This, the last chapter in the Old Testament, brings into focus the coming of the “day of the LORD”, and the warning which comes with this is very serious, and should take hold of the attention of all who read it.
This coming event brings both bad and good tidings. Which do you want to hear first?
Malachi starts with the bad news! “Look, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, … that will leave them neither root nor branch” (v 1). This is SERIOUS! We must make sure that we are right with God, and then we can look forward to that great day, and not fear the consequences.
The good news is for those who fear the name of Yahweh. For them, “the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings.” And they shall “go out and grow fat like stall fed calves” (v 2). They will be spiritually healthy, well fed and strong. They will “trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of their feet” (v 3). These are the words of Yahweh Sabaoth.
When I was a boy of 9 years I had to go to church, which I found boring and irrelevant. But I was taken to a Youth for Christ event which started in Fakenham every week. It was organised by American servicemen from Sculthorpe, and they hired buses to run from various places around North Norfolk free of charge. They sang modern gospel songs, very lively, and invited well known preachers from around the country to preach the gospel. It was gripping. But the thing that really got me was that they preached a lot about the second coming of Jesus, and asked us if we were ready. It was a timely message for me, and God used it to bring me to Himself. It was a warning to me.
Malachi is warning the people to be ready for the “day of Yahweh”, and not to be careless or casual about these things. He says “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant” (v 4).
But before this event happens, God will do something amazing. He will send Elijah the prophet (v 5). And what will Elijah do? He will repair families! He will restore the relationship between fathers and children. Jesus says in Matthew 11 verse 14 that John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus, was Elijah.
The lesson for us today is picked up by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church. In Chapter 3 verses 12 & 13, Paul says “If anyone builds on this foundation (Jesus) with gold, silver and precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” Although if we are believers in and followers of Jesus we have no fear of judgement, how we live our lives will be tested by fire. If our actions and way of life are not pleasing to God, then they are wood, hay and straw, and will be destroyed by the fire. 1 Corinthians 3 verse 15 says that “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as though through fire.” We use the phrase “By the skin of your teeth!” But those who in their daily life behave in a way which pleases God, then our works will be gold, silver and precious stones and will survive the fire, and we will “receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3 v 14). Paul describes that as “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day” in 2 Timothy 4 v 8. The fire destroys the wood, hay and straw, reducing them to ash, whereas the fire purifies the gold and silver.