Summary: Malachi concludes his prophecy with words of encouragement for the faithful few in israel.
We find that even in the unfaithful and unbelieving Israel of Malachi’s day, there was a faithful, believing remnant that God had made note of (verse 16). Malachi addresses this last portion of his book to them.
“Lord, I need You to help me to see satisfactions in service, to enjoy partnership with You, to delight in studying, seeking, and speaking for You; and rescue me from the prison of merely doing my duty. Amen.” - H.B. London
The prophet Malachi answers this prayer, as he draws a contrast between the believing faithful and the unbelieving and faithless.
1. Fear vs. No Fear - 3:13; 16
Believers need not to be afraid of God. We have no reason to be afraid of Him. We know that nothing can separate us from His love. We know that He will never leave us or forsake us. But we should fear Him. Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it impacts the way we live. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe.
Unbelievers, no the other hand, have no fear of God. They give not thought to being disrespectful toward Him. They have no qualms about even being resentful toward Him. But they should be afraid of Him.
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” - Luke 12:4-5 (NIV)
2. Centered on God vs. Centered on Self - 3:14; 16
Believers center their lives around honoring God; while unbelievers center their lives around honoring themselves.
It is clear in verse 14 that the unbeliever’s in Malachi’s day were motivated to consider the place God should have in their lives only if it meant that there was something in it for them, and only if it meant it wouldn’t cost them anything. You see, an entitlement mentality isn’t anything that just developed in our day and time. Every person who refuses to come to God through Christ refuses to do so because of an entitlement mentality that demands that God come to them on their terms, which means they want benefits without commitment.
But the believer, on the other hand, gladly serves the Lord and seeks to honor the Lord because they have a personal relationship with Him, know Him and love Him.
Corrie Ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, said that many times people would approach her and say, “Corrie, what a great faith you have.” To which she would always reply, “No, it’s what a great God I have.”
3. Eternally Minded vs. Temporally Minded - 3:15;17
While the unbeliever is focused on what he can attain in this life, the believer is focused on what he will become in the next life. God has a great purpose for his people. It is to make those who are rebels and sinners by nature into jewels, God’s treasured possession.
Oh, the believer still has a life here below, but while they go about living, the focus of their living is to live for God, knowing that their life doesn't consist of the things of this world; but their life is “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
The hope of what we will one day become in the next life, therefore, impacts what we seek to attain in this life.
“My dear friends, we are now God’s children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.” - 1 John 3:2-3 (Good News)
4. Destined for Deliverance vs. Destined for Destruction - 4:1-2a
The term, “the sun of righteousness” is a clear reference to the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The “wings” refer to the rays of a sun. The difference between how the believer and unbeliever will greet that day when they face Christ is remarkably contrasted here by Malachi. While the flames of righteousness complete the work of God’s deliverance in the believer, they will bring a day of destruction to the unbeliever.
I like the description of the work the Lord will do in the lives of His children on the day of Christ’s return that is given here - it is described as a work of healing. When the Lord returns and eternity is ushered in:
A. The Lord will heal all our physical sicknesses.
Fanny was struck blind by illness at six weeks old. She later became a believer and sought to use her gifts for God. During her lifetime, she wrote over 8000 poems. Some were set to music and many in our hymnals today. Once, a minister said to her, “I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you.” “Oh no!” she replied. “If I could have only one request, it would be to be born blind.” “Why?” heasked. “Because,” she answered, “when I get to heaven, the first face my eyes will ever see is the face of Jesus.”