Focal Passage: Malachi 3:1-7, 16-18; 4:1-2
God always has a plan. That is a good thing because I have a hard time trying to figure the plan out. It seems like the unrighteous prosper, the shady characters in this world get away with things that are not right, the oppressed are even more oppressed. The truths in Malachi speak to this predicament. The ultimate purpose in hard times and heartache for the people of God is refinement. God is working towards a pure bride. He will then bring the covenant people to Himself to marry the Lamb in the Last Day.
Being a messenger of God to “clear the way” is never a fun or easy thing. The task will have a fair share of critics. The third chapter of Malachi opens with preparation for the messenger God is sending. Ultimately we know from the New Testament the messenger is John the Baptist. John the Baptist had a specific task with some direct words. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers (Matthew 3:7).” He spoke against the adultery of Herod and lost his head for it (Matthew 14:4).
John the Baptist paid the price of his life for warning of the coming judgment. He spoke against the same issues mentioned in Malachi 3 — adultery, lying, cheating, and oppression of the weak. The remedy remains the same. “Produce fruit consistent with repentance (Matthew 3:8).” In Malachi the same idea, but different language is utilized. The Lord of Hosts says, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” However heinous or chaotic the sin, if you draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to you.
In the work of Malachi, it seems some started to listen. Near the end of chapter three, “those who feared the Lord spoke to one another.” They then proceeded to write a book of remembrance about how great God is. The effect is positive and immediate. God has compassion on them like a father. He puts their efforts on display like a proud dad and states, “you will again see the difference between the righteous and wicked, between the one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” It is never only bad news. But, in the work of God He is moving towards an ending where there is a necessary separation (Matthew 25:33).
Malachi ends with a “coming day” — a day where the wicked and arrogant will be seen for what they are, people with no root and no hope. But those who fear the Lord will experience “the sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings.” The imagery is beautiful and expansive. Righteousness will go forth like rays of sunshine across the sky. Healing will be in the “wings” of the rays. These things will be experienced in the coming of Christ.
The closing verses of chapter four are ones of cheerful hope. The righteous are jumping playfully like calves released from the stall; and children from their hearts are turning to their fathers. It is a celebration or party of sorts. The reason is because the wicked are not prospering any more. “They will be ashes under the soles of your feet (Malachi 4:3).” That is the plan of God. The “coming day” will be good for those who fear God, but bad for the disobedient. The banquet table is set and there will be a feast. There will also be a wedding for a pure people clothed in righteousness. But the table is limited. It is for all those who call upon the name of the Lord before it is too late.
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.