Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Malachi 4

Verse 1

MALACHI CHAPTER 4

God’s judgment on the wicked, Malachi 4:1, and his blessing on the good, Malachi 4:2,3. He exhorteth to the study of the law, Malachi 4:4, and telleth of Elijah’s coming and office, Malachi 4:5,6.

The words immediately foregoing (which, as we have the chapters divided, did end the third chapter) foretold a day to come then, though it is now long since past, in which such judgments should be executed upon the Jewish nation, as should make the stoutest contemners of God to see and acknowledge his different respects and providences toward the good and toward the evil. Now in this verse (which continueth the discourse) he accounteth how it should be.

Behold; mark well what now the Lord doth foretell

The day, before mentioned, the day of visitation and discerning of men, cometh; though it be at some four hundred years’ distance from you, yet it is coming, and will overtake you, and overwhelm you too about that time; nay, you shall have some tastes of bitter cups before, some less and shorter troubles, the presage and assurance of that dreadful day I now speak of, saith our prophet.

That shall burn as an oven: the refiner’s fire, Malachi 3:2, is now represented to us as a fire burning more dreadfully, which really was more dreadful in the fulfilling than here it is in the prediction; when Jerusalem and the temple were on fire, and none could quench it; when the fire raged every where, but burnt most fiercely where the arched roofs did make it, as in ovens or furnaces, to double itself, and infold flames with flames, and with dreadful roarings increased its terrors. This day may well be an emblem of the day of judgment, and this place may be accommodated thereto, but it principally speaks of the times of vengeance on Jerusalem in its final desolation.

All the proud; such as are described Malachi 1:13 3:13-15. All that do wickedly: this is another part of the character of these persons, and explicatory of the former passage; proud men, such as the text mentions, will be wicked workers.

Shall be stubble; dried and cast into the oven, consumed as soon as cast in.

The day that cometh; of which already, Malachi 3:17, and in this verse.

Shall burn them up; totally and speedily consume them.

Saith the Lord of hosts; added to confirm the certainty of the thing; the Lord of hosts hath said it shall be, and he can do what he saith he will.

It shall leave them neither root nor branch; in allusion to the utter extirpation of trees for the fire, whose branches lopped off, the body cleft, and the roots stocked up, and all cast into the fire; so that nothing remains but the ashes, into which all is turned: and this was fully accomplished upon the irreligious Jews, when the Romans burnt their city and temple, and destroyed the people.

Verse 2

You that fear my name; so are they described to us who were written in the book of remembrance, Malachi 3:16; who loved the law of their God, and kept it; who believed his promises, and rejoiced in expectation of the good promised; who believed his threats and trembled at them, that they might rest in the day of trouble, as Habakkuk 3:16; who walked humbly with their God.

The Sun; Christ, who is the day.spring from on high, Luke 1:78: or, as most elegantly described Isaiah 60:1-3, who is very fitly compared to the sun; Fountain of light and vital heat to his church, he enlightens and enlivens every one John 1:4,9.

Of righteousness; and of mercy and benignity, for the Hebrew word imports both, and neither may be here excluded. His justice is seen in executions of judgment on the proud and wicked, who are consumed in the fire of his wrath; and his righteousness and mercy are seen in the preservation and remuneration of those that fear the Lord: so greatly different shall this time be to the wicked and the godly; to these a day of benign light and kindly influences through the mercy of God, to the wicked a day of destruction. and utter extirpation.

Arise with healing in his wings; his beams and rays shall bring health and strength, with delight and joy, safety and security: it may be (as some have observed from the word) an intimation of the healing virtue that from Christ went forth to such as in faith touched the hem of his garment, Matthew 9:20,21, and is as effectual for the healing of soul maladies and infirmities as of bodily diseases.

Ye shall go forth; go out of harm’s way, out of Jerusalem, before the fatal siege, obeying the call from heaven, Go hence to Pella, and that of Christ, Matthew 24:15,16.

And grow up, in strength, rigour, and spiritual stature, as calves of the stall; where they are safe guarded and well ordered. So will the Lord keep safe and look well to his preserved ones when the wicked are destroyed.

You that fear my name; so are they described to us who were written in the book of remembrance, Malachi 3:16; who loved the law of their God, and kept it; who believed his promises, and rejoiced in expectation of the good promised; who believed his threats and trembled at them, that they might rest in the day of trouble, as Habakkuk 3:16; who walked humbly with their God.

The Sun; Christ, who is the day.spring from on high, Luke 1:78: or, as most elegantly described Isaiah 60:1-3, who is very fitly compared to the sun; Fountain of light and vital heat to his church, he enlightens and enlivens every one John 1:4,9.

Of righteousness; and of mercy and benignity, for the Hebrew word imports both, and neither may be here excluded. His justice is seen in executions of judgment on the proud and wicked, who are consumed in the fire of his wrath; and his righteousness and mercy are seen in the preservation and remuneration of those that fear the Lord: so greatly different shall this time be to the wicked and the godly; to these a day of benign light and kindly influences through the mercy of God, to the wicked a day of destruction. and utter extirpation.

Arise with healing in his wings; his beams and rays shall bring health and strength, with delight and joy, safety and security: it may be (as some have observed from the word) an intimation of the healing virtue that from Christ went forth to such as in faith touched the hem of his garment, Matthew 9:20,21, and is as effectual for the healing of soul maladies and infirmities as of bodily diseases.

Ye shall go forth; go out of harm’s way, out of Jerusalem, before the fatal siege, obeying the call from heaven, Go hence to Pella, and that of Christ, Matthew 24:15,16.

And grow up, in strength, rigour, and spiritual stature, as calves of the stall; where they are safe guarded and well ordered. So will the Lord keep safe and look well to his preserved ones when the wicked are destroyed.

Verse 3

And ye: see Malachi 4:2.

Shall tread down the wicked: now the ungodly, proud, and atheistical despisers of God, providence, and future judgments. do tread down those that fear God and are godly, but it shall not be so always; that word, Psalms 58:10,11, and that, Isaiah 66:24, and that, Revelation 18:20, shall be fulfilled in the overthrow of the bad, and in the triumphs of the good. But, more particularly, this treading seems to be intended of those who, after the sacking and burning of Jerusalem, should return either to view the ruins. or to dwell there, and so should, in going lip and down. tread upon the wicked, either buried in the ruins or consumed to ashes.

For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet: by this it appears that these preserved ones did not barbarously tread upon the entire bodies of the wicked, but upon the ashes of those bodies, by the fire consumed and turned into ashes, and mixed with the ashes of their houses and goods.

In the day that I shall do this; burn Jerusalem and the temple, with the citizens and priests whose carcasses were slain by the sword, or their persons, surprised with the flames, shall be burnt up. And so both this and much of the first verse may be literally understood, and was so fulfilled by Titus and his soldiers, A.D. 73.

Verse 4

Now take leave of all prophecy, for you shall have no more till the great Prophet, till Shiloh come; and attend ye diligently to the law of Moses, keep its precepts and directions.

The law; in the full extent: the moral precepts; rules of a holy and religious life for all. The ceremonial precepts; rules of your worship, so long as your temple shall stand a type of Christ to come. The judicial precepts; whilst you have any government, or power of judicatures. By a due keeping this you may escape future judgments and obtain future blessings, Le 26 Deu 28: besides, by this attending to the law, they might be enabled to see the Messiah, and own him of whom Moses wrote in the law. Now though the law only be expressed, the prophets are included, who also wrote of Christ, Deuteronomy 18:15 John 5:46,47 Ac 13:27. This was excellent advice to this people, who (had they taken it) had escaped the sins they ran into and the miseries they fell under; they had not crucified the Lord of glory, nor rejected their own mercy, nor pulled fiery judgments on their own heads, to their utter ruin.

Of Moses; whose memory you venerate, in whom you glory, whose law therefore you ought to obey. My servant; who was my servant, and delivered my commands to you. I do therefore expect that my authority, and Moses’s esteem among you, prevail with you to study most carefully this law.

Which I commanded unto him in Horeb, with most majestic circumstances, to awe you to the observance of all its precepts; and which was an emblem of that terror and majesty wherein the Lawgiver would appear to judge, to give rewards, or adjudge to punishments.

For all Israel; so long as they should be a people and church.

With the statutes and judgments; be not partial; statutes and judgments, i.e. the whole law, must you attend to, and remember it as God requires, not turn aside from any of its prescripts.

Verse 5

I will send; though the spirit of propheey cease for four hundred years, yet at the expiring of those years you shall have one sent, as great as Elijah, and therefore he is now called Elijah, that shall prepare Messiah’s way.

Elijah; not the same in person who reproved idolatrous Israel, who destroyed Baal, though both Jews and many Christians would gladly have it so, in favour of some errors they have adopted and would maintain. But this person here called Elijah was John Baptist, as is clear from Matthew 17:12 13,

Elias is come, and they have done to him whatsoever they listed. Then the disciples understood that he spake of John the Baptist. And he was that Elias, if they would receive him, Matthew 11:14. Elias, was to come when Malachi lived; Elias was come, and the Jews had ill treated him, and Herod had beheaded him, when Christ here lived; this Elijah then was John the Baptist, who came

in the spirit and power of Elias, Luke 1:17, and therefore bears his name in this prophecy.

The prophet; who foretold Christ the true Messiah’s sudden manifestation, who indeed was already among them, but had not yet diseovered himself; on whom he persuades the Jews to believe, and receive his person and his law, Luke 1:15-17 Mark 1:7,8; who was greater than a prophet, Matthew 11:9; nor doth John’s denying himself to be a prophet, John 1:21, in their sense contradict this.

Before; that is, immediately before; so he was born six months before Christ, and began his preaching but few years before Christ began to exercise his public office.

Great: this day was great indeed, yet it is not the day of the last and great judgment, though the Jews perversely affirm it to evade the acknowledgment of Messiah’s being already come. But this day of Messiah was great for the alterations he was to make in worship and church affairs, taking down the Mosaic ceremonies and enlarging the church; great for the miracles he wrought, and empowered others to do; great for the reconciliation between God and man, for the conquering of Satan, and casting him out of his throne. It was great too against the Jews his obstinate enemies.

Dreadful: it was a time of vengeance executed upon a people whose sins were full ripe; and such sufferings fell on the Jews at that time, as may very well be an emblem of the day of judgment, and which may be remotely meant hereby. But the first, the literal and plain, meaning of the words refer to the times of vengeance upon the Jews from either the birth, or first preaching, or death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and irrecoverable overthrow of their government, of which Christ speaks at large, Mt 24 Mr 13; which places point out first the sad and dismal miseries of the Jews, and next, by accommodation, the end of the world and last judgment. Such a description of this day, Joel 2:31, by St. Peter interpreted and applied to this day of Christ, Acts 2:20, more fully clears this. The Lord; Jesus Christ, preaching to the Jews, calling them to repentance, reproving their sins, encouraging their compliance, threatening their impenitence, and labouting to gather the children of Jerusalem together under his wings, but they would not, Matthew 23:34-39; and therefore at last destroying by the Romans these obstinate and incorrigible sinners.

Verse 6

And he; John the Baptist, who comes in the spirit and power of Elias.

Shall turn; it shall be his office and work to turn, as it is the office of every preacher. The success is of God, who also gives it as he pleaseth, and did give it to John’s ministry; and so the words include the event of John’s preaching, which did, as here it is foretold he should, convert many.

The heart of the fathers to the children: there were at this time many great and unnatural divisions and quarrels among the Jews, in which fathers studied mischief to their own children; they were divided and spitefully bent against them, in civil matters and on account of religion, and these turned their hearts from the dearest relations. Some by fathers and children understand Jews and Gentiles, whose souls being converted to Christ, their hearts were turned one to another.

And the heart of the children to their fathers; undutiful children estranged by the same means and on the same accounts from their fathers, but now, by obeying the call to repentance, embracing the doctrine of the Messiah immediately to be revealed, and baptized into it, religious quarrels cease, and both parents’ and children’s hearts unite to Christ first, and then to each ofher, and all to God.

Lest I God or Christ, who indeed first tenders the blessings of grace and peace, and gives them to such as accept; but this the Jews would not, the rulers, the priests, the body of the people, refused them: the next thing Christ (Lord and King, rejected and disowned) will do, is to curse and destroy.

Smite the earth, the land of Judea, and the inhabitants of it,

with a curse; which brings with it and ends in utter destruction; as at this day we read in the story of the Romans invading, subduing, captivating the Jews, and razing their city and temple. That time is past now one thousand six hundred and forty-four years since a stone was not left upon a stone, as was foretold by Christ, Matthew 24:2, since those unparalleled hardships and miseries befell the Jews, which no heart almost can read and not bleed at reading, (though at this distance of time,) and the sufferers so deservedly endured such a curse as leaveth Jerusalem a desolate heap, and a perpetual monument of God’s displeasure against a people that finally sin against his sovereignty and his mercy.

END OF VOL. II

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Malachi 4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/malachi-4.html. 1685.