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The Day of the Lord's Coming

INTRODUCTION: Two words stand out in this chapter: covenant (Malachi 2:4, 5, 8, 10, 14) and treacherously (Malachi 2:10, 11, 14, 15, 16). A covenant is an agreement between two parties. It is a solemn and holy commitment. To act treacherously is to act in a way that betrays trust, faith, or allegiance; to be disloyal; to be a traitor; to commit treason. To break a covenant is to act treacherously (Malachi 2:10; Hosea 6:7). The Israelites had broken the covenant of Levi (concerning the priesthood), the covenant of the fathers (the Mosaic covenant), and the covenant of marriage. Malachi condemns them for their treachery.

Malachi closes the Old Testament with a grave warning intermingled with hope. The day of the Lord will come and it is a day of great judgment. However, the righteous will be preserved and those who fear the Lord will be restored and rewarded.

NOTE: The phrase, day of the Lord, is used 25 times in 23 verses in the Bible (I do not count two references to the "day of the Lord Jesus"). In scripture, it is most closely associated with the wrath of God. That is, the day of the Lord is the time when God brings long-deserved judgment on the earth. Consider these verses: Isaiah 13:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18.

Primarily, the day of the Lord refers to the character of the times. The day of the Lord is the time when God moves on the scene in a powerful way to execute His wrath on the earth because of the iniquities of man. As such, the day of the Lord is not meant to be a synonym for any specific term like the tribulation or the kingdom. The day of the Lord can refer to times of judgment that are already history. The day of the Lord in Jeremiah 46:10 has fulfillment in the defeat of the Egyptians by the Babylonians (see Jeremiah 46:13).

Prophetically, the main time of this wrath will be during the tribulation. It is during this time that men cry out, "For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17). This time begins with the removal of the believers of this age in what is known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). This is the beginning of the prophetic day of the Lord.

Most of the references to the day of the Lord (and to similar phrases like "that day" or "the great day”) deal with the events of the tribulation (Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-2, 11, 31; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7-10, 14-18; Zechariah 14:1-3; Malachi 3:2; Malachi 4:1, 3, 5). However, at least one passage expands the meaning of the day of the Lord. The destruction of the heaven and the earth mentioned in 2Peter 3:10 does not occur in the book of Revelation until Revelation 20:11 states that "the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." This is after the thousand year reign of Christ.

The day of the Lord is not a single calendar event but a day of judgment when God settles accounts. As such, Old Testament events could be described as the day of the Lord if they were a time of God's wrath. The tribulation is the primary day of the Lord in the Bible (Matthew 24:21). Therefore, most of the Bible references to the day of the Lord deal with the tribulation and it can be considered primarily the day of the Lord.

However, at the end of the thousand year reign, men will once again rebel against the rule of God and He will come upon them in sudden wrath. This will culminate in the destruction of heaven and earth as the elements melt in fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10). Because the day of the Lord is defined as a day of God's wrath, this too is the day of the Lord.

    1. Corrupting the Covenant of Levi (Malachi 2:1-9)
      1. The curse of disobedience (Malachi 2:1-3)
        1. Directed to the priests (Malachi 2:1; 1 Peter 4:17; Zechariah 3:4)
        2. Given because of disobedience (Malachi 2:2; see Isaiah 42:25)
        3. Brings condemnation to the sinner (Malachi 2:3; see Exodus 29:14)
      2. The covenant of Levi (Malachi 2:4-5)
        1. For Levi only (Malachi 2:4; Numbers 18:1-7, 19-24)
        2. Of life and peace (Malachi 2:5; Numbers 25:6-13)
      3. The character of faithful priests (Malachi 2:6-7)
        1. His walk (Malachi 2:6; Leviticus 10:8-10)
        2. His words (Malachi 2:7; Leviticus 10:11)
      4. The corruption of faithful priests (Malachi 2:8-9)
        1. Causing others to stumble (Malachi 2:8; 1 Samuel 2:17, 24)
        2. Not keeping Gods ways (Malachi 2:9)
    2. Profaning the Covenant of the Fathers (Malachi 2:10-17)
      1. Their marriage to strange women (Malachi 2:10-11; Nehemiah 13:23-27)
        1. Denying their Creator (Malachi 2:10; 2 Peter 2:1)
        2. Following strange gods (Malachi 2:11)
      2. Their rejection by the Lord (Malachi 2:12-13)
        1. Cutting off the sinner (Malachi 2:12; compare Revelation 20:12)
        2. Regarding not their offerings (Malachi 2:13; Isaiah 1:11-15)
      3. The divorce of their wives (Malachi 2:14-16)
        1. The witness of the Lord (Malachi 2:14)
          1. The wife of thy youth
          2. Thy companion
          3. The wife of thy covenant (see Ezekiel 16:8)
        2. The witness of Adam and Eve (Malachi 2:15; Genesis 2:18-24)
        3. The warning of the Lord (Malachi 2:16)
      4. The perversion of their words (Malachi 2:17)
        1. Calling evil good (Isaiah 5:20)
        2. Questioning Gods interest (Psalm 10:13)
  2. THE JUDGMENT OF THE LORD (Malachi 3:1-6)
    1. The Coming of Gods Messengers (Malachi 3:1)
      1. The priest and prophet as the messengers of the law (Malachi 2:7; Haggai 1:13)
      2. The forerunner of the Messiah as the messenger of the coming Lord (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:1-4)
      3. The Messiah Himself as the messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1; Haggai 2:7-9)
        1. He is the Lord.
        2. He is the One they seek.
        3. He will suddenly come to His temple.
    2. The Day of Gods Judgment (Malachi 3:2-5)
      1. To condemn (Malachi 3:2)
        1. None able to abide His coming (Joel 2:11)
        2. None able to stand before Him (Psalm 76:7; Revelation 6:17)
      2. To purge (Malachi 3:2-3)
        1. Refiners fire (Malachi 3:2; 1 Peter 1:6-7); used to melt and purify precious metals
        2. Fullers soap (Malachi 3:2; Mark 9:3; John 15:3); used to cleanse and whiten garments
        3. Purifier (Malachi 3:3; Hebrews 2:11)
          1. To purify the sons of Levi
          2. That they may offer an offering in righteousness
          3. Note: He begins with the house of God (Ezekiel 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17).
      3. To refresh (Malachi 3:4; compare Malachi 1:10)
        1. Pleasant unto the Lord
        2. As in the days of old
      4. To revenge (Malachi 3:5; Romans 12:19)
    3. The Firmness of Gods Love (Malachi 3:6)
      1. Changing not (Hebrews 13:8)
      2. Consuming not (Deuteronomy 7:7-9)
  3. THE TITHES OF THE LORD (Malachi 3:7-12)
    1. The Breaking of Gods Ordinances (Malachi 3:7)
      1. From the days of their fathers (Acts 7:51-53)
      2. Refusing Gods call to return (Zechariah 1:3-4)
    2. The Robbing of Gods House (Malachi 3:8-10)
      1. Their condemnation (Malachi 3:8)
      2. Their curse (Malachi 3:9; Proverbs 11:24)
      3. Their command (Malachi 3:10; Luke 6:38; Proverbs 3:9-10)
        1. Bring the tithes into the storehouse.
        2. Expect the blessings of the Lord (Haggai 2:18-19).
    3. The Outpouring of Gods Blessing (Malachi 3:11-12)
      1. Preserving their fruit (Malachi 3:11)
      2. Upholding their place (Malachi 3:12); a delightsome land (Isaiah 62:4)
  4. THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD (Malachi 3:13-18)
    1. The Unfaithful Servants (Malachi 3:13-15)
      1. Speaking against the Lord (Malachi 3:13; compare Malachi 2:17)
      2. Condemning the Lords service (Malachi 3:14); It is vain to serve God. (compare Job 21:14-15; Job 34:9)
      3. Exalting the Lords enemies (Malachi 3:15; Psalm 10:3)
    2. The Faithful Servants (Malachi 3:16-18)
      1. Remembered by the Lord (Malachi 3:16)
        1. They speak often to one another (Psalm 119:63; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
        2. A book of remembrance is written for them (Psalm 56:8).
      2. Spared by the Lord (Malachi 3:17)
        1. When the Lord will make up His jewels
        2. To be spared as a son
      3. Received by the Lord (Malachi 3:18; Matthew 25:21)
        1. Separated from the wicked
        2. Separated from those who do not serve the Lord
  5. THE DAY OF THE LORD (Malachi 4:1-6)
    1. The Coming of the Lord (Malachi 4:1-3)
      1. In judgment (Malachi 4:1)
        1. The day shall burn as an oven.
        2. The wicked shall burn as stubble.
        3. Nothing will be left of the wicked.
      2. In restoration (Malachi 4:2-3)
        1. As the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Revelation 1:16)
          1. To arise to those who fear Gods name (2 Peter 1:19)
          2. To come with healing in his wings
          3. To bless them as calves in the stall (compare Proverbs 15:17)
        2. As the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4:3); the righteous will tread down the wicked.
    2. The Connections in Time (Malachi 4:4-6; Revelation 11:3-6)
      1. The past (Malachi 4:4)
        1. Remember the law of Moses
        2. Remember the appearance of God on Horeb
        3. Remember the statutes and judgments
      2. The future (Malachi 4:5-6); the coming of Elijah
        1. With a message of wrath (Malachi 4:5)
        2. With an offer of repentance (Malachi 4:6)
        3. Elijah is a powerful figure in Jewish doctrine and tradition. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), was thought by some to be Elijah (John 1:21), and according to Jesus could have fulfilled the work of Elijah (Matthew 11:14). To the Jewish people, Elijah is known as the herald of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 4:5). Traditionally among the Jews, he fulfills many roles: peacemaker, a help to barren women, an interpreter of difficult passages in the Torah and Talmud, and a protector. Because of his place as intercessor between generations (Malachi 4:6), he is thought to be present at circumcisions where a special Chair of Elijah is reserved for him. At the Passover, a cup of wine is set aside as Elijahs Cup, not to be drunk until the prophet arrives to announce the coming Messiah and the Messianic Age (compare Matthew 26:29).

Conclusion: This passage concludes the Old Testament. However, though there are promises of a better day coming, the last words of the Old Testament are a warning: “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).


Malachi 2:7 – For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:6 – For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Malachi 3:17 – And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Malachi 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.