Malachi 4

1 Judgment is often associated with fire. Here, the wicked are likened to trees in a severe forest fire, which are burned, even below the surface to the roots, so that they would never be able to come back to life again. God assures the people that the wicked will not always succeed. In the next earthly judgment, where Rome would conquer Jerusalem, the evil would be cut off so that their family names die out. Projecting this prophecy to the final Judgment, the indication is that the wicked will be thrown into the everlasting fires of hell, and will never escape to experience true life with God.
2 The righteous will have a much different experience on Judgment Day. The first picture is that of a sunrise. The indication is that life in this sin-filled world is like a long, cold, dark, and weary night. The rising of the sun brings joy, warmth, light, and life. Its rays ("wings") provide the energy needed to heal and regenerate.

The second image is that of a young calf being released from its stall. After being loosed from its confinement, it bursts forth energetically and romps around in the pure joy of freedom.

Some consider the phrase "Sun of Righteousness" as a metaphor for the Messiah. Others point out that this passage is never referred to in the New Testament in such a way, and thus prefer to see it as a title describing the era of the Kingdom of God. In either case, the effects are due to direct actions from Jesus, who has come to bring healing to His people. During His First Coming, He healed physical bodies as evidence that He could heal the sinful spirit. At His Second Coming, He will heal the earth of sin and fully heal every believer of every physical, mental, and spiritual ailment we have. Our relationship with God will be made perfect as sin is removed from our beings and the intangible presence of God becomes perceptible. It will be an unimaginable joy to be freed from the prison and darkness of sin. We will revel in the full joy of the unhindered love of God.

3 In the Law, walking over graves made one unclean. However, those things that have passed through fire become clean (Num 31:21-23), and those things that have been burned by the fire of God become holy (Num 16:35-40). The enemies of God and His people will be destroyed by fire. The trampling of the ashes by the saints symbolizes both victory and vindication. There are a few indications that God will destroy the earth by fire and reform the surface to make it inhabitable, pure, and very good, as it was right after creation (2 Pet 3:10). The incineration of earthly bodies is part of this process. The resurrected righteous would tread the recreated earth while the wicked will languish in hell.
4 The conclusion of this book is a reminder to remember the Law of Moses. The implication is not simply to recall that they exist, but to observe them completely. The book as a whole also indicates that this is not to be mindless ritual, but expressions of their love and reverence for God. God also reminds them that He gave Moses the Law to pass on to the people. These are more than human laws - they are divine guidance.
5 Referring back to Mal 3:1, Malachi indicates that the messenger to come is Elijah. Since Elijah did not die, it was thought that he might reappear. Jesus, however, indicated that John the Baptist was the "Elijah" who came before Him (Mat 11:13-14, Mat 17:10-14, Luke 1:13-17). It is also recorded that the actual prophet did appear during Jesus' time, but it was in a different context (Luke 9:30). Some have suggested that Elijah will be one of the two prophets mentioned in Revelation who will appear before the second coming of Jesus (Rev 11:3-12), although this would seemingly not fit in with the next verse since that appearance would precede Judgment Day. Elijah's work was to reform Israel, and the "second Elijah's" purpose would be the same.
6 Most commentators indicate that this verse focuses on the restoration of families, while others suggest that it refers to the restoration of the correct attitudes of the forefathers. Luke 1:16-17 seems to imply that both interpretations are applicable.

The heralding prophet's work would be to help restore to Israel the manner of reverent obedience that their righteous forefathers had exhibited. Under the leadership of righteous men like Moses and Joshua, God helped Israel inhabit the Promised Land. During the times of the judges, Israel had peace when the leaders honored God. During the reign of King David, the man after God's heart, Israel was victorious, and during the reign of his son, Solomon, Israel prospered. These were examples of God's blessings that He would again grant to Israel if they would follow Him. If they would not likewise have the good character of such people, God would bring even worse consequences to the land than they were currently experiencing.

A family's beliefs were often shaped by the head of the household. Thus, if the father of the house was restored to God, it was likely that the wife and children would follow suit. Under these conditions, right relationships could be formed, and mutual encouragement to follow God would be found within the family units, making their faith stronger.