Malachi Chapter Four


Read Malachi 4:1 – Punishment of the Wicked


v.1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”


            There are commentators that apply this verse to the final destruction of Jerusalem and Israel as a nation and others that apply it to the final judgment.  There are aspects of these two events that are common.  Jerusalem and the remnant of Israel would be completely and totally destroyed as a city and as a nation; never to rise again in God’s plans and purposes.  In the day of final judgment the entire creation of God recorded in Genesis 1 will also be completely and totally destroyed never to rise again in God’s plans and purposes.  As we study the related scriptures and the various commentaries we see here a much stronger relationship to final judgment than to the destruction of Jerusalem.

            First of all, when we remove man’s divisions of scripture and consider the context of Malachi 4:1-2 with Malachi 3:16-18 we see a reference to final judgment:


Malachi 3:18Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”


            The Lord will return and “DISCERN BETWEEN THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED” and “BETWEEN” those that serve God and those that don’t.  Let’s look at the words of the Son of God.  First his description of the division between the righteous and the wicked:


Matthew 25:31-33When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”


And then His words concerning the division between those that claim to be righteous but have served self by twisting and using God law, God’s worship, as they chose rather than rendering humble service to God:


Matthew 7:21-23Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”


            In your study Bibles you probably have a cross-reference to the prophecy of Joel and that also relates to final judgment as we noted in our earlier study:


Joel 2:31-32The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.  32And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”


            And in his second epistle the Apostle Peter reminds us that this earth is “RESERVED” or kept by God for this purpose:


II Peter 3:7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”


Then in verse 9 he reminds that that God keeps all of his promises and that the day of judgment will come.


Read Malachi 4:2-3 – The Reward of the Righteous


v.2But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”


            Just as the punishment of the wicked is sure, the reward of those who are righteous is also sure.  Again we look at the context of this writing:


Malachi 3:16Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”


            A book of remembrance was written before God; a book the purpose of which was revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John:


Revelation 20:12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”


The books were opened; the books of God’s instruction, the record of God’s commandments and then “ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED”, the same book that Malachi speaks of; the “BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE” in which all of our works have been recorded including any sins of which we have not repented and beseeched God to remove.

            A “SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS” shall arise.  Throughout scripture light is used to represent God and darkness to represent all that is contrary to God.  In the words of men who would be the one that would provide so much light for the hearts and minds of mankind to be compared to the sun?  Jesus Christ.  We have this further prophecy in the New Testament by Zacharias, father of John the Baptizer:


Luke 1:76-78And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;  77To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,  78Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,”


What does “THE DAYSPRING” represent?  It represents the rising of the sun, in this case the coming of the Son of God, the one coming from “ON HIGH”.  Christ is the source and the light of our lives, the means by whom we see to walk as God would have us walk, the one with whom we walk with if we walk in harmony with God.  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:8 that we are to walk as “CHILDREN OF LIGHT” and then exhorts all of us who need to hear:


Ephesians 5:14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”


“ARISE FROM THE DEAD”, the death of sin “AND CHRIST SHALL GIVE” us light for the pathway of our lives.


v.3And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”


            This verse is simply another way of contrasting the punishment of the wicked from the reward of the righteous.  They “SHALL BE ASHES” is another means of expressing the condition of those who will be eternally separated from God in a devil’s hell.  We see this and similar expressions used to represent the result of God’s wrath in other scriptures in both literal and figurative terms.


II Samuel 22:43  Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.”




  1. Again, Malachi stresses that God punishes wickedness and rewards righteousness.  When Jesus describes the separation of the “SHEEP” from the “GOATS” in Matthew 25 he concludes with these words:


Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”


  1. There is a judgment day coming; the anti-type of the destruction of Jerusalem, one that the Apostle Paul assures the Corinthians Christians and everyone else in the days that have passed since then:


For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”  II Corinthians 5:10


  1. This life is a constant battle, a battle within and around us between wickedness and righteousness.  Sometimes it appears that wickedness is winning but we can all be assured that in the end that righteousness will overcome.


  1. “What the sun is to the solar system the Son of Man is to mankind.  He is the source of light and provides the only means of knowing how to “WALK WITH GOD”.  Anyone who does not do so is not in fellowship with God.


I John 1:6-7If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”



Read Malachi 4:4 – Exhortation to Obey God’s Law


v.4Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”


            Malachi follows his dissertation on reward and punishment with the reminder that we only escape punishment by obeying the law of God.  In the case of those of his day it was the Law given through Moses.  But in general we are not to let anything become our god in the place of Almighty God, whether it is a graven image, wealth, pleasure, self, or whatever.  Moses ended his oversight of Israel with a similar exhortation:


Deuteronomy 4:23Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.”


We, likewise, need to “take heed unto” ourselves to not forget these warnings and to live in harmony with the covenant of God that he has made with men today.


Read Malachi 4:5-6 – The Coming of John the Baptizer


v.5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:”


            God would send them “ELIJAH” but Elijah had not been on the earth for over 500 years.  How could that be?  It would not be Elijah of the time of Ahab, king of Israel, but rather one like Elijah or Elias as he is frequently called.  Just as it was testified by an angel of God to Zacharias concerning John:


Luke 1:17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


            The words of the prophet Malachi and the words of the angel to Zacharias are both verified and validated by Christ, himself.

Matthew 11:13-14For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  14And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. “


The Law, that is the Mosaic Law prevailed until the time of John the Baptist came and started preaching baptism for the remission of sins.


v.6And he shall 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.


            This modern day Elijah, or what would be the modern day in terms of Biblical history, this preacher of righteousness would come and herald the coming of the Son of God.  At the risk of being too repetitious we repeat the words spoken by the angel of God to Zacharias:


And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17




  1. The problems of Israel throughout their history were as a result of their defiance of God and their failure to obey the laws of God.  Just as Malachi reminded the Jews; we must also be reminded and encouraged from time to time to study, know and live the commandments of God.  As Paul admonished Timothy:


Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.  15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:14-15  


  1. Malachi reminds those of his day that the Law of God came to the through Moses.  It was given only to Israel and that it came at Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai as there are two names for the same mountain.


  1. God closes the words of the Old Testament with four great prophecies.  A period of spiritual darkness; a 400 year period where God was silent is coming.  Consequently they needed something to carry them through until the time that God would again speak to mankind.


a.      There would be one sent who was like Elijah, one who would come before the coming of the “DAY OF THE LORD”. 

b.      The “SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS’ would arise with “HEALING IN HIS WINGS” a direct prophecy concerning the coming of Christ.

c.      The destruction of all that is wicked.

d.      Eternal judgment and God’s provision for the righteous.


General Observations concerning Malachi:


  1. The basic message of the book is that God loves his people but his people were not responding to that love the way He had commanded.
  2. Zechariah and Haggai had aroused the people and caused them to complete the temple of God.  Malachi scolds and admonishes them because they are not using the temple properly, that is as God had intended.
  3. Even though in the beginning of his dissertation the prophet stresses the love of God, the Jews had great sin in their lives:


a.      They questioned God’s love, perhaps because of their adversity

b.      They despised the name of God

c.      They polluted the table of the Lord

d.      They disregarded God’s marriage law

e.      They wearied God with careless words

f.        They robbed God in their giving

g.      They spoke against God and the word of God


  1. They were guilty of ritualistic, insincere worship.  As we would say today, they were “going through the motions” but their hearts were not right with God and their worship was not accepted.  Jesus gives us instructions for today:


John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”


We must worship God using the proper authority for our actions and practice.  We must worship God in the right frame of mind, with the right attitude, truly worshipping rather than just going through some ritual because it’s the appointed hour.