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Question

What is the significance of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children (Malachi 4:6)?

turning the hearts of the fathers to the children
Answer


Malachi is the final of the Hebrew prophets of the Old Testament era, and his prophecy concludes with an explanation of what the people could expect next in the prophetic calendar. Malachi’s prophecy concludes with a remarkable statement: “And [the prophet Elijah] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV).

Amos 8:11 said there would be a famine for the Word of God—perhaps a time of silence in which God was no longer speaking—but there would come a day when God would send a messenger to clear the way for the Lord who would suddenly come into the temple (Malachi 3:1). After Malachi’s prophecy, God did not communicate to the people as He had before until the announcement of the arrival of John the Baptist (Luke 1). John the Baptist came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and announcing the arrival of the Messiah (Luke 3:16; John 3:28–30). Jesus made it clear that John was the fulfillment of the Malachi 3:1 prophecy (Matthew 11:9–10).

Malachi added another key prophecy, recording God’s foretelling that He would send Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). This Elijah would restore or turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, and God would not curse the land anymore (Malachi 4:6). After Jesus acknowledged that John had fulfilled the Malachi 3:1 prophecy, He added that, if the people were willing to receive or accept Him, then John would have also fulfilled the Malachi 4:6 role of Elijah (Matthew 11:13–15). But because the nation did not accept the King and the kingdom He offered, the kingdom was postponed, and Jesus said there would be division—that households would be divided and fathers and children would be set against each other (Luke 12:51–53). So it would continue until the coming of the one who would fill the Malachi 4:6 prophecy, the one who would restore or turn the hearts of the fathers toward their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. The days of division will come to an end when the Messiah reigns, and His reign will be preceded by a herald who will function as Elijah.

Malachi’s two prophecies are quite significant for biblical chronology, as the Malachi 3:1 prophecy was fulfilled by John and ties the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures to what we know as the New Testament. John was the forerunner of the Messiah, and when the Messiah came, He verified John as authentic by allowing John to baptize Him (Matthew 3:13–17) and by affirming John’s authenticity directly (Matthew 11:9–10).

Malachi 4:6 helps us recognize there is more to the story and that a prophet will come turning the hearts of the fathers before the Day of the Lord. Because the people of Jesus’ time did not accept the Messiah and His kingdom, the Messiah’s day was postponed and John was shown not to be that messenger in that time. One day in the future, Malachi’s prophecy will be fulfilled, and biblical chronology will move toward its completion.

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What is the significance of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children (Malachi 4:6)?
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This page last updated: January 17, 2022