“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” – Malachi 4:5-6
Malachi, the last of the great Old Testament prophets closes out this last book of the Old Testament with one final prophecy. That of a man to come who will be of like spirit (character) as Elijah. Then it says something very strange. It says that this man will help to bring reconciliation between the father and his children and the children to their father, because if he doesn’t the earth would be struck with a curse, which by the Old Testament Law was always an enactment of the wrath of God poured out as a judgment (punishment or wage) for sin.
After this prophecy was given Israel went into a time period known as “the silent years”. For 400 years there was not an other prophetic voice raised in Israel until one day an angel of the Lord came unto a Levite priest named Zacharias and told him that the Spirit of Prophecy was about to return to Israel in a child to be, and his name would be John.
“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Hebrew variant of the name Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” – Luke 1:13-17
John did exactly as the Angel foretold. Beginning his ministry before Christ did, John (as Elijah was before him) was a voice crying in the wilderness, “prepare ye the way of the Lord, repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He served to set the stage for Christ, to confirm His anointing as the chosen Lamb of God, and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive Him. He built no ministry of his own but rather turned the hearts of the people back to repentance and toward God, then turned them over to Christ. In later years, Jesus Himself would confirm this clear fulfillment of prophecy by stating in no uncertain way that John was indeed the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken of by the prophet Malachi.
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” – Matthew 17:10-13
Having established that this prophecy was fulfilled in John the Baptist, I am intrigued to examine further the last two aspects of what Malachi said. First that this man would have part in helping to turn the hearts of the children to the father and also the father to the children. In other words, to reconcile one to the other. In order for there to be a need of reconciliation there has to first be a separation.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” – Colossians 1:20-21
1 John 2:15 tells us that to love the things of the world makes us the enemy of God. You cannot serve two masters, you will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). He is a jealous God and His glory He will not share with another (Isaiah 42:8). You will love sin or you will love God but no matter what you tell yourself, you don’t love both. Therefore, Sin and the love of sin separates you from God and makes you an enemy of God. Then inters Christ, who came to show unto us the depths of the love of God that we might love Him back enough to choose to lay down our sins and choose Him. We love Him because He first loved us and in doing so, the hearts of the children are turned away from sin and back to the father, and because the children have chosen the father over their sin, the heart of the Father is turned back toward the children and they are reconciled one to the other.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
The last aspect of Malachi’s prophecy, the most overlooked, is the one I find most striking. He states that if this reconciliation did not take place that God would have to strike the earth with a curse. We know Jesus saved our souls from damnation and hell, but did He save our bodies from wrath and the world from judgment that day on the cross? Was God coming to strike the earth and all mankind when Jesus stepped in and took the weight of our sins and the punishment for it upon Himself? Well, yes. Scripture tells us that Jesus took the sins of the world upon Himself, the wrath of God stored up for the wicked was poured out on Him that day. Under the Law the wages of sin was death, a wage is something earned and the world had earned the wage of death poured out as a judgment of wrath from a just God who can not lie and must honor His word. Sin was poured out on our part, therefor the judgment for sin laid out by God in His own law had to be poured out in response to it whether He wanted to or not. Therefor, Jesus steps in, sent of God to take sin and the punishment for it upon Himself. Not because God wanted to, He didn’t, He had to look away during it, but because He is just, He had too. It was the only way to save us from the consequences of our own actions, rebellions, pride, stupidity, and selfishness. That consequence is the curse of sin, the judgment of the Law, the wrath of God, which is encompassed in the law of sin and death, for in the law sin earns death. All sin is paid for by death. So yes, Jesus really did save the world. By the law all deserved to die that day, but instead, one died for all.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” – Galatians 3:13
You see, under the law we were worthy of death, for the wages of sin is death, Jesus took the penalty of the curse of sin and death upon Himself that we earned through the working of our iniquity, and paid our sin debt back with the price of His own blood. Therefore are we saved by the blood of Jesus. The perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, by the application of His blood to the door post of our hearts, has caused the wrath of God and the curse of death to Passover us all that through His atonement we might be made knew and given the motivation in love, appreciation, and adoration for His act of selfless love to walk in faithfulness, righteousness, and newness of life. For if you really believe that He did this for you, then you will love Him for it, and if you love Him, then you will keep His commandments. Thus love wins over the law and all of the commandments are fulfilled in this, as we come to Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, because He first loved us with all of His.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” – Romans 5:6-11