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Wesley's Notes on the Bible
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
4:1 Cometh - Tho' it be at a distance from you, yet it is coming and will overtake you and overwhelm you too. As an oven - The refiner's fire, chap. 3:2, is now represented as a fire, burning more dreadfully, as it did indeed when Jerusalem and the temple were on fire, when the fire raged every where, but most fiercely where the arched roofs made it double itself, and infold flames with flames. And this may well be an emblem of the day of judgment.
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
4:2 The sun of righteousness - Christ, who is fitly compared to the sun, being the fountain of light, and vital heat to his church. And of mercy and benignity; for the Hebrew word imports both. With healing - His beams shall bring health and strength, with delight and joy, safety and security. Go forth - Go out of Jerusalem, before the fatal siege. Grow up - In strength, vigour and spiritual stature. Of the stall - Where they are safe guarded and well ordered.
3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
4:3 Tread down the wicked - When believers by faith overcome the world, when they suppress their corrupt appetites and passions, and when the God of peace bruises Satan under their feet, then they indeed tread down the wicked.
4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
4:4 Remember - Now take leave of prophecy, for you shall have no more 'till the great prophet, 'till Shiloh come, but attend ye diligently to the law of Moses. For all Israel - So long as they should be a people and church. Statutes and judgments - Be not partial; statutes and judgments, that is, the whole law must you attend to, and remember it as God requires.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
4:5 Behold I will send - Though the spirit of prophecy cease for four hundred years, yet at the expiring of those years, you shall have one sent, as great as Elijah. Elijah - Namely John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17, and therefore bears his name. Before - That is, immediately before; so he was born six months before Christ, and began his preaching a few years before Christ began to exercise his publick office. The great and dreadful day of the Lord - This literally refers to the times of vengeance upon the Jews, from the death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and by accommodation, to the end of the world.
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
4:6 And he - John the Baptist. Shall turn the heart - There were at this time many great and unnatural divisions among the Jews, in which fathers studied mischief to their own children. Of the children - Undutiful children estranged from their fathers. With a curse - Which ends in utter destruction; leaving Jerusalem a desolate heap, and a perpetual monument of God's displeasure. Some observe, that the last word of the Old Testament is a curse: whereas the New Testament ends with a blessing, yea, the choicest of blessings, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all! Amen. Dec. 24, 1766.