Malachi: Judgment on a rebellious nation

Video transcript below:

In this video, we will begin to explore some of the indications of the timing of the judgment that was to befall Israel. If we can begin to narrow down the time frame of its occurrence, it will help us better understand the context of the judgment prophecies of Y’shua.

The final words of the Old Testament come to us from the last chronological prophet of that era: Malachi. Malachi preached about 400 years prior to the birth of Messiah. To put that in perspective for us, that would be the equivalent of a prophet living around the time of the production of the King James Bible in 1611 pronouncing judgment on us today. And from that time until the present, there would have been no intervening prophetic word, all would have been silent until the prophecies began to come to pass.

James Stuart Russell writes, “None of the prophets is the bearer of a heavier burden than the last. Malachi is the prophet of doom. It would seem that the nation, by its incorrigible obstinacy and disobedience, had forfeited the divine favour, and proved itself not only unworthy, but incapable, of the promised glories. The departure of the prophetic spirit was full of evil omen, and seemed to intimate that the Lord was about to forsake the land. Accordingly, the light of Old Testament prophecy goes out amidst clouds and thick darkness.”

As we study the closing pages of the Old Testament era, we are faced with the judgment prophecies of Malachi that are pronounced on the nation of Israel. YHWH indicts Israel, not the world, on a long list of charges including sacrilege, hypocrisy, contempt of God, blasphemy, apostasy, to name a few. Yet, in spite of these clear evidences, the people stubbornly maintained their innocence.

God then, in his justice, has no choice but to pronounce certain judgment through Malachi:

Malachi 3:5 – ‘I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.’

Malachi 4:1 – ‘ For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble : and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.’

Everything prophesied here points to an approaching catastrophe in the history of the nation, when God would inflict severe judgment upon his rebellious people.

The question then becomes, if the sentence had been passed and the decision made, when would this national judgment happen? Well, we gain a couple of clues in what Malachi prophesies. He identifies this time of judgment as “the day”; “the day that shall burn as an oven” (4:1). The prophet Joel had previously predicted “the great and terrible day of the LORD (Joel 2:31), a phrase which Malachi repeats in (4:5).

Further, Malachi becomes even more precise about the timing of this day when he proclaims in Chapter 4:5 : ‘ Behold, I will send you ELIJAH the prophet BEFORE the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.’

This tells us that one like Elijah would appear PRIOR to this day of judgment. This is very helpful in narrowing the time frame down for us. We know that Y’shua himself declared in no uncertain terms that John the baptizer was this prophesied Elijah:

Matthew 11:13-14 “For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. “And if you are willing to accept [it,] JOHN HIMSELF IS ELIJAH WHO WAS TO COME.”

Therefore, the “great and terrible day of the LORD” must occur within a specific time frame shortly after John the baptizer’s ministry. Further, there is also a correlation in Malachi 3:2 with a reference in the book of the Revelation.

Malachi 3:1-2 – “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And WHO CAN STAND WHEN HE APPEARS? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Revelation 6:15-17 – Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and WHO IS ABLE TO STAND?”

Additionally, you can see in Malachi 3:1 he is said to be coming suddenly to his TEMPLE. While some have posed that this is when Y’shua was presented at the temple shortly after his birth, that doesn’t seem to fit with the second verse where it is asked who can ENDURE or WHO CAN STAND. This is much more fitting for the time of the ruin of the temple when it came suddenly upon the population gathered for the feast of Passover.
Take a look at some of the similar language and imagery in all of these various passages relating to the day of the LORD:

Malachi 3:2 – “But who can endure the day of His coming? And WHO CAN STAND WHEN HE APPEARS?

Matthew 23:38 – Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

1 Peter 4:17 – For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 – For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Malachi 3:1-2 – …And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; “But who can endure THE DAY of His coming?…For He is like a refiner’s fire

Malachi 4:1  – For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

Malachi 4:5 : ‘ Behold, I will send you ELIJAH the prophet BEFORE the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.’

Certainly, this timing then points to the judgment of the Jewish nation on “the day of his coming,” when their city and temple were destroyed, and the entire fabric of their physical religious system was dissolved.

Russell again writes, “It is important to observe, that all this has a distinct and specific reference to the land of Israel. The message of the prophet is to Israel ; the sins which are reprobated are the sins of Israel ; the coming of the Lord is to His temple in Israel ; the land threatened with the curse is the land of Israel.  All this manifestly points to a specific local and national catastrophe, of which the land of Israel was to be the scene and its guilty inhabitants the victims. History records the fulfillment of the prophecy, in exact correspondence of time, place, and circumstance, in the ruin which overwhelmed the Jewish nation at the period of the destruction of Jerusalem.”

While all this death and destruction can be disturbing to review, we must remember that this was the penalty that God had pronounced through Moses a thousand years earlier when he warned them what would come upon them if they disobeyed. You can read about it in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. And they agreed to accept those terms. When they didn’t perform, God, as a good Father, had no choice but to follow through. And even as they are suspended in this judgment, he yet provides opportunity for release from this penalty by sending his son, Y’shua the Messiah, to redeem them and restore them in grace and mercy through the gospel message, a message that I believe is still valid for anyone who chooses to place their faith in the Messiah.

I hope this video provided some insights that you may not have seen before, and thank you so much for taking the time to watch.