Malachi 4:1-3 (ANIV)
[The day of the Lord]
1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the Lord Almighty.
TIME OF DAY:
Not specified in the Bible.
The sun provides lighting for this scene, from above. There is a glow from the fire that illuminates the billowing smoke with red/orange light as well.
Two un-named Hebrew shepherds, a man on the right & a woman on the left who has opened the pen door to release the calves.
I have enjoyed drawing & colouring up this scene! I like the calves leaping about & the smiley expressions of the two people releasing them from their pen.
Notice the fire in the background, which relates to the “furnace” ov verse 1. Notice also the stubble on the ground, which is being trampled by the calves hooves.
The calves & people do not have concerned or worried expressions, because they represent God’s faithful remnant & so they know that the fire of His wrath is not directed towards them, but towards the wicked of the earth.
The man is falling backwards with a laugh, as the calves leap in excitement at their release. The woman who is behind the gate, is smiling too at their energy & the man falling!
Bible interpretation & commentary.
Chapter 3 (the previous chapter) & verses 2-4 read:
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He [God] will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
The judgment on the day of the Lord is described as a judgment of fire, but this is not a destructive, out of control fire that destroys all & everyone. It’s purpose is two-fold: one the one hand it refines (is designed to purify the Levites – as is clear from Malachi 3:3) but on the other hand it destroys the wicked.
Chapter 3 & verse 17-18 reiterates the Lord’s desire to preserve his chosen people – the remnant:
17 “They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession.  I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
In chapter 4 Malachi elaborates on the day of the Lord, but the judgmental fire here emphasizes the destruction of the wicked (see Isaiah 66:15 ; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8 .) The evil-doer or wicked person is compared to dry stubble, which is entirely burned. This does not refer to utter annihilation (we know from Daniel 12:2  that the wicked will be resurrected), but rather the complete exclusion of the wicked from the kingdom of God (see Matthew 25:46 .)
Because of this difference in the fire’s purpose, I have drawn the calves leaping & the people smiling, even though there is a great fire & billowing smoke in the background. I wanted to illustrate the assurance & confidence that God’s chosen, remnant people can have, even when a raging fire goes on all around them!
Verse 4:2 uses the phrase “the sun of righteousness”, but apparently it only occurs in this verse & nowhere else in the Bible. Many commentators have thought that the phrase refers to Christ (the Son of Righteousness), which may or may not be correct. Certainly Healing (marpēʾ (Hebrew) “health or restoration”) in its wings (or rays) would seem to refer to the restorative power of righteousness; rather like the health-giving rays of the sun. Clearly God’s remnant, chosen people will be spiritually restored & renewed.
The metaphor of calves leaping for joy at being released in a pen (stall) expresses the future joy, freedom & satisfaction of the righteous. That was also my intention in developing the expressions on the calves’ faces!
The last verse (Malachi 4:3) refers to the righteous remnant trampling the wicked (now rendered to ashes) under foot… or hooves, if we continue the calf metaphor! I have made the ground under the calves purple grey to look like ash.
The finality of the judgment on the wicked is obvious from this verse. More subtly perhaps, it also explains & answers the cynical question asked by the unfaithful Israelites “What do we gain by carrying out God’s requirements?” in Malachi 3:14 – we gain a vast amount!
Or Almighty, “my treasured possession, in the day when I act.
Isaiah 66:15 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
For indeed, the Lord will come in fire
And His chariots will be like the stormy wind,
To render His anger with rage,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
Zephaniah 1:18 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
Neither their silver nor their gold
Will be able to rescue them
On the day of the Lord’s indignation and wrath.
And the whole earth will be consumed
In the fire of His jealous wrath,
For He shall make a full and complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Zephaniah 3:8 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
“Therefore [you of the godly remnant of Judah, patiently] wait for Me,” declares the Lord,
“[Wait] for the day when I rise up as a witness [against the nations].
For it is My decision and My right to gather the nations,
To assemble kingdoms,
To pour out on them My indignation,
All [the heat of] My burning anger;
For [in that day] all the earth shall be consumed
By the fire of My zeal.
Daniel 12:2 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake (resurrect), these to everlasting life, but some to disgrace and everlasting contempt (abhorrence).
Matthew 25:46 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
46 Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.”