The Sun of Righteousness

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 15 April 2011.


“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).

The prophecy of Malachi is one of the most unique and striking books in the Bible.

This prophecy is obviously unique, first of all, since it is the last book of the Old Testament. After this, there would be 400 years of silence before John the Baptist comes into the scene to prepare the way for the Messiah. This is even prophesied in the last chapter of this book.

Secondly, this book is unique and striking in the very blunt and forthright language that is used by the prophet. Though many of the prophets are very stern in their preaching, no one, it appears to me, is as stern and direct as Malachi. Malachi holds no punches whether he is speaking to the common people or to the priests. Imagine being told in your face that you are robbing God.

Malachi is unique, thirdly, because the author of this book is probably anonymous. You see, the name ‘Malachi’ means ‘my messenger.’ It is very unlikely that it is his proper name, or he would have been called ‘Malachiah’—messenger of Jehovah. Thus, the Septuagint translates the word ‘by Malachi’ in verse 1 to ‘by the hand of his angel [or messenger].’ The Jews debated about who this messenger was. Some believed he was Ezra the Scribe. Calvin concurs with this view. But other Jewish scholars thought that he was Haggai or Mordecai or someone else.

Well, we don’t know. And perhaps it may be best for us just to call him Malachi, whoever he may be.

But while we do not know who Malachi was exactly, we do know when the prophecy was written. It was preached and written sometime after the temple was completed for he makes reference to the sacrifices at the temple (1:10; 3:1-10).

Also, since, the crimes that Malachi reproved, such as mixed marriages and the neglect of tithing were exactly the abuses corrected by Nehemiah in his second reformation, it is very likely that he was preaching in support of Nehemiah’s effort at reforming the church—just as Haggai and Zechariah supported Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest.

Now, there are many promises in this book. For example, there is the famous promise that if we give our tithes, the Lord will open the windows of heaven to pour down a blessing beyond our expectation.

But for now, the Lord helping us, we want to consider as part of our study on the great and precious promises of God, the great promise and prophecy of Malachi, that closes the Old Testament cannon.

I am referring, of course, to the prophecy and promise of the Sun of Righteousness rising with healing in his wings, which is our text.

Let’s consider this promise under three heads: (1) Who is the Sun of Righteousness? (2) Who does He arise for? (3) What is the result of His rising?


1. Who is the Sun of Righteousness?

Well, although Malachi does not explicitly say so, you will not find any Christian commentator, who will dispute that the Sun of Righteousness is any other than Christ. Calvin says: “There is indeed no doubt but that Malachi calls Christ the Sun of Righteousness.”

By our Lord’s own testimony, He is “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). He is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (Jn 1:9). Indeed, when in the fulness of time, Christ came into the world, He was spoken of as a great light coming into the world (Mt 4:16; Jn 3:19). The Sun of Righteousness has arisen!

Why is the Lord Jesus called the ‘Sun of Righteousness’? We can think of 5 reasons:

  • First, Christ is the Sun of Righteousness because when He arose, He ushered in a new era of redemptive history. The birth of the Lord was the dawning of the glorious Last Days in the history of the Church. 
  • Secondly, Christ is the Sun of Righteousness because when He arose, He chased away the shadows and darkness of the Old Testament. Under the Old Covenant, people worshipped God using shadows and types. They did not know God as clearly as they should. They knew that their sin must be atoned for, but they did not know how exactly it would be atoned for. When Christ arose, He chased away the shadows and darkness and brought light to everything. Suddenly everything in the Old Testament began to make sense.
  • Thirdly, Christ is the Sun of Righteousness because when He came, He exposed the darkness of man’s heart by showing sin for what it really is. For example, many of the people thought they sin only if they do something outwardly. So the men thought that they would break the 7th commandment only if they physically commit adultery with a woman. But the Lord says that if a man looks lustfully at a woman, he had committed adultery against her. Sin has to do with the heart, not the outward action. Christ, as the Sun of Righteousness, exposes sin for what it really is.
  • Fourthly, Christ is the Sun of Righteousness because when He came, the light of His righteousness shined upon those who fear the name of the LORD, so that they appear as righteous in God’s eyes. So bright is the rays of the Sun of Righteousness that all that the rays fall on appear to be perfectly white. In more familiar theological terms, His righteousness was imputed to those who believe in Him so that they appear perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.
  • Fifthly, Christ Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness because God has appointed that we should know His glory and righteousness through Christ Jesus. Paul put it very explicitly when he says:
“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

God would reveal Himself in Christ. Christ is the Word of God. He who has seen Christ has seen the Father. He who has enjoyed the love of Christ has enjoyed the love of God. He is the Sun of Righteousness.

But now in our text, we are given the idea that the Sun of Righteousness unlike the G2V star which is our sun, does not rise upon everyone—whether evil or good (Mt 5:45).


2. Who does the Sun of Righteousness Arise for?

The LORD says through Malachi: “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise…

The Sun of Righteousness has arisen for those who fear the name if the LORD.

Who are these?

Well, in the first place, it is clear that they are not proud or do wickedly, because those who are proud and do wickedly shall be burned as stubble in the oven (Mal 4:1).

Conversely, those who fear the LORD depart from evil, and are not wise in their own eyes (Prov 3:7). “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil” says Solomon (Prov 8:13). “Pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” he adds.

Secondly, and more positively, those who fear the LORD seek to keep all of God’s commandments and walk in His ways (Dt 6:2, 13; 8:6).

Thirdly, those who fear the LORD swear by His name (Dt 6:13; 10:20). Why is this point important? This point is important because those who fear the LORD recognise that no one and nothing is greater than the LORD.

Fourthly, those who fear the LORD, love Him and therefore “serve him in sincerity and in truth” (Jos 24:14). They serve Him with all their heart for their heart is filled with gratitude when they consider what great things He has done for them (1 Sam 12:24).

Fifthly, and very importantly, we are told that those who fear the LORD have a special relationship with the LORD. The Psalmist says:

·   “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Ps 25:14).

·   “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (Ps 27:1).


Who are these who know the covenant and salvation of the LORD? These, no doubt, are true believers or the elect of God.

There are many in the world who profess the name of Christ, but true believers are those who fear the name of the Lord. They are those who reverence and love the LORD. They seek to please Him in all their ways. They are afraid of offending Him. They are humble because they know that they deserve nothing but the wrath of God. They are those who mourn for their sin rather than fight against admonishment. They choose obedience rather than convenience.

They do not take God’s worship and commandment lightly. They seek to please God rather than man.

They walk gratefully and lovingly before the Lord, seeking to magnify His name in all circumstances in their life.

These are those who fear the LORD. These are those for whom the Sun of Righteousness arose.

But…


3. What is the Result of the Sun of Righteousness’ Rising?

“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” (Mal 4:2)

He arose with healing in His wings. The word ‘wings’ here refer to the rays of His light. Christ when He arose sent forth the Holy Spirit into the hearts of all who fear the name of the LORD so that the corruption of their heart is burned away in sanctification. In other words, Christ by His Spirit heals us of our sinfulness by making us more and more like Him.

In fact, if you think about it carefully, though the elect are known as those who fear the LORD, they certainly did not fear the LORD until the Sun of Righteousness could melt the heart so that the seed of life could be planted and grow.

But take note that Christ does not leave us as soon as our hearts are quickened. No, no; the fact that He arises with healing in His wings for those who fear the Lord means that He continues to shine His healing rays on all who are converted and are walking in the fear of the Lord.

Those upon whom His rays fall are healed from their sin, and are given a new life that is abundant and free. They shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall, i.e. calves that are well-fed and well-taken care of. Oh what a blessing!

Are you, beloved brethren and children, experiencing the warmth and the healing rays of the Sun of Righteousness? Are you enjoying the blessings of a righteous life? Are you enjoying the blessing of being regarded as righteous in God’s eyes?

Beloved believer, there will be times when darkness enshrouds your soul, or when dark clouds return after the rain. The cloud may be due to your falling into temptation, or it may even be due to a medical condition appointed by the Lord. Whatever it may be, you must remember the Sun of Righteousness has risen. Behind the dark clouds, the Sun is shining.

Those who fear the Lord can always have access to the healing ray of the Sun.

But remember: The Sun of righteousness, unlike the natural sun, shines with healing only for those who fear the Lord. The enemies of the Lord will, instead of receiving a blessing, receive a scorching.

For the day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. On that day, all who fear the Lord will be vindicated and given a place of everlasting glory.

On the other hand, those who fear not God, nor love the Son of God will suffer loss. While in this life, they trample underfoot and take advantage of those who fear God, so in that great day of the Lord; the Lord will see to it that they answer for their wicked deeds. Malachi puts it this way to those who fear the Lord:

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.

The righteous in Christ shall tread down the wicked. Being united to Christ, they shall have victory over the wicked one and over sin. They shall be vindicated. The apostle Paul (referring to the prophesy in Genesis 3:15) promises us: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20).


Conclusion

Oh beloved brethren, youths and children, unless you fear and love the Lord, your life will continue to be full of frustration and misery. I am absolutely sure that a lot of the chaos in our homes that result in much quarrels and frustrations is a result of sin. And sin is a result of the lack of fear of the LORD.

Those who fear the LORD will not live problem free lives, but they will have a joy and peace that the world does not understand in all the changing scenes of life. For the Sun of Righteousness has risen for them and will warm their hearts.

They will have peace that the world does not understand. They will have hope that makes not ashamed. They will enjoy the warmth and healing of the rays of the Sun of righteousness. They will experience God’s covenant love.

Oh beloved brethren, children and friends, do not miss out on the blessing.

And when you look at the sun again the next time, remember the Sun of Righteousness. Remember His Covenant mercies upon His people. Remember how His healing rays shine only on those who are truly His covenant children—who fear God. Amen.