Malachi Chapter 4: End of the World
Mal. 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and 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.
The Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament, written about three centuries before Christ, does not make a break between the third and fourth chapters, for the fourth chapter is really a continuation of the third, and the verses are numbered accordingly. There seems to be some justification for this rendering, and of course the original manuscripts contained no numbered verses. The ending of chapter 3 harmoniously blends in with this first verse. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and 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.”
“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven” is figurative language. “All the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble”; that is, they shall be consumed by the figurative fire.
In Malachi’s day, verse 1 was primarily directed to natural Israel, showing that a judgment was coming as a result of the people’s failure to at least try, to the best of their ability, to obey God’s commandments. From this standpoint, we can appreciate John the Baptist’s message of repentance to those who came to him at the river Jordan. When he appeared from the desert, clothed in raiment of camel’s hair with a leather girdle, some thought he was the reincarnated Elijah, and they associated his presence with the “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal. 4:5). Thus we can see why even the scribes and Pharisees came to John to be baptized, but he was reluctant to baptize them because he felt they were acting out of expediency, not sincerity.
When the nation read Malachi at the First Advent, they thought the prophecy of a future judgment coming on Israel was directed to them, for the book focuses on moral issues and wrong behavior and the need for reformation. Although the Jews of that day received lessons, the real judgment is Jacob’s Trouble in the near future. At that time, all of Daniel’s people (Israel) will be purged except those whose names are written in the book. Secondary lessons apply to the Christian Church, but the primary application is to Israel and even the world.
“The day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” We will now go out on a limb. In treating these subjects in the past, we could go only so far, but actually there are three applications. The application we will now consider pertains to a time element, and a subsequent verse will help to enlighten us along that line. Quite a lot of information is compacted in six verses. We will come back to verse 1 later.
Comment: The term “the day” refers to the Millennium, for “neither root nor branch” will be left. The entire Kingdom Age will be required to eliminate all evil.
Reply: Yes, verse 1 is broader than merely the great Time of Trouble at the end of the Gospel Age, for “the day” will burn up all the proud and all who do wickedly. The reference is to more than just a point in time. During the Kingdom Age, the dead will be raised from the tomb in inverse order, with Adam being the last. The people will come back with the same character they had upon entering the tomb, and any who persist in their evil ways will be burned as stubble. Thus, in the day of Messiah, it will be determined who are not worthy to enter into the age beyond the Millennium. The Kingdom Age will be a searching “day” of trouble.
The words of Malachi were very negative here, for verse 1 is talking about the proud and the wicked. All will have to come forth from the tomb and be given their trial for life before this condition is accomplished with the elimination of all evil.
Comment: The “burning” will include all of the incorrigible going into Second Death.
Reply: Yes. The great Time of Trouble will trigger, or set in motion, the wheels for Messiah’s Kingdom. Events will move quickly toward his reign, during which judgments will occur. Those who persist in wickedness will be destroyed, and those who learn righteousness will be rewarded with life.
Q: Will all have to be resuscitated from the tomb before verse 1 is fulfilled?
A: Yes, the Kingdom Age is the time allotted for instruction, correction, and judgment.
Mal. 4:2 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.
Instead of “wings,” a better translation would be “beams” or “pinions of a feather.” When we think of the carrying aspect of the wings, the riblike portions become more significant. The “Sun of righteousness” is primarily Jesus, but the term can refer to The Christ. Jesus himself helped to inform us of the application to his body members (Matt. 13:43). Just as a bride is related to her husband and shares in the honors, so that will be the case in the Kingdom withJesus and the Church.
“The Sun of righteousness [shall] arise with healing in his wings.” The healing process is associated with the “wings,” which in Scripture are the Old and New Testaments. Under the Law, birds could not be severed. When the butcher cleaved the bird, he did not cut completely through but fractured the bird so that it could be laid open. The antitypical reason is that the Old and New Testaments are connected. It is true they are two different divisions, but they are not separate. Ezekiel 3:13 reads, “I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched [kissed, were in harmony with] one another [in a beautiful and sensitive fashion].”
Christians who have a tendency to major in the historical aspect of the Bible give more attention to the Old Testament, feeling that the New Testament must be translated in harmony with the Old Testament. Other Christians think that the New Testament is the real standard, especially the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5–7 and 1 Corinthians 13. However, the Old and New Testaments are equally important, for one cannot subsist without the other. With regard to “healing,” certainly the Word of God has a healing effect for us as Christians. For example, we are admonished to go before the throne of grace to repent and confess when we sin. The Bible instructs us and provides the remedy from Jesus, the Physician. In fact, both God and Jesus furnish the medicine. In addition, the “wings” have a sheltering and a sustaining effect (Rev. 12:14).
“Healing in his wings [or beams—plural]” suggests that the riblike aspect, particularly of an eagle’s wing, represents the promises and instructions of God that are contained in the Old and New Testaments. Christians are to search the Scriptures daily for the healing effect. Although verse 2 is not directed to the Christian, invaluable lessons can be gleaned from reading about God’s dealings with those He is interested in.
“And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” In the primary application, Malachi was talking to the Jew, but Romans 2:10 says, “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile,” so both will benefit. The Hebrew, which is much more forceful and delightful than the King James wording, reads something like, “Ye shall be frisky [with joy], and grow up [quickly] as calves of the stall.” There will be a feeling of life and youth and joy in movement, as with a newborn colt, which has long legs and jumps around shortly after birth.
In regard to the Sun of righteousness arising, the emphasis is on the healing and the joyous aspect. Other Scriptures speak about the transit of the sun and the universality of its light, which enlightens mankind. Darkness, dampness, and cold are associated with nighttime, whereas sunrise is a delightful experience. Moreover, there is an exhilarating, oxygenating influence to the morning air. The “Sun” arising emphasizes the glory, the expectancy, and the reward that are involved in beholding the sunrise. One sees not only beauty and grandeur but also the healing aspect. In contrast, our disposition seems to be adversely affected on a rainy and cloudy day. A clear, sunny day with a few birds singing is conducive to a bright, cheerful outlook. As humans, we are emotional creatures.
Comment: Verse 2 mentions growing up “as calves of the stall.” Habakkuk 3:17 says, “There shall be no herd in the stalls.” Is there a connection between the two texts?
Reply: The contexts are different, but the principle is there, as follows. The Habakkuk Scripture refers to more mature animals, the Ancient Worthies in antitype. However, at the end of the Kingdom Age, those of mankind who grow in health, stature, and obedience will be just like the Ancient Worthies from both a physical and a moral standpoint.
Verses 2 and 3 refer again to the Kingdom Age but to those who will prove to be righteously disposed. The fact “the Sun of righteousness [will] arise with healing in his wings” does not mean that those who come forth from the grave will be forgiven everything they ever did in the previous life. However, after certain judgments and efforts of walking up the highway of holiness take place, those who are righteously inclined will be rewarded with everlasting life. Those who respond to the instructions of “that prophet” in that day will benefit (Acts 3:23).
In chapter 6 of Tabernacle Shadows, “Sacrifices Subsequent to the ‘Day of Atonement,’” the Pastor quoted Psalm 51:19, “Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks [perfect sacrifices] upon thine altar.” The chapter shows that after the Kingdom is inaugurated, the people will have a means of communication with Jesus and the priesthood. The people will bring offerings during the Kingdom Age, but some will bring only a cereal offering for sin because they are so mentally or morally delinquent that they cannot present to the Lord an acceptable offering like a bullock. Thus there will be a scale of offerings in the Kingdom. Back in the type, the poor brought the least offering. In the antitype in the Kingdom Age, those who do not have the ability to render an acceptable sacrifice will bring the least offering. Eventually, by the end of the Kingdom Age, those individuals who have properly responded to the instruction, and thus are pictured as bullocks in Psalm 51:19, will be fully mature and fully capable of rendering the requirement of perfect deeds. For that reason, we believe the Ancient Worthies will get a spirit resurrection at the end of the Kingdom, for otherwise, the distinction between them as perfect human beings and the rest of tried and perfected mankind would be negligible. With this further exaltation and reward, the Ancient Worthies will shine as the stars of heaven. In contrast, the Church will shine as the sun (Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3).
Those who fear God’s name in the Kingdom will “grow up as calves of the stall.” Calves grow rapidly as they respond to treatment and feeding, and the purpose of the Kingdom is to help the willing and obedient of mankind grow big and mature as bullocks into the perfection of humanity. Incidentally, the perfect man Christ Jesus was pictured as a bullock (Lev. 8:2).
Comment: The Revised Standard uses the term “leaping like calves from the stall.”
Reply: Both thoughts are correct: growing up and leaping. Those who respond will quickly get benefits of health and happiness. Each step of obedience will bring a blessing.
Q: Why was the phrase “fear my name” used in verse 2 instead of “fear me [God]”? “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.”
A: God’s “name” is like His office. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15). Those who fear God’s “name” reverence Him for what He stands for. In other words, the proper reverence, or fear of God, is manifested by those who worship Him and truly appreciate His standards and want to conform their life to that standard.
Comment: Malachi 3:16 uses similar language: “Then they that feared [reverenced] the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and … a book of remembrance was written … for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” The reference is to the Holy Remnant as well as to those of the Little Flock, showing that a minimum standard for getting life on any plane is to reverence God.
Reply: “Perfect love” is perfect love for God, perfect love for what He stands for, and the reflection of perfect love in one’s own life. The worship of God and a reverence for Him and His name can be in the heart, but these qualities are reflected, even imperfectly, by one’s deeds. We wonder if verse 3 is showing us that at the end of the Kingdom Age, God through Christ will destroy the host that goes up as the sand of the sea to encircle the camp of the saints (the Ancient Worthies). However, this text seems to be reflecting on those who go into Second Death before that time. Some will refuse to listen to the voice of “that prophet” or to the voice of those who are righteously inclined (Acts 3:23). Others will be weeded out at the hundred-year trial. The righteous of humanity will “tread down the wicked” under the soles of their feet before the group purging in the Little Season at the end of the Millennium. For any of the “wicked” to survive to the end of the Kingdom—for any to have escaped Second Death that long—means that they will have prudently obeyed the laws of the Kingdom but not have undergone a proper reformation in their heart. Even though God and The Christ will be able to see the heart condition of these individuals all along, their existence will be tolerated because God wants others to witness the righteousness of His indignation when the wicked start to do the deed that is in their heart. That class will curb and suppress the deed until the Little Season, when the Adversary draws them out by his logic and thinking. Satan’s logic will prompt those in the improper heart condition, who have harbored wickedness, to expose what dwells within, thus manifesting their true character. Then God, through Christ, will destroy the incorrigible.
This reasoning suggests that the Law of the Kingdom will be like the old Mosaic Law, which will be reinstituted but under a slightly different arrangement. The New Covenant will have many features similar to the old Law Covenant, one being the responsibility of those who witness wrong actions.
Q: Why do we say “healing in his beams” instead of “healing in his wings”?
A: Since the word “wings” means just two wings, “beams” is a better rendition, for the rays of the sun promote healing and life everywhere. The rays will search out and penetrate or uncover all darkness. To those who respond, healing will take place. “Wings” are comforting but not as universal in meaning. Some use the word “pinions” instead of “rays.”
Comment: On the covers of the older Volumes, Bro. Russell had the Egyptian symbol of the orb of the sun with a wing on each side.
Reply: The Pastor also used Isaiah 18:1,2, “Woe [Ho] to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to … a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!” He interpreted these verses to mean that the Harvest message would go out from America.
In the Kingdom, the Old and New Testaments will be replaced by the living exponents of truth. Just as God raised up prophets to warn and instruct His people during different periods of Old Testament times, so in the Kingdom, He will have living advocates of truth. The light (truth) will then be much clearer and greater than at present. Pure truth will go forth. Certainly the truth of the Kingdom Age will be based on the Old and New Testaments but in a far grander way. Today they are likened to a lamp that shines in a dark place, but that lamp will be replaced by sunlight (Psa. 119:105; Isa. 30:26). Although the message of the Ancient Worthies will be accurate and true, The Christ will be instructing the earthly representatives how to act and what to say.
Mal. 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
Mostly Israel, the Ancient Worthies, will “tread down the wicked.” How many Ancient Worthies lived before the Flood? All we know about during a long 1,656-year period is a relative handful of individuals such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Methuselah. In the Patriarchal Age, the number was again small, but many Ancient Worthies lived in the Jewish Age.
The New Covenant will be a Jewish covenant (Jer. 31:31,32). Therefore, in the Kingdom Age, Gentiles will have to come into the Jewish faith in order to get life, and the bulk of the earthly rulers will be children of Abraham in one sense or another. The population back there multiplied tremendously in different periods of time, but it was also decimated. For instance, the population of the First Dispensation was reduced to only eight people at the time of the Flood. In addition, millions have died in plagues and wars, with literally hundreds of thousands being slain on some occasions. In fact, many people do not give much credence to the Old Testament because of the great numbers of slain that are recorded. Today people do not realize how populous the Middle East was in ancient times. The point is that the population swelled and was decimated periodically due to various circumstances.
“Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” Certain Scriptures include the Holy Remnant, but primarily the leadership of the earth, the princes, the Ancient Worthies, will be the mouthpieces of judgment. The people will look up to these princes as the executive and legislative bodies combined. Scattered throughout the earth, the Ancient Worthies will be the mouthpieces of the Church in glory, the kings and priests of the Kingdom Age.
“Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” The wicked who will be trodden down as ashes are the incorrigible of the Kingdom Age; they will go into Second Death. They are likened to stubble that is burned, leaving neither root nor branch (verse 1).
Notice that God did not say, “I” but “Ye shall tread down the wicked: for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” The wicked will no longer be allowed to flourish, but in what way?
Comment: The pronoun choice shows a responsibility just as under the Law of Moses. In the Kingdom, one who is aware of a grievous sin against God is required to expose it and not to cover it up.
Reply: Yes. The righteous will have to point out the need for change in those who manifest pride or wickedness. Those who receive the correction favorably and respond to the admonition will lose their pride and wickedness.
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46) shows that the sheep class, who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc., will reap the reward of life. In contrast, the goat class, those who fail to spiritually or figuratively visit the sick or commiserate with those in the prison house of death (praying for their release from the tomb), etc., will not get life.
However, as has been said, Malachi 4:3 shows the responsibility of the righteous in the Kingdom to point out the need for change in the proud and the wicked. In the final analysis, there is no hope for the incorrigibly wicked.
Mal. 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Verse 4 ties in with the thought that the New Covenant will be made with the Jews and that it is a Law Covenant. The world will have to be indoctrinated like Israel of old but in a much more meaningful way. The Mosaic Law was related to Horeb, which is Mount Sinai. That Law, which was given to natural Israel, will eventually be given (as the New Covenant) to the world of mankind, who will have to come into harmony with its statutes and judgments.
Comment: In Deuteronomy 4:10, Moses addressed the Israelites, “Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”
Reply: Verse 4 is definitely based on the fact that when God instructed His people (natural Israel) in ancient times, He did it in an audiovisual sense. The Israelites did not see God personally, but they saw manifestations of His presence in a very awesome manner. As a result of their encounter in meeting God the third day, when He spoke and there was an earthquake with thunder and smoke and a voice like a trumpet waxing louder and louder, the fruitage was that Moses came down from the mount with the Ten Commandments (Exod. 19:15-19). The people’s promise to obey the Decalogue was one thing, but the expansion of the Decalogue into various statutes and ceremonial services explained what God’s will was for them at that time. What the Mosaic Law of the past failed to accomplish will be achieved in the future in the Kingdom under the New Covenant.
Mal. 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Who is “Elijah the prophet”? Let us review the history of this expression. Jesus likened John the Baptist to Elijah: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias [the Greek form of Elijah], which was for to come” (Matt. 11:12-14). The Pastor proved in the “Elias Shall First Come” chapter of the Second Volume that Elijah the prophet represents the Church in the flesh during the Gospel Age. That is the first coming of the antitypical Elijah. Of course a literal Elijah the prophet lived and died in the past, but verse 5 refers to the future work of the “Elijah the prophet” class who first comes.
When Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” the answers were Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, or one of the prophets (Matt. 16:13-16). However, right away Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Thus the identity began to narrow down.
As an individual, John the Baptist was a type of the Church in one sense in the first coming. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus appeared in vision in resplendent robes of glistening white. Moses and Elijah were in the vision as well, one on each side of Jesus. Moses, who had faith in the coming Messiah, represented the Ancient Worthies, whereas Elijah represented the Church, who look back to Christ. One purpose of the vision was to break ground with new thinking, for Jesus wanted to introduce another thought.
Elijah went through different experiences in his life. During the Gospel Age, repentance has been a cardinal theme of the gospel Church. Even Jesus began his ministry with the words “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). In other words, repentance is a cardinal step before one can begin to understand God’s will. Stated another way, knowing God’s will is based on repentance and the recognition of Jesus, one’s sins, and the need for a covering. The meek and the humble are the ones Jesus teaches his way. Therefore, during the Gospel Age, Elijah tried to convert the world by preaching repentance and the gospel, but the effort was a failure. Only a relative few obeyed Elijah in the Gospel Age.
However, Jesus also said that Elijah would be successful in the future: “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things” (Matt. 17:11). At that future time, he would turn the hearts of the fathers to a childlike state of contriteness, humility, and meekness with listening ears.
Mal. 4:6 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.
The general thinking is that John the Baptist announced Jesus and that he also predicted the future time of trouble on the Jewish nation. Referring to the holocaust in AD 69-73, John said that for those who did not repent and get baptized in the Jordan and prepare their hearts to receive the Messiah, a fire would occur. Because the nation crucified Jesus, the trouble did come as predicted. The multitude even said, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. 27:25).
As a mini-picture, the holocaust on the Jewish nation has a larger application of predicting, first, the experience of the French Revolution. People were very frightened at that time. The gospel had been preached during the Gospel Age, and Christians living back there thought the French Revolution was Armageddon, the end time (Dan. 12:5-7). However, the French Revolution prefigured the greater Time of Trouble yet future, as referred to in the clause “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
“Elijah” comes twice. (1) In the present life, Elijah the prophet comes as The Christ in the flesh, with Jesus as the Head. This first coming has been unsuccessful. (2) Elijah the prophet will come as The Christ in glory and be successful; this will be the second coming.
The Pastor wrote that Jesus, in his earthly ministry, was a representation of the Elijah (the prophet) class, of which he was the Head. The various members of the Elijah body down through the Gospel Age have been unsuccessful in the present life, for they did not accomplish the desired conversion work. However, that same class, when elevated to glory with Christ as their Head, will again enjoin the people to follow the Lord, and this time the needful softening up and repentance will be brought about in those who are righteously disposed.
In Matthew 17:11, Jesus said, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” The thought is that Elijah, The Christ in the flesh, “truly shall first come, and [then, the second time, being glorified, shall] restore all things.” When elevated to glory, The Christ will successfully produce the desired conversion. In fact, “the great and dreadful day of the LORD [the great Time of Trouble]” will come because the world does not heed Elijah the prophet in the flesh. Verse 5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,” is a proof text that the Church must be complete before the great Time of Trouble.
During the Gospel Age, the present life, Elijah the prophet has been gradually developed— Jesus the Head was first, followed by the body members. The completion of the Elijah the prophet class embraces the entire Gospel Age, during which they have endeavored to do a converting work, but they have not been successful. However, after that class is complete and glorified, they will be successful in the role of teachers and prophets in the next age.
Q: What is the thought of the clause “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”?
A: The smiting of the earth with a curse is the great Time of Trouble; the “curse” is like a plague.
Q: Could the thought also be that if The Christ glorified did not “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,” then God would curse the earth from the standpoint of destroying it? Is the emphasis on the fact that God’s plan will come to fruition, for otherwise, the earth would be expunged?
A: We can reason from that standpoint as well.
Q: Isn’t there also an earlier picture of this principle with John the Baptist and the time of trouble that came on Israel in AD 69-70?
A: Yes. Just like the French Revolution, that trouble on Israel was a prototype of the great Time of Trouble still future. What John the Baptist endeavored to do with Israel at the First Advent was not successful, but a small remnant responded, accepting Jesus’ ministry and gospel and becoming Christians. Down through the Gospel Age, the John the Baptist work of the Elijah class has been successful in calling out those who are receptive to hearing the truth. Thus the preaching of the gospel successfully forwarded God’s purpose in finding the Little Flock, but additional work, Kingdom work, awaits the glorified Elijah class, The Christ, beyond the veil.
Comment: The reasoning seems correct that the “great and dreadful day of the LORD” is the Time of Trouble. The glorified Christ will “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Otherwise, God would utterly destroy the earth. One translation actually has “with utter destruction.”
Reply: The word “coming” in the expression “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” suggests that the trouble is irrevocable. In contrast, “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” is conditional.
Comment: The Hebrew word for “curse” is cherem. Young’s Analytical Concordance shows that cherem is translated “accursed,” “accursed thing,” “cursed,” “cursed thing,” “dedicated thing,” “devoted,” “devoted thing,” “things which should have been utterly destroyed,” “utter destruction,” and “appoint utter destruction.” A devoted thing is appointed for destruction. Because it has been devoted to God, it is not to be used anymore in a regular sense.
Reply: That same Hebrew word can have two radically different meanings depending on context. The destruction would be literal if Elijah the prophet were not successful in the conversion work.
Comment: The Pastor said that the scourging and the curse will accomplish for mankind in a short time what the message of Elijah failed to accomplish. The earth will be smitten with a curse because the work of Elijah was not enough to do the converting.
Reply: We have no problem with the Pastor’s reasoning, and that is how we have been viewing the verse right along. However, verse 6 can be read the alternate way that has been suggested. If the intended meaning of cherem is “accursed” and “utter destruction,” the two verses would have to be separated.
In the statement “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,” who are the “fathers”? Since the text shows a reciprocal action, the term “fathers” is broader than just the Ancient Worthies. The “fathers” will have a change of heart to childlike conditions. Since “children” would be the current generation, “fathers” can simply mean “seniors” or “progenitors,” including those in the tomb going back to Adam. Both fathers and children will be affected; both need a change of heart.
Verse 6 is used not only from the standpoint of the relationship of the Ancient Worthies to succeeding generations but also as a condition; that is, the hearts of the people will be softened and humbled into a childlike condition where they will be receptive to the principles originally enunciated by the prophets. When mankind is humbled, the message of the prophets will become meaningful to them.
Comment: In an earlier study, the thoughts in the following two paragraphs were presented: When will the hearts of the “fathers” (the Ancient Worthies) be turned to the children in the full sense? In the resurrection, the Ancient Worthies will love and want to help the people. This text could not be fulfilled without a resurrection. The Church in glory will resurrect the Ancient Worthies and make them “princes in all the earth” (Psa. 45:16). The Church will direct them in doing this reconstruction work.
The “children” are the world of mankind, who will be the “adopted” children of the Second Eve. They will be under her tutelage and under the “fathership” of the Second Adam. The Ancient Worthies will have a higher stature than the “children.” Having been tested, they will be resurrected perfect and will be respected and looked up to as “fathers.” The Ancient Worthies will realize they have a mission on behalf of the world of mankind. In Old Testament times, they knew a great day was coming, but they will get the details when they are resurrected. And the rest of the world will be told they have to hearken to the Ancient Worthies. The Law will go forth from glory (Zion), but the words will come from Jerusalem, the earthly headquarters or capital (Isa. 2:3).
Reply: Yes, there is an application in regard to the Ancient Worthies, but there is also a moral lesson. Consider child abuse, where an abusive father needs correction. In other cases, disobedient children need correction. If the father converts and changes for the good, then the son or daughter who has a natural antipathy for the father should also change. Both need changing. The moral standpoint is the broader application.
The past application is also true. The human family will be fathered by Jesus, the Second Adam, and it will be mothered by the Church, the Second Eve. The mission of both the Ancient Worthies and The (glorified) Christ will be the same, for the Ancient Worthies will be the human representatives of The Christ.
If “curse” (Hebrew cherem) means “utter destruction,” then if reform were not achieved, God would be disgusted and would smash and destroy the earth completely. But this would also imply failure on His part. Since God has purposed redemption and a class who will respond and get everlasting life, His plan will be successfully accomplished. Otherwise, there would be no need for His furthering any more creation or for His continuing to deal with this planet.
Reconsideration of Verses 1-6
Now we will go back and consider verses 1-6 again. In doing so, we will have a different and more explicit situation that fits all of the component parts.
“The day” will leave “neither root nor branch.” The “root” is below the ground, and the “branch” is above the ground. With branches that have been cut off in past history up to the present day, the root has been left because the individuals will get an awakening from the tomb. However, when the wicked are cut off, the root will not be left underground. There are three steps of fulfillment, and Jehovah will be involved with this destruction.
Comment: Jude 12 is a confirmation that leaving “neither root nor branch” refers to Second Death: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.”
Reply: The application is different, but the same principle and language are used because the Heavenly Father, in His thinking and in His expression to us, has to curtail His own vocabulary to suit the extent of our feeble minds down here.
The people will “grow up as calves of the stall,” but as shown in Psalm 51:19, they will also grow up as steers, or bullocks. Those of mankind who get life will be kings; that is, the earthly portion of restitution is that all mankind will no longer be children and men at the end of the Kingdom Age, but they will be kings. The Lord’s Prayer will be answered at that time.
Chapter 4 is telling about the second coming of Elijah, when he will successfully convert the world. Jesus spoke about the first coming of Elijah, which was a picture of the Gospel Age work. When the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “We are children of Abraham,” he replied, “Ye are children of your father the devil” (John 8:39,44 paraphrase).
When Jeremiah frequently told his generation how wicked they were, he said, “You are just like your fathers—your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather, etc.” Similarly, Jesus said at the First Advent that the scribes were of their father the devil. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Those of all generations who did not receive Jesus were primarily the leaders, the so-called fathers, the representatives of the nation. However, those individuals will come out of the tomb—the priesthood and the false prophets—because no man can be judged with Second Death until he first knows Jesus, who tasted death as a ransom for every man (1 Tim. 2:5,6; Heb. 2:9). Therefore, in either the present life or the next age, everyone is guaranteed to come to the knowledge of the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the one sent of God.
Judas went into Second Death because he originally believed in Jesus but later succumbed to his greed and avarice—after seeing Jesus’ miracles and hearing him preach. There are different ways of showing that Judas was very advanced, yet he failed. Verse 1 is saying that not even the root will be left of those who go into Second Death.
Growing up as calves of the stall is telling about the sunrise, but inferentially, the “Sun” will go all the way through the Kingdom Age, for all mankind must be enlightened, whether they are on the surface of the earth, underneath the earth, or in the sea. They must come forth from the grave and get this instruction.
“And ye [the Ancient Worthies] shall tread down the wicked,” that is, crush the heads of the wicked, “for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” At the end of the Kingdom Age, another (or second) Gog and Magog, comprising a great many people, will go up to Jerusalem, to the “camp of the saints,” to voice their opposition (Rev. 20:9). No violence will be tolerated during the Kingdom with either animals or humans, for there will be rigid control. Therefore, feeling that the rod-of-iron Kingdom rule and the Law were too rigid, the Gog and Magog element will think they should now be given their liberty.
One way of explaining why this element will have such boldness is that Satan is to be loosed in the end time of the Kingdom Age. When he is loosed, he will be so successful with his tremendous knowledge that people will begin to believe and like him. Why? Because those who like him will have the same feelings, and they will want to have a fulfillment of those feelings. Amos 8:5,6 indicates that the rebellion will be along business lines. The attitude will be, “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” But the rebellion will also be along sexual lines. A lot is involved here. What will happen to the great number who go up and encompass the camp of the saints? They will become ashes. When they go up to Jerusalem, “fire” will come down from God out of heaven and “devour,” or consume, them (Rev. 20:9). The dramatization will take place in Israel.
Although not all of the disobedient will go to Jerusalem, many will go there to voice their discontent to the Ancient Worthies. However, just as nations now have an embassy in each country, so the princes in all the earth, the Ancient Worthies, will have their places of authority, and those of Gog who do not go to Jerusalem will go to these other places, where the same fate of fire will occur. The Scriptures focus only on the fire in Jerusalem, but just because Jerusalem is center stage does not nullify other things happening.
There will be a Time of Trouble at the end of the Gospel Age, which Christians all recognize, but the real end time will be at the end of the Kingdom Age. Only the righteous will survive and live into the ages of ages. All of the wicked will be thoroughly purged out. Therefore, the second coming of Elijah the prophet will be the Second Advent of the Kingdom Age. Spiritually speaking, that work of instructing throughout the Kingdom Age will be successful in converting the world, for those who do not bend the knee and conform will all be rooted out.
We can see the rejoicing that will take place. If we were on earth at that time and saw all of these things happen and we were spared, we would know that we were in harmony with God.
What a delightful thought that would be—to know we had made it! Similar joy is experienced by the Christian who is changed from the grave and sees Jesus and hears him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21). Such individuals at the end of the Kingdom Age will then be cleansed with perfect being. Having been schooled and proven obedient, they will have heart content in a perfect body with everlasting life. The Little Flock will experience joy in a fuller sense, and the Great Company in a lesser sense. The reward of life on any plane is always contingent upon obedience.
In summary, there will be a second Gog and Magog and a second Time of Trouble, which is “the great and dreadful day of the LORD [Jehovah]” in a special sense. We have always stated that with regard to the holding of life and death of every individual in any age, the Creator decides who gets life. Jesus will make decisions where conditions are obviously wrong—where it can be plainly seen by the public that a person is incorrigibly wicked. But with secret sin, the Creator will “uncreate.” Matter cannot be created or destroyed except by God. That is one of His prerogatives which, to our understanding, will not be shared. The Heavenly Father will always be the Creator, and there are things He will do in the future. His creative works done thus far are only the beginning. His hands are not tied in the creation of new things.
Let us consider again the actions of those who will remonstrate against the Ancient Worthies at the end of the Kingdom Age. When fire comes down and destroys the wicked, it will be as though the Ancient Worthies make the decision, even though the decision will rest with God. His destruction of the incorrigible will vindicate the Ancient Worthies as not overstepping their prerogatives. God’s judgment will be done once and for all. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and Moses and Miriam sang, the destruction of Pharaoh and his host pictured the destruction of Satan and his host at the end of the Kingdom Age. Following that destruction will come the Hallelujah chorus (Rev. 5:11-13).
Incidentally, the picture of the Red Sea crossing can be presented two different ways. A preliminary crossing of the Red Sea with rejoicing will take place earlier, but the real crossing is the final picture of mankind at the end of the Kingdom Age.
Q: Do Absalom’s charm and cunningness in trying to steal his father David’s kingdom picture Satan?
A: Yes. Absalom’s beauty and wisdom consumed him; he felt very capable in his own strength.
God’s description of Lucifer could not contain greater praise, so he must have been unusual (Ezek. 28:13-15). What a great being he was originally, but destruction will be his end! People like a stiff neck, a proud look, and a handsome appearance, whereas God looks at the heart.
We believe that Jesus Christ looked just as good. However, people seem to like leadership qualities, and Jesus humbled himself and was very submissive in doing his Father’s will at the First Advent. Not only was he very careful not to overstep his bounds, but also he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane over whether he had done everything properly. Jesus will be elevated and glorified in the Kingdom Age, but in the meantime, he has been assured, ever since his resurrection, that whatever he does will be accomplished in a natural way with perfection. There is no more nervousness on his part that he could do anything amiss. In addition to being schooled and tested, he has been given the ability to perform perfectly. When Jesus is seen in his glory in the spirit realm, his composure, dignity, and majesty will be apparent.
Comment: The tree that was cut down in Daniel 4:14,15 still had the stump of its roots because the Kingdom promises will be fulfilled. Here in Malachi, we are talking about those who will individually lose their roots after the fruits of the Kingdom have been dispensed.
Comment: Ezekiel 28:18 is a second witness that Satan will be reduced to ashes: “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.”
Reply: God tells many details about Himself in the Scriptures that people attribute to purposed hyperbole. If we could get the feel of such details, it would be very wonderful. In the present life, we are trying to know the Father and to love Him not out of compulsion or constraint but with a natural flowing adoration. We want to maintain that attitude in a freewill offering throughout life.
(Study led by Bro. Frank Shallieu in 1992 with excerpts from a 1971 study)