4 Eternal One: For behold the day of burning will come, smoldering like a furnace. The arrogant and the evil will be set ablaze like the worthless chaff of grain. Neither roots nor branch will remain. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this. 2 But for you, the ones who tremble at the sound of My name, a warm sun of righteousness will come forth with healing in its rays, and you will go out, springing from the stalls like calves in open pasture. 3 Then you will trample the criminal; your feet will make them ash on the day I am preparing. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this.
4 Remember the instructions which Moses, My faithful servant, received from Me at Mount Horeb and gave to all Israel. Remember its statutes and judgments.
5 Keep watch. I am sending Elijah the prophet to you before the arrival of the great and terrible day of the Eternal One, 6 and he will return parents’ hearts to their children and children’s hearts to their parents, or else I will come and strike the land of promise with a curse of annihilation.
These verses simultaneously display retrospective and prospective dimensions of Malachi’s conversation with the people, especially the temple priests, of Jerusalem. Malachi calls his contemporaries to remember the life and message of Moses and future generations to look forward to the life and message of the Elijah who is to come. As Ezra in the fifth century b.c. is like Elijah, reflecting these expectations, so John the Baptist is the messenger par excellence 400 years later when he prepares the world for Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Anointed One.