Time in the Word
Malachi 4:5-6 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
The last verses of Malachi are great transitional verses from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Jesus states that this verse referred to John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13-14) when describing the prophet Elijah who would come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Further an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah the father of John the Baptist and told him that these verses from our devotional text referred to the infant son his wife Elizabeth soon would give birth to (Luke 1:11-17).
It is no accident in the enduring thread of the word of God that Malachi points us forward some 400 years to the coming of Jesus Christ and the prophet Elijah that would be his forerunner: John the Baptist. Coming at the very end of the Old Testament it is a matter of Holy Spirit inspiration that brings this verse at its conclusion to perfectly transition from the failure of the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets, Kings, and the people of Israel to achieve righteousness on their own merits.
It simply could not be done for it was impossible because all men are flawed and imperfect. But as Paul writes it was our schoolmaster – Galatians 3:24 – to train us and lead us to Christ. The Book of Malachi ends pointing to the only salvation answer for all men, for all time, for all places which is Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. As Malachi prophesied before that great day of the Messiah’s entrance into the world and in perfect timing would come the prophet Elijah who was to be John the Baptist the cousin of Jesus of Nazareth.
The New Testament starts with this prophecy and ties it back to the coming of the Messiah in Malachi 4. Our Bible is elegant in its order, meaning, and structure and nowhere is this more on display than at the end of the Old Testament and its transition to the New Testament some 400 years later. Only the supernatural and all-knowing God of the Universe could have stitched the Bible together with such consistency and meaning for humankind. Even the last word of the Old Testament finds great spiritual significance because the word is “curse”. The last word to the Jews under the old covenant is the word curse! I find it remarkable and a sign of the divine hand of God on our Bible that the first word to men from Jesus is “blessed”.