The book of Malachi is caught in the middle. It’s in the middle of our Bibles, and its prophecies were spoken in the middle of redemption history—after God brought His people back from exile but before the angel Gabriel announced the coming of Christ. The prophet called the people of God to remember what God had done for them in the past but also flashed a light ahead to the great and amazing things God would still do. But for the moment, they were in the middle.
As I read through Malachi for this He Reads Truth study, I felt at home. I, too, live in the middle, caught somewhere between the already and the not yet. Christ has come, but He’s coming again. I have holy Scripture in my hands, typeset and bound in a leather cover, to read and to study and to build my life upon. But God is still at work, and I am looking forward to seeing more of His promises fulfilled with my own eyes—either in the natural years that are given me to walk this earth or with eyes that are awakened from death and made new at the Lord’s coming.
The final words of Malachi are fitting for a faith that lives in the in-betweens. He tells the people of Judah to remember the law of Moses, those ancient rules that set Israel apart from their neighbors and were, in part, the basis for their special relationship with Him (Malachi 4:4). But He also tells them about something that will happen in the future—Elijah will come before the Day of the Lord (v.5).
“Elijah” was John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7–10), and he did indeed prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. But there is still a future coming, a Day of the Lord that will be history’s final Day of the Lord. Whether or not Elijah will come again in some form is yet to be seen, but that the Day is coming is certain. When it does, there will be no more middles, no more alreadys-and-not-yets. There will only be judgment and salvation.
For those who have rejected the grace of God in Christ, the warning is dire: “all the arrogant and everyone who commits wickedness will become stubble. The coming day will consume them” (Malachi 4:1). But for those who know the Lord, Malachi has this promise: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings, and you will go out and playfully jump like calves from the stall” (v.2).
The fire of judgment or the warmth of the sun. Destruction or healing. Death or life. The choice, from Genesis to Revelation and all down through human history, has always been the same.
We may feel caught in the middle, but the time for remaining in the middle is drawing to a close. Let’s heed Malachi’s instruction to remember—maybe not looking back exclusively to the Mosaic Law, but to Christ, who fulfilled that law and died on our behalf. And let’s do so with thankfulness, because the work of Christ also invites us to look ahead to the promise of His coming kingdom, when all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5).
Written by John Greco