For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough

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 “day” mentioned here is that of the Lord’s second advent, when He, coming as King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Lion of Judah rather than as the Lamb, will execute judgment as declared in Mt 25:31-46, the result of that judgment being that the unbelievers “shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Their being left with “neither root nor branch” means that these wicked will leave neither ancestor nor descendant to carry on their evil work, for their banishment into hell will leave only believers on the earth as the Millennium begins. It is necessary to note, however, that the children who will be born in the Millennium will be unbelievers in need of redemption, as is every one born into this world.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary draws attention to the fact that as Canaan was prepared for Israel originally by the potential expulsion of every Canaanite, so here we see the millennial earth purged of every unbeliever prior to the entry of the believers of the Tribulation era.

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.”

Very different will be the lot of the believers following Christ’s judgment of the nations, for they, His sheep, will hear His gracious invitation, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,Mt 25:34, and they will remain on the earth to enjoy millennial blessings, their bliss continuing eternally when this present world will have been replaced with a new heavens and a new earth, Re 21:1. As has been noted already, this “fear” is the reverential awe of God impelled by adoring wonder.

“the Sun of righteousness” is taken by some to refer to the beneficial effects of righteousness, but since the Lord Jesus Christ is the personification of righteousness there doesn’t seem to be any strong reason not to apply the description to Him.

“... with healing in His wings” has reference to the healing transformation that will be experienced by every one and every thing on earth in the Millennium, see Isa 35.

The going forth is usually understood as being the passing of the saved out of the Tribulation into the enjoyment of millennial blessings; and their growing up “as calves of the stall” is saying that their passage will be accompanied by the exuberant joy exhibited by young calves released from the stall as they cavort on their way to pasture where they will grow fat, a figure of the prosperity of the redeemed in the Millennium.

“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.”

The language appears to be metaphoric, for if we have been right in taking this to be at Christ’s second advent, every unbeliever will have been banished into hell, so that there will be none for the believers to “tread down,” i.e., destroy or control. If the reference is to what will be after the Millennium begins, then this is declaring that those who will be born during those thousand years will either become believers, or will be permitted to live only as long as the rebellion, which is in the heart of every sinner, remains covert.

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.”

The law of Moses is generally taken to mean the Ten Commandments; the statutes, the ordinances governing their worship; and the judgments, the laws governing their social lives.

The Levitical order of worship will be universal in the Millennium, and it was, in fact, for this very reason that there were two separate orders for the Church, one Jewish and the other Gentile, in the period from 32 till 70 AD, see Ac 15:19-29; 21:20-26. The offer of the millennial kingdom made by John the Baptist, by the Lord Himself, and by the Apostles after His ascension, was a bona fide offer. Israel could have had the kingdom then had she but repented and trusted in Christ as her Savior Messiah, and it was with a view to the inauguration of the kingdom right then that the Levitical order was preserved by the Jewish believers.

God, however, foreknowing Israel’s rejection of the King and therefore of the kingdom, instituted a separate order for the Gentiles, that order becoming universal for this present Church age following the dissolution of Jewish autonomy in AD 70, which ended the Jewish order until the Millennium.

It is interesting to note that those 38 years between 32 and 70 AD were a virtual duplication of another 38 year period in Israel’s history, the earlier being a foreshadowing of the latter. After two years in the desert, following their deliverance from Egypt, Israel was invited to enter Canaan, but following the discouraging report of ten of the twelve men sent to reconnoiter the land, they refused to go in, with the result that when they then had a change of heart, God refused to allow them to enter, and turned them back to wander and die in the desert, during which time a new generation, their children grew up, and possessed what their foolish fathers had rejected, see Nu 13-14.

Few will have difficulty seeing the typological significance of this incident in Israel’s history; nor will many have trouble seeing in it a symbolic warning against refusing to accept God’s gift of eternal life when it is first offered, His warning being, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” Ge 6:3, and again, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Pr 29:1.

4:5. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:”

There has been much needless misunderstanding of this verse, some insisting that the reference is to an actual return of Elijah; but the Lord Himself refuted that error when He explained to the disciples that John the Baptist, ministering in the spirit and power of Elijah, was His (Christ’s) foretold forerunner, see Mt 17:10-13; and as it was not a literal Elijah who was the forerunner then, neither is there any reason to believe that it will be he who will be Christ’s forerunner in the Tribulation era. It will be another, also ministering in the same spirit and power as that which imbued Elijah.

The “day of the Lord” is that long period which will begin following the rapture of the Church, and that will end with the destruction of the present heavens and earth prior to the bringing in of the new heavens and earth. It will be “great and dreadful” because of the awful judgments that will devastate the earth in the Great Tribulation.

Horeb, incidentally, is the original name for Mount Sinai.

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.”

This is the same language as is used of John the Baptist in Lk 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

The “he” is the one who will be the Lord’s forerunner in the Tribulation era, and as noted above, he will be neither Elijah, nor John the Baptist, but one ministering in the same spirit and power as they. He will be a powerful witness for God.

Another event that will undoubtedly have a profound effect on the Tribulation-age world will be the rapture of the Church, followed by the conversion of 144,000 Jews who will be the nucleus of a new corporate witness on the earth. Add to these the terrible judgments that will devastate the earth in the Great Tribulation (the final three and a half years of that seven-year era), and you have another potent witness to convince men that there is a God.

Many things in this generation have combined to erode family values and ties: divorce, single parent mothers, rejection of parental control, prohibition of corporal punishment, drugs and alcohol, illicit sex, lack of belief in God and the Scriptures, abandonment of moral values, to name but a few. When, however, account is taken of the witnesses discussed above, it isn’t difficult to understand why the fear of utter destruction will lead many in that day to listen to the Gospel, repent, and be saved. There will indeed be many family reconciliations as parents and children are first reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. The destruction resulting from the Tribulation judgments will strike fear into men’s hearts, fear that their world is about to be totally destroyed, and they with it. The demonstration of God’s power and righteous wrath will accomplish then what loving entreaty has failed to do.

The ominous threat of judgment which closes the Old Testament is virtually God’s last warning to rebel Israel and the equally rebellious Gentiles. With this last word, God’s prophetic clock has as it were stopped ticking. The Church age has come in as a two-thousand year parenthesis in the continuity of His dealings with His ancient people Israel; but every sign points to the imminence of the Church’s rapture from the earth to heaven, after which God’s clock will start to tick again, with the earth’s stage set exactly as it was when the clock stopped. Rome revived as a ten-kingdom coalition of nations (the European Union) will rule again. Israel will be back in the land again after her long Diaspora, just as she was returned two thousand years ago after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. As the Roman sought to destroy her then, so will he seek to destroy her again in the Tribulation. But nothing can thwart God’s purposes. With a remnant of Israel and of the nations brought to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as a result of the Tribulation judgments, He Himself will come again, not as the Lamb to die for the remission of sin, but as the mighty Lion of Judah to destroy His foes, establish His millennial kingdom, and lead that believing remnant of Israel and of the nations into the blessings of that kingdom, blessings forfeited for two thousand years by man’s rebellion!

Malachi’s prophecy closes with God’s threat, “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” The fulfillment of that threat has been rendered impossible by the Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to have it fulfilled against Him at Calvary when He hung on the cross as guilty man’s Representative, bearing man’s sin, and thereby being Himself made a curse, as it is written, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree,” Gal 3:13.

The response of every redeemed heart is recorded in 2 Cor 9:15, “Thanks ye unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

I can think of no better way to conclude this series of studies on the Minor Prophets than by repeating the words which close the book of Revelation, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

The End


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough