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Malachi 4:6

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And he shall turn (convert) the heart of the fathers (על al, with) the children - Or, together with the children; both old and young. Lest I come, and, finding them unconverted, smote the land with a curse, חרם cherem, utter extinction. So we find that, had the Jews turned to God, and received the Messiah at the preaching of John the Baptist and that of Christ and his apostles, the awful חרם cherem of final excision and execration would not have been executed upon them. However, they filled up the cup of their iniquity, and were reprobated, and the Gentiles elected in their stead. Thus, the last was first, and the first was last. Glory to God for his unspeakable gift!

There are three remarkable predictions in this chapter: -

  1. The advent of John Baptist, in the spirit and authority of Elijah.
  • The manifestation of Christ in the flesh, under the emblem of the Sun of righteousness.
  • The final destruction of Jerusalem, represented under the emblem of a burning oven, consuming every thing cast into it.
  • These three prophecies, relating to the most important facts that have ever taken place in the history of the world, announced here nearly four hundred years before their occurrence, have been most circumstantially fulfilled.

    In most of the Masoretic Bibles the fifth verse is repeated after the sixth - "Behold, I send unto you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come;" for the Jews do not like to let their sacred book end with a curse; and hence, in reading, they immediately subjoin the above verse, or else the fourth - "Remembering ye the law of Moses my servant."

    In one of my oldest MSS. the fifth verse is repeated, and written at full length: "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." In another, only these words are added: "Behold, I will send you Elijah." It is on this ground that the Jews expect the reappearance of Elijah the prophet, and at their marriage-feast always set a chair and knife and fork for this prophet, whom they suppose to be invisibly present. But we have already seen that John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, was the person designed; for he came in the spirit and power of Elijah, (see on Malachi 3:1; (note)), and has fulfilled this prophetic promise. John is come, and the Lord Jesus has come also; he has shed his blood for the salvation of a lost world; he has ascended on high; he has sent forth his Holy Spirit; he has commissioned his ministers to proclaim to all mankind redemption in his blood; and he is ever present with them, and is filling the earth with righteousness and true holiness. Hallelujah! The kingdoms of this world are about to become the kingdoms of God and our Lord Jesus! And now, having just arrived at the end of my race in this work, and seeing the wonderful extension of the work of God in the earth, my heart prays: - O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued, Thy mercy make known, and sprinkle thy blood; Display thy salvation, and teach the new song, To every nation, and people, and tongue!

    In most MSS. and printed Masoretic Bibles there are only three chapters in this prophet, the fourth being joined to the third, making it twenty-four verses.

    In the Jewish reckonings the Twelve Minor Prophets make but one book; hence there is no Masoretic note found at the end of any of the preceding prophets, with accounts of its verses, sections etc.; but, at the end of Malachi we find the following table, which, though it gives the number of verses in each prophet, yet gives the total sum, middle verse, and sections, at the end of Malachi, thereby showing that they consider the whole twelve as constituting but one book.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children - Now they were unlike, and severed by that unlikeness from each other. Yet not on earth, for on earth parents and children were alike alienated from God, and united between themselves in wickedness or worldliness. The common love of the world or of worldly pursuits, or gain or self-exaltation, or making a fortune or securing it, is, so far, a common bond of interest to those of one family, through a common selfishness, though that selfishness is the parent of general discord, of fraud, violence, and other misdeeds. Nay, conversion of children or parents becomes rather a source of discord, embittering the unconverted. Whence our Lord says, “Think not, that I Matthew 10:34-36. am come to send peace on the earth. I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man‘s foes shall be they of his own household;” a prophecy fulfilled continually in the early persecutions, even to the extent of those other words of our Lord Matthew 10:21, “the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”

    It is fulfilled also in the intense hatred of the Jews at this day, to any who are converted to Christ; a hatred which seems to have no parallel in the world. Nor do the words seem to mean that fathers and children should be united in one common conversion to God, as one says Ibn Ezra. The Jews, although mostly agreed, that Elijah will come, are disagreed as to the end of his coming. By some he is spoken of as a Redeemer. Tanchuma (f. 31. 1), “God said to Israel, In this world I sent an angel to east out the nations before you, but in the future (or, in the world to come, Yalkut Shim‘oni f. 98-29) myself will lead you and will ‹send you Elijah the prophet.‘” Pesikta rabbathi (in Yalkut Shim‘oni ii. f. 32. 4)” Both redeemed Israel: Moses in Egypt, and Elias in that which is to come.” (Id. ib. f. 53. 2), “I send you a redeemer.” Midrash Shocher tof Ibid. f. 884, “Israel said, ‹It is written of the first redemption, ‹He sent Moses His servant, Aaron whom He had chosen; send me two like them.‘ God answered; ‹I will send you Elijah the prophet: this is one, the other is he, of whom Isaiah spoke Isaiah 42:1. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen.‘” “Shemoth Rabba (Sect. 3. John 8:56 “as these believed, hoped for, longed exceedingly for, and loved Christ to come, so their sons should believe, hope in, long exceedingly for and love Christ, Who was come, yea is present; and so the heart of fathers, which before was turned from their unbelieving children, he should turn to them, now believing, and cause the patriarchs to own and love the Jews believing in Christ, as indeed their children, for ‹your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; he saw it and was glad, Christ saith. ‹“

    Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse - , i. e., with an utter destruction, from which there should be no redemption. In the end, God will so smite the earth, and all, not converted to Him. The prayer and zeal of Elijah will gain a reprieve, in which God will spare the world for the gathering of His own elect, the full conversion of the Jews, which shall fulfill the Apostle‘s words Romans 11:26, “So shall all Israel be saved.”

    After the glad tidings, Malachi, and the Old Testament in him, ends with words of awe, telling us of the consequence of the final hardening of the heart; the eternal severance, when the unending end of the everlasting Gospel itself shall be accomplished, and its last grain shall be gathered into the garner of the Lord. The Jews, who would be wiser than the prophet, repeat the previous verse, because Malachi closes so awfully. The Maker of the heart of man knew better the hearts which He had made, and taught their authors to end the books of Isaiah and Ecclesiastes with words of awe, from which man‘s heart so struggles to escape. To turn to God here, or everlasting destruction from His presence there, is the only choice open to thee.” “Think of this, when lust goads thee, or ambition solicits thee, or anger convulses thee, or the flesh blandishes thee, or the world allures thee, or the devil displays his deceitful pomp and enticement. In thy hand and thy choice are life and death, heaven and hell, salvation and damnation, bliss or misery everlasting. Choose which thou willest. Think, ‹A moment which delighteth, eternity which tortureth;‘ on the other hand, ‹a moment which tortureth, eternity which delighteth.‘“

    “I see that all things come to an end:

    Thy commandment is exceeding broad.”

    Psalm 119:96

    “As the hart panteth after the water brooks,

    So panteth my soul after Thee, O God.”

    Psalm 42:1

    sa60

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Here is a solemn conclusion, not only of this prophecy, but of the Old Testament. Conscience bids us remember the law. Though we have not prophets, yet, as long as we have Bibles, we may keep up our communion with God. Let others boast in their proud reasoning, and call it enlightening, but let us keep near to that sacred word, through which this Sun of Righteousness shines upon the souls of his people. They must keep up a believing expectation of the gospel of Christ, and must look for the beginning of it. John the Baptist preached repentance and reformation, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God and their duty, is the best preparation of them for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John shall preach a doctrine that shall reach men's hearts, and work a change in them. Thus he shall prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven. The Jewish nation, by wickedness, laid themselves open to the curse. God was ready to bring ruin upon them; but he will once more try whether they will repent and return; therefore he sent John the Baptist to preach repentance to them. Let the believer wait with patience for his release, and cheerfully expect the great day, when Christ shall come the second time to complete our salvation. But those must expect to be smitten with a sword, with a curse, who turn not to Him that smites them with a rod. None can expect to escape the curse of God's broken law, nor to enjoy the happiness of his chosen and redeemed people, unless their hearts are turned from sin and the world, to Christ and holiness. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. Amen.
    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 135

    Anciently, when a king journeyed through the less frequented parts of his dominion, a company of men was sent ahead of the royal chariot to level the steep places and to fill up the hollows, that the king might travel in safety and without hindrance. This custom is employed by the prophet to illustrate the work of the gospel. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” When the Spirit of God, with its marvelous awakening power, touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure and position and power are seen to be worthless. “Imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” are cast down; every thought is brought into captivity “to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Then humility and self-sacrificing love, so little valued among men, are exalted as alone of worth. This is the work of the gospel, of which John's message was a part. DA 135.1

    The rabbis continued their questioning: “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” The words “that prophet” had reference to Moses. The Jews had been inclined to the belief that Moses would be raised from the dead, and taken to heaven. They did not know that he had already been raised. When the Baptist began his ministry, many thought that he might be the prophet Moses risen from the dead, for he seemed to have a thorough knowledge of the prophecies and of the history of Israel. DA 135.2

    It was believed also that before the Messiah's advent, Elijah would personally appear. This expectation John met in his denial; but his words had a deeper meaning. Jesus afterward said, referring to John, “If ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come.” Matthew 11:14, R. V. John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, to do such a work as Elijah did. If the Jews had received him, it would have been accomplished for them. But they did not receive his message. To them he was not Elijah. He could not fulfill for them the mission he came to accomplish. DA 135.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Faith I Live By, 29.2

    Here is clearly set forth the origin of the human race; and the divine record is so plainly stated that there is no occasion for erroneous conclusions. FLB 29.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Faith I Live By, 290.1

    Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5, 6. FLB 290.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Maranatha, 22.1

    Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5, 6. Mar 22.1

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1184

    16, 17. Promises to Be Verified—The closing words of this scripture outline the experience that the people of God are yet to have. We have a wonderful future before us as a people. The promises of the third chapter of Malachi will be verified to the letter (Letter 223, 1904). 4BC 1184.1

    Angels Await Prayers—Seek most earnestly for a deeper experience and piety, and learn to walk circumspectly. [Malachi 3:16, 17 quoted.] God does not leave His erring children who are weak in faith, and who make many mistakes. The Lord hearkens and hears their prayer and their testimony. Those who look unto Jesus day by day and hour by hour, who watch unto prayer, are drawing nigh to Jesus. Angels with wings outspread wait to bear their contrite prayers to God, and to register them in the books of heaven (Letter 90, 1895). 4BC 1184.2

    17. All Luster Is Reflected Light—All the luster possessed by those who have gained the richest experience is but the reflection of the light of the Sun of righteousness. He who lives nearest to Jesus shines the brightest. And let us thank God that the Master has His hidden ones, who are not recognized by the world, but whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. The luster of the tiniest gem in God's casket will glorify Him. There are many ... who during this life do not seem to be particularly honored. But the Lord sees those who serve Him [Malachi 3:17 quoted] (Letter 94, 1903). 4BC 1184.3

    Jewels Everywhere—God has jewels in all the churches, and it is not for us to make sweeping denunciation of the professed religious world, but in humility and love, present to all the truth as it is in Jesus. Let men see piety and devotion, let them behold Christlikeness of character, and they will be drawn to the truth. He who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself, will be a light in the world. Those who have a knowledge of the truth are to communicate the same. They are to lift up Jesus, the world's Redeemer; they are to hold forth the Word of life (The Review and Herald, January 17, 1893). 4BC 1184.4

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1115

    From all eternity Christ was united with the Father, and when He took upon Himself human nature, He was still one with God. He is the link that unites God with humanity [Hebrews 2:14 quoted] (The Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905). 5BC 1115.1

    76, 77 (ch. 3:2-4; Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-3; John 1:19-23). John Born for a Special Work—In every stage of this earth's history God has had His agencies to carry forward His work, which must be done in His appointed way. John the Baptist had a special work, for which he was born and to which he was appointed—the work of preparing the way of the Lord.... His wilderness ministry was a most striking, literal fulfillment of prophecy (Manuscript 112, 1901). 5BC 1115.2

    80. No Suitable School—There was a great work appointed for the prophet John, but there was no school on the earth with which he could connect. His learning must be obtained away from the cities, in the wilderness. The Old Testament Scriptures, God, and the nature which God had created, were to be his study books. God was fitting John for his work of preparing the way of the Lord. His food was simply locusts and wild honey. The customs and practices of men were not to be the education of this man. Worldly engrossment was to act no part in the formation of his character (Manuscript 131, 1901). 5BC 1115.3

    Satan Had Access Despite Closed Avenues—John did not feel strong enough to stand the great pressure of temptation he would meet in society. He feared his character would be molded according to the prevailing customs of the Jews, and he chose the wilderness as his school, in which his mind could be properly educated and disciplined from God's great book of nature. In the wilderness, John could the more readily deny himself and bring his appetite under control, and dress in accordance to natural simplicity. And there was nothing in the wilderness that would take his mind from meditation and prayer. Satan had access to John, even after he had closed every avenue in his power through which he would enter. But his habits of life were so pure and natural that he could discern the foe, and had strength of spirit and decision of character to resist him. 5BC 1115.4

    The book of nature was open before John with its inexhaustible store of varied instruction. He sought the favor of God, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and kindled in his heart a glowing zeal to do the great work of calling the people to repentance, and to a higher and holier life. John was fitting himself, by the privations and hardships of his secluded life, to so control all his physical and mental powers that he could stand among the people as unmoved by surrounding circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness that had surrounded him for thirty years (The Spirit of Prophecy 2:47). 5BC 1115.5

    Satan Could Not Move John—The childhood, youth, and manhood of John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a special work in preparing the way for the world's Redeemer, was marked with firmness and moral power. Satan could not move him from his integrity (The Review and Herald, March 3, 1874). 5BC 1115.6

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    Ellen G. White
    The Story of Redemption, 359

    Sinners inquired with weeping, “What must I do to be saved?” Those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxious to make restitution. All who found peace in Christ longed to see others share the blessing. The hearts of parents were turned to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. The barriers of pride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions were made, and the members of the household labored for the salvation of those who were nearest and dearest. SR 359.1

    Often was heard the sound of earnest intercession. Everywhere were souls in deep anguish, pleading with God. Many wrestled all night in prayer for the assurance that their own sins were pardoned, or for the conversion of their relatives or neighbors. That earnest, determined faith gained its object. Had the people of God continued to be thus importunate in prayer, pressing their petitions at the mercy seat, they would be in possession of a far richer experience than they now have. There is too little prayer, too little real conviction of sin; and the lack of living faith leaves many destitute of the grace so richly provided by our gracious Redeemer. SR 359.2

    All classes flocked to the Adventist meetings. Rich and poor, high and low, were, from various causes, anxious to hear for themselves the doctrine of the second advent. The Lord held the spirit of opposition in check while His servants explained the reasons of their faith. Sometimes the instrument was feeble; but the Spirit of God gave power to His truth. The presence of holy angels was felt in these assemblies, and many were daily added to the believers. As the evidences of Christ's soon coming were repeated, vast crowds listened in breathless silence to the solemn words. Heaven and earth seemed to approach each other. The power of God would be felt upon old and young and middle-aged. Men sought their homes with praises upon their lips, and the glad sound rang out upon the still night air. None who attended those meetings can ever forget those scenes of deepest interest. SR 359.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Temperance, 91

    John separated himself from his friends, and from the luxuries of life, dwelling alone in the wilderness, and subsisting upon a purely vegetable diet. The simplicity of his dress—a garment woven of camel's hair—was a rebuke to the extravagance and display of the people of his generation, especially of the Jewish priests. His diet also, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the gluttony that everywhere prevailed. Te 91.1

    The work of John was foretold by the prophet Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Malachi 4:5, 6. John the Baptist went forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to prepare the way of the Lord, and to turn the people to the wisdom of the just. He was a representative of those living in the last days, to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. And the same principles of temperance which John practiced should be observed by those who in our day are to warn the world of the coming of the Son of man. Te 91.2

    God has made man in His own image, and He expects man to preserve unimpaired the powers that have been imparted to him for the Creator's service. Then should we not heed His admonitions, and seek to preserve every power in the best condition to serve Him? The very best we can give to God is feeble enough. Te 91.3

    Why is there so much misery in the world today? Is it because God loves to see His creatures suffer?—Oh, no! It is because men have become weakened by immoral practices. We mourn over Adam's transgression, and seem to think that our first parents showed great weakness in yielding to temptation; but if Adam's transgression were the only evil we had to meet, the condition of the world would be much better than it is. There has been a succession of falls since Adam's day.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 37-39. Te 91.4

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 254

    All should copy the Pattern as closely as possible. While they cannot possess the consciousness of power which Jesus had, they can so connect with the Source of strength that Jesus can abide in them and they in Him, and so His spirit and His power will be revealed in them. 5T 254.1

    “Walk in the light, as He is in the light.” It is earthliness and selfishness that separate from God. The messages from heaven are of a character to arouse opposition. The faithful witnesses for Christ and the truth will reprove sin. Their words will be like a hammer to break the flinty heart, like a fire to consume the dross. There is constant need of earnest, decided messages of warning. God will have men who are true to duty. At the right time He sends His faithful messengers to do a work similar to that of Elijah. 5T 254.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Reflecting Christ, 174

    While we have dwelt upon the importance of the mother's work and mission, we would not lightly pass over the duty and responsibility of the husband and father in the training of his children. His efforts should be in harmony with those of the God-fearing mother. He should manifest his love and respect for her as the woman he has chosen and the mother of his children.... RC 174.2

    Fathers should ... mingle with the children, sympathizing with them in their little troubles, binding them to their hearts by the strong bonds of love, and establishing such an influence over their expanding minds that their counsel will be regarded as sacred.... RC 174.3

    Upon returning home from his business he should find it a pleasant change to spend some time with his children. He may take them into the garden, and show them the opening buds, and the varied tints of the blooming flowers. Through such mediums he may give them the most important lessons concerning the Creator, by opening before them the great book of nature, where the love of God is expressed in every tree, and flower, and blade of grass. He may impress upon their minds the fact that if God cares so much for the trees and flowers, He will care much more for the creatures formed in His image. He may lead them early to understand that God wants children to be lovely, not with artificial adornment, but with beauty of character, the charms of kindness and affection, which will make their hearts bound with joy and happiness. RC 174.4

    Parents may do much to connect their children with God by encouraging them to love the things of nature which He has given them, and to recognize the hand of the Giver in all they receive. The soil of the heart may thus early be prepared for casting in the precious seeds of truth, which in due time will spring up and bear a rich harvest. Fathers, the golden hours which you might spend in getting a thorough knowledge of the temperament and character of your children, and the best methods of dealing with their young minds, are ... precious.—The Signs of the Times, December 6, 1877. RC 174.5

    The father's duty to his children should be one of his first interests. It should not be set aside for the sake of acquiring a fortune, or of gaining a high position in the world. In fact, those very conditions of affluence and honor frequently separate a man from his family, and cut off his influence from them more than anything else. If the father would have his children develop harmonious characters, and be an honor to him and a blessing to the world, he has a special work to do.—The Signs of the Times, December 20, 1877. RC 174.6

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    Ellen G. White
    This Day With God, 257.2

    Christ declared that, after His ascension, He would send to His church, as His crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take His place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit—the soul of His life, the efficacy of His church, the light and life of the world. With His Spirit, Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power to take away sin. TDG 257.2

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