And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…
Science tells us that the best defence against lightning in a thunderstorm is found, not in defiance of it, but in a silent discharge of it. Go right towards it fearlessly with a pointed plantina wire, and it will follow a fixed law of harmless dispersion. Is there any way by which the power of one of God's curses can be drawn, so as to avert the terrible stroke of Divine wrath? Let us see. This text refers us directly back to the final utterance of the Old Testament. There are four books in the Bible which end with a curse: Malachi, Lamentations, Isaiah, and Ecclesiastes. The Hebrew scribes were always accustomed to repeat the verse just before the last in these cases, so as to close the reading with something besides a malediction. It is not easy to see how that helps the matter in the present instance, for the preceding prediction seems to have been uttered merely to introduce the warning. And perhaps it is just as profitable to believe that the best way to avoid the judgments of God is to guard carefully against deserving them. After the last seer under the ancient dispensation had spoken the words which the evangelist quotes, the heavens were closed for four hundred years. Jehovah had not another message to send. His people had offended him. Justice comes almost fiercely forth, and bars the gate of revelation, because children are despised. And not until four centuries of silence had given time for repentance, would those bolts be withdrawn. Even then it is a little child who advances to turn the massive key. History wanders sadly in confusion among the captivities and Maccabean usurpations. Only an infant can join the Testaments. Luke is the next man to Malachi. The sternest of all Israel's prophets reappears in the sternest of all heralds to the Church... A wild threat, four hundred years old, is suddenly removed in a flash of benediction. The curse of Malachi is omitted in Luke — the lightning is drawn. The gospel fulfils the law when it accepts children. God receives the fathers into favour and communion again, when their hearts are turned to their offspring... How much are you doing in this day of gospel privilege to bring the hearts of fathers back to their children? Do we need another prophet, with his hairy raiment and his leathern girdle, to come forth from the wilderness?
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
WEB: He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to prepare a people prepared for the Lord."