A Vision of Hope

KEY VERSE: “Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” —Malachi 4:2

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3:1-4, 6-12

THE message of the Book of Malachi spans many ages—past, present, and future—and like other prophetic books of the Bible, expresses various features of God’s plan for mankind within those ages, couched in statements made to the nation of Israel.

Chapter two is a denouncement of the priesthood officiating under Israel’s Law Covenant, charging them with great responsibility for all the abominations Israel had committed before the Lord. “Ye have caused many to stumble at the Law; ye have corrupted the Covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. (Mal. 2:8) Chapter three begins with Jesus’ first advent, and his coming as the messenger of the covenant, and states that through him another priesthood would be purified that would “offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” It likens their development to the refining of gold and of silver, and describes their finished quality as that of precious jewels; and he calls them the sons of God.

Many times throughout the days of the prophets, due to the ineffectiveness of the priests of the Law, Israel had ignored God’s plea for their return. Malachi, looking forward, prophesies that they, as a priestly nation, would also reject the offer to return through accepting Jesus at his first advent. (Mal. 3:7) But, at a still later time in the chronological development of this prophecy, following the selection and completion of a righteous priesthood, it is stated in unequivocal terms that Israel shall return. “So shall ye return, and see the difference between the righteous and the lawless, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” (Mal. 3:18, Rotherham) Though stated to Israel, this is a worldwide promise, and reveals that the officiating priests of the coming age under the headship of our Lord, the great High Priest, will not only effectively bring about a return to God, but will instruct the world in righteousness and stimulate in the tender consciences of men, discernment of the principles of God’s laws.

The character of that day is revealed in the next two verses, in chapter four, and stands out in sharp contrast to an earlier description of our present world in which “we call the proud happy, yea they that work wickedness are set up, yea they that tempt God are even delivered.” (Mal. 3:15) The time marked out for the world’s return is specifically designed for the purpose of destroying pride and wickedness and for rewarding righteousness. “Behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea all that do wickedly shall be stubble and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”—Mal. 4:1

Fire is a very apt symbol of complete destruction. In the work of developing the priesthood, it was called a refiner’s fire (Mal. 3:2,3); pertaining to the world of mankind, its use is described as an oven—a carefully controlled fire which will eradicate every vestige of pride and wickedness from the human heart; for those who will not allow themselves to be purified from these evils, the purging process will eventually destroy them.

But the “day that cometh” is not only designed to rid the world of sin, but also to fill the world with righteousness. The vast majority of mankind, when they come to realize that their long nighttime of weeping is over, will greet the dawning of that new day with fear and reverence for the great God of love and wisdom that the light then shining will reveal.

And to those with this grateful attitude of heart the establishment of the kingdom of Christ and its righteous laws, will be like a sun rising, with life-sustaining warmth and energy in its beams, described in our text as “the sun of righteousness.” “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Rotherham puts much more feeling and expression in his translation of the latter statement of this verse, which reads: “Ye shall come forth and leap for joy like calves let out of the stall.” In these very descriptive words are captured some of the emotion and elation that the world will experience when they realize that what awaits them is far, far grander than any utopia they had ever imagined.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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