Book of Malachi Chapter 4 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Lost and the Saved
God has good intentions for each one of us and He has a specific future for humanity. It's His will that ALL shall come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), but it's obvious that many choose to spurn His offer. The "arrogant and...evildoer(s)" in Verse 1 of this chapter can become free from the arrogance and evil that fills this world. God intends for all of us to trust in Him and be saved, but OUR intentions also play a part...we can reject Him. Verse 1 in its entirety reads: "'For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,' says the Lord of hosts, 'so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.'" We are amazingly given the opportunity to love and serve the Lord, but we can refuse Him, which is an act of ultimate self-destruction. Hebrews 12:2 relates that "Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of your faith"—even the faith you are supposed to have is His creation in you. Every opportunity is given for you to pass the test of this life and be with the Lord who loves you—forever. Life without Him is the loss of everything.
Those who insist, "I'll do it my way," as the late Frank Sinatra sang, will eventually be allowed to do so. Though God will influence our decision, ultimately He will not violate the free will given to us. Please note that "my way" and your way is the path to emptiness. We were designed to entrust our lives to God and will never be satisfied until we do. "The day" is indeed "coming, burning like a furnace," when the "arrogant" will be set "ablaze," as the Lord through the prophet warns in Verse 1. If you are still able to read or hear these words, the hope of a much better future is possible for you right now.
The alternative to destruction is seen in Verse 2—"But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall." Notice the childlike, innocent quality seen in those who have an honest faith in God. Jesus said, "...unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 18:4). We don't have to pretend anymore—we can simply be what we really are. The "fear" mentioned in
is actually reverence...when we give ourselves to the Lord, we discover He is beautiful, pure and utterly in love with ordinary people like you and me. We revere Him, this Friend we can utterly trust because He has our best interests in mind...better than anything we could imagine for ourselves or those we love. We trust in the Lord who gives us His "righteousness" filled with "healing in its wings." To "skip about like calves" is to find—joy.
Clearly there are many in this world who don't want the love of God in Christ Jesus. Also there is a widespread dislike of those who do love the Lord. Non-believers are frequently in positions of human authority because they are adept at using people without actually caring for them. Verse 3 is a warning to all who step on others to reach their own goals...very soon such people will be no more. The Lord says, "'You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the Lord of hosts." Asaph, the author of Psalm 73, was troubled by uncaring human leaders to the point where he nearly gave up, but after prayer he learned the truth about them: "...I discerned their end. Truly You set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin...Like a dream when one awakes..." (Psalm 73:17-20). Much like a dream flits away when we awaken from sleep, so this life will seem like a "dream when one awakes" in eternity. The "wicked" (those who reject the Lord) will become like "ashes" forever.
In the Old Testament, glimpses of God's love are revealed, but God's holiness is the emphasis. The New Testament shows an additional perspective. His holiness, purity and innocence are still seen, but the focus is upon His intense love for all in humanity. The Father sent His Son to die so that we might live. We are pronounced "Guilty as Charged" by the Court of God, but "Pardoned" is written in the blood of Christ across our names, hearts and lives. Yes we are guilty, but also forgiven by and through the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
We are cautioned in Verse 4 to "Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel." The first five books of the Old Testament are called "The Law" for good reason—the pages of those books are filled with laws, reflecting the purity, the holiness of God, insisting that those who come to Him are to be like Him. We are compared with God Himself, not just with each other. Most are familiar with the Ten Commandments seen in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, but those who like to count such things report that 613 laws actually exist within the pages of those books...too many to even remember. "Horeb" is an another name for Mount Sinai.
Paul the Apostle, also known as Saul, that brilliant Jew, tried hard to keep the Law as many have, but failed as all of us do. He recounted his attempt and failure in Romans 7, concluding, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" That's Romans 7:24. It's the cry of those who want God, but try to approach Him in their own efforts. Blessedly, Paul finally realized he could not do it on his own and was able to continue in Romans 7:25, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Paul's grasp of the understanding and process needed continues into Chapter 8: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do..." (Romans 8:1 & forward). We "remember the law of Moses" as Malachi and Paul did, trying to live good lives, but the "statutes and ordinances" are designed to show our need rather than deliver us from sin. We need the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ—faith in Him is everything. He did what we cannot do, in dying for your sins and mine.
In Malachi 3, we saw John the Baptist, the forerunner who prepared people for the first advent of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world. In Malachi 4:5-6, God's Word continues: "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Verse 5 speaks of "Elijah the prophet" who will appear "before the great and terrible day of the Lord," restoring the hearts of people to God and one another. The question is asked: Is this John the Baptist or is it literally Elijah the prophet? The answer is in Luke 1:17—John would appear "in the spirit and power of Elijah." Both men, John and Elijah, did nothing in their own strength, but just as we should, they spoke and acted in the power of the Spirit of God. The prophets of God are an example. We have little to say, but God's Word is—everything. We are to trust in the Lord and look to Him. His first advent was to save us from our sins. His second will separate the faithful from the PRESENCE of sin. The "wheat" and the "chaff" are being torn from one another...the faithful from the unbelieving. His second advent will cull the unbelieving from the saved—forever. Let's trust in Him before it's too late.
Dear God, I confess my sin of unbelief and ask for Your forgiveness. Thank You for sending the Lord so I can be saved. I trust in Him now. Help me to speak, act and believe in the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name. Amen.