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The Prophet in closing up his predictions to the Church, delivers a solemn message to the ungodly, and a gracious promise to the righteous. He declares the coming of Elijah before the last day of the Lord's coming.
I cannot think with many, that this day spoken of, is the day of Christ's first coming in the flesh. Neither do I conceive, that all the event's which took place in Jerusalem, after our Lord's return to glory, can be said to have had their fulfillment of this prophecy. I am much more inclined to refer this day, that is said to burn as an oven, to the same day the Apostles speak of. See 2 Peter 3:7-12 ; Revelation 20:11 to the end. Revelation 21:8 .
What a blessed account is here given of the Lord Jesus! under the figurative language of the sun, and the sun of righteousness, as the sole fountain of light, and life, and heat, and vivifying influence; Christ is described. And in how many ways, and by what a vast variety of means, the Lord Jesus becomes so to his people, it is impossible fully to describe. Jesus is all this, and infinitely more, from the first moment of conversion, through all the intermediate stages, until grace is consummated in glory. So that they all go forth under his blessed influence, and advance in the divine life with strength, and an assurance of firmness, as calves of the stall fattened and fed with constant attendance.
I humbly conceive, that this verse of reminding the people of the law of Moses, was to bring them under the condemning sentence of Moses' law. As the law was the ministration of death, for so the Apostle, commissioned by the Holy Ghost, was directed to call it, 2 Corinthians 3:7 . this remembrance of it became very proper, and well timed, when Christ was approaching; intimating, that as the knowledge of sin came by the law, this might be made the schoolmaster unto Christ. Romans 7:7 ; Galatians 3:24 .
I cannot but suppose that Elijah, and not John the Baptist, is intended here. I do not presume to say so much, but I venture to think it. Malachi had already declared the coming of John the Baptist, as the Lord's forerunner, in the days of his flesh; and therefore there needed no note of admiration, saying, behold! in speaking of him again. Moreover, the awful day of God here spoken of, as burning like an oven, should seem to refer more to the day of judgment than to the first coming of Christ, which is always called glad tidings of good and great joy to all people. And as at the resurrection of Christ many saints arose from the grave: Why may not Christ's second coming be so commemorated? Add to these, that as Elijah did not die the natural death of all men, but was carried up to heaven in a whirlwind, is it not possible, that when Christ returns to reign on earth, Elijah may be among those that shall reign with him? What the events of that reign upon earth may be, I presume not to say; but from the book of the Revelations, which describes in some measure the wonderful history, I can see no objection to the idea, that Elijah is here meant, and not John the Baptist. See Revelation 20:0 throughout. However, I beg the Reader to ponder well the subject, and look to God the Spirit for instruction in it. I only add on this Chapter, and indeed on the whole volume of the Old Testament together, that it is somewhat remarkable the close of it should be with the word curse, as the New Testament, in the word Gospel, implies in its very title at the opening, blessing. If, however, Reader, it meant to say, that out of Christ everything is a curse, it is certainly as true as it is significant. And then it will equally follow, that in Christ everything is a blessing, which is a glorious and incontestable truth. The Lord hath united both Testaments, that while in one we read our condemnation, in the other we may, through grace, discover our deliverance; and as in Adam all die, in Christ all shall be made alive. Amen and Amen.
Reader! pause over the solemn, the very solemn and awful account here given of the great and dreadful day of God, so often spoken of in scripture, and so certain and sure. Think how tremendous the judgments which will then overtake the ungodly. For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear. Oh! what paleness, horror, and everlasting dismay, will then seize every Christless sinner, when appearing before the Judge of all the earth without an Advocate to plead his cause, and void of all righteousness to justify his person.
Reader! what can I ask for you, or for myself, as a boon from a bountiful God in Christ, but that now, even now, while the day of grace continue, Jesus may arise as the sun of righteousness on our benighted souls, with healing in his wings. Be thou, dearest Lord, our light, our life, our righteousness, now, and forever. Oh! be thou the one great source of our peace, who hast been the confidence and hope of thine Israel; and as thou hast been made a curse for thy people, so may they be made the righteousness of God in thee. Farewell Malachi! farewell till meeting together at this great day of God. May it be the portion of both Writer and Reader to meet all the Malachis' and Elijahs' of our covenant God in that day, when Jesus shall come to make up his jewels, and amidst the host of Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, to praise God and the Lamb forever and ever.
And now, Reader, as with this Part of my Commentary, I close the sacred volume of the Old Testament scripture, I beg once for all, and finally, and fully, that you will bend the knee in prayer as the author hath done before you, that the Lord will bless all that it contains, as far as it is agreeable to his holy and eternal truths, and pardon all that is amiss, which human weakness, ignorance, and infirmity, have given birth to, in this feeble endeavour to be helpful to the Lord's household. May that sin-bearing Lamb of God, that taketh away the iniquities of our most holy things, cleanse all that is here unholy and unclean. It is my intention, if the Lord favors such a design, to prosecute in the same plain and humble manner, the several Books of the New Testament, by way of Commentary. But this I leave, as I do all other events, bounded as they are within the limits of a life hastening now fast to a close, to Him who fixeth both the time and place of His people's habitation. In the mean season, I here set up my Ebenezer afresh. Hitherto hath the Lord helped! And concerning my further wishes to write the Commentary for the New Testament, as the Lord hath permitted me to finish one on the Old; if the gracious Master should say concerning this, as David remarked upon another occasion, I have no delight in it; with him I would submissively say, Behold! here I am, let him do to me as seemeth him good Amen.
PLYMOUTH, CHARLES VICARAGE,
On my birthday, making 59 years of sin and vanity! April 13, 1812
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Malachi 4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany