One of the unique names attributed to the coming Messiah is the Sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings or rays:
“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. You will go out and grow up like calves from the stall… See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreaded day of the LORD. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:2, 5-6
What makes the aforementioned prophecy interesting is that it is connected with the coming of Elijah in order to prepare the people for the great day of the LORD.
According to the New Testament the Elijah who was to come to herald the coming of the LORD was none other than John the Baptist:
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not fear, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife well advanced in years.’ The angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. And I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And now you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things happen, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their season.’” Luke 1:11-20
Even more interesting is the fact that John’s father alluded to this very prophecy of Malachi, as he was filled with the Holy Spirit, since he explicitly references the sun rising from on high as his son goes ahead of the Lord to prepare his way before him:
“His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of long ago, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” Luke 1:67-79
Since the unanimous witness of the inspired Christian Scriptures is that the Baptist was sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus:
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came as a witness in order to testify concerning the Light, that all men through Him might believe. He was not this Light, but was sent in order to testify concerning the Light. The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not know Him… The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, ‘This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’… Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Who then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ They said to him then, ‘Who are you? Tell us so that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say concerning yourself?’ John said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ just as the prophet Isaiah said.’ They asked him, ‘Why do you baptize then, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water, but One stands among you, whom you do not know. This is He who comes after me, who is preferred before me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” I did not know Him, but for this reason I came baptizing with water: so that He might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “The One on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and have borne witness that He is the Son of God.’ Again, the next day John was standing with two of his disciples. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:6-10, 14-15, 19-36 – Cf. Mark 1:1-8; Matthew 3:1-3, 11-15; Luke 3:1-6, 15-17
“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea. He remained with them there and baptized. John also was baptizing in Aenon toward Salim, because much water was there. And people came and were baptized. For John had not yet been put in prison. Then a dispute arose between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about ceremonial cleansing. They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, look, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him.’ John answered, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear witness of me, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.’ He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” John 3:22-31
“Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Christ Jesus.’” Acts 19:4
This means that Jesus is the Sun of righteousness who arises with healing in his wings.
This is where it gets rather amazing.
The Hebrew word used for wings in Malachi,
“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings (biḵnaphekha); and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” Malachi 4:2 Authorized King James Version (AKJV)
Is the term kanaph (Strong’s Hebrew 3671). Notice how kanaph is employed in the following texts:
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them to make for themselves tassels on the corners (hakanaph) of their garments throughout the generations to come, and they will put a ribbon of blue on the corners of their garments. And it will be for you a tassel, and you will see it, and you will remember all the commandments of the LORD, and you will do them, and you will not follow the lust of your own heart and your own eyes.So shall you remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 15:37-41
“You must make tassels on the four quarters (kanphot) of your clothing with which you cover yourself.” Deuteronomy 22:12
“Thus says the LORD of Hosts: Peoples will still come, even those who live in many cities. Those who live in one city will journey to another, saying, ‘Let us surely go to seek the LORD of Hosts. I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations will seek out the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of Hosts: In those days ten men from every language of the nations will take hold of the GARMENT (biknaph) of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:20-23
As the foregoing examples illustrate, kanaph refers to the fringes/tassels of the garments worn by the Israelites.
The reason why this is astonishing is because the Gospels record people being miraculously healed by touching the fringes of Jesus’ garment!
“And a woman having a hemorrhage for twelve years, who had spent all her living on physicians, but could not be healed by anyone,came behind Him, and touched the FRINGE of His garment. And immediately her hemorrhage dried up. Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’ When everyone denied it, Peter and those who were with Him said, ‘Master, the crowds are pressing against You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?”’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched Me, for I perceive that power has gone out from Me.’ When the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling. And falling down before Him, she declared to Him before all the people why she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, be of good cheer. Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.’” Luke 8:43-48 – Cf. Matthew 8:20-22
“When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored on the shore.When they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran throughout the surrounding region, and began to carry the sick on beds to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and pleaded with Him that they might touch even the FRINGE of His garment. And as many as touched Him were healed.” Mark 6:53-56
This illustrates how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Malachi where he, as the Sun of righteousness, brought about miraculous healing by his wings so to speak. I.e., the wings that Malachi spoke of in a metaphorical or symbolic sense refer in a literal sense to the fringes of Jesus’ garment which granted all who touched them instantaneous healing!
Kanaph is also employed in reference to God Most High sheltering believers under the shadow of his wings:
“Like an eagle stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread out his wings (kanaphaw) and took him; He lifted him on His pinions; the LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:11-12
“May the LORD reward your deeds. May you have a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings (kanaphaw) you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings (kanapheka),” Psalm 17:8
“How excellent is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore mankind seeks refuge in the shadow of Your wings (kanapheka).” Psalm 36:7
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me! For my soul seeks refuge in You; in the shadow of Your wings (kanapheka) I will make my refuge, until the ruinous storm passes by.” Psalm 57:1
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings (kanaphaw) you shall find protection; His faithfulness shall be your shield and wall.” Psalm 91:4
The astonishing part of all this is that Jesus employs this imagery of God’s sheltering his covenant people under his wings to himself:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not! Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you shall not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing! Look, your house is forsaken. Truly I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13:34-35
Our blessed Lord likens his desire to gather Israel under his salvific care to a hen that gathers her chicks under her wings, thereby equating himself with the God of Isrsel!
Unless indicated otherwise, biblical references taken from the Modern English Version (MEV).