] Bring all the tithes into the storehouses, that there may be food in my house, and try me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the LORD of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the LORD of hosts.” First, God encourages the people to return to him. They rhetorically ask God ‘In what way should we return to you?’ Verses 8-12 is God’s answer, God says they were essentially robbing him, stealing what was God’s. This verse also applies to the Body of Christ today and their giving (or lack thereof) to God (for a full treatment of this subject, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm). Both then and now God promises to shower many tangible and intangible blessings on those who tithe to him and give him offerings on top of those tithes. God even challenges people to test him on this, as we see in verses 10-12. If the Body of Christ has got to get the final proclamation of the Gospel (along with a prophetic warning element added to it) to the entire world before the end comes, before the Tribulation comes (cf. Matthew 24:14-16), it’s going to cost a bundle of money. God wants our tithes and offerings to be spent on his Gospel proclamation to the world, for their own good, to give them one last chance before all hell breaks loose, literally. Come on folks, where are your brains? God wants us to do a work for him.
Verses 13-15, “‘Your words have been harsh against me,’ says the LORD, ‘yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.’” Again the people slip into this attitude that God rewards the evildoer and curses the righteous. God seems to ignore this complaint and jumps right in and shows how much he loves those who really fear his name, and since this points to a real spiritual attitude, these last three verses point directly at the Church, those in the Body of Christ who are really with it spiritually. Verses 16-18, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on his name. ‘They shall be mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on that day that I make them my jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” Could this be a God-written continuation of the Book of Acts? If so, it is likely to be many volumes long, as the Church Age has lasted almost 2,000 years.
The 2nd Coming of Christ
Verses 1-3, “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear my name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ say the LORD of hosts.” Verse 1 directly refers to the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ (where verse 1 of chapter 3 referred to the 1st coming of Jesus Christ). Chapter 3 appears to apply to the first coming and believers in Jesus (as well as the Jews in Malachi’s time). But chapter 4 is entirely 2nd Coming material. Verse 1 points to the intensity and deadly fire of the 2nd Coming, whereas verses 2-3 points to the blessed hope of God’s promised reward to believers in Jesus which occurs at his 2nd Coming (the first resurrection to immortality, cf. 1st Corinthians 15:49-54).
‘Remember the Law of Moses’---what does that mean?
Verse 4, “Remember the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.” This, in direct context with the first three verses, is instruction for the Church (not just the Jews back then) as the Day of the LORD approaches. All the commands of Jesus in the New Testament are reflected in the Ten Commandments. But also notice special mention of the statutes and judgments here. Now most of the Mosaic law, applying to an agrarian society, is not directly applicable to us now. But the 4th Commandment is, and so are the Holy Day statutes of Leviticus 23. Could this be a reference to those? I personally think they are. And if so, I see a major paradigm shift coming within the Body of Christ real soon.
Who is the ‘Elijah’ to come?
Verses 5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse[Hebrew: utter destruction].” Jesus told his followers that John the Baptist was a type of the prophecied Elijah to come. He fulfilled this prophecy in part. But this is referring to an end-time fulfillment of the ‘Elijah’ prophecy (before the great and dreadful day of the LORD). What exactly did John the Baptist do? He heralded the 1st coming of Jesus the Messiah. And he also prepared a people (turned the hearts of the fathers to the children and vice versa) for Jesus, and these ‘prepared people’ then became the Church. Just who is supposed to herald the Gospel, including the message of the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ to the whole world? It is the Church, the whole Body of Christ, isn’t it? (Read Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Mark 16:15)---preaching the Gospel, and then taking those who respond favorably and preparing them as a people for the LORD. This involves turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and vice versa, producing godly and God-fearing families and children. So we the Church, the Body of Christ, are the collective ‘Elijah’ which was prophecied to come in verses 5-6.
End of the Minor Prophets