Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
Malachi 4:5 reads, “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.”
Usually when God sends a prophet it's for the purpose of returning the people back to God. In other words it would read something like this:
"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers and the heart of the children back to the Lord their God..." And this is what Elijah did during his first ministry.
But Malachi 4:6 doesn't say this about his second ministry. Odd, isn't it? It almost seems like God is calling for a "family reunion" on a national scale. What's your take on this? Just thinking out loud.
It is good to think out loud, or any other way. Sometimes we cannot figure things out even then. There is much that can be said about this somewhat controversial prophetic section. Let me try not to be too windy, and stay to your specific question. But, some background is necessary.
1. According to Jesus and the angel, Gabriel, the Elijah referred to in Malachi refers to John the Baptist ministering in the spirit and power of the prophet Elijah (Luke 1:16, 17; Matthew 17:10-13).
2. John the Baptist was to prepare Israel for their coming Messiah, which was Jesus Christ. This preparation was to turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God (Luke 1:16, 17). Of course, they rejected Christ and crucified Him (John 19:14-16).
3. Because of this rejection, some believe that the promised curse (Malachi 4:6) occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Others think the prophecy has a future application at the second coming of Christ and is tied in with the Great Tribulation.
4. Some believe that the turning of the hearts of the fathers and sons refers to peace coming on a horizontal level between people. This could be true, because the book of Malachi is filled with disharmony and hostility between people. Families were estranged both with themselves and with God.
5. However, there is another view that I think is correct. How do I arrive at my conclusion? Well, first, the fathers probably refers to the fathers of the Jewish Faith as Malachi hearkens his readers back to the law of Moses, which included how to have peace with God and each other (Malachi 4:4). The rebellious sons refer to the descendents of those original godly fathers.
Now we turn to Luke 1:17 which is a partial quote of Malachi 4:6. Note with me the parallelism between the two. Malachi writes, “he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
Gabriel stated that Elijah (John the Baptist) would, “turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous.”
In other words, Gabriel explained what Malachi meant. That is, when the hearts of the disobedient children acquired the attitude of the righteous (the Fathers of the Faith), then there would be peace, and the people would be prepared for their Messiah.
Jeff, I hope this helps. I also send you our latest newsletter.
All the best, and God bless.
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