Compare the prediction of the coming of Elijah with New Testament references to this event. Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:14-15; Matt. 17:10; Mark 6:15; Luke 1:17.
In the days of Malachi, God’s appeal to the nation, “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” met with the arrogant response, “In what way shall we return?” (Mal. 3:7, NKJV). The frustrated prophet announced that one further opportunity for revival would be given. Recalling the heart-turning reform begun by Elijah (1 Kings 18:37), Malachi predicted his coming again to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6, NKJV).
A Jewish tradition developed that Elijah would appear personally as the herald of the Messiah (compare Matt. 17:10, Mark 6:15). However, the New Testament presents John the Baptist as a fulfillment of the prophecy (Matt. 11:14-15; Luke 1:17).
What do you think the phrase “turn the hearts” means?
Several applications are possible for these texts: It refers to the reconciliation of the people of Israel with the Lord. God as Father (Isa. 63:16) has turned from His wrath toward His children (Micah 7:18-19) and calls them to return to Him (Isa. 44:22, Mal. 3:7). It refers to the reconnecting of later generations with their faithful ancestors through covenant renewal. The prophetic call for God’s people to follow the faith of the patriarchs was given repeatedly in the Old Testament. Whether the land continued as a blessed dwelling place was directly related to covenant faithfulness (Deut. 4:29-31). It refers to the restoration and renewal of family relationships. Parentchild relationships are a practical expression of covenant faithfulness with God. Here, too, fulfillment of responsibilities to parents and children are interwoven with continued inheritance of the land and God’s blessing (Prov. 2:21).
|What is the connection between a restored relationship with God and restored relationships in our families? Why must one precede the other?|