From Malachi 4:2 do we get the phrase Sun of righteousness.
In the context that it gets used here, that of a Sun capable of dispersing the terrible darkness of the great tribulation, it follows naturally on the heels of the Sun of Apocalypse series.
The transition of darkness between the two days of Sunshine—the Sun of Apocalypse and the Sun of Righteousness—is incredibly brief but incredibly dark. Rather than getting lost in the darkness between the two, I have to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and start looking forward to the good stuff.
I realize Malachi 4 may have other application(s) than how I use it, but that does not mean the power of the Word is incapable of satisfying more than one meaning. That said, let us begin.
Obviously, the first effect of any sun’s appearance is to drive out the darkness preceding it. The Sun of righteousness will drive out its preceding darkness out in a powerful display, so powerful that words and imagination can hardly begin to cover it.
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. [Malachi 4:1]
In terms of the great tribulation, the definition of the proud and those who do wickedly will be met in those who have bowed to the image of a man and taken his mark in their right hand or forehead. Their bodies will be burned up, entirely consumed by the heat and fire of the Sun of righteousness.
While this may not happen immediately with the first signs of the Sun’s appearance, it will happen very quickly thereafter. Their conflagration will be complete and entire.
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [2 Thessalonians 1:7-9]
Perhaps a quick review of the preceding transition of darkness is in order, that we might get a better sense of the contrast between it and the light that will drive it away.
Around the time of Armageddon, (relative to the sixth plague—Revelation 16:12-16), which is a time that the marked will be ready to unleash enough WMD to ensure the destruction of every living thing on the planet, something will distract them from their suicidal course of action. I dare say the only thing capable of distracting them will be the Lord’s appearance in the clouds of heaven.
With his arrival, they will quickly come to a new purpose, which is basically to gather their forces together and march on the Holy land, over which I suppose the Lord and his own will be making a stand very soon after His appearing. Whether or not the assembling forces of the marked meet with the troubles of plague seven on the way there or after they arrive, it is not for me to say; but, it stands to reason that their ability to survive that devastating plague of earthquake and hail (see “Seven Plagues”), is meaningless, for their fate is sealed, and they will perish in flame.
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. [Zechariah 14:12]
As with Malachi 4, which may have more than one meaning, I do not claim to be interpreting this verse from Zechariah in the way it is entirely meant to be. That said, I know of at least one popular preacher, John Hagee, who likes to use this verse to predict a nuclear holocaust, which I do not agree with. The Lord does not need a nuclear holocaust to smite in such a way those who assemble to attack Jerusalem.
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. [Malachi 4:2]
When it comes to the events of great tribulation, those who fear His name may fit into a broader than normal category. We may need to disambiguate a little bit between the categories of “saved” and “unsaved.” For even those who are not savvy to the Lord’s identity before he is revealed at his appearance in the clouds of heaven, they are yet worthy of being saved from the fate that belongs to the marked.
At that time, being saved may include any and all who know better than to bow to the image of the man and take his mark. People from diverse cultures and religious backgrounds will find that task so distasteful that they would rather choose a dismal life in the wilderness over that.
The disciple Thomas, sometimes referred to as Doubting Thomas, would not believe in the Lord’s resurrection and appearing until he could see with his own eyes. That did not make him less of a disciple, but he did miss out on the blessing that belongs to those who believe without seeing (John 20:29).
Likewise, a greater blessing belongs to those who believe before seeing Him at his return. This should not diminish much the other survivors’ opportunity to live a wonderful life, a life healed from the illnesses, diseases, and afflictions that so often beset our current generation.
Like calves of the stall, the survivors will have the vigor of youth, and they will have few if any cares, no matter what sort of confinement they may face in terms of a post-apocalyptic civilization.
Among the rubble of civilization, there is at least one thing they need not worry about finding.
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. [Malachi 4:3]
I believe that potentially billions of bodies (of the marked) rotting in the rubble of civilization would be a bad thing for the survivors to deal with. Fortunately, it is most likely that the marked and their bodies will literally be turned to ash and will become as nothing under the feet of the survivors.
Unfortunately, some of those ashes may be the remains of people we know and care about today. Fortunately, the survivors will be able to get past that. Today is when we need to work at pulling people from the flames as much as possible.