Lesson 160

Malachi 4

“Lesson 160: Malachi 4,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)


Introduction

Malachi foresaw the fate of the wicked and the righteous at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and prophesied that the Lord would send the prophet Elijah before the Second Coming to do a great work.

Suggestions for Teaching

Malachi 4:1–4

Malachi prophesies of the fate of the wicked and the righteous at the Second Coming

Draw or display a picture of a tree on the board. Point out and label the three essential parts of a tree: branches, trunk, and roots.

tree
  • What would happen to a tree if we eliminated one of its vital parts?

Above the picture of the tree, write the word Family. Invite students to think of this tree as a family tree.

  • If the trunk of the tree represents you, what might the branches and roots represent?

As students study Malachi 4, invite them to look for how their actions can affect their family tree in the eternities.

Invite a student to read Malachi 4:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those who are proud and wicked will experience at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

  • What will the proud and wicked experience at the Second Coming of the Lord?

Explain that stubble refers to the short stalks that remain after grain has been harvested from a field. Farmers often burn the stubble in preparation to plow and plant the field again. Malachi’s reference to the wicked being like stubble in the day of burning means that the wicked will be destroyed as part of the Lord’s cleansing of the earth at His Second Coming.

  • Based on our discussion about the family tree, what do you think the phrase “it shall leave them neither root nor branch” means for the wicked?

Erase or cover up the roots and branches from the picture on the board to illustrate that the tree is incomplete and limited without these vital parts.

Invite a student to read Malachi 4:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the righteous will experience at the Lord’s Second Coming. Explain that the “Sun of righteousness” (verse 2) is Jesus Christ.

  • What will the righteous experience when the Lord comes again? (They will receive healing, “grow up as calves of the stall,” and “tread down the wicked.” You may want to list students’ answers on the board.)

Invite students to discuss in pairs what they think these phrases mean. After sufficient time, ask them to report what they learned. As needed, explain that the phrase “calves of the stall” refers to calves that are safe, well fed, and cared for. The Lord promises that He will similarly protect and care for those who fear His name. The phrase “healing in his wings” refers to the healing and protective power of the Lord’s Atonement. The phrase “ye shall tread down the wicked” means that the Lord will help the righteous overcome evil by destroying the wicked at His Second Coming.

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about what the Lord provides through His Atonement to those who fear or reverence Him? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that if we reverence and obey the Lord, we will experience the power and protection of the Atonement. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board.)

  • What are specific ways we can reverence and obey the Lord?

  • Why does reverencing and obeying the Lord enable us to experience His power and protection?

  • When have you experienced the Lord’s power or protection?

Summarize Malachi 4:4 by explaining that the Lord asked His people to remember the statutes (laws or commandments) and judgments (ordinances) that He gave to Moses.

Malachi 4:5–6

Malachi prophesies that Elijah will do a great work before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Refer students to the picture of the tree trunk on the board. To help them personalize the tragedy of having no roots or branches on their family trees, ask students to consider their own parents, grandparents, and ancestors, as well as their future spouse and children. Invite them to imagine what it might be like if they were separated from their family members in the eternities.

Invite a student to read Malachi 4:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior said He would help the families of the world before His Second Coming.

  • Whom did the Savior say He would send before the Second Coming?

  • Who is Elijah? (You may want to show students the picture Elijah Appearing in the Kirtland Temple [Gospel Art Book (2009), no. 95; see also LDS.org]. Remind students that Elijah is a prophet who performed many mighty miracles [see 1 Kings 17–18; 2 Kings 1–2].)

    Elijah Appearing in the Kirtland Temple

  • What do you think the phrase “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6) means?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ask the class to listen for what the word turn means in this verse. You might suggest that students write Joseph Smith’s statement in the margin next to Malachi 4:5–6.

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Now, the word turn here should be translated bind, or seal” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 472).

  • What is the purpose of the coming of Elijah?

  • Why do you think binding or sealing families together is important to Heavenly Father?

  • How has the prophecy about Elijah in Malachi 4:5–6 been fulfilled?

Explain to students that the resurrected prophet Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred upon them the sealing keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 110:13–16). These keys opened the doors to family history and temple work for the living and for the dead.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for the role we can play in fulfilling Elijah’s mission.

Elder Henry B. Eyring

“Many of your ancestors died never having the chance to accept the gospel and to receive the blessings and promises you have received. …

“… There are more temples across the earth than there have ever been. More people in all the world have felt the Spirit of Elijah move them to record the identities and facts of their ancestors’ lives. There are more resources to search out your ancestors than there have ever been in the history of the world. The Lord has poured out knowledge about how to make that information available worldwide through technology that a few years ago would have seemed a miracle. …

“… When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them” (“Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 77, 79–80).

  • What is our role in binding families together in the last days?

Write the following incomplete principle on the board: As we do family history and temple work, …

  • What will happen as we fulfill our responsibility to do family history and temple work for our ancestors? (After students respond, add the following to the incomplete principle on the board: our hearts will be turned to our ancestors …)

Ask students to look again at Malachi 4:6, and point out that unless the hearts of family members turn to each other, the earth will be cursed or “utterly wasted” (D&C 2:3). To help students understand what this means, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Elijah restored the sealing powers whereby ordinances that were sealed on earth were also sealed in heaven. That would affect all priesthood ordinances but was particularly important for the sealing of families down through the generations of time, for without that link no family ties would exist in the eternities, and indeed the family of man would have been left in eternity with ‘neither root [ancestors] nor branch [descendants]’ [Malachi 4:1].

“Inasmuch as such a sealed, united, celestially saved family of God is the ultimate purpose of mortality, any failure here would have been a curse indeed, rendering the entire plan of salvation ‘utterly wasted’ [D&C 2:3]” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 297–98).

To complete the principle on the board, add the following: and we will help prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Invite a student to read the completed principle aloud: As we do family history and temple work, our hearts will be turned to our ancestors and we will help prepare the earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

  • Why do our hearts turn to our ancestors when we do their family history and temple work?

  • How do you think our ancestors feel toward us for doing this work for them?

  • What experiences have you had with doing family history and temple work for your own ancestors?

If circumstances allow, you might want to invite a student who is familiar with the website FamilySearch.org to log in to his or her account and display the website in front of the class. You could allow the student a few minutes to demonstrate how to use the website and search for a family name. This demonstration could inspire other students who might be unfamiliar with the site and the process of finding family names online.

Ask students to write on a piece of paper one goal that will help them more fully participate in family history and temple work. Encourage them to take the paper home and place it where it will remind them of their goal.

Because this is the last lesson of the Old Testament course of study, you may want to take several minutes at the end of the lesson to invite students to consider and share their experiences with studying the Old Testament in seminary this year.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Malachi 4:5–6

Invite students to write the passage in Malachi 4:5–6 on the back of the paper containing their goal for family history or temple work. Encourage them to memorize the passage at home with their family members. Invite students to share with their family members what they learned in class about Malachi 4.

Commentary and Background Information

Malachi 4:5. “Behold, I will send you Elijah”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on who Elijah was and what his mission entailed:

“Elijah was an Old Testament prophet through whom mighty miracles were performed. He sealed the heavens, and no rain fell in ancient Israel for 3½ years. He multiplied a widow’s meal and oil. He raised a young boy from the dead, and he called down fire from heaven in a challenge to the prophets of Baal. (See 1 Kings 17–18.) At the conclusion of Elijah’s mortal ministry, he ‘went up by a whirlwind into heaven’ (2 Kings 2:11) and was translated.

“‘We learn from latter-day revelation that Elijah held the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. …’ (Bible Dictionary, ‘Elijah’). The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, ‘The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the … fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood … ; and to … obtain … all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 311; emphasis added). This sacred sealing authority is essential for priesthood ordinances to be valid and binding both on earth and in heaven.

“Elijah appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:3) and conferred this authority upon Peter, James, and John. Elijah appeared again with Moses and others on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the same keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 24).

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“Elijah’s mission is facilitated by what is sometimes called the spirit of Elijah, which, as Elder Russell M. Nelson has taught, is ‘a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family’ [‘A New Harvest Time,’ Ensign, May 1998, 34]. …

“The essential doctrine of uniting families came forth line upon line and precept upon precept. Vicarious ordinances are at the heart of welding together eternal families, connecting roots to branches.

“The doctrine of the family in relation to family history and temple work is clear. The Lord in initial revelatory instructions referred to ‘baptism for your dead’ [D&C 127:5; emphasis added]. Our doctrinal obligation is to our own ancestors” (“Roots and Branches,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 44–45).

Malachi 4:6. “Turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained who the words “fathers” and “children” refer to in Malachi 4:6:

“The fathers are our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples.

“The turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers is placing or planting in the hearts of the children that feeling and desire which will inspire them to search out the records of the dead. Moreover the planting of the desire and inspiration in their hearts is necessary. This they must have in order that they might go into the house of the Lord and perform the necessary labor for their fathers, who died without a knowledge of the gospel, or without the privilege of receiving the fulness of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:127–28).