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The Scriptorium

Elijah the Baptist

You and me, too. Malachi 4.5, 6

Return from Exile: Malachi 4 (4)

Pray Psalm 50.1-4.
The Mighty One, God the LORD,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people…

Sing Psalm 50.1-4.
(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
God, the LORD, the mighty Savior, summons all from east to west:
Out of Zion, rich with favor, shines He, of all things the best.
Come, O God, and keep not silence; fire devours before Your way!
He His Church, steeped in defiance, comes to judge this awful day.

Read Malachi 4.1-6; meditate on verses 5, 6.


1. Whom will God send before His coming to earth?

2. What will he do?

The people of God in Egypt languished in captivity for more than 400 years before God sent Moses as His agent to deliver them to freedom. The people recently returned from captivity in Malachi’s day would languish in captivity to sin and self until God’s Messenger came to bring the Good News that would set them free. Here God tells His people to watch for a sign, indicating that His coming to deliver them was nigh.

Elijah would be sent—or, as it turned out, one very much like Elijah. John the Baptist was the promised Elijah, as Jesus explained (Matt. 11.12-15). John’s mission would be one of preparation. Specifically, he would prepare the hearts of the people, turning them away from themselves and their captivity to self to those closest to them, with renewed concern and love for others (v. 6). They would awaken to their own sin and the promised curse of God against sinners (v. 6), and they would look to John to lead them in repentance and, through baptism, to prepare them for the coming of Christ.

So the Old Testament closes as it began, with a promise from God. The first promise of God was that He would send one to deliver His people from their sin and release them from captivity to self and the devil (Gen. 3.15). This final promise is just a restatement of the same. God doesn’t change. His promises don’t fail. And if we are convicted in our hearts to turn away from self and sin to know the love of God in Jesus, then we need not fear the dreadful day of judgment and curse that is to come.

The promise of Jesus is life (Jn. 10.30). And all who cling to Him know the truth that sets them free (Jn. 8.32). As Elijah was to Israel and John was to the people of his day, so we in the Body of Christ are to our world. Joy has come for all who will receive it! Let us be faithful like John to point to Jesus, that freedom from self and sin may continue and increase in our world.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Freedom from self and sin.” What a glorious thought.

If we believe God’s Words, and treasure them in our hearts, and act upon them in obedience, we will be able to experience that freedom partially here and now, and fully there and then. Oh, happy day!

But until then we have been called to be mini-Elijahs: proclaiming the truth of Scripture to the world, in our Personal Mission Field space.

Between Malachi and the arrival of the second Elijah, it was another 400 years of silence from God.

In this time, now, we are called to be the loud proclaimers of His truth before that “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal. 4.5) appears for the last time (Rev. 22.12, 13, 20).

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.7).
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

“Praise the LORD, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst” (Is. 12.4-6).

“How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who proclaims peace,
who brings glad tidings of good things,
who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion,
‘Your God reigns!’” (Is. 52.7; Rom. 10.15)

Elijah, John, you, and me. All called to proclaim the day of the LORD!

For reflection
1. How are Elijah and John the Baptist a pattern for your own calling?

2. What is the “day of the LORD”? How would you explain this to an unbelieving friend?

3. Whom will you encourage today in our calling to be witnesses for Jesus?

John the Baptist preached repentance and reformation, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God and their duty, is the best preparation of them for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John shall preach a doctrine that shall reach men’s hearts, and work a change in them. Thus he shall prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Malachi 4.5, 6

Pray Psalm 50.5-15.
Every day we should prepare for the Lord’s coming—His coming to us from His Word and by His Spirit, and His coming through us into our world, our Personal Mission Field. Make it a point to seek a fresh coming of the Lord every day, beginning today, and to review how He came to and through you as you retire in the evening.

Sing Psalm 50.5-15.
(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
“Gather now My children holy, those bound close to Me by blood.”
Let the heav’ns declare His glory, for the LORD Himself is Judge:
“Hear, My people, I will charge you; I alone am God, your God!
I will bring a solemn charge to gain you to Me for your good.

“Not for rituals I accuse you—let your worship to Me rise.
Naught to Me is any use, Who dwells in glory in the skies.
All is mine throughout creation; I your help do not require.
Offer Me no vain oblation, hear what I from you desire:

“Sacrifice of thanks now render; pay to God your solemn vows;
let the troubled, each offender, seek Him in the midst of woes.
In the day of strife draw near Him; He will hear, and He will save.
Honor God, rejoice, and fear Him, give to Him your grateful praise.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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