The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all.
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Rigghteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant—all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:1-6)
Malachi’s final message looks forward to that great final day of judgment. For those who are committed to God, Judgment Day will be a day of joy because it will usher in eternity in God’s presence. Those who have ignored God will be “burned up like straw” (4:1). To help the people prepare for that Day of Judgment, God would send a prophet like Elijah (John the Baptist), who would prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah.
With Malachi’s death, the voice of God’s prophets would be silent for 400 years. The New Testament begins with this new prophet calling the people to turn from their sins and to turn toward God (Matthew 17:10-13; Luke 1:17). John prepared people’s hearts for Jesus by urging them to repent of their sins. Christ’s coming would bring unity and peace, but also judgment on those who refused to turn from their sins.
Malachi gives us practical guidelines about commitment to God. God deserves the best we have to offer (1:7-10). We must be willing to change our wrong ways of living (2:1-2). We can make family a lifelong priority (2:13-16). We should welcome God’s refining process in our lives (3:3). We should tithe our income (3:8-12). We should make no room for pride (3:13-15). Which of these really resonates with you? Why?