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Mal 4:1-6. GOD'S COMING JUDGMENT: TRIUMPH OF THE GODLY: RETURN TO THE LAW THE BEST PREPARATION FOR JEHOVAH'S COMING: ELIJAH'S PREPARATORY MISSION OF REFORMATION.
1. the day cometh . . . burn--
Primarily is meant the judgment coming on Jerusalem; but as this will
not exhaust the meaning, without supposing what is inadmissible in
Scripture--exaggeration--the final and full accomplishment, of which
the former was the earnest, is the day of general judgment. This
principle of interpretation is not double, but successive
fulfilment. The language is abrupt, "Behold, the day cometh! It
burns like a furnace." The abruptness imparts terrible reality to the
picture, as if it suddenly burst on the prophet's view.
2. The effect of the judgment on the righteous, as contrasted with
its effect on the wicked
To the wicked it shall be as an oven that consumes the stubble
to the righteous it shall be the advent of the gladdening Sun, not of
condemnation, but "of righteousness"; not destroying, but "healing"
3. Solving the difficulty
that the wicked often now prosper. Their prosperity and the adversity
of the godly shall soon be reversed. Yea, the righteous shall be the
army attending Christ in His final destruction of the ungodly
Ps 49:14; 47:3;
Re 2:26, 27; 19:14, 15).
4. Remember . . . law--"The law and all the prophets"
were to be in force until John
no prophet intervening after Malachi; therefore they are told,
"Remember the law," for in the absence of living prophets, they were
likely to forget it. The office of Christ's forerunner was to bring
them back to the law, which they had too much forgotten, and so "to
make ready a people prepared for the Lord" at His coming
God withheld prophets for a time that men might seek after Christ with
the greater desire [CALVIN]. The history of human
advancement is marked by periods of rest, and again progress. So in
Revelation: it is given for a time; then during its suspension men live
on the memories of the past. After Malachi there was a silence of four
hundred years; then a harbinger of light in the wilderness, ushering in
the brightest of all the lights that had been manifested, but
short-lived; then eighteen centuries during which we have been guided
by the light which shone in that last manifestation. The silence has
been longer than before, and will be succeeded by a more glorious and
awful revelation than ever. John the Baptist was to "restore" the
defaced image of "the law," so that the original might be recognized
when it appeared among men [HINDS]. Just as
"Moses" and "Elias" are here connected with the Lord's coming, so at
the transfiguration they converse with Him, implying that the law and
prophets which had prepared His way were now fulfilled in Him.
5. I send you Elijah--as a means towards your "remembering the law"
6. turn . . . heart of . . . fathers to . . . children, &c.--Explained
by some, that John's preaching should restore harmony in families. But
Lu 1:16, 17
substitutes for "the heart of the children to the fathers," "the
disobedient to the wisdom of the just," implying that the
reconciliation to be effected was that between the unbelieving
disobedient children and the believing ancestors, Jacob, Levi, "Moses,"
and "Elijah" (just mentioned) (compare
Mal 1:2; 2:4, 6; 3:3, 4).
The threat here is that, if this restoration were not effected,
Messiah's coming would prove "a curse" to the "earth," not a blessing.
It proved so to guilty Jerusalem and the "earth," that is, the
land of Judea when it rejected Messiah at His first advent,
though He brought blessings
to those who accepted Him
Many were delivered from the common destruction of the nation through
(Ro 9:29; 11:5).
It will prove so to the disobedient at His second advent, though He
comes to be glorified in His saints
May the writer of this Commentary and his readers have grace "to take heed to the sure word of prophecy as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn!" To the triune Jehovah be all glory ascribed for ever!
THE author of this Gospel was a publican or tax gatherer, residing at Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. As to his identity with the "Levi" of the second and third Gospels, and other particulars, see on Mt 9:9. Hardly anything is known of his apostolic labors. That, after preaching to his countrymen in Palestine, he went to the East, is the general testimony of antiquity; but the precise scene or scenes of his ministry cannot be determined. That he died a natural death may be concluded from the belief of the best-informed of the Fathers--that of the apostles only three, James the Greater, Peter, and Paul, suffered martyrdom. That the first Gospel was written by this apostle is the testimony of all antiquity.
For the date of this Gospel we have only internal evidence, and that far from decisive. Accordingly, opinion is much divided. That it was the first issued of all the Gospels was universally believed. Hence, although in the order of the Gospels, those by the t
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