CHAPTER 4 – THE GREAT DAY OF GOD
1 FOR BEHOLD, the day comes that shall burn like an oven, and all the proud and arrogant, yes, and all that do wickedly and are lawless, shall be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. [Isaiah 5:21-25; Matthew 3:12.] 2 But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy. 3 And you shall tread down the lawless and wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts. 4 [Earnestly] remember the law of Moses, My servant, the statutes and the ordinances which I commanded him on [Mount] Horeb [to give] to all Israel. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. [Matthew 11:14; 17:10-13.] 6 And he shall turn and reconcile the hearts of the [estranged] fathers to the [ungodly] children, and the hearts of the [rebellious] children to [the piety of] their fathers [a reconciliation produced by repentance of the ungodly], lest I come and smite the land with a curse and a ban of utter destruction. [Luke 1:17.] AMP
Malachi 4:2; Malachi 4:4
4:2. sun of righteousness with healing in its wings. The sun of righteousness here is bringing justice. Throughout the ancient Near East solar deities are connected to justice. It is not unusual in the Old Testament for Yahweh's work to be depicted using this metaphor of solar terminology. "Healing in its wings" is a symbolic use of the wings of a bird with the rays of the sun. The wings denote protective care (hence the healing). An ancient Near Eastern motif in astral religions has the sun depicted as a winged disk. This is especially pervasive in the Persian period.
4:4. Horeb. Horeb was another name for Mount Sinai, the place where God revealed himself to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments. Its precise location is uncertain, and there are at least four possible locations in the southern Sinai argued by scholars to be Mount Sinai: Jebel Musa, Ras es-safsafeh, Jebel Serbal and a mountain near al-Hrob. For discussion of the location see comment on Ex 19:1-2. (IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament)
3:19-24 In most English translations these verses appear as Malachi 4:1-6. 20: A sun of victory, literally and in most translations, “a sun of righteousness.” To bring healing, literally and in most translations, “with healing in its wings.” The background of the imagery is mythological. The rising of “a sun of righteousness” is a metaphor for the dawn of a new “day,” i.e. era of history. 22-24: At its conclusion, Malachi asserts the dominance of Mosaic Torah over the prophetic tradition. (See introduction to Malachi and introduction to The Twelve).
3:23 There is a long tradition of interpretation of this verse expanding on the role of Elijah, the herald of the messianic era; (see, Talmud e.g. b. Sanh. 118a; b. ‘Eruv. 43:b). Since Elijah did not die, but ascended to heaven (2 Kings 2:11), he can return. The awesome, fearful day of the Lord is associated with the “travails of the messiah” in (Talmud b. Sanh. 118a). It is traditional in Jewish liturgy to repeat this verse after (3:24). This liturgical reading is represented in NJPS Translation by the repetition of the text of (verse 23) in a smaller font. (the same holds true for the conclusion of Isaiah, Lamentations, and Ecclesiastes.) 24: The connection between intergenerational reconciliation and Elijah is enigmatic.
Jewish Study Bible
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
3:19 For lo! That day is at hand, burning like an oven. All the arrogant and all the doers of evil shall be straw, and the day that is coming – said the Lord of Hosts – shall burn them to ashes and leave of them neither stock nor boughs. 20: But for you who revere My name a sun of victory shall rise [to bring healing – Literally *“with healing in the folds of its garments;” others “with healing in its wings.”] You shall go forth and stamp like stall-fed calves, 21: and you shall trample the wicked to a pulp, for they shall be dust beneath your feet on the day that I am preparing – said the Lord of Hosts.
3:22 Be mindful of the Teaching of My servant Moses, whom I charged at Horeb with laws and rules for all Israel. 23: Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. 24: He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. Tanakh Hebrew Text
24 He went with him; and a large crowd followed, pressing all around him. 25 Among them was a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years 26 and had suffered a great deal under many physicians. She had spent her life savings; yet instead of improving, she had grown worse. 27 She had heard about Yeshua Jesus, so she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe; 28 for she said, “If I touch even his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Instantly the hemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease. 30 At the same time, Yeshua, aware that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 His talmidim responded, “You see the people pressing in on you; and still you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But he kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 The woman, frightened and trembling, because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of him and told him the whole truth. 34 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
CJB [Complete Jewish Bible]
a [the day cometh,] The day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, called "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5).
b [burn as an oven;] The fire that will burn up the proud and the wicked like stubble,
1. leaving nothing of their bodies,
2. will be the fire and brimstone spoken of in Ezekiel 38:17-23,
3. and the flaming fire that will go out before Christ and His angels and saints (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
4. This does not refer to hellfire, as some teach,
5. but to the battle of Armageddon on the day of Christ's second coming.
6. It has no more reference to hell than the fire which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24), 7. or that which consumed many in Israel (Numbers 11:1).
8. The wicked will not be cast into hell, all on a certain day, as they will be burned at this time;
9. they go to hell one by one,
10. and not bodily at all, until the second resurrection.
11. Then, they will be cast into the lake of fire,
12. not to be burned up, but to be tormented day and night forever in their indestructible body (Isaiah 66:22-24; Matthew 25:41,46; Mark 9:41-49; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:11-15).
The burning up of this passage is simply that of the physical body to cause death. Only the soul and spirit of such persons will go to hell to be in a conscious state of torment until the second resurrection and judgment (Luke 16:19-21). (Dake)
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
This admonition to the ungodly is explained in Malachi 4:1 ff. by a picture of the separation which will be effected by the day of judgment.
V. 1. "For behold the day cometh burning like a furnace, and all the proud and every doer of wickedness become stubble, and the coming day will burn them, saith Jehovah of hosts, so that it will not leave them root or branch.
V. 2. But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise and healing in its wings, and ye will go out and skip like stalled calves,
V. 3. And will tread down the ungodly, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I create, saith Jehovah of hosts." The day of judgment will be to the ungodly like a burning furnace.
“A fire burns more fiercely in a furnace than in the open air" (Hengstenberg). The ungodly will then resemble the stubble which the fire consumes (cf. Isaiah 5:24; Zephaniah 1:18; Obadiah 18, etc.).
zeediym the proud and wickedness they that work point back to v. 15. Those who are called blessed by the murmuring nation will be consumed by the fire, as stubble is burned up, and indeed all who do wickedness, and therefore the murmurers themselves. The subject is not Jehovah, but the coming day. The figure "root and branch" is borrowed from a tree-the tree is the ungodly mass of the people (cf. Amos 2:9) - and denotes total destruction, so that nothing will be left of them. To the righteous, on the other hand, the sun of righteousness will arise.
Tsedâqâh righteousness is an epexegetically genitive of apposition. By the sun of righteousness the fathers, from Justin downwards, and nearly all the earlier commentators understand Christ, who is supposed to be described as the rising sun, like Jehovah in Psalms 84:12 and Isaiah 60:19; and this view is founded upon a truth, viz., that the coming of Christ brings justice and salvation. But in the verse before us the context does not sustain the personal view, but simply the idea that righteousness itself is regarded as a sun. Tsedâqâh righteousness, again, is not justification or the forgiveness of sins, as Luther and others suppose, for there will be no forgiving of sins on the day of judgment, but God will then give to every man reward or punishment according to his works.
Tsedâqâh righteousness is here, what it frequently is in Isaiah (e.g., Isaiah 45:8; 46:13; 51:5, etc.), righteousness in its consequences and effects, the sum and substance of salvation. Malachi uses tsedâqâh, righteousness, instead of , salvation, with an allusion to the fact, that the ungodly complained of the absence of the judgment and righteousness of God, that is to say, the righteousness which not only punishes the ungodly, but also rewards the good with happiness and salvation. The sun of righteousness has marpee°, healing, in its wings. The wings of the sun are the rays by which it is surrounded, and not a figure denoting swiftness.
As the rays of the sun spread light and warmth over the earth for the growth and maturity of the plants and living creatures,
So will the sun of righteousness bring the healing of all hurts and wounds which the power of darkness has inflicted upon the righteous.
Then will they go forth, sc. from the holes and caves, into which they had withdrawn during the night of suffering and where they had kept themselves concealed, and skip like stalled calves (cf. 1 Samuel 28:24), which are driven from the stall to the pasture. And not only will those who fear God be liberated from all oppression, but they will also acquire power over the ungodly. They will tread down the wicked, who will then have become ashes, and lie like ashes upon the ground, having been completely destroyed by the fire of the judgment (cf. Isaiah 26:5-6). (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary).
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
(Revised Text.) "And I saw a great white throne, and the one sitting upon it, from the face of whom fled the earth and the heaven, and place was not found for them. And I saw the dead ones the great and the small standing in the presence of the throne, and books (or scrolls) were opened, and another book (or scroll) which is (that) of the life; and the dead ones were judged out of the things written in the books according to the works of them. And the sea gave the dead ones in it, and Death and Hades gave the dead ones in them, and they were judged (Codex Sinaiticus: were condemned) every one according to their works. And Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the death the second, the lake of fire. And if anyone was not found written in the book (or scroll) of the life, he was cast into the lake of fire."
III. Notice now what happens to "the rest of the dead," who did not have part in the first resurrection.
1. A great white throne appears. A similar throne was beheld by John at the commencement of the great judgments which precede the Millennium (Revelation 4:2-6). That was set in the heaven; where this is set we are not told. That had a rainbow over it, to indicate fulfillment of covenant promises; this is naked, for it has no hopes to offer, no covenant of good to fulfill. Out of that proceeded lightnings, thunders, and voices, indicative of revolutionary judgments upon the living world; to this nothing is ascribed but greatness and whiteness, indicative of immeasurable power, and of pure, complete, unmingled, and invincible justice. There is no more probation on the part of those against whom its adjudications issue, and hence, no further threatenings of coming judgment, as in lightnings and thunder.
(A). Around that first throne were sub-thrones, occupied by associate judges, and with it were conjoined living ones, taking part in the administrations, for they are varied and mingled, both as to kinds and subjects, and many find occupation in them; here the throne is one only, for the administration is of but one kind, summary, direct, and having respect to but one class.
THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD
(B). Seven burning torches, representing the seven Spirits of God, were with that throne, because its adjudications were to be partly gracious and remedial, as well as retributive, toward those with whom it dealt; this is accompanied with nothing gracious, for its dispensations are purely retributive, and only damning to what they strike.
THE TWO THRONES (Revelation 4:2 and here)
(C). That throne had before it a glassy sea, pure and crystalline, like a grand celestial pavement, indicative of a place of blessed heavenly refuge, for it was about to exalt many to glory; here there is no celestial landing-place, no platform of heavenly peace, for it has no salvations to dispense. In connection with the first throne there was singing, joyful exultation, the giving of mighty praises to God and the Lamb, for it was the setting in of an administration which was to bring saints to their consummated redemption and rewards; here there is not a song, not a voice of gladness, not a note of exultation, for it is simply and only the administration of retributive justice, which consigns the unsanctified to their final perdition, and which has nothing whatever of gladness about it.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
THE TWO THRONES CONTINUED
The presentations in both instances correspond to the proceedings issuing from them, and the one helps to explain the other. Indeed they are counterparts of one another-the right hand administrations and the left hand administrations, the morning and the evening, of the great Day of Judgment viewed as a whole.
2. This throne has an awful Occupant. Of course it is the same beheld in the first instance. There is no name, no figure, no shape, in either case: but only an awful, mysterious, and composed presence, which can be nothing less than the One, unnamable, indescribable, eternal Godhead. ‘ For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.’ John 5:22 KJV. He is indeed the Judge, to whom all judgment is committed, and he does the judging in this instance; absolute and eternal King.
(A). In the first instance [Revelation 4:3], the Sitter on the throne had a particular appearance-an appearance like to a jasper and a sardine stone, a reddish, crystalline brilliancy, like pure and smokeless flames, attractive even in its awfulness; here there is nothing but the naked presence of almightiness, so dreadful that the very earth and heavens seem to flee into nothingness before it. The earth and heaven do not literally fly away and disappear. Similar language was used in Revelation 6:14; but the earth still continued afterward. And here, in the subsequent verses, the sea is still in its place; and in the next chapters nations are still found inhabiting the earth (Revelation 21:24; 22:2).
(B). It is simply the intensification of the description of the awfulness and majesty of the Sitter upon the throne that is thus expressed, signifying that almightiness by which all the creations and changes in the universe are effected, and who here assumes his eternal power to dispose of his enemies forever, and to put the last finishing touches upon the great re-genesis of things. And this infinite, repellent awfulness is a further indication that there is absolutely nothing of hope for those objects on which the adjudication now falls.
3. A resurrection occurs. No trumpet is sounded, for the sounding of the trumpet is for those in covenant with the King, as his armies and friends; but these are not his people nor his friends. There is simply the going forth of eternal power, into the sea, into the graves, into Hades, into all the depositories of the souls and bodies of the unholy dead, and all the vast multitudes in them suddenly stand in the presence of the throne. Not one of them that ever lived and died, from the beginning of the world until then, save and except the Beast and the False Prophet, but is in that un-blest congregation. "The great and the small," the big sinners and the little sinners, rulers and subjects, nobles and plebeians, the learned and the ignorant, the refined and the vulgar, the civilized and the barbarous, emperors and beggars, all alike are there. We read of no white robes, no spotless linen, no palms, nothing but naked sinners, before the naked majesty of enthroned Almightiness, awaiting their eternal doom.
4. Books are opened. heaven keeps record of all the deeds of people, and of all the thoughts and feelings under which they act. Myriads of human beings have lived and died of whom the world knows nothing; but the lives they lived, the deeds they did, the thoughts and tempers they indulged, still stand written where the memory of them cannot perish. Not a human being has ever breathed earth's atmosphere whose career is not traced at full length in the books of eternity. Yes, O man! O woman! whoever you may be, your biography is written. An unerring hand has recorded every item, with every secret thing.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
(A). There is not an ill thought, a mean act, a scene of wrong in all your history, a dirty transaction, a filthiness of speech, or a base feeling that ever found entertainment in your heart, but is there described in bold hand, by its true name, and set down to your account, to be then brought forth for final settlement,
(B). If not clean blotted out through faith in Christ's blood before this present life of yours is ended. And if no other books are to be thought of, the book of your own conscience, and the book of God's remembrance [Malachi 3:16], will then and there attest your every misdeed and ill-desert.
(C). Think, ye that fear not God, and make nothing of trampling his laws, how your case will stand when those books are opened!
Listen to the words of the Judge:
1. Matthew 5:21-22
21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire. NKJV
2. Matthew 7:1-2
7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. NKJV
3. Matthew 10:11-15
10:11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! NKJV
4. Matthew 11:20-24
11:20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." NKJV
5. Matthew 12:38-42
12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. NKJV
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
THE JUDGE SPEAKS CONTINUED
6. John 5:24-30
5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. NKJV
7. John 9:38-39
9:39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." NKJV
But there is "another book, which is that of the life"-the roll-book of the regenerate in Christ Jesus-the register of the washed and sanctified through faith in his redeeming blood. This must needs be opened too,
[A]. For many there be whose lives are fair and honest, who spend their days in conscientious purity, who live and die in the persuasion that they have fulfilled all the requirements of virtue, but who have never experienced the regenerating power of the new creation, who have never felt the need of atonement by the propitiation of a crucified Savior, and who have disdained to build on the merit and righteousness of the one only Mediator as the sole hope of diseased and guilty humanity. Exalted as they may have been in their own goodness and morality, they have not believed on the only begotten Son of God, and therefore have not life, and so are not written in the Book of Life.
[B]. The records of their own deeds is therefore not enough for the determination of their proper place and standing. People may appear well in these, and still not be prepared to pass the final inquisition. There is another and still mightier question in the case, and that is whether they have come to a regenerate and spiritual life through faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore the book of life must be opened too, and its testimony brought into the decision. If the name of anyone is not on that roll, no matter how virtuously and honestly he may have lived, there is no help for him, for only "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).
Note: I inject a clause the Jesus said:
10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
NKJV Paul the Learner
5. But judgment is given as the works have been. There is just gradation in the sorrows of the lost, as well as in the rewards of the righteous. If there is anything in any case to modify the guilt of sinners, or in any measure to palliate their deficiencies and crimes, the plain intimation is that every just allowance shall be made. Though all the finally condemned go into one place, they do not all alike feel the same pains, or sink to the same depths in those dreadful flames. But the mildest hell is nevertheless HELL, and quite too intolerable for any sane being to be content to make experiment of it.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
The judgment of these people according to these books is, in each instance, a judgment of condemnation, whether to the lesser or the greater damnation. There is no account of the name of anyone of them being found in the book of life; "and if anyone was not found written in the book of the life, he was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). Not one of them is adjudged place with the "blessed and holy," or his resurrection would not have been deferred until now. And the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the very oldest and best of the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, here reads: "The sea gave the dead ones in it, and Death and Hades gave the dead ones in them, and THEY WERE CONDEMNED, EVERY ONE, according to their deeds."
6. And sentence is followed with immediate execution. When the Beast and the False Prophet were taken, they "were cast alive into the lake of fire which burneth with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20.) A thousand years afterward, when Satan proved himself the same deceiver he always was, he "was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" (Revelation 20:10). And into that same "lake of fire" all the condemned ones in this judgment are hurled.
[A]. What that "lake of fire" is I cannot tell, I do not know, and I pray God that I may never find out. That it is a place, everything said about it proves. People in corporeal life, as these condemned ones are, must needs have locality. That it is a place of woe, pain, and dreadful torment, is specifically stated, and is the chief idea in every image of the description. What God adjudges a just punishment for the wickedness of the great head of all evil, for having ruined many of the sublimest creatures in heaven, and for the mis-chiefs, impieties, and desolations done in our world by more than six thousand years' unremitted exertions against the peace of man and the gracious purposes of God, certainly must involve a length, and breadth, and depth, and height of misery at which the universe may well stand aghast.
[B] He who understands it best, calls it "a lake of fire and brimstone," and I do not know what mortal man can tell us better. If perchance it be not material fire, or the brimstone which feeds it be not the article which commerce handles, it still is fire of some sort, fed with its proper fuel-fire which can take hold on body and spirit-fire which preys on the whole being, whether clothed with corporeity or not-fire kindled and kept alive by almighty justice, and a great lake of it, commensurate with the infinite holiness of an infinite law.
[C]. It is called "The Second Death." Hence, some think it means extinction of existence, annihilation, a cremation of body and spirit, which leaves no ashes after it. But the Beast and the False Prophet were in that death for more than a thousand years, and at the end of that time the implication seems to be that they are still alive. Concerning those who are compelled to make proof of that death, the specific statement is, "they shall be tormented day and night, to the ages of the ages."
[D]. This does not look like either annihilation or final restoration. Nor is Death an extinction of all existence. The first death is a killing of the body, a multilation of the being, but not an extinction of it. If death is the equivalent of annihilation, then these resurrected ones are condemned and punished for the crimes and defects of some other beings than themselves, and are not the people who did what is written in these books. The first death is a terrible mutilation and degradation, especially to a wicked man; though not a blotting out of his being and identity.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
[E]. "The Second Death" must needs be still more terrible and disastrous, for it is a more inward fret; but not therefore a reduction to absolute nothingness. Angels are regarded in all theology as immortal by inherent constitution; yet wicked angels are under the horrors of this Second Death. The children of the better resurrection are" as the angels of God,' "so these partakers of the "resurrection of damnation" are as the Devil and his angels. If "the lake of fire" is not annihilation to one, so neither is it to the other. But it is Death, and it is torment; and there is every reason to believe that it is eternal.
[F]. It is "to the ages of the ages." Confirmed depravity cannot be cured where no means of grace are; neither can those cease to sin whose whole nature has been turned to sin. And if there can be no end of the sinning, how can there be an end of the suffering? Remorse cannot die out of a spirit ever conscious of its self-imposed damnation! Therefore, "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44,48).
[G]. And Death and Hades, here viewed as if they were personal beings, share the same fate. They, of course, cease to be. There is nothing more of temporal death or of the place of departed spirits after this. They are not personal beings, hence, their casting into "the lake of fire" is the end of them; but, conceived of as persons, they are consigned to exactly the same eternal punishment with the other wicked. They are the products of sin, and they share the doom of what produced them. And thus, in an ever-burning Hell, from which there is no more deliverance, all the enemies of God and his Christ find themselves at last.
THE PASSIONATE PLEA
And now, in the presence of these awful verities, what shall I say to those who know it all, yet go deliberately on in ways which can have no outcome but this Second Death? I look at them, and think; and the terribleness of their hallucination paralyses my utterance. I would fain arouse them to their better senses; but when I speak my intensest words seem but ashes in my mouth in comparison with the alarum for which their situation calls.
Ho, ye unbelieving people-ye dishonest people-ye profane people-ye lewd men and women-ye slaves of lust and appetite-ye scoffers at the truth of God-"How can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew 23:33).
Ye people of business-ye whose souls are absorbed with the pursuit of gain-ye people of wealth without riches toward God-ye passengers on the voyage of life, without prayer, without Church relations, without concern for your immortal good, your God, or the eternity before you-hear: "Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure, and your glory, and your multitude, and your pomp, and your rejoicing, shall descend into it!" (Isaiah 5:14).
Ye almost Christians, lingering these many years on the margin of the Kingdom, looking in through the gates, but never quite ready to enter them, intending but never performing, often wishing but still postponing, hoping but without right to hope-the appeal is to you: "How shall ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:2-4).
And ye who call yourselves Christians but have forgotten your covenant promises-ye Terahs and Lot's wives, who have started out of the place of sin and death but hesitate halfway, and stay to look back-ye baptized Elymases, and Judases, and Balaams, who, through covetousness and feigned words make merchandise of the grace of God-see ye not that "your judgment now of a long time lingered not, and your damnation slumbered not!" (2 Peter 2:3).
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
And if there be anyone oblivious or indifferent toward these great matters-asleep amidst the dashing waves of coming retribution-the message is to you: "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God shall think upon thee, that thou perish not!" (John 1:6). For if anyone be not found written in the Book of Life, he must be swallowed up by the Lake of Fire.
(From The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
The evildoers (Malachi 4:1-3). Once again, Malachi returns to the theme of the coming Day of the Lord when God will punish all evildoers. Sinners will be burned up the way fire eats up the stubble; they will become like ashes under the feet of the saints! But the true believers will see the dawning of a new day as the "Sun of righteousness" rises (Luke 1:78-79). Then Jesus will reign as King of Kings and His people will frolic like calves let out of their stalls!
The preachers (Malachi 4:4-6). Malachi has been faithful as God's messenger, and he closes his book by reminding the people of two other faithful prophets, Moses and Elijah. The Law of Moses was still God's rule of life for the Jews, and if they obeyed, God would bless them. Of course, believers today aren't under the Law (Romans 6:15; Galatians 5:1-4), but they still practice the righteousness of the Law through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God (Romans 8:1-4).
The promise in Malachi 4:5 was often discussed and debated by the Jewish rabbis who asked. "Who is the Elijah whom the Lord will send?" The Jewish leaders interrogated John the Baptist about it (John 1:19-21) and Peter, James, and John asked Jesus about it (Matthew 17:10). The prophet Elijah is mentioned at least thirty times in the New Testament, and ten of those references relate him to John the Baptist. But John the Baptist said plainly that he was no Elijah (John 1:21,25). He did come in the "spirit and power" of Elijah and turn the hearts of fathers and children (Luke 1:16-17). Like Elijah, John was a courageous man, a man of prayer empowered by the Spirit, a man who lived alone in the wilderness, and a servant who turned many people back to the Lord, but he was not Elijah returned to earth.
However, for those who believed on Christ during His earthly ministry, John the Baptist performed the work of Elijah in their lives: he prepared them to meet the Lord. "And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:14, NIV). "Elijah is come already," said Jesus, "and they know him not." The disciples understood Jesus to mean John the Baptist who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (17:10-13). But Malachi 4:5 promises that Elijah himself will come, and that his coming is related to the "Day of the Lord" that will burn the wicked like stubble (v. 1). That's why Jesus said. "Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things" (Matthew 17:11). Many students believe that Elijah is one of the two witnesses whose ministries are described in Revelation 11:3-12. (They believe the other is Moses.) It's worth noting that both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:3), which explains why the three apostles asked about Elijah.
Inasmuch as "the great and terrible Day of the Lord" did not occur in New Testament times, we have to believe that John the Baptist was not the promised Elijah, even though he ministered like Elijah. Therefore, this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
It may well be that Elijah will return to earth as one of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), for the signs that these two men will perform remind us of the miracles of Elijah. After the ministry of the witnesses, the Lord will pour out His wrath upon the earth (v. 18; 16:1 ff) and the Day of the Lord will burst upon the world in its fury. It seems odd that the Old Testament Scriptures should end with the word "curse." When we get near the end of the New Testament, we read. "And there shall be no more curse" (Revelation 22:3).
All of creation is eagerly awaiting the return of the Savior, expecting Him to deliver creation from the bondage of sin (Romans 8:18-23). We too should be expecting Him and, while we're waiting, witness of Him to others. For when the Sun of righteousness arises, it will mean either burning or blessing (Malachi 4:1-2): blessing to those who have trusted Him, burning to those who have rejected Him.
Nobody can afford to argue with God the way the Israelites did when they heard Malachi, because God will always have the last word. For you, will that last word be salvation or judgment?
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe. All rights reserved.)
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 v. 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.
The whole of the admonition forms an antithesis to the rebuke in v. 7, 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 v. 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.
But this view is proved to be erroneous by such passages as Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 34:23; 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.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
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 v. 5 b, compare Joel 3:4. This Elijah, according to v. 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). This threat recalls 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 fulfillment 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).
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
This address of the angel gives at the same time an authentic explanation of vv. 5 and 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. Malachi 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 ff., Luke 7:27 ff.) that John was the messenger announced by Malachi and the Elijah who was to come, but also told His disciples
(Matthew 17:1 ff.; Mark 9:11 ff.) 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 labors 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 fulfillment 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. 3:19 and 12:40), viz.,
(1). For the judgment of separating the believing from the ungodly,
(2). To give eternal life to those who believe on His name,
(3). And to bring death and condemnation to unbelievers.
MALACHI CHAPTER FOUR
This judgment burst upon the Jewish nation not long after the ascension of Christ. Israel rejected its Savior, 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 segullâh of the Lord. Law and prophets bore witness of Christ, and Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill 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 ff.; Mark 9:1 ff.; Luke 9:28 ff.), 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.
(From Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Remember The theologians of the 1800 did not live to see Israel come back to their land.
Thus end the Old Testament Study Paul the Learner