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The prophet then gives his final words of advice to conclude his message. This is his summation, starting in Mal. 4:4,
4 Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.
Throughout the previous chapters, the prophet has shown that the primary problem was lawlessness. The people had despised the law of God (Mal. 1:12), and the priests had “corrupted the covenant with Levi” (2:9). They had robbed God of tithes that were owed to Him (3:8-10). They had arrogantly believed that it was useless to serve God (i.e., obey His law), because prosperity came only by oppressing others, and God did not seem to right the wrongs (3:15).
Yet the prophet says that the righteous, who revere God by agreeing with His law/nature, will be blessed in the end. Therefore, all are admonished to “remember the law of Moses.”
Mal. 4:5, 6 concludes,
5 Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.
Moses and Elijah thus represent the law and the prophets. Moses was a type of Christ; Elijah was a type of messenger who was called to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. Moses was the lawgiver; Elijah was the prophet whose calling was to apply the law according to the mind of Christ.
Yet because Christ must appear twice, the prophecies about Moses and Elijah have a dual fulfillment as well. Not recognizing this has caused many to misunderstand both callings in our time, for they do not properly distinguish between the two covenants.
Moses has given way to Joshua. Christ came the first time to lead us out of the house of bondage through His death on the cross at Passover. That was a Moses calling. But at the end of the age He must come as Joshua to lead us into the Kingdom. Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim/Joseph, and so Rev. 19:13 pictures Him coming as Joseph “with a robe dipped in blood.” His purpose this time is to secure His birthright, which was given to Joseph (1 Chron. 5:1, 2).
Elijah, in the same manner, has given way to Elisha, who completed the calling of Elijah with the double portion. John the Baptist came “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous” (Luke 1:17). But Elijah himself was unable to complete his calling. A double portion was thus given to Elisha (2 Kings 2:9, 15).
If John was the greatest prophet up to that time (Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28), representing Elijah, then what shall we say about the Elisha company, having the double portion, that is being raised up in our time? Shall we not see the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the history of the world?
If this should not happen, God would then “smite the land with a curse.” But Elisha’s work brings a blessing to the earth, so that the promise to Abraham might be fulfilled, saying, “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). May God speed the day.