"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.Malachi 4:5(NASB)
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and at the very end of his writings, just before 400 years of silent prophetic voices in Israel, we discover a tiny trace of blessing in his writings and a future hope for the little remnant of faithful Israel, while terrible judgement is the bitter chalice the wicked will have to drink:
"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet," Malachi wrote, before his pen was silenced: "I will send Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the LORD," often referred to as 'The Time of Jacob's Trouble'. It will be a time of terrifying tribulation poured out on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting, wicked world - such that has never been seen before.
Malachi begins his book with a blistering denouncement of apostate Israel's profane priests and backslidden people. They were committing blasphemous acts of sacrilege and denying the holiness and justice of God. They robbed The Lord of the tithes and offerings they had promised to give Him, under the Mosaic Law. Indeed, Moses had warned that severe judgement would fall on those who broke their covenant with God.
The description of God's judgement on the wicked is terrifying. It is a time when the world will burn like an oven and proud, wicked men will be consumed: "Leaving neither root nor branch." But it is also the precursor to the joyfully anticipated advent of the promised Messiah Who would "come with healing on His wings."
Healing and hope was promised to God's little remnant. He pledged to restore the faithful who feared the Lord and meditated on His Word. He pledged to record their names in a book of remembrance and to make them jewels in His crown. And He promised to send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible Day of the LORD. Elijah was to be the forerunner of God's Anointed King. Elijah would herald the arrival of the promised Messiah.
Elijah was the great prophet of olden times who challenged the wicked prophets of Baal, exposed their sorcery, and defeated the evil queen Jezebel. Malachi was the one who foretold that Elijah the great prophet of Israel would come again, before "the great and terrible Day of the Lord," which must start with 7 years of terrible judgement... but will continue for a further thousand years of peace and prosperity.
For the time being, God's little remnant of Israel will have to wait patiently for Elijah to come, as foretold. For the time being, Israel has been set aside as God's witnesses on earth, but that will change with the return of their Messiah Who will be heralded by Elijah the prophet.
In that day, the gospel of the kingdom will be taught throughout the earth, the land covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be fulfilled, and the Millennial Kingdom of Christ will be set up - as promised to David the king.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the writings of holy men of God who have told us the end from the beginning and who provided hope and encouragement for all Your children. Thank You that evil men will one day be punished and that those who fear You will receive honour and great glory, in the ages to come. I pray for the people of Israel and the faithful remnant who will, one day, witness the coming of Elijah and rejoice to see Jesus, their God and King, AMEN.