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16-2 Malachi's 'Elijah' Prophecy

The first three chapters of Malachi are set in the context of the restoration from Babylon.   We have earlier shown that this period typifies the experience of the Jewish " remnant" of the last days.  This section concludes with a description of the Bible-based revival of enthusiasm for the Law which occurred amongst some of this group: " They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened" (Malachi 3:16).   The prophecy then goes on to speak directly of the last days:  " They shall be that day when I make up my jewels" (Malachi 3:17).   The rest of the prophecy then speaks of the final day of the Lord, at which time there would be a similar spiritual revival due to the work of 'Elijah', as there had been due to that of Malachi (the 'messenger' of Malachi 3:1) and his contemporary prophets.

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The writing of " a book of remembrance" of those who allowed this revival to affect them (Malachi 3:16) has a latter-day application through its connection with Dan. 12:2, which speaks of the salvation of the Jewish remnant of the last days due to their names being written in a book.   " They...spake often one to another" is the language of Deut. 6:6 concerning how Israel were to avidly discuss the Law among themselves.   It will be Elijah's mission to redirect Israel's attention to " the law of Moses...the statutes and judgments" (Malachi 4:4,5).  Malachi 3:18 comments upon the remnant's repentance:  " Then shall ye return..." .   This is in the context of Malachi 3:7, which pleads with them to return to the ordinances of Moses, again showing that the end result of Elijah's work in the last days is to bring them back to a meaningful understanding of the Mosaic Law.   This will be necessary in view of the fact that there are good reasons to believe that Israel will keep large parts of the Law during the Millennium.

Seeing that the Law is a schoolmaster which leads to Christ (Gal. 3:24), it is understandable that the Elijah ministry will direct Israel's attention to it, so that they will thereby come to accept the Messiahship of Jesus.   Paul's technique, as recorded in the Acts and epistles of the New Testament, was similar.   The latter-day curses which will come upon Israel, as outlined in Lev. 26 and Deut. 28, are a result of Israel's disobedience to repeated appeals to return to the Law;  this fact slips into place nicely once it is appreciated that 'Elijah' will be asking Israel to return to the true spirit of the Mosaic Law. He will be leading Israel into a new covenant with God, as did John. The prophet Azariah likewise; at a time when Israel " for a long season...hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law" (2 Cron.15:3, cp. Hos.3:4,5, also about the last days), Azariah persuaded Israel to enter " into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers" (2 Chron.15:12). Note that there are other connections between this record and latter day prophecies elsewhere (e.g. 2 Chron.15:5= Dt.28:19,20; 2 Chron.15:6= Lk.21:10).

As a man spares his son...

The remnant who respond will be spared by God, 'as a man spares his only son who is his servant' (Malachi 3:17 Heb.).   This is evidently applicable to God sparing His only son/servant, Jesus, through the resurrection.   The fact is therefore underlined that the remnant will come to fellowship the sufferings of Christ, and thus will also share in the deliverance which God gave Him.

Having been given this deliverance, the remnant will then be able to " discern between the righteous and the wicked...for (because) the day cometh that shall burn as an oven...and all that do wickedly shall be stubble" (Malachi 3:18: 4:1).   The final time (" day" ) of suffering during the Arab holocaust will result in the destruction of the unspiritual element of the remnant.   There is ample reason to think that this fire will have a literal aspect to it.   This 'day' of final destruction is that spoken of in Joel 2:31, after which the righteous remnant within Jerusalem are saved completely (Joel 2:32).   The " oven" in which " the wicked" amongst the remnant are destroyed is therefore Jerusalem.   Isa. 31:8,9 now comes into play:  " Then shall the Assyrian (cp. the future Arab desolator) fall with the sword...his princes shall be afraid of the ensign ('the pole' - i.e. Christ), saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace (s.w. " oven" ) in Jerusalem" .   Three things are connected here:-

          -  The destruction of Israel's Arab enemies

          -  The presence of Christ in Zion

          -  Jerusalem being as an oven, which Malachi 4:1 says is for the purpose of destroying the unspiritual Jews among the " remnant" .

Judgment day

This is in line with our previous conclusions that the destruction of the remaining wicked Jews will be at the same time and in the same place as that of the participants in the final Arab onslaught.   The 'fire' will burn up the faithless Jews as " stubble" (Malachi 4:1).    Jer. 13:24 speaks of Israel being as stubble due to the Babylonian campaign, typifying the future Arab invasion.   Joel 2:5 speaks of the latter-day invaders burning up Israel as " stubble" , indicating that they are the 'fire' which heats the 'oven'.   Significantly, Israel's latter-day Arab enemies are repeatedly classified as " stubble" (Oba. v. 18; Nah. 1:10;  Ps. 83:13;  Isa. 47:14), showing how faithless Israel and their Arab invaders will receive a like judgment. Indeed, that punishment will also be shared by the rejected responsible. Thus the judgment of Babylon is likened to a heavy stone being cast into the waters (Jer.51:63; Rev.18:21); the same figure which is used to describe the condemnation of those who refuse to develop the spirit of Christ (Mt.18:6).

The truly righteous among the remnant " shall tread down the wicked...(as) ashes under the soles of your feet" (Malachi 4:3).   " The wicked" are those of Malachi 3:18 and 4:1 - the unspiritual element amongst the latter-day Jewish 'remnant' in Jerusalem.   This implies that in some way the spiritual Jews acceptable to Jesus will mete out judgment on the rejected ones.   Perhaps in similar fashion the men of Nineveh will condemn the first century Jews at the judgment (Luke 11:32), and we will judge Angels (1 Cor. 6:3).   In this way the righteous remnant shall " discern (judge) between the righteous and the wicked" (Malachi 3:18).

" But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing" rather than destruction (Malachi 4:2).   This confirms that the day that burns the wicked as an oven will be associated with Christ's return - the implication is '...but the return of Jesus will bring blessing for you who are truly righteous, as opposed to the fire of destruction for the faithless amongst Israel'.   The 'healing' may well have a literal aspect, seeing that the remnant still hanging on within Jerusalem will have been the victims of all manner of Arab efforts to destroy them.    However, the full healing of Israel is through the cross of  Christ (Isa. 53:5), showing that, due to this final phase of the holocaust, Israel truly come to accept Christ and Him crucified.           

By contrast, the faithless amongst the remnant will be burnt up so that they will be left " neither root nor branch" (Malachi 4:1), both of which are clear symbols of Christ; for them the opportunity of Christ will be taken away eternally.

We are now in a position to present an approximate chronology of the events related to Israel's repentance:-

-  Period of Arab domination during which the Elijah ministry calls for repentance and a return to the true spirit of the Mosaic law.

-  Natural Israel persecute 'Elijah' and his school of prophets, blaming Israel's plight upon them.

-  Jews, both from the land and the present diaspora, go into captivity in 'Babylon' and the neighbouring Arab lands.

   Many are killed there.

-  A remnant of these captives are taken to Egypt.

-  All the Jews in the land are killed except for a remnant in Jerusalem.

-  The unspiritual Jews in Egypt are destroyed at the same time  as the faithless among the 'remnant' in Jerusalem.

-  This will be at the hands of the Arab armies, who will destroy themselves at the same time.   This will occur after  Christ's return.

-  Only truly righteous Jews will then be left alive.