In our journey through
Christ in the Old Testament we have discovered that
we can look to Christ as God, and as such trust in
and worship Him. Thomas Moore summarizes:
There is one being called
the Angel of the Lord, Angel of the Presence, Angel
of the Covenant, etc, who appeared to Abraham in
Mamre (Gen. 18:1, 2, 16; 19:1), and who is there
called Jehovah; who appeared to Jacob in Bethel
(Gen. 31:11; 48:15) to Moses in the bush (Ex. 3:2,
4, 6) who went before the camp in the Shekinah (Ex.
14:19), who delivered the Law at Sinai (Acts 7:28),
who led the people through the desert (Isa. 63:7,
9), who was promised as the one who was to make the
new covenant (Jer. 31:31), and who is predicted by
Malachi (3:1) as to appear in the temple then
existing. This Messenger, we are thus clearly taught
was Divine, for He is called Jehovah. This Divine
Messenger (Mark 1:1, 2) assures us, was Jesus
Christ. Hence, Jesus Christ is "God manifest in the
flesh," "God over all, blessed forever" (Haggai
and Malachi, pp. 155-56).
The Angel of the Covenant
is the same one who led the people out of Egypt. He
appears and reappears throughout Hebrew history. We
encounter Him again in Malachi four.
The break between
chapters three and four in Malachi is unfortunate
because the opening words of chapter four is a
continuation of what has gone before. The Lord will
discern between the righteous and the unrighteous.
When will that take place? It will happen when all
the wrongs of the ages is righted at the Millennium
(cf. 2 Peter 3:10-12). It will usher in the
never-ending "day of the LORD," the eternal state of
Revelation 21-22. Chapter four opens with the
manifested glory of the Lord Jesus who will visit
judgment on those who have rejected the invitation
of grace. That "day" which Malachi announces will
burn "like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every
evildoer will be chaff" (4:1). All the proud and
wicked will be as stubble. It will be the day of the
wrath of the Lamb.
The exact opposite
between the righteous and the wicked will be the
consequence of the Lord’s Day. No one will be able
to endure that "day" which is characterized as "the
great and terrible day" (4:5). Calvin referred it to
the first coming of Christ, while many other
scholars think of His second coming and the Day of
Judgment. "The central fulfillment is to be related
to the first coming of Christ, just as the final
fulfillment must be seen in connection with His
coming again, the day of final judgment."
THE DAY IS COMING
"For behold, the day is
coming" (v. 1). That day arrived in Christ and
He will come again. The "sun of righteousness will
rise with healing in His wings." The Sun of
Righteousness will burn away the chaff, or He will
heal depending on the situation. If He finds
righteousness He will bring healing. If He finds
unrighteousness it will be a day of "burning like a
furnace." Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Isa. 2:12.
It is apparent the coming
day will be a day of judgment. "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." All the ungodly in Israel that
"day" will burn like a furnace. In this hot "oven"
nobody and nothing that is unrighteous will be
spared. For the wicked it will not be a refining and
purifying, but judgment. The Day of Judgment is a
Verse one is not teaching
annihilation of the soul with the idea that every
unbeliever will be blotted out of God’s universe.
That is only wishful thinking that there will not be
eternal judgment for those who reject Christ.
Malachi is speaking of a temporal judgment like
Sodom and Gomorrah. Fire from heaven will consume
the bodies of the wicked on the earth before the
Millennial kingdom is set up, and become ashes under
the feet of the righteous. This passage is not
speaking of the soul and the spirit. Other passages
of Scripture make abundantly clear there will be a
judgment after death and eternal punishment.
In a day of thick
darkness and gloom there will be for the preserved
remnant a light breaking forth in overwhelming
glory. "But to you who fear My name the sun of
righteousness will shine with healing in its wings;
and you will go forth and skip about like calves
from the stall" (4:2).
THE SUN OF
Here Malachi calls the
promised Messiah the Sun, the greater light to rule
the day of the New Testament. Balaam called Him the
Star out of Jacob (Num. 24:17); Isaiah called Him
the Great Light (9:2) and the Light of the Gentiles
"Righteousness" is to be
regarded as the key word in the phrase "sun of
righteousness." The "Sun of Righteousness" is called
the Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). In Him
righteousness is personified. On the Day of
the Lord righteousness will be in full view just
like the shining sun in all its brightness and
blessedness. Cf. Psalm 37:6; Isaiah 58:8.
"Righteousness" here represents the Messiah, either
as Christ incarnate or in His function as Judge of
the world, or both. Cf. Luke 1:78; John 1:4, 9;
8:12; Isa. 9:2; John 5:21; Rev. 21:23; 11:1-5; 1
John 5:11, 12.
"Sun of Righteousness"
(v. 2). The "sun of righteousness" is the Son of
righteousness. He brings healing in His wings. Is
that not what He did upon His first coming to the
temple? And when He comes again the second time He
will come in a blaze of glory and reign as King of
Kings and Lord of Lords. The shining forth of the
Sun of Righteousness will bring healing for His own,
but judgment for the wicked. His very radiant glory
will consume the unrighteous. There will be no
Millennium until Christ appears, purging the scene
for the establishment of His kingdom.
For those whose
righteousness depends alone in the Sun of
Righteousness it will be a day of salvation in all
of its full significance. The light of the sun
represents the fullness of God’s salvation for the
believer. The "day" will not bring eternal darkness
for them, but the eternal day of His presence. This
"healing" will ultimately be the consequence of the
vicarious sacrificial atonement of the Suffering
Servant of the LORD. Under His wings we find
healing, redemption, everlasting life and peace with
God. Again the final and complete fulfillment of
this passage will occur at the first and second
comings of Christ. At the first coming He purchased
our righteousness. At the second coming we will
behold His glory. "Beloved, now we are children of
God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.
We know that when He appears, we will be like Him,
because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone
who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself,
just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). This is true
only because Jesus is our righteousness. "He [God]
made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on
our behalf, so that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Branch of David is
righteousness incarnate because the righteous one
has procured our righteousness as the vicarious
Substitute. He took upon Himself our penalty for sin
(Isaiah 53:5-7; Romans 6:23) and paid it in full.
The Lord Our Righteousness has come with healing in
His wings for our sin sickness, and not only for
ours but for the whole world (1 John 2:2). He is our
THE COMING OF ELIJAH
"Behold, I am going to
send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and terrible day of the LORD" (v. 5; Matt.
11:14; 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13; cf. Luke 1:16, 17).
Just as in the prophetic
passages that refer to the return or resurrection of
King David who had been dead for centuries, and who
would "reign over the nation of God in the mind and
spirit of David; so the Elijah to be sent can only
be a prophet with the spirit or power of Elijah the
Tishbite. The second David was indeed to spring from
the family of David, because to the seed of David
there had been promised the eternal possession of
the throne" (Keil and Delitzsch). We don’t need to
look for a literal descendent of Elijah the
Tishbite, but "simply a prophet in whom the spirit
and power of Elijah are revived." This man of God
would bring God’s message in the power and energy of
Isaiah 40:3 declares,
"A voice is calling,
"Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God."
The fulfillment of this
prophecy of Elijah, whom the Lord would send before
His own coming, was sent in the person of John the
Baptizer. The angel announced to his father before
his birth as the promised Elijah (Luke 1:16, 17). He
would go as the forerunner before the Messiah and
announce in the spirit and power of Elijah calling
the people to repentance. His job would to be to
make ready "a prepared people for the Lord." Matt.
3:1-12; Luke 1:17; 3:2-8; Mark 1:2-8
John announced himself as
being the fulfillment of that prophetic role of
Elijah and Jesus affirmed it, too (Matthew 17:10-13;
Luke 7:18-35; Mark 9:11-28; John 1:21-23).
The majority of ancient
and modern Protestant interpreters maintain the two
figures, "the messenger" (3:1) and "Elijah" (4:5)
are in fact identical.
Apparently the Jews in
the time of Christ expected the historical prophet
Elijah would return in person probably because of
Elijah's ascension to heaven (2 Kings 2:1-11) and
his expected coming as forerunner. In the New
Testament this "Elijah" was applied to John the
Baptist (Luke 1:16-17). The disciples asked,
"Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah
must come first?" Jesus' reply was, "To be sure,
Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell
you, Elijah has already come" (Matthew 17:10-13). He
also said, "Now if you are willing to accept it, he
[John the Baptist] is Elijah who is to come" (Matt.
The New Testament makes
it clear that it is not necessary to look forward to
the coming again of the historical prophet Elijah.
He was representative of all of the Hebrew prophets.
He will go before the Lord "in the spirit and power
of Elijah" (Lk. 1:17). This Elijah is the one who
paves the way for the coming of the Lord.
Just as Malachi predicted
the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ came to His
temple. His work began with the first coming of
Christ and will ultimately be completed at the
The Hebrew scholar Keil
writes: "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; 3:19; 12:40), viz. for the
judgment of separating the believing from the
ungodly, to give eternal life to those who believe
on His name, and to bring death and condemnation to
unbelievers. This judgment burst upon the Jewish
nation not long after the ascension of Christ."
Israel rejected her Messiah and destruction came
upon Jerusalem in the great Roman war of A. D. 70.
Universal judgment will come upon the earth at the
visible second coming of the Lord at the last day."
The great and terrible
day of the Lord suggests the second coming of
Christ. As we have just seen and in our study of
Malachi 3:1 the New Testament emphasis is on John
the Baptist as the promised Elijah. However, the
nature of prophecy is to project separate future
events into one eschatological portrait. One
fulfillment of a prophecy does not exclude the
possibility of further fulfillments in the course of
history. This is true when applied to the two
comings of Christ. When we apply this to the coming
of Elijah and the coming Day of the Lord the first
and central fulfillment in the time of Christ's
first coming, and the final and ultimate fulfillment
will be when Christ comes again.
It is evident that he is
to prepare the people for the Second Coming of
Christ. The Purifier of His people (3:3) is also the
Judge (3:2, 5). The prophet gives us a magnificent
bird’s-eye view of the coming of Christ in the flesh
and His coming again in judgment (cf. 2 Thess. 2:2f;
1 Peter 4:7; James 5:8f; Rev. 3:20; 22:20; 2 Peter
The early church fathers
also saw Elijah fulfilled in Revelation 11:3-12 as
one of the witnesses.
The Old Testament comes
to its grand climax with this prophecy and waits 400
years before the coming of the last of the great
Hebrew prophets who prepares the way for the coming
of the Lord Jesus into His temple.
"The Law and the prophets
bore witness to Christ, and Christ came not to
destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill
them." The greatest testimony of that grand fact is
seen at the Mount of Transfiguration with their
representatives before the transfigured Jesus
discussing His coming exodus (Matthew 17:1ff; Mark
9:1ff; Luke 9:28ff).
in the prophets
"Kingdom of God shall be
established in all the earth."
King is God-Man
Servant of God will
redeem men through suffering.
God’s purpose of Grace is
centered in the Messiah.
That day arrived in
Christ and He will come again. The "Sun of
Righteousness" will burn away the chaff, or He will
bring healing depending upon the situation.
It is my prayer that you
will let Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
the Messiah become the desire of your heart.
If you need help in
knowing Him in an intimate personal relationship
here is A Free Gift for You.
Title: Malachi 4:1
The Sun of Righteousness
Christ in the Old Testament