On a previous occasion the people asked, “‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Mal. 2:17, NKJV).
In the beginning of chapter 4, a solemn assurance is given that one day God will execute His judgment on the world. As a result, the proud will be destroyed along with the wicked, just as stubble is consumed in fire. Stubble is the unusable part of the grain, and it lasts only seconds when thrown into a blazing furnace. On the Day of the Lord, fire will be the agent of destruction, just as water was in Noah’s day.
While the fate of the wicked is described in verse 1, verse 2 focuses on future blessings of the righteous. The question “Where is the God of justice?” is answered again, but this time by the assurance of a coming day when the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (NIV). The rising of the “sun of Righteousness” is a metaphor for the dawn of a new day, one that marks a new era in the history of salvation. At this time, once and for all, evil will be destroyed forever, the saved will enjoy the ultimate fruit of what Christ has accomplished for them, and the universe will be rendered eternally secure.
Malachi closes his book with two admonitions that characterize biblical faith. The first is a call to remember God’s revelation through Moses, the first five books of the Bible and the foundation of the Old Testament.
The second admonition speaks of the prophetic role of Elijah. Filled with the Holy Spirit, this prophet called people to repent and return to God. Although Jesus Himself saw John the Baptist as a fulfillment of that prophecy, (Matt. 11:13-14), we also believe it has a fulfillment at the end of time, when God will have a people who fearlessly will proclaim His message to the world. “Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ, are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent.”—Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health, pp. 72, 73.
How are we to fulfill this sacred role? How well are we doing in this task?