Malachi 4:1-3—The Day of Recompense

Malachi 4:1-3

Image above “Jesus offers Living Water” on Pinterest.

I am a Tolkien fan. The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books, and this appreciation extends to the Peter Jackson movies, also. Here is an excerpt of dialogue from The Return of the King. The fall of Minas Tirith is imminent. Pippin thinks they are going to die.


Pippin Took: “I didn’t think it would end this way.”

Gandalf the White: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here… .” (see Return of the King, below.) See the rest of the scene on the clip below from YouTube.


We as God’s people may suffer now from enemies, but God sees all and will take care of us. If we are to die, God will see us safely through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then, we see “a far great country under a swift sunrise.” This is Malachi’s message.

In the end, God will recompense His people for their sufferings.

II. At their death or at the end of this age, God’s faithful servants will enjoy a swift sunrise and full enjoyment of the new day that has dawned. vs. 2

4:2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

We have already made reference to “fear” in two different senses—
(1) Childish response is fear of punishment. This is an immature response.
(2) The mature response is fear of doing anything that might mar a relationship. It is the second sense of fear in Malachi 4:2. We are so concerned over not harming our relationship with God that we restrain our conduct if it may displease Him.

The reference to “the sun of righteousness” is to a sunrise. I know many commentators speak of the Son of Righteousness,” but it is better to take it as sunrise.


Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a preacher who lived in Scotland in the 19th Century. He wrote a Hymn, “I Once was a Stranger.” Its subtitle is Jehovah Tsidkenu—”The Lord is Our Righteousness.” I learned it on my first trip abroad to Scotland. It was still sung in M’Cheyene’s homeland in 1974. 

“God’s righteousness has been proudly and defiantly called in question by ‘the wicked’; but, it has been humbly trusted in and waited for by ‘the righteous’” (Malachi 3:18). (See Spence, below.)


III. The wicked will be destroyed and will leave no trace of their earthly life behind. vs. 3

4:3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act,” says the Lord of hosts.


Rain on Funeral Day

Rain on Funeral Day photo from YouTube

Rain on the Day of a Funeral

The Gullah people inhabit South Carolina’s barrier islands and low country land. A lady at Church who grew up on one of the Islands told me the Gullah have an interesting belief. If it rains on the day of a person’s funeral, it is a good sign. God indicates that they are in heaven and all traces of them on earth are washed away. 


Malachi says the opposite about evil who are judged at last day. God’s people will walk on the ashes of those who are judged. Those who treated God’s people as doormats for their feet, will be trodden under foot at the day of judgment.

This is reminiscent of Joshua 10:24—

24 And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. (I’m not recommending readers to literally put their feet on people’s necks. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.)


crushedThis a picture of victory over our enemies. Romans 16 states—20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 

This refers back to what we call the Protoevengelium—”First Gospel. Genesis 3:15—”I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring [evil people and demons] and her offspring; He [Christ] shall bruise your head [serpent], and you [Satan] shall bruise his heel.”

“The Hebrew word rendered ‘bruise’ (shoof) is the same in both clauses. Suitable as it is in its application to the ‘crushing’ of a serpent’s head beneath a man’s foot, it [seems]  unsuitable as applied to the serpent’s attack upon the man’s heel.” (see Ryle, below.) The crushing of a snakes’ head is a mortal wound. The bruising of or striking at a heel is painful but not fatal.


God promises to set the record straight about us and those who have opposed us. In the meantime, we persevere and walk by faith in the Risen Lord.

Let me preface the next story with a caveat. I’ve heard it before, but the story was told with different details, either omitted or included. I’ve also heard it told with different persons’ names. This being said, I believe there is a kernel of truth we need to bear in mind. I quote it from a blog that contains only the essential aspects of the story with no embellishment that comes from one speaker using it and others using it later adding details they imagine, etc. (I encouraged my students to use hypothetical names when using a story whose source they couldn’t document. “Consider with me a faithful servant of God coming home on the same ship with the President of the United States… .”)


After serving as a missionary for forty years in Africa, Henry C. Morrison became sick and had to return to America. As the great ocean liner docked in New York Harbor there was a great crowd gathered to welcome home another passenger on that boat. Morrison watched as President Teddy Roosevelt received a grand welcome home party after his African Safari.

Resentment seized Henry Morrison and he turned to God in anger, “We have come back home after all this time and service to the church and there is no one, not even one person here to welcome us home.”

Then [his wife reminded him], “Henry, we’re not home yet.” (see De Coursey, below.)


When we arrive safely in heaven, either at our death or at the Second Coming of Christ, that’s when our welcome home will be given. “Well done, good and faithful servant!”(Matthew 25:23)

Notes on Sources

De Coursey, P. (2015). “Not now but Later,” blog post 7 July 2015. Accessed 17 December 2021 from https://www.ktt.org/resources/truth-matters/not-now-later

Keil & Delitzsch. (1866; 1973 reprint). Commentary on the Old Testament. Accessed 8 December 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/malachi/4.htm

Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1904). The Book of Psalms with Introduction and Notes. Books II & III. Psalms XLII–LXXXIX. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Accessed 8 December 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/malachi/4-2.htm

Return of the King. (n.d.). Accessed 17 December 2021 from https://www.quotes.net/mquote/120417

Ryle, H. E. (1914). Genesis in Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges; 1921 reprint.  London, UK: at the Cambridge University Press. Accessed 21 December from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/genesis/3.htm

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