48. “The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord”

Malachi’s prophecies have played important roles in the restoration of the Church, from Moroni’s instructions to Joseph Smith to recent general conference addresses on temple work and tithing. Zechariah’s words are also often quoted regarding the last days, so studying their words in depth can add meaning to our understanding of the gospel.

“Turning the Hearts of the Fathers to the Children: Nurturing the Next Generation,” by Alan J. Hawkins, Clifford J. Rhoades, David C. Dollahite, BYU Studies 33, no. 2
The Old Testament opens with an account of God creating order from chaos to provide an earth on which his children could dwell. Through disobedience, however, the children of Adam and Eve turned their hearts away from their Father; consequently, they separated themselves from God, and the ground has been periodically cursed. Interestingly, the Old Testament concludes with the Lord telling the world through Malachi that if there is not a returning of children’s hearts to the fathers and of fathers’ hearts to the children the earth will again be cursed or destroyed.

Malachi’s prophecy is one of the most far-reaching and profound prophecies in the scriptures. The sealing powers restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith by the hand of Elijah have broader application than temple ordinances performed for the living and by living proxies for the dead, although this is unquestionably the central function of the sealing powers. The Spirit of Elijah is further manifest in building and strengthening links between fathers and children in time as well as eternity. In this article, we reflect on how the powers associated with the Spirit of Elijah seem to be turning many living fathers’ hearts to their children for the benefit of all.

“‘The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord’: The Anatomy of an Expression,” by Dana M. Pike, BYU Studies, Volume 41, no. 2
Speaking of the last days, the Lord declared through the ancient Israelite prophet Malachi that Elijah would return “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5). Many Latter-day Saints interpret the phrase “the great and dreadful [or terrible] day of the Lord” to mean the Lord’s Second Coming will be “great,” or good and desirable, for the righteous, but “dreadful” for the wicked, who will be destroyed. However, this interpretation misrepresents the original meaning of the phrase. The Hebrew language in which this expression was originally written does not support this explanation. And the English word “great” was not used with the modern meaning “desirable” until long after the King James Version was translated.

“The Living Bread Which Came Down from Heaven,” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, October 2017 General Conference
Zechariah (14:20) prophesied that in the day of the Lord’s millennial reign, even the bells of the horses would bear the inscription “Holiness unto the Lord.” In that spirit, the pioneer Saints in these valleys affixed that reminder, “Holiness to the Lord,” on seemingly common or mundane things as well as those more directly associated with religious practice.

“The Windows of Heaven,” by Elder David A. Bednar, October 2013 General Conference
The imagery of the “windows” of heaven used by Malachi is most instructive. Windows allow natural light to enter into a building. In like manner, spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.

For example, a subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment.