And he shall turn (convert) the heart of the fathers (על al, with) the children - Or, together with the children; both old and young. Lest I come, and, finding them unconverted, smote the land with a curse, חרם cherem, utter extinction. So we find that, had the Jews turned to God, and received the Messiah at the preaching of John the Baptist and that of Christ and his apostles, the awful חרם cherem of final excision and execration would not have been executed upon them. However, they filled up the cup of their iniquity, and were reprobated, and the Gentiles elected in their stead. Thus, the last was first, and the first was last. Glory to God for his unspeakable gift!
There are three remarkable predictions in this chapter: - The advent of John Baptist, in the spirit and authority of Elijah.
The manifestation of Christ in the flesh, under the emblem of the Sun of righteousness.
The final destruction of Jerusalem, represented under the emblem of a burning oven, consuming every thing cast into it.
These three prophecies, relating to the most important facts that have ever taken place in the history of the world, announced here nearly four hundred years before their occurrence, have been most circumstantially fulfilled.
In most of the Masoretic Bibles the fifth verse is repeated after the sixth - "Behold, I send unto you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come;" for the Jews do not like to let their sacred book end with a curse; and hence, in reading, they immediately subjoin the above verse, or else the fourth - "Remembering ye the law of Moses my servant."
In one of my oldest MSS. the fifth verse is repeated, and written at full length: "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." In another, only these words are added: "Behold, I will send you Elijah." It is on this ground that the Jews expect the reappearance of Elijah the prophet, and at their marriage-feast always set a chair and knife and fork for this prophet, whom they suppose to be invisibly present. But we have already seen that John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord, was the person designed; for he came in the spirit and power of Elijah, (see on Malachi 3:1; (note)), and has fulfilled this prophetic promise. John is come, and the Lord Jesus has come also; he has shed his blood for the salvation of a lost world; he has ascended on high; he has sent forth his Holy Spirit; he has commissioned his ministers to proclaim to all mankind redemption in his blood; and he is ever present with them, and is filling the earth with righteousness and true holiness. Hallelujah! The kingdoms of this world are about to become the kingdoms of God and our Lord Jesus! And now, having just arrived at the end of my race in this work, and seeing the wonderful extension of the work of God in the earth, my heart prays: - O Jesus, ride on, till all are subdued, Thy mercy make known, and sprinkle thy blood; Display thy salvation, and teach the new song, To every nation, and people, and tongue!
In most MSS. and printed Masoretic Bibles there are only three chapters in this prophet, the fourth being joined to the third, making it twenty-four verses.
In the Jewish reckonings the Twelve Minor Prophets make but one book; hence there is no Masoretic note found at the end of any of the preceding prophets, with accounts of its verses, sections etc.; but, at the end of Malachi we find the following table, which, though it gives the number of verses in each prophet, yet gives the total sum, middle verse, and sections, at the end of Malachi, thereby showing that they consider the whole twelve as constituting but one book.