Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven
Tithing and Temple ordinances protect us from the day of burning,
Verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at this coming...
for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. (D&C 64:23-24)
How will the heat and fire only destroy the wicked, while the righteous survive?
At that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked; and in that day will I send mine angels to pluck out the wicked and cast them into unquenchable fire. (D&C 63:54)
For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many. (Isa. 66:15-16.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Somebody said, "Brother Smith, do you mean to say that it is going to be literal fire?" I said, "Oh, no, it will not be literal fire any more than it was literal water that covered the earth in the flood." (Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1952], 38)
This is a representation of the baptism that is received by man after he has been baptized in water; for he is then to be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, and all his sins entirely done away: so the earth will be baptized with fire, and wickedness swept away from its face, so that the glory of God shall cover it. As the waters cover the great deep, so will the earth be overwhelmed and immersed in the glory of God, and His Spirit be poured out upon all flesh. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 1: 292)
Ezra Taft Benson
For the righteous the gospel provides a warning before a calamity, a program for the crises, a refuge for each disaster.
The Lord has said that "the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven ..." (Mal. 4:1), but he assures us that "he that is tithed shall not be burned. ..." (D&C 64:23.)
The Lord has warned us of famines, but the righteous will have listened to prophets and stored at least a year's supply of survival food.
The Lord has set loose the angels to reap down the earth (see Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 251), but those who obey the Word of Wisdom along with the other commandments are assured "that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. ..." (D&C 89:21.) ("Prepare Ye," Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69)
Malachi 4:1 all that do wickedly, shall be stubble... that it shall leave them neither root nor branch
Theodore M. Burton
Full salvation in its true and full meaning is synonymous with exaltation and eternal life. This inheritance within the actual family of God the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ, is the burden of the scriptures and should be the goal of every man, woman, and child born upon this earth. This full salvation is obtained only in and through the family unit preserved throughout eternity.
When the angel Moroni came to give Joseph Smith his first instruction in restoring the gospel in this dispensation, he quoted the prophet Malachi with a little variation from the way it is written in the Bible:
For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (JS-Hist. 1:37)
In order to understand this passage of scripture, for root read "progenitors" or "ancestors" and for branch read "posterity" or "children." Unless, then, through obedience to the laws of God you can qualify yourself to go to the temple and have your family sealed to you, you will live forever separately and singly in an unmarried state. It seems to me that would be a very lonesome type of existence-to live without the warming influence of family life among those you love, who in turn love you.
God said of those who were not willing to pay the full price of exaltation through full obedience to his whole law:
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
For these angels did not abide in my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D&C 132:16-17.)
It is for this reason that the Lord promised that he would reveal unto us the priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the second coming of the Lord, to plant in our hearts the promises that were made to our fathers so that our hearts could be turned to our fathers and to our children. If we cannot achieve this goal of eternal family exaltation, our lives on this earth will be utterly wasted when Christ shall come the second time.
It is well, then, for you to think of your families and how you can have your inheritance in the Lord sealed upon you and those you love. ("Salvation and Exaltation," Ensign, July 1972, 79)
Malachi 4:2 you that fear my name shall... grow up as claves of the stall
He that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man.
Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. (D&C 63:50-51)
Calves are safest when they are in the stall. They can be neither molested nor made afraid. So it is with the children of the Millenium. They will grow up, protected by the "Sun of Righteousness," taught of the Lord, and never suffer death, "in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man. And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death. In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye." (DC 101:28-31)
This message of comfort is to all those parents who have mourned the death of a child. At that day, Christ will "arise with healing in his wings," bringing to pass the resurrection of the dead. This will include those children tragically lost. They will be brought out of the dust as they were laid down, in the stature of children, only to be raised "as calves in the stall." Joseph F. Smith taught, "The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth or development in the grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man." (footnote, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 200)
Now, then, all the inhabitants who are spared from this fire-those who are not proud, and who do not do wickedly, will be cleansed more fully and filled with the glory of God... the children who are born into the world will grow up without sin unto salvation. Why will this be so? Because that fallen nature, introduced by the fall, and transferred from parents to children, from generation to generation, will be, in a measure, eradicated by this change. Then the righteous will go forth, and grow up like calves of the stall; and one revelation says, their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. Satan having no power to tempt them, these children will not sin. (Journal of Discourses, 16:319)
Malachi 4:5 Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet
Malachi's last prophetic words became famous. Even in the days of Christ, the scribes and Pharisees all knew that an Elias (Greek form of Elijah) must come prior to the Messiah's Advent. They were interested in whether either John the Baptist or Jesus of Nazareth claimed to fulfill the prophecy.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Matt. 16:13-14)
And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; (Mark 9:11-12)
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. (John 1:19-21)
John the Baptist was an Elias in the sense of being a forerunner for Christ, but did not claim to be Elijah. He did not claim to fulfill Malachi's prophecy.
"In his first appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1823, Moroni quoted numerous passages from the Old and New Testaments. The Prophet said that Moroni quoted Mal. 4:5-6 but gave a different rendering from that in the King James Version: 'Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord' (D&C 2:1; JS-H 1:38; emphasis added). The Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery already had been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and had been given apostolic power and commission as early as 1829. How was it, then, that Elijah would reveal the priesthood? The answer is that Elijah was sent in 1836 to reveal keys of the priesthood and sealing powers that had not yet been fully understood and were not yet fully operational in this dispensation. Elijah restored the keys whereby families, organized in the patriarchal order through the powers just delivered by Elias, could be bound and sealed for eternity." (Robert L. Millet, "The Ancient Covenant Restored," Ensign, Mar. 1998, 42)
"It is the solemn witness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Elijah the prophet did come as was both anciently and modernly foretold. While the world went about its normal activities on 3 April 1836, Elijah the prophet appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the newly dedicated temple in Kirtland, Ohio, and gave them the authority to reinstate baptism for the dead as well as all other ordinances necessary for the salvation of the dead. 'Therefore,' said Elijah, 'the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands' (D&C 110:16)." (Jay M. Todd, "Salvation for the Dead," Ensign, Feb. 1995, 49)
"Elijah did come. He came to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836. (See D&C 110:13-16.) Jewish literature is replete with the promise and expectation of Elijah's coming. That is the last promise of the Old Testament, in the last verses of Malachi. And it is Jewish tradition that on the second night of Passover they must leave open the door and place at the table head an empty chair and a goblet full of wine in the expectation that Elijah may come. It is interesting, especially in light of that Jewish tradition, that April 3, 1836, was the second day of Passover. The symbolism is beautiful. Elijah comes, as they expect, to a home. He comes to a goblet of wine-the sacramental wine. He comes to turn hearts, which is more than changing minds-he turns hearts to hearts." (Truman Madsen, The Radiant Light, p. 106-7)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Among the Jews [Elijah the Tishbite] finds a place of honor in their history second to none of the prophets...It was, I am informed, on the third day of April, 1836, that the Jews, in their homes at the Paschal feast, opened their doors for Elijah to enter. On that very day Elijah did enter-not in the home of the Jews to partake of the Passover with them-but he appeared in the house of the Lord, erected to his name and received by the Lord in Kirtland, and there bestowed his keys to bring to pass the very things for which these Jews, assembled in their homes, were seeking." (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:100-1)
The story of Elijah's return can be found in DC 110. Obviously, there is no need to wait for him any longer. This became the subject of conversation between Elder LeGrand Richards and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Elder Richards had just dedicated the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden on the Mount of Olives. After the ceremony, the two conversed as they ate lunch:
"Elder Richards...said, 'Mayor, I want to tell you something.'
"'What's that?' asked the mayor.
"Looking Mayor Kollek directly in the eye, the apostle said, 'Ten years ago I was here in Jerusalem, and one day I went into three synagogues, and hanging up on the wall in one of them was a large armchair. I asked the rabbi what it was there for (I knew, but I wanted him to tell me, which he did). He said that it was so that if Elijah comes, 'we can lower the chair and let him sit in it.' Now, Mayor, I want to tell you something, and what I tell you is the truth. Elijah has already been. On the third day of April 1836 he appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple.'
"The mayor said, 'I guess I'd better tell them to take that chair down.'" (Lucile C. Tate, Beloved Apostle, p. 301)
Malachi 4:6 he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children
After the death of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, missionary work was established in the world of spirits. Righteous spirits began to preach "liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel... They were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, [and] the gift of the Holy Ghost" (D&C 138:29-31).
This remarkable work began with the ministry of John the Baptist in the world of spirits. John the Baptist was killed about two years before Jesus was crucified. What did he do in the world of spirits? He must have done the same thing that he did in Judea. He continued his "labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead." (D&C 138:57) What was his message? He informed them that their deliverance was at hand (D&C 138:15). He must have told them that Jesus was soon to be crucified, that they would soon be visited by the Son of God, that they were to believe in his words, "He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose" (John 1:27).
This ministry in the spirit world was spoken of by angel who promised Zacharias a son, "he shall go before him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elias (Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make a ready people prepared for the Lord" (Lu. 1:17). Did John "make a ready people prepared for the Lord" during his mortal ministry? Certainly not! Those who heard him crying as a voice in the wilderness crucified their Lord. The "ready people prepared for the Lord" were in the world of spirits. John went in the spirit and power of Elijah and taught that Christ was coming. His message was received with joy and gladness. Joseph F. Smith saw the fruits of the Baptist's message:
And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer's name.
All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death. (D&C 138:12-16)
This work is the spirit of Elijah turning the heart of the fathers to the children. This work began after the ministries of John and Jesus in the world of Spirits. Presumably, Elijah also ministered to the world of spirits to turn the hearts of the fathers to the saving ordinances only their mortal children could perform for them. Elijah's ministry in the world of spirits has not yet been revealed (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 335-338)
This is the side of the coin we sometimes forget. What is going on in the world of spirits that turns their hearts to us? What is it that makes them look for redemption at the hands of their descendants? They know they need the saving ordinances of the temple? How do they know it? Someone has taught them the power of godliness which pertains to temple ordinances. Someone has explained to them that without these ordinances, they cannot enter the celestial kingdom of God; they cannot hope to become a king or priest in the house of Israel; they cannot hope to spend eternity with their spouse; they cannot hope to be eternally bound to their children. On that side of the veil, the spirit of Elijah more easily permeates the hearts of the departed spirits. They long for their bodies back, but they have learned that resurrection without these ordinances means they can never be saved in the celestial kingdom.
The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation. (D&C 138:58-59)
This work has been going on in the world of spirits since the meridian of time. Else why would Paul have preached of baptism for the dead, if the power of Elijah was not then operative? Why did they then perform baptisms for the dead?
For almost 2000 years, the hearts of the fathers have been turning to the children. Because of the Apostasy, the hearts of the children have only been turning to the fathers since the Restoration. This is why Moroni's quotation of this scripture was altered from the original; it focuses on the hearts of the children:
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord...
And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. (JS-Hist. 1:38-39)
There is no mention of the hearts of the fathers turning to the children. It is all about the children receiving the spirit of Elijah. Why? Because the hearts of the fathers had already turned to the children. They have been waiting for their work to be done for a long time.
Malachi 4:6 and the heart of the children to their fathers
"The significance of Elijah's return became clear when the ordinance of proxy baptism for deceased ancestors was instituted. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in 1840: 'The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, whom they believe would have embraced the Gospel, if they had been privileged with hearing it, and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them while in prison' (History of the Church, 4:231).
"In 1977 President Spencer W. Kimball stressed the importance of work for the dead:
"We do not know how many millions of spirits are involved. We know that many have passed away in wars, pestilence, and in various accidents. We know that the spirit world is filled with the spirits of men who are waiting for you and me to get busy. ...
"We wonder about our progenitors-grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc. What do they think of you and me? We are their offspring. We have the responsibility to do their temple work, and the beautiful temples of the Lord stand day after day, yet we do not fill them always. We have a grave responsibility that we cannot avoid, and may stand in jeopardy if we fail to do this important work" ("The Things of Eternity-Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, Jan. 1977, 5).
"The promise of heavenly help is extended to those who diligently work in behalf of their ancestors. Elder Packer also said: 'Revelation comes to individual members as they are led to discover their family records in ways that are miraculous indeed. And there is a feeling of inspiration attending this work that can be found in no other. When we have done all that we can do, we shall be given the rest. The way will be opened up' (Ensign, Nov. 1975, 99).
"We have the privilege of helping unite the eternal family of our Heavenly Father through the binding ordinances of the temple. We should be eager to provide these ordinances for as many of our ancestors as possible, regardless of their seemingly countless numbers." (Kahlile B. Mehr, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Mar. 1997, 73)
James E. Faust
President Joseph Fielding Smith stated concerning the keys of Elijah: "This sealing power bestowed upon Elijah, is the power which binds husbands and wives, and children to parents for time and eternity. It is the binding power existing in every Gospel ordinance. ... It was the mission of Elijah to come, and restore it so that the curse of confusion and disorder would not exist in the kingdom of God." (Elijah the Prophet and His Mission, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, p. 5) Confusion and disorder are all too common in society, but they must not be permitted to destroy our homes.
Perhaps we regard the power bestowed by Elijah as something associated only with formal ordinances performed in sacred places. But these ordinances become dynamic and productive of good only as they reveal themselves in our daily lives. Malachi said that the power of Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers and the children to each other. The heart is the seat of the emotions and a conduit for revelation. (See Mal. 4:5-6.) This sealing power thus reveals itself in family relationships, in attributes and virtues developed in a nurturing environment, and in loving service. These are the cords that bind families together, and the priesthood advances their development. In imperceptible but real ways, the "doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul [and thy home] as the dews from heaven." (D&C 121:45.) ("Father, Come Home," Ensign, May 1993, 37)
The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven...
Now comes the point. What is this office and work of Elijah? It is one of the greatest and most important subjects that God has revealed. He should send Elijah to seal the children to the fathers, and the fathers to the children. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 337)
Malachi 4:6 lest I come and smite the earth with a curse
Moroni's quotation changed the last phrase as well, "...and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be wasted at his coming" (D&C 2:3)
Imagine for a moment if the "Priesthood of Elijah," or sealing powers, had never been restored. We would have a church full of elders, bishops, and high priests, but none of them would have received their endowments. None of them would be sealed to their wives. None of their children would be sealed to them nor born in the covenant. Mothers would raise their families without the hope of eternal union. Indeed, families would not be forever. We would not perform baptisms for the dead. There would be no temples. Family History work would be a useless pastime. Eventually, the power of Satan would increase among the saints until even the church itself would be good for nothing except to be "utterly wasted at his coming" (D&C 2:1).
L. Tom Perry
This great vision to the Prophet Joseph Smith reestablished the doctrine of eternal family units. The eternal family is central to the gospel of our Savior. There would be no reason for Him to return to earth to rule and reign over His kingdom unless the eternal family unit has been established for our Father in Heaven's children. When we understand the eternal role of the family, the nourishing and developing of strong family ties take on even greater significance. ("Youth of the Noble Birthright," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 74)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Therefore, the restoration of this authority is the leaven that saves the earth from being utterly wasted at the coming of Jesus Christ. When we get this truth firmly and clearly fixed in our minds, it is easy to see that there would be only confusion and disaster should Christ come and the power of sealing not be here. The Lord does not recognize any ordinance or ceremony, even though it be made or performed in his name, unless it is in accordance with his will and done by one who is recognized as his authorized servant...the coming of Elijah with the keys of sealing, [places] the stamp of approval on all that is done in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so that it is recognized in the heavens and before the throne of God. ("The Coming of Elijah," Ensign, Jan. 1972, 5)
In the days of Noah, God destroyed the world by a flood, and He has promised to destroy it by fire in the last days: but before it should take place, Elijah should first come and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, &c. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 337)