“‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘that will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Passages From The Writings
- “…and the good will be saved, and then the evil will be cast into hell, because they have annulled the Word.”
AC 1861 
- “In Malachi…4:1…A ‘burning furnace’ here denotes [burning cupidities]…the ‘root’ denotes charity; the ‘branch’ truth, which shall not be left.”
AC 7519 [5 & 6]
- “…the evils of cupidities are signified by ‘fire,’ they are also signified by a ‘furnace,’ which is the containant, and this frequently involves the same…Malachi 4:1…‘burning as a furnace’ denotes the cupidities of evil, ‘setting them on fire,’ a kindling with cupidities.”
AC 9141 
- “…in Malachi…4:1…‘the day that cometh’ denotes the last time of the church, when the loves of self and of the world shall reign, and shall consume all the truths and goods of the church, until nothing survives in the man’s internal and external, which is signified by ‘shall leave them neither root nor branch.’ The ‘root’ of good and truth is in man’s internal, and the ‘branch’ is in his external. From this then it is evident that ‘to desolate’ signifies to consume through cupidities, as is the case elsewhere in the Word.”
- “Infernal fire [and love of self], therefore, is the lust and delight that spring from these two loves…The evils flowing from these loves are contempt of others, enmity, and hostility against those who do not favor them, envy, hatred, and revenge, and from these fierceness and cruelty; and in respect to the Divine they are denial and consequent contempt, derision, and detraction of the holy things of the church…Such is the meaning of ‘fire’ in the Word…some passages from which I will here quote in the way of proof…Malachi 4:1…”
AE 540 
- “In Malachi…4:1…This, too, was said of the last time of the church, and the Last Judgment at that time; both these are signified by ‘the day that cometh.’ The ‘oven’ means the hell where those are who confirm themselves in falsities by doctrine, and confirm themselves in evils from earthly and corporeal loves by their life; that such on account of their own loves will perish is meant by ‘all who sin presumptuously, and every worker of wickedness shall be stubble, and the oven shall set them on fire,’ ‘all who sin presumptuously’ meaning those who by doctrine confirm themselves in falsities, and ‘the worker of wickedness’ those who by life confirm themselves in evil.”
AC 9263 
- The righteous are they who “are in the good of love from the Lord; for the Lord is the sun in the other life, and that which is from the Lord as the sun there is the good of love …Hence the Lord is called ‘the Sun of Righteousness’ (Malachi 4:2).”
AC 9391 
- “…in the prophetic Word, it is usual to treat of truth wherever good is treated of, on account of the heavenly marriage…and also to speak of external things where internal things are spoken of. Moreover the ‘stall’ [used for fattening] and ‘fat’ signify the good of interior love…Malachi 4:2…”
- “In Malachi…4:2…They are compared to ‘fatted calves’ because by them are signified those who are filled with the knowledges of truth and good from the affection of knowing them.”
- “That by ‘flying’ is signified to perceive and instruct, and in the highest sense to look out for and provide, is also evident from these passages…Malachi 4:2…”
AE 279 
- “In Malachi…4:2…The ‘Sun of righteousness that shall arise to them that fear the name of Jehovah’ signifies the good of love; and ‘healing in His wings’ signifies the truth of faith; therefore ‘to go forth, and grow up as fatted calves,’ signifies the increase of all good, ‘fatted’ and ‘fat’ also signifying good.”
AE 283 
- “In Malachi…4:2…‘The sun of righteousness’ signifies the good of love, which is the celestial Divine; and the ‘wings of Jehovah, in which there is healing,’ signify truth from that good, which is the spiritual Divine; ‘healing’ is reformation thereby.”
AE 401 
- “Because ‘the sun’ signifies the Lord in relation to Divine love, He is called ‘the Sun of righteousness’ (in Malachi 4:2)…”
AE 632 
- “In Malachi…4:3…‘To trample down’…signifies to destroy, which is done by those who are corporeal-sensual, for those who are such ‘trample down’ all things of heaven and the church, for they are in what is lowest, and their thoughts cannot be elevated by the Lord, for they themselves let them down to the earth, and there they lick the dust. Such are all those that deny the Divine…unless he suffers himself to be elevated out of them [corporeal-sensual things] by the Lord, which is effected by Divine means…he tramples down the celestial and spiritual things belonging to heaven and the church.”
“…and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.”
- Who are the proud? Are they the people who seek the power of dominating over the things of the church? See AC 8678. Are they those who glory in their learning? See AE 376 . Are they the people who love to confirm falsities that favor self-love? See AE 518 .
- Wickedness is far more than evil. “Wickedness” signifies a desire to have complete destruction of good and truth within a person (AE 257 ). “Wickedness” signifies a deep malice with those who infest (AC 7590).
- “Stubble” denotes such truth as is accommodated to memory knowledges (AC 7131). “Stubble” being devoured signifies the consequent devastation and damnation the wicked bring upon themselves (AC 8280).
“‘…for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
- “Ashes” signify something condemned because the fire from which the ashes came signifies infernal love (AE 441). “Ashes” signify lustful falsities excited by the presence of infesting spirits (AC 7519 and AE 962 ).
- The meaning of the words “Under the soles of your feet” presents us with a challenge. AE 632  teaches that “the soles of the feet” correspond to the external sensual of a person which is what tramples down. AC 4943 teaches that “The soles of the feet are also those who have placed merit in good deeds and in works.” AC 4944 teaches that “they…who have led a good moral life, and have had something of charity toward the neighbor, but have had little concern about spiritual things, are for the most part sent into the places under the feet and the soles of the feet.” Question: Is the Lord telling us how simple it will be to overcome the burning lusts of the hells? Is all of their intense desire to destroy the Lord not a real threat if the lower external sensual of a person is able to trample them down? The comparison seems to be there for us to see the message of hope and redemption in the day of the Lord.
- Please note “says the Lord of hosts.” What does it mean, and why is this phrase used so often in Malachi? It states the zeal of the Lord to save His church and all who are in the church.
“…that will leave them neither root nor branch.”
- “Roots” signify the proprium as the source of infernal falsity (AR 410). The Doctrine of the Lord 93 teaches “this Own [proprium] of man constitutes the first root of his life…And this root is not removed and a new one set in its place unless the man regards the evils that constitute the root as injurious to his soul…” This “root” needs to be plucked up.
- A reference to the “root and branch” teaches about the internal and external person. The “root” signifies good and truth in the internal person, whereas the “branch” represents good and truth in the external person (AC 1861  and AC 9141).
Putting It All Together
AC 8214 describes a series of laws that are important to the understanding of the verses we are now studying: the law of retaliation, the law of order, and the “Law and the Prophets.”
The law of retaliation: “…the evil who by means of injections of falsity and evil desire to inflict violence on the good cast themselves into the penalty of retaliation, which is, that the falsities and evils which they endeavor to inflict, fall back on themselves.”
The law of order: This law is stated in Matthew 7:12. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”
“This is the Law and the Prophets”: The laws of retaliation and of order are complementary. Those who are in order do to others what they wish to have done to themselves; those who break the law of order still experience the results of what they intended for others. The verse from Matthew is followed by the words “This is the Law and the Prophets.” This suggests that we need to apply these laws to our understanding of Malachi’s prophetic message as to why the evil will be “burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.” Their self-love desired to totally violate the good and faithful things of the Lord’s church. Every negative wish they had returned to them. “Stubble” is the left-over useless part of a plant. A contributing use of life is gone, and the remaining stub of the stem is a symbol of uselessness. As a dried-up stalk, what is useless is vulnerable to the heat and fire of self-love.
We need to be reminded that the above laws have a positive side as well. The good we wish to the Lord and the neighbor will also return to us. Doesn’t this also apply to the passage in the Word that teaches us we will reap what we sow?
Following the way of the Lord will bring us to the “stall,” and we will be “fattened” with the good of interior love. There will be “healing” in the wings of the Lord, and the “Sun of righteousness” will warm the very depths of our souls.
The power of self-love is not as strong as it would have us believe. Our daily external walk through life, the moral deeds and charity toward our neighbor can trample down evil. Like ashes under “the soles of our feet,” the wicked will be overcome with the Lord’s help.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Malachi 4:1-3.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- What do you think about the Law of Retaliation? Is it a fair law? Does that law put any pressure on us in our daily interaction with others?
- Remember the positive side of the law, too. If we have love for the Lord and the neighbor and wish well toward them, we have nothing to fear. The good we intended returns and blesses us. How do we do these things without a sense of earning “merit”?
- The “oven” of self-love sounds intense. Like a fever burning within, it must put a tremendous strain on the soul. The soul wants to serve the Lord and delight itself in the fatness of the Lord’s truths. But the fire rages out of control, consuming all that stands in its way. Have you ever experienced this fire in some way? Didn’t it want to have free reign? If anyone sought to speak words of warning, did it seem to add fuel to the fire?
- Did the words of the Lord about His healing and lifting us up in His wings offer encouragement to renew our efforts of reformation?
- Being led to the stall and becoming fatted calves—did that correspondential imagery catch hold in your mind?
- What did you draw from the teaching about the “soles of your feet” tramping down the ashes and stubble of the evil?
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.”
Passages From The Writings
- “…because they have annulled the Word.”
- “By servants, in the spiritual sense, are meant those who are in truths; and because truths are from good, by servants are meant those who are in truths from good…Now as truths are serviceable to good by teaching it, therefore, in general, and properly, by servant, in the Word, is meant what is serviceable…in this sense not only the prophets are called the servants of God, but also the Lord as to His Human…[this] is evident from the following passages…Malachi 4:4…”
- Malachi 4:4 is cited, among other examples. “It may be evident from these passages, that by ‘Moses’ in the wide sense is meant the Word that was written by him, which is called the Law. It follows from this that the Law which is the Decalogue is meant by ‘Moses’; and the more so, because Moses hewed out the tables after he had broken the former ones…”
AE 409 
- “Since the Lord in respect to Divine truth is called in the Word ‘a servant’ from serving, so those who are in Divine truth from the Lord and thereby serve others are there called ‘servants,’ as the prophets are in these passages…Malachi 4:4…”
“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel with the statutes and judgments.”
- “Remember” has reference to recalling, reflection, a reminder and reassessment. To what end? A renewal of the covenant between the Lord and His people. This was a command to assess their commitment to the laws of the Lord. Was there a need to fix any breaches? Did they need to clear away blockages to facilitate conjunction in every way possible? Did they have a desire for the preservation of the church? And, lastly, were they looking for those things of infinite and eternal value?
- “‘Horeb’ signifies the Lord as to the truths of faith.” (AC 8572) “…Horeb signifies the external things of worship, of the church, and of the Word.” (AC 10534)
“…for all Israel with the statutes and judgments.”
- We need to note the word “all.” The Laws were for the Northern and Southern kingdoms. The Laws of the Lord know no boundaries. They are universal laws for “all” people of the church.
- “Statutes” signify externals of the Word, the rites of the church enjoined by the Lord. “Statutes” signify continual revelations from the Lord (AC 3382). “Statutes” signify the external goods and truths of the church while laws signify the internal goods and truths (AC 8706).
- “Judgment” relates to the doctrine of truth, whereas justice relates to the doctrine of good (AC 2231).
Putting It All Together
P&P points the way to understanding the Lord’s call to “remember the Laws” given to Moses. The dead church had “annulled the Word.” The faithful remnant was being called back to the essentials of the Commandments. Because the Decalogue is “in a brief summary a complex of all things of religion by means of which there is conjunction of the Lord with man and of man with the Lord, they were so holy that nothing is more so.” (Doctrine of Life 54, emphasis added) The two tablets teach the proper way to love the Lord and love the neighbor.
The call to remembrance was a Divine injunction to review and repair the conjunction between the Lord and the church. Disjunction was evident, and the quality of spiritual life in the church was dead. The remnant, all of Israel, must renew its commitment to the essentials of faith. Out with dead and uninspiring ritual and in with vivified and inspiring forms of worship.
The Lord, as the Servant, promises to renew the truths of faith, first in the external things of worship, then the church, and then the Word. His statutes and judgment, the doctrine of truth and good, will be brought to their rightful place in the center of the church.
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Malachi 4:4.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- What ways would be effective for us to “remember the Laws” of the Lord? We teach the commandments in the church’s elementary schools. They are studied briefly in high school. There is the course of study called “Rise Above It,” but not all adults have a course of study to review the inner meaning of the Decalogue. So what incentive might get us to read either Apocalypse Explained or Doctrine of Life wherein the spiritual meanings of the Commandments are taught?
- The Lord’s Word makes it clear that His Law is for all of His people. His commandments are the epitome of all things of religion. There is nothing more holy. So what keeps us from the study of them? Do we believe we know everything about the Decalogue? Is there a subconscious feeling that keeping all of the commandments is impossible? Do we shy away from them because we feel like a failure in keeping most of them?
- Our study of doctrine and derived doctrine makes it clear that annulment of the Word brings disjunction and death to the spiritual church.
- The New Church has more to offer regarding the Decalogue than other religions have provided. Do you think the Commandments suffer in the churches outside the New Church?
- We have had a recent legal case in several states to remove replicas of the Ten Commandments from display in public places. The physical removal of them brought reaction from Christians. Does it seem to you that the initial concern has died down and the order to remove them has achieved tacit acceptance? What will be the consequences of this?
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Passages From The Writings
- “John the Baptist will be sent before the Lord, lest that nation should then perish.”
AC 5620 
- “As John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, which is the Divine truth on earth, in like manner as Elijah…he was therefore the ‘Elijah who was to come’ before the Lord…” Malachi 4:5 is cited.
AC 9372 [7 & 8]
- “That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being ‘Elias who is to come.’…From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi…4:5…”
- “That ‘the great day of God Almighty’ signifies the coming of the Lord, and then the New Church, is evident from many passages in the Word as from these…Malachi 4:5…”
AC 3703 
- “In Malachi 4:5, 6…the goods and truths of the church, which the Lord was about to restore.”
- “It is written in Malachi…4:5, 6…that…John was the prophet sent to make ready the way of Jehovah God, who should descend into the world and accomplish redemption; and that he made ready that way by baptism, and by announcing the coming of the Lord; and that without such preparation all on earth would have been smitten with a curse and would have perished.”
AE 624 
- “That Elijah represented the Lord as to the Word is evident from the miracles done by Him, all of which signified such things as belong to Divine truth or the Word; and as John the Baptist in like manner represented the Lord as to the Word he was called ‘Elijah,’ as can be seen in Malachi…4:5, 6…”
AE 724 
- “…in Malachi…4:5, 6…John the Baptist was sent before to prepare for the reception of the Lord by baptism, because baptism represented and signified purification from evils and falsities, and also regeneration by the Lord by means of the Word. Unless this representation had preceded, the Lord could not have manifested Himself and have taught and lived in Judea and in Jerusalem, since the Lord was the God of heaven and earth under a human form, and He could not have been present with a nation that was in mere falsities in respect to doctrine and in mere evils in respect to life; consequently unless that nation had been prepared for the reception of the Lord by a representation of purification from falsities and evils by baptism, it would have been destroyed by disease of every kind by the presence of the Divine Itself; therefore this is what is signified by ‘lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’”
AC 6752 
- “And as both Moses and Elias together represented the whole Word, therefore where it is said of Elias that he should be ‘sent before the Lord,’ mention is made of both…Malachi 4:4, 5…these words involve that one would go before to announce the advent according to the Word.”
AE 937 
- “Because Moses and Elijah taken together represented the Word, where Elijah is spoken of as the one sent before the Lord, both are mentioned, as in Malachi…4:4-6…Elijah the prophet means John the Baptist; because he, like Elijah, represented the Word…”
- This word is defined in the dictionary as “to have or keep in sight; look at; watch; to view or survey; to discern.”
- In the Writings, “behold” is used when there is a call to reflect on “an interior acknowledgment and confession of the Lord’s Divine Human…” (AC 2329)
“…I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
- The Lord sending angels, prophets, or disciples signifies a revelation from the Lord to “those who are in the good of love…” (AE 8 )
- Elijah “represented the Lord as to the Word.” (AC 2762)
- “The prophets represented those who teach, and hence the teaching of good and truth from the Word.” (AC 3540)
- “The great and dreadful day of the Lord” is a message for those who are not in good. “The ‘dread’ is mentioned because the Divine truth is meant, for the Divine truth carries with it fear, dread, and terror to those who are not in good; but not so the Divine good, which terrifies no one.” (AC 4180)
“And he [Elijah] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”
- AC 10490 explains a teaching of the Lord regarding hating father, mother, wife, and children. It cites a passage in Matthew stating that unless people hate these members of their family, and their own soul, they cannot be a disciple of the Lord. The Lord was not teaching hatred for people, AC 10490  tells us; He was referring to “…things belonging to man” and the origin of evils and falsities and the lusts that arise from the beginnings of one’s own (proprium).
- Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers represents the plucking out of the first root of the proprium and the implanting by the Lord of a new root, or His Proprium. The coming of the Word is a spiritual day of the Lord when all things will be put into a loving family of order.
“…lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
- In Exodus 3:20, the Lord said that He would “strike [smite] Egypt with all My wonders…” which “signified that they would be overcome by power from the Divine, and by the means of this power.” (AC 6908)
- The “earth” signifies “the external man.” (AC 89)
- “To be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth signifies not to know what is good and true.” (AC 380, emphasis added)
- The “earth” signifies “the love of self and whatever is contrary to the celestial church.” (AC 636)
- The word “curse” has a negative and positive correspondence. In the negative sense, it means “to turn one’s self away…” (AC 927) This same number uses “curse” in the positive sense to mean that the Lord will provide “for man’s upbuilding…that he might be reformed and regenerated in respect to the second or intellectual part of the mind, in which there might be implanted a new will which is conscience, and through which the Lord might work the good of love…and the truth of faith. Thus of the Lord’s Divine mercy has man been restored.”
Putting It All Together
Why was it necessary for the Lord to send Elijah (and John the Baptist) prior to the coming of the day of the Lord? AE 724  states that “unless this representation had preceded, the Lord could not have manifested Himself…unless that nation had been prepared for the reception of the Lord…” The Lord’s baptism signified the work of purification He would win for us over evils and falsities. If the Lord had not prepared the way for His advent, humanity’s spiritual life would have been destroyed with diseases of every kind.
So we need to “behold,” to have or keep in sight, to view and discern what the Lord does for us every day. How much does the Lord’s infinite preparation do for us? Consider this teaching in AC 3854: “…how greatly the man errs who believes that the Lord has not foreseen, and does not see, the veriest singulars appertaining to man, and that in these He does not foresee and lead; when the truth is that the Lord’s foresight and providence are in the very minutest of these veriest singulars connected with man, in things so very minute that it is impossible by any thought to comprehend as much as one out of a hundred millions of them….” (emphasis added)
We do well to reflect on the Lord’s great love for each of us. This is especially so when the hells work on us to feel hopeless and beyond the Lord’s power to save and redeem us. The Lord comes to pluck up the first root of life. He wants to remove our selfish, unregenerate proprium. In its place will be a new and magnificent Proprium from the Lord.
For the unregenerate proprium, it is a “great and dreadful day of the coming of the Lord.” It is a day to be feared. For the soul, it is a day of great joy and liberation. It is a day of release and spiritual cleansing from evils and falsities. It is a day of new beginnings.
Our view of the Lord’s care and attention to the details of our life is limited. We see maybe “one out of a hundred millions.” Is there a way we can come to see more of the Lord’s ways of purifying our hearts? Can we believe that His power is in the very minutest things of our life? The pursuit of seeing more of the millions of spiritual benefactions from the Lord could be time well spent. Let’s begin the process of discovery with a heart filled with a sense of how great and merciful the Lord is in the ways of His salvation. No detail escapes His cleansing work. No hidden connection of evil and falsity escapes the “disconnecting” work of His hands. Thorough and meticulous are the redemptive ways of the Lord. The coming of the Lord’s New Church is a certainty. Let the people hear the “messenger” of the Lord say “Behold.”
Read and Review
Read the selection from P&P.
Read Malachi 4:5-6.
Questions to Stimulate Reflection
- Our verse begins with the word “Behold.” The Lord calls us to take notice of His message. About how long do you think we will do the work of beholding? This is not a criticism. It is a call to begin expanding our period of reflective beholding.
- Did you notice that for the evil people, the day of the Lord is a day of great dread? But it is not so for the good and faithful. The removal of the “first root of life” may appear to be an unpleasant occurrence, but it is not as traumatic as imagined. The Lord has a “painless” procedure that is thorough and effective. What do you think about this preparation of root removal in the day of the Lord?
- Have you ever done any counting of your blessings from the Lord? Did the “one out of millions” teaching come as a surprise to you? Could we even be missing much within the one that we see?