MSG: The Final Word before Deafening Silence: Malachi 4:4-6

This message was presented on August 4, 2013 as part of the Malachi series.

Last words are often considered important. Here are several “last words” attributed to various people.

Et tu, Brute? (And you too, Brutus?)

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

I don’t mind dying as long as I am not there when it happens.

Woody Allen

Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.

Voltaire on his deathbed, in response to a priest who asked him to renounce Satan

Life’s hard, it’s harder if you’re stupid   — John Wayne

Why yes — a bulletproof vest.

James Rodgers, murderer, on his final request before the firing squad

Inscription on a tombstone:
“I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK”

Seen in Ashland, New Hampshire

I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers. — Jim Harkins .

Let us note several last words of biblical authors.  Moses wrote,

26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. 27 The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, `Destroy!’  28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety, The fountain of Jacob alone, In a land of grain and new wine; His heavens shall also drop dew. 29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places. (Deut. 33:26-29 NKJ)

Joshua’s last words were:

15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD… 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” (Josh. 24:15, 27 NKJ)

And finally, Solomon wrote,

12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.  13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.  14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecc. 12:12-14 NKJ)

What were God’s last words to Israel? Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, which is followed by 400 years of silence.  There was not another word spoken to Israel for 400 years! Let’s review Malachi one last time.

In Malachi 1, God made the statement, “I love you,” and asked, “Why do you offer unclean sacrifices.”  Israel naively responded, “We don’t think you do love us. How have you loved us? And what do you mean we offer unclean sacrifices?” God unsympathetically responded, “When you offer the blind, sick, lame and diseased offerings, it is evil.”

Then in Malachi 2, God sternly rebuked the spiritual leadership and said, “You do not serve glory to My name and you do not stand for truth. You also are indifferent toward holiness in marriage, in your children and toward My holy purposes.

So in Malachi 3, God warned that He was going to send his messenger, in fact He would send the Messenger of the Covenant to judge the people.  He would cleanse the people for His name sake, because He gave His word to them and He does not change. So God said, “Return to Me and I will return to you.” Israel was thinking, “Return to You? What do You mean? We are back in the land and we have not gone anywhere else!” Israel was not connected to reality with God. The reason was that most of Israel was not in the remnant. What were God’s last words to Israel?

1)      Remember God’s Word 4:4

4 “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. (Mal. 4:4 NKJ)

The first phrase highlights Moses. No one has been like Moses. He was likely the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. This inscription concerning Moses is left for us,

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,  11 in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land,  12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (Deut. 34:10-12 NKJ)

In fact, some of what Moses wrote, 1000 years prior to Malachi, reminds us of what Malachi wrote.  Many of you are familiar with Deuteronomy 8:3, “…man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” which emphasizes the importance of the Word. Then Moses wrote,

11 “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today,  12 “lest– when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;  13 “and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;  14 “when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage  (Deut. 8:11-14 NKJ)

Moses warned Israel not to forget, but to remember,

18 “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

 19 “Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.

 20 “As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God. (Deut. 8:18-20 NKJ)

The Hebrew  word “remember” has the implication of obedience, which is why Moses closes verse 20 with the warning of obedience.  If a person is not obedient, they have not remembered.  They may intellectually know facts, but they have not remembered God’s Words.

The second phrase highlights Horeb.  What is Horeb?  That is the mountain in which God appeared to Moses in the burning bush.  It is the mountain on which Moses received the Ten Commandments and the Law. The following passages relate the importance of Horeb to Israel (Ex. 3:1; Deut. 5:2; Ps. 106:19; Heb. 12:18-21). The passage in Hebrews reminds us of the horrendous sights and sounds the people heard and caused them to tremble.  Hebrews records that even Moses trembled at the manifestation of the Lord!  Remember God’s Words and follow God’s teachers.

2)      Follow God’s teachers 4:5

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (Mal. 4:5 NKJ)

Elijah is the second prophet mentioned in this passage.  He spoke with spirit and power. While Elijah is now in heaven, John the Baptist also came with spirit and power before the coming of Jesus at the First Advent.  Elijah and John the Baptist had several similarities:

1)  Both wore similar clothes 2 King 1:8; Mat. 3:4.

2)  Both confronted spiritual leaders in sin 1 King 18:21; Matt. 3:7.

3)  Both confronted kings 1 King 18:18; Mark 6:17-18.

There would also be one who would come in the spirit and power of Elijah prior to the Second Coming of Jesus. It will be a great and dreadful day, which Malachi described in Malachi 4:1,

For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts, “That will leave them neither root nor branch. (Mal. 4:1 NKJ)

The wicked will be judged and end up in ashes, upon which the righteous will walk.  That should have motivated Israel to make sure they were a part of the remnant.  It should have caused Israel to get their family heart right.

3)      Mold your family heart   4:6

6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Mal 4:6 NKJ)

The prophet will turn the hearts, because they will be in such dire tribulation.  The words of the coming prophet during the Tribulation will cause the hearts of Israel to turn to the Lord, because they will finally “get it.”  They will realize that Jesus was the Messiah and they will turn to make sure their family is right with the Lord. Just as today, the family was the basic unit of Israel.

We live in a time where sons hate their fathers and fathers are so exasperated that they will not forgive their sons.  Israel was living in the same kind of time. But this was not only for those with biological families.  This was for those who were married or single, those who had a family or were alone.  It is a call to turn their heart back to God and become one with Him.  It is the heart of God the Father calling out to fathers to turn their hearts. Why? Because the alternative is horrendous. What are God’s last words to Israel?

4)      Avoid the curse

… lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Mal 4:6c NKJ)

The word “curse” is the Hebrew cherem, which means “ban,” “devote,” or “exterminate.” It means “dedicated to destruction.”  This is the concept God imposed on the Canaanites as Israel went into the land. There is hope only in God’s mercy and grace. What is so great is how the New Testament begins after 400 years of silence.  Jesus made a clear message,

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. (Matt. 5:3-8 NKJ)

And NT ends with blessing and grace,

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments1, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:14 NKJ)

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Mal. 22:17 NKJ)

Yet, there is also a warning for Christians not to become indifferent or complacent,

 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 

19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away  his part from the Book  of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev. 22:18-19 NKJ)

And John closes,

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Rev. 22:20-21 NKJ)

God’s final word to you is grace!

In Washington D.C., there is a beautiful rock called the Hope Diamond. It’s on display in the Smithsonian Institute.  It is the most beautiful blue diamond in the world.  People say there are not enough words to describe it.  They spend hours looking at it through bullet proof glass.  Sitting next to it is the Portuguese Diamond.  The Portuguese Diamond is twice the size of the Hope Diamond and brilliantly white.  The Institute keeps four guards in the room.  If you ask how much the Hope Diamond is worth the response you will get is, “There is no price for the Hope Diamond for although it has been sold several times in the past, it will never be sold again. It is priceless.  It belongs to America forever.

Yet, the Hope Diamond is worthless compared to Jesus. Jesus is priceless and can never be fully described.  He is the God-man whom the hungry believer never grows tired of looking at with fascination, confidence, trust and hope.  When He becomes a part of your life, He never goes away.  He will always be yours, but you can walk away from Him and not appreciate His beauty, power, and character.  You can still have Him in your life, but you will not enjoy His love, power, and glory.  Consider 400 years of silence from someone. 

  • The next sound you’ll hear from God is the trumpet call  1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1Co 15:52 NKJ)

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1Th 4:16 NKJ)

  • The Last Words of Jesus

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mat 28:19-20 NKJ)

We ought to live this out, because of our love for Jesus. I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a couple, who was not very interested, but they said they wanted to know the truth if what they believed were not true. Use every opportunity to build a bridge and then share the gospel.

8 “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 NKJ)

Israel had lost their joy. They were chosen from all the peoples of the world.  They should have been ecstatic, but they had become humdrum. They took their position as the people of God and questioned whether God loved them, questioned what God meant by “returning to Him” and questioned why the wicked got away with so much.

They were focused on the visible, instead of the invisible.  They had never grown up. John 3:2-10

  • Grace teaches us to deny ungodliness Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14 NKJ)

.Are you ready?

  • Devotions daily
  • Discipling others
  • Home group interaction

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Why are last words important?  Do you know of any last words given by people?

Digging Deeper:

2)      What historical persons are mentioned in Malachi 4:4-5? _______ __________________.  Who is mentioned in Rev. 11:6?  Do 1 Kings 17:1 and James 5:17 help?

3)      What single word is often associated with the Day of the Lord? (Is. 2:12; 13:6,9; Jer. 46:10; Joel 2:1-31; 3:14-16; Amos 5:18-20; 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Pet. 3:10)?  ______________. What are other descriptions? Why are these descriptions given? Is God not supposed to be a God of love?

4)      Malachi 4:6 ends with the  word ______________.   What does it tell you?  Does God desire to curse His people?  Why or why not?

Making the message practical to life:

5)      What do you want your last words to be?

6)      What do you see that we need to do in order to restore the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers?

7)      What are you doing to prepare for the coming of the Lord?

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