In order to understand this important verse, we will read verses 1-3 from the New King James Version: “For behold, the day is coming, BURNING LIKE AN OVEN, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall BURN THEM UP, says the LORD of hosts. That will leave them neither root nor branch (vs. 1). But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves (vs. 2). You shall trample the wicked, for THEY SHALL BE ASHES UNDER THE SOLES OF YOUR FEET on the day that I do this, says the LORD of hosts” (vs. 3).

In these verses we read the words “the day” three times. In verse 5 it is called “the great and dreadful DAY OF THE LORD.” The phrase “day of the Lord” is mentioned numerous times in the Bible and it always refers to the “day of judgment” that is coming when Christ appears to establish His Millennial Kingdom. At that time He will “judge the wicked” (those who have rejected Him as their Savior) and “deliver the righteous” (those who have accepted Him as their Savior). Of “that day” we read these words in 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8: “when the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, IN FLAMING FIRE TAKING VENGEANCE ON THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD, AND ON THOSE WHO DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.” This agrees with the words in Malachi, for we saw that “the day is coming, burning like an oven,” and that for “the proud” and those “who do wickedly,” the day will “burn them up.” This may be literal, like the fire and brimstone that rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, or it may be speaking symbolically of the complete destruction of the wicked when God judges them in His wrath. Whatever the case, the Lord goes on to tell His people Israel in verse 3 that “they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” Those who were once Israel’s enemies and who persecuted and killed them, with now be trodden under foot by the righteous living in the land of Israel. Psalm 47:3 declares, “He [the Lord Jesus Christ] will subdue the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.” Micah 7:10 echoes this same truth: “Then she who is my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will see her; Now she will be trampled down like mud in the streets’.” Israel has suffered at the hands of her enemies for thousands of years, but in “that day” the tables will be turned and her enemies will be trodden down.

We could close our short meditation here, but I would like to point out that the passage we have been considering refutes two terrible errors that have been taught by false teachers. There are those who teach that “the world will be converted and then Christ returns.” But if that were the case, who are “the wicked” that are being judged and trampled under the feet of the righteous? And then there are those who use these verses in Malachi to teach that “the wicked will be annihilated” (or “cease to exist”) by the fire of God’s wrath. What they fail to see is that even if the fire is literal, it will only “kill their body,” but it will not affect their immortal soul. Again, this is a “temporal” judgment like the judgment that consumed the bodies of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Our passage says nothing of the “soul and spirit” of the wicked. We learn elsewhere in Scripture that the soul and spirit of the wicked live on in conscious torment, as illustrated by the Lord Jesus in the story of the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.  (226.3)  (DO)