The Prophecy of Malachi 

VII. Concluding admonitions, Malachi 4:4-6

4. Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb upon all Israel with the statutes and judgments. 

5. Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the day of Jehovah, the great and terrible (day): 

6. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers unto the sons and the heart of the sons unto the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Remember the law of Moses—A concluding call to repentance. The idea is that by the mercy of Jehovah the offenders confess and forsake their sins and as returning to Jehovah order their lives according to the precepts of the law of Moses His servant. The call of the prophet (prophets of old) for a return to the law does not make him a legalist certainly. That a man merits with God was no more his view than it is ours. He understood as well as we that the law requires a perfect obedience and that therefore the holiest of men were not living in or by the law but only by the mercy of Jehovah. That was precisely his confession (Mal. 3:6). namely, that it is only due to the fact that Jehovah does riot change that the sons of Jacob are not consumed. Yet the least in Christ’s kingdom is greater than was our prophet (prophets, saints of old). For Christ’s Spirit was not yet to lead him into ail truth. This is also clear from his discourse, clear that he has not the crucified, risen and glorified Christ and His kingdom as the direct object of his vision. He is directly occupied in his discourse only with sin and repentance, the destruction of the impenitent wicked and the salvation of the penitent just, and thus with the crucified and risen Savior only indirectly and by implication, but then indirectly by all means. This must be emphasized. For the body of truth contained in the Scriptures forms logically and spiritually one organic whole, the one word of God, so that to be proclaiming directly any one element of truth in it is to be proclaiming them all by implication. 

The law of Moses—It comprehended the entire system of laws contained in the Pentateuch and not merely the ten commandments. My servant— Moses as the mediator of the covenant of Sinai. In Horeb—The place where Jehovah promulgated the law by Moses His organ. Statutes and judgments—It is rather difficult for us to distinguish between the two. According to one view judgments were the provisions of civil and criminal law and statutes the positive institutions or enactments, whether moral, ceremonial or civil. Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet—See onMal. 3:1Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord—The day on which the exalted Christ came in judgment over Jerusalem 70 A.D. and secondly the day on which at the end of time He shall come in judgment over the world. The prophecy implies the incarnation of the Son of God, His atonement, resurrection, exaltation at the right hand of God and His pouring of His Spirit on all flesh when the day of Pentecost was fully come. And He shall turn the heart of the fathers unto the sons and the heart of the sons unto the fathers—The result of apostasy is a total disregard of the responsibilities of the most intimate relationships of life. In the language of the prophet Micah, there is no unrighteousness among such men anymore. They all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. The son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house (Micah 7). 

But the ministry of John the Baptist—Elijah—is going to bear fruit. Many will be converted. Peace and good will shall be restored. All will be the Lord’s work and not man’s. The Baptist will only be active as Christ’s organ. And for the sake of His penitent people He will not smite the earth with a curse, that is, He will not cause them to undergo the curse of the law but for Christ’s sake its blessings (Deut. 27). And eventually there will be new heavens and a new earth on which shall dwell righteousness. 

(End of Malachi)

The Prophecy of Haggai 

A message of rebuke for the neglect of God’s House,Haggai 1:1-11

1. In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of Jehovah by the hand of Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest saying,

2. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be huilt.

3. Then came the word of the Lord by the hand of Haggai the prophet, saying,

4. It is time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?

5. Now therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, set your heart upon your ways.

6. Ye have sown much and bring in little; ye eat, but are not satisfied; ye drink but ye drink not to the full; ye clothe you, but you are not warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag pierced through.

7. Thus saith Jehovah of host, Set your heart upon your ways.

8. God up into the mountain and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith Jehovah.

9. Ye looked for much and, lo, it came to little, and when ye brought it home, I blew it away. Why, saith Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house which is waste, and ye run every man to his own house.

10 Therefore over you is restrained the heaven from dew, and the earth is restrained from her produce.

11. And I called for a drought upon the land and upon the mountains and upon the corn and upon the new wine and upon the oil and upon that which the ground bringeth forth and upon men and upon cattle, and upon the labor of the hands

1. In the second year of Darius—The ruler denoted is Darius Hystapes the fourth king of Persia. The dates of his reign are 581 and 486 B.C. His second year is, therefore, 520.

Babylon as a world power had been overthrown by Cyrus in 528. In the second year of his reign he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom that the Jews return to Jerusalem and build the temple. A large company of them, between forty and fifty thousand, responded. Arriving in Jerusalem they immediately set the altar on its basis and thereupon began laying the foundation of the temple. While thus engaged, the people of the land came and offered to build with them. But it was not allowed and the result was that they become bitterly hostile. The Jews were accused of them before the king of Persia by hired counselors. They wrote a letter in which Jerusalem was presented to view as a city with a bad history behind it. It was a matter of record, the letter stated, that the city is a rebellious city hurtful to kings and provinces. It urged that the Jews be prohibited from building it. The king of Persia, Artaxerses, had the records examined and he was told that the charge was true. He gave a written command that the city be not built until further notice. A copy was sent and read to the leaders of the opposition, who in haste went up to Jerusalem unto the Jews and made them to cease by force of arms. All building operations now come to a complete stand still and so remained until the second year of Darius, thus for sixteen years (Ezra 3:4). But that the work of the temple was not resumed until that time was not alone due to the hostility of the adversaries. The Jews had little heart for the work as appears from the discourse of our prophet. Of course, they were not admitting this either to themselves or to one another. They could always say that the king had commanded them to cease and that it was neither right nor safe for them to resume the work until they should, receive word from him to proceed. And as the king was not letting himself be heard from, they went to working their own works, exclusively, cultivating their fields and building themselves houses to live in, while neglecting God’s house. They could also point to their crops. And perhaps many of them were discouraged by the fact that the promise of the pre-exilic prophets of a glorious restoration was not being fulfilled, as was expected. Then, too, it may be assumed that the true believers did not make up the bulk of the postexilic community. The nonbelieving element could have no real need of the temple. And perhaps even the faithful, with the exception of a few, did not miss it too much, seeing that during the exile they had become accustomed to doing without it. They were back in God’s own city. The sacrifices by blood had been restored. God’s altars again burned as of yore; sin was again being atoned. They again had fellowship with God at His altars. But did they in their present state of mind and heart? In their neglect of the house of God they were unspiritual. 

It is plain that there was need of another word of God for the rebuke of unbelief and carnality and for the revival and strengthening of faith. This word was also given, and it came by the hand of Haggai and his immediate successor Zechariah to be followed some years later by Malachi, the last of the prophets. 

Darius the king—It was not necessary to add “of Persia;” for he was the only living monarch that bore this name, and at the time Persia was still in the possession of the world-power. He was, therefore, theking. The sixth month—It was called Elul and answers to the latter part of August and the first part of September. The first day—It was the day on which the feast of the new moon was celebrated. It was therefore a day particularly appropriate for the communication of the word of God. A large number would be present to hear the message. Came the word of Jehovah by the hand of Haggai—It was a word that had its origin with God. The prophet was but the medium of communication, the word passing though his hands. Zerrubbabel . . . governor of Judah—As well as Sheshbazzar his predecessor (Ezra 1:8, 5:14), he must have been an appointee of the king of Persia to whom Israel was subject. He belonged to the first band of returning captives, 436 B.C. The son of Shealtiel—According to the Chronist (I Chron. 3:19). Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah and nephew of Shealtiel. Reconciliation can be achieved by the assumption of intermarriage or adoption. Joshua . . . . the high priest—Also in the prophecy of Zechariah he is named as the head of the priesthood (see particularly 3:1ff.).The son of Josedech—The full form of this name is Jehozadak; it means Jehovah is righteous. Come the word of the Lord—It came to Zerubbabel and Joshua, to the former as the civil and to the latter as the ecclesiastical head of the postexilic community and through them to all the people. 

Verses two to eleven contain the prophet’s message.Thus saith Jehovah of hosts—The prophet is the spokesman of Jehovah, speaking a word that has been put in the opening of his mouth by his sender.This people say—The Lord is pointing His finger to the large number of Jews that had collected in Jerusalem for the celebration of the festival of the new moon. The time is not yet come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built—To excuse their apathy they could name several reasons why the time is not yet come and doubtless they did. Who would dare to disobey the command of the great king of Persia? It is true that a new king occupies the throne of Persia from whom permission to resume building operations could perhaps be gained. But is it now time to build? Economic conditions. are deplorable, worse than ever before: the crops have failed, cattle has never been so scarce, and what little there is bring no price, winepresses are running dry, and the fig tree has lied. Who would dare to build a temple in such a time? 

Then came the word of the Lord by the hand of the prophet, saying (vs. 3)—It can’t be denied that the reasonings of the people have a show of validity. The prophet does the only wise thing. He awaits the Word of the Lord. And it comes (vs. 4). It is time for you—The right, proper time. Ceiled Houses—Houses with ceiling and walls of cedar and therefore costly. Such houses they built them, while urging the poverty of their community as an excuse for their failure to build the temple. 

Set your heart upon your way (vs. 5)—They should consider what they have been doing and what they suffer. They should pause and ponder their experiences that were truly startling. They were being cursed in all that they possessed and undertook. Though they sowed copiously, they reaped little. They ate and drank and were hungry and thirsty still, for their was want of bread and what little they did have to eat did not nourish them. And their clothes did not warm them being insufficient. And the wages of the hireling dwindled away as though they were put in a bag full of holes (vs. 6). 

Once more they are admonished to stop and consider their ways. If they do so, the prophet means to be telling them they will not fail to discern that their miseries are the expression of Jehovah’s displeasure for their sinful treatment of Him regarding His house. There can be no doubt about this. Now follows a direct command to build the house (vs. 8). Go up into the mountain—Not necessarily Lebanon but any mountain on which timber grew. Bring wood—All the buildings material necessary for the construction of the temple. Stone could be had from the ruins of the old temple. This part of the task having been accomplished they are to proceed with the building of the house. And I will take pleasure in it—Yet the Lord did not honor the temple of the postexilic community with that visible manifestation of His presence—the pillar of cloud. For it is nowhere stated that He did as it is in connection with the tabernacle (Ex. 11:34-36), and with Solomon’s temple (I Kings 8:10). The report of the building of Zerubbabel’s temple ends with this statement, “And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel (Ezra 6:22). The ark of the covenant was also permanently lost to Israel. For we do not read of its preservation and recovery. Zerubbabel’s temple, therefore, could not have the typical significance, of the first temple. It could not properly symbolize, as the first temple had done, the indwelling of the triune Jehovah in His church through Christ in His Spirit. For in its holiest place stood not the ark of the covenant—Jehovah’s throne—with the pillar of cloud hovering above its lid. Yet the Lord will own it as His house nevertheless. Here and here only of all the places in the earth, His saints will stand before His face as of yore and shout with joy. And He will lift up His countenance upon them also here, and His peace will be in their hearts, and they shall glorify Him. For here the .blood of atonement will again be shed, His altars burn and His priests bless.