At the very end of the Old Testament, the redeemed of Israel are promised great joy in the future: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall” (Malachi 4:2, ESV).
This passage speaks of an eschatological period referenced in Scripture as the “Day of the Lord” (Isaiah 13:6; Malachi 4:5; Joel 1:15; 2:1; Acts 2:20). It will be a time of judgment for evildoers and a time of great blessing for the righteous (Malachi 4:2–3). Those who “fear my name” or “revere my name” are God’s people—the righteous. They know and reverence the Lord and understand the full implications of His name and character. The New Living Translation describes the experience of the righteous on that future day as those who “will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”
The “Sun of Righteousness” is an unmistakable reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Light of the world (John 9:5). Malachi 4:2 indicates that the Messiah “shall arise with healing in His wings.” The spreading rays of sunshine symbolize the coming infusion of light and healing on the earth. At the second coming, Jesus Christ will shine forth in all His brilliance (Matthew 26:64). This “healing” goes beyond the physical into the realm of spiritual restoration—salvation from death and deliverance from eternal damnation (Psalm 107:20).
Healing is mentioned as part of the eternal state: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse” (Revelation 22:1–3a). Ezekiel describes a river that flows out of a new and glorious temple: “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12).
When Christ returns with “healing in his wings,” the redeemed will know perpetual health and everlasting life. Sickness of mind, body, and soul will be healed. The spiritual malady of sin will be forever eradicated. Through Jesus come grace and truth (John 1:17). The Lord vows to “heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever” (Hosea 14:4, NLT). He will completely fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1–3a:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
Christ died on the cross so that those who believe in Him and receive Him as Savior will experience spiritual healing and restored fellowship with God (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). We don’t have to fear the day of judgment because we have the hope and the promise that “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (see John 3:18; Matthew 25:33–34). Believers can take courage in knowing God is “a sun and shield,” who gives us grace and glory and withholds “no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11, NLT).
When Jesus Christ returns, He will judge the wicked, and the world will experience a time of unprecedented peace, righteousness, and healing. The prophet Isaiah describes the millennial reign of Christ in glorious detail: “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6–9, NLT).
When Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, rises with healing in His wings, “my people will again live under my shade,” promises the Lord (Hosea 14:7, NLT). In this sin-darkened world, we can have hope knowing that the future coming of Jesus Christ will be like the dawning of the brightest day of curative sunshine. His appearance will be like a beautiful sunrise after a long, dark night. It will be a day of deliverance and spiritual light for the righteous. “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7).