A Commentary on Malachi Chapter 4 – The Day of the Lord is Coming

Introduction

The Book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and contains prophecies and messages from God to the Israelites through the prophet Malachi. Malachi ministered between the times of Ezra and Nehemiah after the Israelites had returned from exile in Babylon.

Chapter 4, the final chapter of Malachi, contains a powerful prophecy about the coming Day of the Lord and the work that God will do before that great day. It calls the people to remember God’s law and emphasizes that God never changes. This commentary will examine Malachi Chapter 4 verse-by-verse and explore its key themes and messages for Christians today.

Key Takeaways from Malachi Chapter 4

  • The Day of the Lord is coming when the proud and wicked will be judged but the righteous will be rewarded.
  • God will send Elijah the prophet before the Day of the Lord to turn people’s hearts back to God.
  • We must remember the law of Moses and fear the Lord while awaiting His return.
  • God does not change – His promises and character are unchanging.
  • God rewards those who faithfully serve and honor Him.
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Commentary on Malachi Chapter 4

“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. – Malachi 4:1 (NKJV)

Malachi begins this final chapter with a prophecy about the coming “day of the Lord”, a time when God will judge the wicked and reward the righteous. He describes it as an oven that will burn up the proud and wicked like dry stubble. They will be completely consumed without a root or branch remaining. This day of judgment is certain and will leave no wicked person unpunished.

But to you who fear My nameThe Sun of Righteousness shall ariseWith healing in His wings;And you shall go outAnd grow fat like stall-fed calves. – Malachi 4:2 (NKJV)

In contrast to the fate of the wicked, those who “fear the Lord”, meaning those who honor, worship and obey God, will experience healing and blessings from the “Sun of Righteousness”. This is a Messianic reference to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who will arise with healing and restoration for God’s faithful people. They will prosper and thrive under His righteous reign.

You shall trample the wicked,For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feetOn the day that I do this,”Says the Lord of hosts. – Malachi 4:3 (NKJV)

God further confirms the complete destruction of the wicked in contrast to the joyful thriving of the righteous. The wicked will be reduced to ashes trampled underfoot, likely referring to their cremated remains after judgment. But the righteous will walk upon these ashes, trampling them under their feet.

“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,With the statutes and judgments. – Malachi 4:4 (NKJV)

God now gives His people an important instruction – to remember the Law which He gave through Moses at Mount Horeb (Sinai). The Law refers to the Torah, the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. It contains God’s statutes and judgments for how His people are to live. Even with the coming Day of the Lord, the people were to continue obeying God’s Law.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophetBefore the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turnThe 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.” – Malachi 4:5-6 (NKJV)

God promises to send the prophet Elijah before the Day of the Lord to turn people’s hearts back to God. This refers to John the Baptist who ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). The imagery of turning hearts likely refers to reconciliation between generations within families as people repent before the coming judgment. God’s desire is always restoration, not destruction. This final prophecy ends on a sober note – God will strike the earth with a curse of judgment unless His people repent and return to Him.

The Certainty of God’s Coming Judgment

One of the clearest themes in Malachi 4 is the certainty of God’s judgment on the Day of the Lord. Three times God declares that this day is coming and it will result in the wicked being consumed and destroyed like burnt stubble (4:1), ashes underfoot (4:3), and the earth being struck with a curse (4:6). This emphasizes that while God is patient and long-suffering with mankind, allowing time for repentance (2 Peter 3:9), the Day of Judgment is fixed and certain. There will be an end to wickedness on the earth.

For Christians, this future day of judgment should inspire holy living and repentance today. Peter asks, “What kind of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3:11-12). Knowing that Christ will return to judge should motivate us to turn from sin and walk in righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, Malachi 4 gives hope that the Day of the Lord means reward and healing for the faithful, those who fear the Lord. If we have submitted our lives to Christ as Savior and Lord, we need not dread this coming day, but can look forward to it with hope and joyful expectation.

The Unchanging Nature of God

One of the repeated themes throughout the Book of Malachi is that God does not change. “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (3:6). Here in chapter 4, even with the anticipation of the coming Day of the Lord, God reminds His people to remember His Law given through Moses. God’s righteous standards for His people do not fluctuate. They are rooted in His unchanging, holy character.

What God required of His people then – to walk in obedience to His commands – He still requires today. God called His people to live differently than the pagan nations around them by clinging to Him alone. So Christ calls believers today to walk in holiness and separation from sinful ways, holding fast to God’s timeless moral law.

Malachi encourages us that because God does not change, His promises remain sure and steadfast. What He has said He will do, He will certainly fulfill in His perfect timing. In a world of shifting values, morals and religions, we serve the one true and living God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Turning Hearts Back to God

Finally, Malachi’s prophecy about John the Baptist coming in the spirit of Elijah to turn hearts back to God holds a vital message for the Church today. As we await Christ’s return, we must heed the call to repentance and revival. God desires to turn the hearts of fathers and children to one another in reconciled relationships. But first, peoples’ hearts must be turned back to the Lord.

This was John the Baptist’s ministry as the forerunner of Christ – preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to prepare people for the Messiah’s coming (Luke 3:3-6). The Church today carries on this mission. We have the privilege of calling people to repent and believe the Gospel as we herald the good news of Jesus Christ. We live in the hope of His coming day, encouraging many to be ready through reconciled relationship with God.

Conclusion

Malachi Chapter 4 contains sobering truth about the coming Day of the Lord when God will judge the wicked as well as precious promises of the blessings in store for those who fear Him. This prophetic book calls God’s people to repentance and faithfulness as they await the return of Christ in glory and the restoration of all things.

Even in the midst of moral decline and evil in the world, God is still sovereign. He never changes and His purposes will stand. As Christians, we are to remember God’s law, walk in holiness, and proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Christ. While awaiting the Day of the Lord, we can stand firm on the hope that the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing and restoration for His faithful people.

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