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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Malachi 4



Verses 4-6

The Final Exhortation (Malachi 4:4-6).

YHWH finalises Malachi’s prophecy by pointing to ‘the Law and the prophets. Firstly He turns their thoughts to His Instruction given through Moses, and then to the powerful preaching of the prophets as epitomised by Elijah, as they bring home to men the words of Moses. Let them listen and take heed lest a curse come upon them.

Malachi 4:4

‘Remember you the law of Moses my servant,

Which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel,

Even the statutes and ordinances.

YHWH makes His final plea to them They have no excuse for they have His word. ‘Remember you the Instruction of Moses My servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb (Sinai) for all Israel.’ This is what they must now do. They must deliberately and genuinely call to mind the words of Moses, the true servant of God. Jesus gave the same reminder to the people of His day. ‘If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). So they are to diligently study God’s word and obey it.

The same command was given to Joshua as he stood on the edge of the promised land. ‘Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the Instruction which Moses My servant commanded you, turn not from it to the tight hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:7).

So the call comes to them to study and live in accordance with God’s word brought to them by Moses, not as a list of regulations, but as a loving response to their covenant God. Let them delight to do His will. Then they will be ready for that Day.

‘Even the statutes and ordinances.’ The Torah included direct commands, statutes (‘you shall not’) and case law, ordinances (‘if this -- then that --’). All aspects are to be observed for they are ‘commanded’ by the Commander-in Chief Himself.

Malachi 4:5-6

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,

Before the great and terrible day of YHWH come.

And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children,

And the heart of the children to their fathers;

Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

YHWH finishes with a message of hope. He will not just leave it like that. Before that great and terrible Day of YHWH comes, He will send to them Elijah the prophet, and he will prepare many for that Day. He will bring home to them the Instruction of Moses. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. He will cause right relationships and responses to grow. He will cause fathers to love their children and guide them aright, and children to lovingly obey their fathers. And He will remove antagonisms from between generations. He will bring peace and harmony. He will cause them all to love one another. And this will be necessary so as to avoid a curse upon the land. The assumption is thus that this preaching will be needed. The world will not grow slowly more righteous. Left to itself it would end up being cursed. But God is saying that in His graciousness, He will intervene to prevent the worst happening.

Elijah was the prophet who arrived suddenly on the scene from nowhere (1 Kings 17:1) and who departed equally suddenly to no one knew where (2 Kings 2:11-12). This was what made the Jews think that he would come back again in person. But Jesus Christ Himself made clear that Elijah had come in the person of John the Baptist (although John quite rightly denied actually being Elijah himself). For Jesus emphasised that ‘this is the Elijah who was to come’ (Matthew 11:14). These very words in Malachi 4:6 were cited by the angel who announced John’s birth, about his future ministry. ‘He will go before His face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared’ (Luke 1:17).

Of course Elijah did also come in person, for he appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration when the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed (Mark 9:2-8; 2 Peter 1:16), but it was immediately after this that Jesus again confirmed that John the Baptist was the coming Elijah. ‘I say to you Elijah is come, and they have also done to him whatever they wanted’ (Mark 9:13).

‘The great and terrible Day of YHWH’. As we have already seen ‘in the Day that I do make’ has referred to both blessing on the righteous in Malachi 3:17, and to judgment on the wicked in Malachi 4:3. For the former it is a great Day, when they become God’s own treasured possession, for the latter a terrible Day when they become ashes beneath men’s feet.

And we know now that Elijah has come, and ‘the great and terrible Day of YHWH’ followed, for it began with the crucifixion (Luke 23:28-31), was stated to have come at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21) continued on in the destruction of Jerusalem and the great tribulation that followed for the Jews (Matthew 24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24), and would manifest itself through the ages in wars, pestilences, earthquakes and tribulation (Matthew 24:4-14), before the end finally arrives with the coming of Jesus Christ in His glory. It is depicted throughout the Book of Revelation in which the present era unfolds (Revelation 1:10). And it will come to its culmination with war on earth (Joel 3:9-14; Revelation 20:8-9) and victory in Heaven (Revelation 19:11-16). And during all this time God will be drawing His elect to Himself. And the sign of those who are His will be the amazing unity and loved depicted among them (John 13:35) because their hearts have been turned towards each other. That is why the disciples spoke of the days in which they lived as ‘the last days’, ‘the end of the ages’, and the equivalent (Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 Peter 4:7). And those ‘last days’ will continue until His coming. It was this intervention of John the Baptist, (‘My messenger’ - Malachi 3:1 a) and supremely our Lord Jesus Christ (‘the Lord and Messenger of the covenant’ - Malachi 3:1 b) that has saved the world from God’s curse.


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Malachi 4:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

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