Malachi 4: 4 – 6
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
You know that feeling when you are so convinced of something, so convinced that even when you discover the facts and know that you are wrong yet you still believe the original view was correct? No? Perhaps it’s just me then!
But I am not alone, these last two verses of Malachi have been misrepresented for centuries owing to a mistranslation. The name Elijah as used here is a generic name meaning that another Elijah or prophet will be sent. Somewhere along the line the name reference became specific to Elijah the Tishbite who of course was taken up to Heaven without suffering death thus leading to the Judaistic tradition that he would return one day. Indeed, in the Festival of Purim families lay a place at the table for Elijah.
Jesus in discussing with his disciples about the coming of the Day of the Lord says ‘that Elijah which was to come’ has already come. Jesus was in no doubt that the promised prophet in the spirit and likeness of Elijah was none other than John the Baptist who had foretold of Jesus’ coming as he preached repentance in the desert.
There were no true prophets between Malachi and John the Baptist some four hundred years later for after Malachi there was no need until the immediate Herald of the Christ came along to perform his task of preparing the way so people were ready to accept the Christ into their lives and hearts.
Malachi closes with a warning that if The Christ is rejected there will be dire consequences, some say that threat has never been carried out yet others point to the destruction of the Temple in 64AD and the subsequent Diaspora of the Jewish people.
Malachi is often quoted during Advent and his whole fairly short book is a song of Advent, of preparation for the coming of the Lord.
He sets out the signs and no matter our preconceived ideas about what the coming of Jesus will be like it will be as God intended.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, may we prepare our lives and our hearts that when you come we are ready to receive you as Lord and Master.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,