on Malachi 4 :6
And he shall turn (convert) the heart of the fathers (על al, with) the children - Or, together with the children; both old and young. Lest I come, and, finding them unconverted, smote the land with a curse, חרם cherem, utter extinction. So we find that, had the Jews turned to God, and received the Messiah at the preaching of John the Baptist and that of Christ and his apostles, the awful חרם cherem of final excision and execration would not have been executed upon them. However, they filled up the cup of their iniquity, and were reprobated, and the Gentiles elected in their stead. Thus, the last was first, and the first was last. Glory to God for his unspeakable gift!
There are three remarkable predictions in this chapter: -
1. The advent of John Baptist, in the spirit and authority of Elijah.
2. The manifestation of Christ in the flesh, under the emblem of the Sun of righteousness.
3. The final destruction of Jerusalem, represented under the emblem of a burning oven, consuming every thing cast into it.
These three prophecies, relating to the most important facts that have ever taken place in the history of the world, announced here nearly four hundred years before their occurrence, have been most circumstantially fulfilled.
In most of the Masoretic Bibles the fifth verse is repeated after the sixth - "Behold, I send unto you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come;" for the Jews do not like to let their sacred book end with a curse; and hence, in reading, they immediately subjoin the above verse, or else the fourth - "Remembering ye the law of Moses my servant."
In one of my oldest MSS. the fifth verse is repeated, and written at full length: "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." In another, only these words are added: "Behold, I will send you Elijah." It is on this ground that the Jews expect the reappearance of Elijah the prophet, and at their marriage-feast always set a chair and knife and fork for this prophet, whom they suppose to be invisibly present. But we have already seen that John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, was the person designed; for he came in the spirit and power of Elijah, (see on Malachi 3:1 (note)), and has fulfilled this prophetic promise. John is come, and the Lord Jesus has come also; he has shed his blood for the salvation of a lost world; he has ascended on high; he has sent forth his Holy Spirit; he has commissioned his ministers to proclaim to all mankind redemption in his blood; and he is ever present with them, and is filling the earth with righteousness and true holiness. Hallelujah! The kingdoms of this world are about to become the kingdoms of God and our Lord Jesus! And now, having just arrived at the end of my race in this work, and seeing the wonderful extension of the work of God in the earth, my heart prays: - O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued, Thy mercy make known, and sprinkle thy blood; Display thy salvation, and teach the new song, To every nation, and people, and tongue!
In most MSS. and printed Masoretic Bibles there are only three chapters in this prophet, the fourth being joined to the third, making it twenty-four verses.
In the Jewish reckonings the Twelve Minor Prophets make but one book; hence there is no Masoretic note found at the end of any of the preceding prophets, with accounts of its verses, sections etc.; but, at the end of Malachi we find the following table, which, though it gives the number of verses in each prophet, yet gives the total sum, middle verse, and sections, at the end of Malachi, thereby showing that they consider the whole twelve as constituting but one book.
on Malachi 4 :6
And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children - Now they were unlike, and severed by that unlikeness from each other. Yet not on earth, for on earth parents and children were alike alienated from God, and united between themselves in wickedness or worldliness. The common love of the world or of worldly pursuits, or gain or self-exaltation, or making a fortune or securing it, is, so far, a common bond of interest to those of one family, through a common selfishness, though that selfishness is the parent of general discord, of fraud, violence, and other misdeeds. Nay, conversion of children or parents becomes rather a source of discord, embittering the unconverted. Whence our Lord says, "Think not, that I Mat 10:34-36. am come to send peace on the earth. I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man's foes shall be they of his own household;" a prophecy fulfilled continually in the early persecutions, even to the extent of those other words of our Lord Matthew 10:21, "the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death."
It is fulfilled also in the intense hatred of the Jews at this day, to any who are converted to Christ; a hatred which seems to have no parallel in the world. Nor do the words seem to mean that fathers and children should be united in one common conversion to God, as one says Ibn Ezra. The Jews, although mostly agreed, that Elijah will come, are disagreed as to the end of his coming. By some he is spoken of as a Redeemer. Tanchuma (f. 31. 1), "God said to Israel, In this world I sent an angel to east out the nations before you, but in the future (or, in the world to come, Yalkut Shim'oni f. 98-29) myself will lead you and will 'send you Elijah the prophet.'" Pesikta rabbathi (in Yalkut Shim'oni ii. f. 32. 4)" Both redeemed Israel: Moses in Egypt, and Elias in that which is to come." (Id. ib. f. 53. 2), "I send you a redeemer." Midrash Shocher tof Ibid. f. 884, "Israel said, 'It is written of the first redemption, 'He sent Moses His servant, Aaron whom He had chosen; send me two like them.' God answered; 'I will send you Elijah the prophet: this is one, the other is he, of whom Isaiah spoke Isaiah 42:1. Behold, my servant whom I have chosen.'" "Shemoth Rabba (Sect. 3. col. 108. 2. ad loc.) 'In the second redemption, ye shall be healed and redeemed by the word I, i. e., I will send." Or, as a comforter, "I will send you Elias, he shall come and comfort you." Debarim rabba sect. 3. fin. Or to pronounce some things clean, others unclean. Shir hashirim rabba f. 27. 3.((all the above in Schottgen ad loc.) Others, in different ways, to settle, to Which tribe each belongs. Kimchi on Ezekiel 47 and this with differcut explanations as to strictness. (See Edaioth fin. Mishnah T. iv. p. 362. Surenhus.) "Rabbi Simeon says, 'To remove controversies.' And the wise and doctors say, To make peace in the world, as is said, "Behold I send." Rabbi Abraham ben David explains the peace to be "from the nations," and adds, "to announce to them the coming of the redeemer, and this in one day before the coming of the Messiah;" and to "turn the hearts etc." he explains "the hearts of the fathers and children (on whom softness had fallen from fear, and they fled, some here, some there, from their distresses) on that day they shall return to their might and to one another and shall comfort each other." Abarbanel says, that Elijah shall be the instrument of the resurrection, and that, through those who rise, the race of man shall be directed in the recognition of God and the true faith." Ibn. Ezra, "that he shall come at the collection of the captives, as Moses at the redemption of Egypt, not for the resurrection." (These are collected by Frischmuth de Elite adventu. Thes. Theol. Phil. V. T. T. i. pp. 1070ff) R. Tanehum, from Maimonides, says, "This is without doubt a promise of the appearance of a prophet in Israel, a little before the coming of the Messiah; and some of the wise think that it is Elias the Tishbite himself, and this is found in most of the Midrashoth, and some think that it is a prophet like him in rank, occupying his place in the knowledge of God and the manifesting His Name and that so he is called Elijah. And so explained the great Gaon, Rab Mosheh ben Matmon, at the end of his great book on jurisprudence, called 'Mishneh Torah.' And, perhaps he (the person sent) may be Messiah ben Joseph, as he says again - And the exactness of the matter in these promises will only be known, when they appear: and no one has therein any accredited account, but each of them says what he says, according to what appears to him, and what preponderates in his mind of the explanation of the truth." "The turning of the heart of the father to the children," he explains to be, "the restoration of religion, until all should be of one heart in the obedience to God.") "All shall be one heart to return to the Lord, both fathers and children;" for he speaks primarily of their mutual conversion to one another, not to God.
The form of the expression seems to imply that the effect of the preaching of Elijah shall be, to bring back the children, the Jews then in being, to the faith and love which their fathers, the patriarchs, had; that John 8:56 "as these believed, hoped for, longed exceedingly for, and loved Christ to come, so their sons should believe, hope in, long exceedingly for and love Christ, Who was come, yea is present; and so the heart of fathers, which before was turned from their unbelieving children, he should turn to them, now believing, and cause the patriarchs to own and love the Jews believing in Christ, as indeed their children, for 'your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; he saw it and was glad, Christ saith. '"
Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse - , i. e., with an utter destruction, from which there should be no redemption. In the end, God will so smite the earth, and all, not converted to Him. The prayer and zeal of Elijah will gain a reprieve, in which God will spare the world for the gathering of His own elect, the full conversion of the Jews, which shall fulfill the Apostle's words Romans 11:26, "So shall all Israel be saved."
After the glad tidings, Malachi, and the Old Testament in him, ends with words of awe, telling us of the consequence of the final hardening of the heart; the eternal severance, when the unending end of the everlasting Gospel itself shall be accomplished, and its last grain shall be gathered into the garner of the Lord. The Jews, who would be wiser than the prophet, repeat the previous verse , because Malachi closes so awfully. The Maker of the heart of man knew better the hearts which He had made, and taught their authors to end the books of Isaiah and Ecclesiastes with words of awe, from which man's heart so struggles to escape. To turn to God here, or everlasting destruction from His presence there, is the only choice open to thee." "Think of this, when lust goads thee, or ambition solicits thee, or anger convulses thee, or the flesh blandishes thee, or the world allures thee, or the devil displays his deceitful pomp and enticement. In thy hand and thy choice are life and death, heaven and hell, salvation and damnation, bliss or misery everlasting. Choose which thou willest. Think, 'A moment which delighteth, eternity which tortureth;' on the other hand, 'a moment which tortureth, eternity which delighteth.'"
"I see that all things come to an end:
Thy commandment is exceeding broad."
on Malachi 4 :6