The prophet Malachi declares some amazing prophecies about our end times, just before Jesus Christ returns in victory to rule this dying world.
One such prophecy — which many Bible students have failed to appreciate or have chosen to misunderstand or ignore — is found in Malachi 4.
Here the prophet foretells a day 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” (Verse 1). He then declares that the “Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” for those “who fear My name” (Verse 2). This “Sun” is none other than the LORD, the God and Rock of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1-4) who became the Messiah — Jesus Christ [see: The True Christ]. At His return Jesus will come as a “refiner’s fire” (like the sun heated up several times over) for sinners [Malachi 3:2-3; 4:2 — to purge them and heal them of their sin; or to destroy them if they refuse to repent (Malachi 4:1; Revelation 16:8-9; Luke 13:3, 5)]. [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
An end-time condition
Malachi addressed a problem that would become prevalent in the end times — our times today, just before the return of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, His return will be preceded by a time when “lawlessness will abound” (Matthew 24:12). The apostle Paul foretold of a time when a “man of sin” or a “lawless one” would appear (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). Paul warned that “the mystery of lawlessness” had already been at work in his time! We can presume that that mystery has been at work since Paul’s time and will continue until Jesus’ return, when Jesus will deal a death blow on that mystery and the perpetrators and believers of that lawlessness and the lies and unrighteousness that go with it (Verses 9-12).
In such a setting as ours today, Malachi tells us: “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb [Mount Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4).
The irony among those who profess belief in the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is that they want to forget the Law of Moses. There is in them even a patent dislike for the Law of Moses! They say that the Law of Moses is only for Israel, not for Christians. [For more extensive discussions on this, see: Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries? The Law of Christ, Transgressions Under the First Covenant, Law Added to Law Transgressed , and The Two Laws in Hebrews 10.]
The Law of Moses and the work of the Elijah
It is significant that, at just such a time as ours today, God promises: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5).
An end-time “Elijah” — one coming in the spirit, office, or power of the original Elijah (see Luke 1:17; Mark 9:11-12; and Matthew 17:11-13) — will “restore all things.” Many have claimed to be that end-time Elijah, or have attributed that title to some religious leader. Only God knows how He has worked out this “restoration” and how He will complete it before the end of this present age, or at Christ’s return!
This work of the end-time “Elijah” is such a vital work that, without it, Christ will come and “strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5) — none will be saved alive! [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
We need to know what that work is all about!
Foremost in that Elijah’s mission is to bring the family back together. And that can happen only as people remain faithful in their marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14-16) — which is what the law of Moses teaches (Exodus 20:14, etc.) — in order for the family to remain healthy and intact. Jesus did not come the first time to do away with the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17). Rather, He magnified that law to include not just the outward act of adultery, for example, but even the inner motive or intent of adultery as already sinful (Matthew 5:27-28).
Religious leaders to blame!
Much of the problems of the family, and of society as well, has to be blamed on the religious leaders of our day! Malachi was inspired by God to correct religious leaders and indict them: “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law [of God] from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble [be offended] at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi” (Malachi 2:7-8).
As Malachi points out, this lapse on the part of the priests in teaching God’s righteous ways has resulted in the family becoming devastated: “…the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth” (Malachi 2:14-15).
The original Elijah (story in 1 Kings 16:29 – 21:29) condemned the leaders of Israel for leading the people of Israel into idolatry — the worship of Baal, instead of the true God of Israel. So it is with today’s religious leaders: they have led God’s people into Baal worship, into a spiritual “Babylon!” [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]
While many religious leaders today will not admit to being lawless, they “have shown partiality in the law” (Malachi 2:9). This could mean an uneven application of God’s law — or even a partial, not complete, obedience to the law of God. This has resulted in their engaging in idolatry while ostensibly worshiping God (Malachi 2:10-13). By so doing, they have profaned “the covenant of the fathers — “The LORD’s holy institution which He loves” (Verses 10-11). Such partial obedience is vain, for “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10)!
It is the Elijah’s mission to bring the hearts of the fathers (both the physical fathers of families and the spiritual fathers of churches or religious bodies) to their children (both physical and spiritual), back to each other, and to God’s covenant with Israel, as children of our heavenly Father (which includes both physical Israel and “spiritual” Israel — composed of both Israelite and Gentile children of God through Christ, Galatians 6:16; Romans 11). [See: God’s Kingdom and Israel.]
Unless this happens, God’s dire curse will be upon the whole earth (Malachi 4:6)!
The Moses-Elijah combination
Sometime before His crucifixion, Jesus made this promise to His disciples: “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:28).
Jesus fulfilled that promise “after six days” when He took Peter, James and John to a high mountain (Matthew 17:1) [presumably Mount Horeb, as 2 Peter 1:18 indicates, compared with Exodus 3:1 and 1 Kings 19:8; this was also the same mountain to which God brought Elijah, where God confronted him about his depression and sudden lack of faith, 1 Kings 19:8, etc. and where God gave His Law to Israel through Moses, Exodus 19-23, etc.]. Here Jesus “was transfigured before them.” He appeared as He would when He comes into His kingdom: “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2-3).
Now, notice Verse 3: “And, behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” As Verse 9 explains, this was a mere “vision” — a picture much like a movie — not a reality. [See: Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries?, the box titled “Were Moses and Elijah ‘resurrected’ in that vision?”]
The interesting point here is that both Moses and Elijah have fulfilled their God given missions: Moses gave to Israel the Law of God, and Elijah led Israel back from idolatry to true worship of God and keeping His Law, including that which concerns the human family. [See: True Worship.]
Equally interesting is the soon-to-be-fulfilled prophecy about the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11. These two end-time servants of God will have the combined powers of both Moses and Elijah!
They “will have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy” (Revelation 11:6) — just as Elijah had that power during his ministry (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1, 41; James 5:17-18). They will also “have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:6) — just as Moses did in Egypt (Exodus 4 – 12).
A command for all believers
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant” is a command which all believers in Jesus Christ must take seriously! Those who don’t will surely find themselves among those whom Jesus will judge thus at His soon return: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness‘” (Matthew 7:21-23). [See: “I Never Knew You!”]
The best way for us to remember the Law of Moses is to have it written on our hearts. This is what God does for those who truly believe in Jesus, and who truly come under the new covenant which He ministers (Hebrews 8:6-12; 10:15-17; Jeremiah 31:33-34). [See: The Two Laws in Hebrews 10 and Transgressions Under the First Covenant.]
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.