The book of Malachi gives
us the last recorded revelation from Yahweh in the
Old Testament. It will be 400 years before another
voice is heard. These were long "silent years" in
preparation for the coming of the Messenger of the
Covenant. Malachi means "my messenger" and was
written shortly before 432 B. C. It parallels
the conditions in Era and Nehemiah. This book best
fits the situation existing after Nehemiah's first
visit before he returned from Persia in 432 B. C.
Until the appearing of John the Baptizer no other
messenger was directly sent to Judah from Yahweh.
In spite of Judah's sins
and rebellion against the LORD there is the
appealing words, "I have loved you," says Yahweh to
His people. The message shows how the love of God
will prove His choice of Israel. A day of healing or
a day of burning is coming depending upon the
response of the people. As in our day they were
orthodox, but denying the power thereof. He gives a
message to the priests in the opening chapter and
then the balance is addressed to the people. A
corrupted priesthood equals a corrupted people. "The
Lord has the right to demand the best, for He is a
Malachi presents a
remarkable picture of God's holiness and man's
unrighteousness. It is a message of God's unmerited,
free grace and man's self-righteous demand of
THE LORD WILL COME TO
REDEEM AND JUDGE
Yahweh is an unchanging
God of holiness and infinite grace. He warned His
people to repent because their past behavior had
worn Him out (2:17). "You have wearied the Lord with
your words. Yet you say, 'How have we wearied Him?'
. . . 'Where is the God of justice?'" They had
succeeded in making Yahweh tired of His people! They
were blinded by their self-righteousness. They
insolently asked, "How have wearied Him?" They
insulted Him in their whine, "Where is the God of
justice?" Who are You to grow tired of us who have
meticulously observed Your Law? Others in rational
pious asked, "Where is the God of judgment?" They
had no realization of unmerited grace of God in
their lack of understanding of total depravity and
unworthiness. Their sense of the grace of God became
darkened. They were charging Him with injustice and
were too blind to see their own self-righteousness.
Chapter three opens with an urgent plea and warning
to His dissatisfied, rebellious self-righteous
people who charged the Lord with injustice. How does
the Lord answer their false charges?
It was through "My
messenger," Malachi that Yahweh declared, "Behold, I
will send My messenger (using the same word as the
prophet's name), and he shall prepare by clearing
the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek,
shall suddenly come to His temple, even the
Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight,
behold, He shall come, says the Yahweh of hosts"
(3:1, Pounds' Paraphrase).
"Behold I will send . . .
He shall come." Yahweh of Hosts is the speaker.
Driver notes, "It asserts forcefully and
suggestively the certainty of the approach." The
LORD was predicting the coming of the herald of the
King, Messiah, in such a way that it was plain that
the Messiah Himself was identified with Yahweh. "He
shall prepare the way before Me." The LORD sends "My
messenger," My angel, My herald to announce the
Lord's coming and to "prepare the way before Me"
(Isa. 40:3). The messenger will prepare the way for
the Lord by calling the rebellious self-righteous
people to repentance. He will remove the spiritual
stumbling blocks of self-righteousness, arrogance,
unbelief, crookedness and perversity. Only God can
do that! The messenger will deliver God's message.
Keep in mind the word in
Hebrew for "angel" and "messenger" is the same. John
the Baptizer was the angel of Jesus, but Jesus
Himself was the Covenant-Angel of whom Yahweh had
said long ago, "My name is in Him" (Exodus 23:20,
21). It was to this very temple, rebuilt by
Zerubbabel, and enlarged by Herod, that the Messiah
All four of the Gospels
identify the messenger by declaring that Isaiah 40:3
was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist
(Matthew 3:3; 11:7-10; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John
1:23). He is also called the second Elijah (Malachi
The angel told Zechariah,
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to
the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a
forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of
Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to
the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of
the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared
for the Lord" (Luke 1:16-17).
Jesus quoted Mal. 3:1
giving His acceptance that John the Baptizer was the
fulfillment of this prophecy. Matthew 11:10-15 says:
"This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold,
I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare
Your way before You.' Truly I say to you, among
those born of women there has not arisen anyone
greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is
least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the
kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men
take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law
prophesied until John. And if you are willing to
accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
The Hebrew scholar E. W.
Hengstenberg gives a good argument for the
"messenger" as a collective term that included all
prophets preparing the way for Christ and coming to
a climax in the person of John the Baptizer. I
think, however, it is best to take this prophecy as
being specifically fulfilled in the mission of John.
Malachi presents a messenger to come in the future,
who is definitely identified by Christ and others as
John the Baptist who is the special herald of the
Lord. Cf. Matthew 3:2-12; Mark 1:4-8; Luke 3:7-18;
John 1:6-8, 19-36; 3:22-36.
What will be his
responsibility? "Clear the way before Me." His job
will be to remove or "clear away" all the
impediments lying in the road. He will remove all
that retards the coming of the Lord. The enmity
toward God, ungodliness of the people will be
removed by calling upon the people to repent. Cf.
Isaiah 40:3. The Messenger will call the people of
Judah to turn from their sins to the Lord with a
pure heart. Was that not the message of John the
Baptist? When he arrived on the scene in the
wilderness of Judah his message was clear and
penetrating, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is
at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). Matthew quotes Isaiah 40:3
demonstrating that John is that messenger of the
LORD (v. 3).
We hear the voice of
Yahweh speaking in the first person announcing His
advent and then suddenly speaks of Him whose way
shall be prepared in the third person. "The Lord . .
. will suddenly come." The name for God here is
"Lord" (adon) the same word in 1:6 translated
"master," "ruler." He is the one vested with
authority and power. With the article He is the
Micah is stressing that
the Son of David called his Lord (adon) who is
sitting at the right hand of the Lord Yahweh (Psa.
110:1). Jesus said to the Pharisees who were
gathered about Him: "What do you think about the
Christ, whose son is He?" They said to Him, "The son
of David." Jesus responded to them, "Then how does
David in the Spirit call Him 'Lord,' saying, 'The
LORD said to My LORD, sit at My right hand, until I
put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet?" "If David then
calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his son?" (Matthew
22:42-45). The one sitting at the right hand of the
Yahweh is Yahweh Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5f),
and our eternal royal high priest. He is one with
Yahweh in one indivisible essence and being. The
message is clear to all who will yield to Him: when
the Lord Jesus the Messiah comes, Yahweh comes. "I
and the Father are one" (John 10:30). "He who has
seen Me has sent he Father . . . the Father abiding
in Me does His works. . . I am in the Father, and
the Father in Me . . ." (John 14:9-11).
Jesus said it was John
the Baptist in Mathew 11:10-14; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27,
referring to Malachi 4:5. Note the context.
Cf. Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:25;
This messenger is a
concrete personality. How interesting that not a
single prophet rose in Israel between the Hebrew
prophet Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist.
John is the extraordinary messenger of God in the
spirit and character of Elijah.
THE MESSENGER OF THE
"The Lord, whom you seek,
will suddenly come to His temple" (cf. Mal. 1:7, 10;
2:13; 1 Kings 8:11; Hag. 1:9, 14; Ex. 25:8;
40:34ff). The Lord is (ha Adon) Adonai. He will come
suddenly, unexpectedly as a thief in the night.
"Suddenly" is never used to denote immediacy, but
always means unexpectedly, regardless of the lapse
God will "send His
messenger," John the Baptizer who will announce the
"Messenger of the Covenant," or angel of the
covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist's
birth was announced "suddenly," unexpectedly (Luke
1:5-22). The unexpected "sudden" announcement of the
Messiah's birth came shortly thereafter (1:26-38;
2:8ff; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-8). The unexpected voice
was heard in the wilderness calling men to
repentance (Luke 3:2ff), and the Messiah appeared
suddenly (Lk. 3:21ff; Jn. 1:10f, 29ff, 46ff; 2:18;
6:41f; 7:40-53). All these events took place just as
Malachi prophesied. They were literally fulfilled.
At His first coming Jesus
did appear in the Temple after the preparatory work
of John the Baptizer (Lk. 2:22ff, 41-49; John
2:13-22; 5:1ff; 7:14-53). He was announced by His
forerunner crying in the wilderness, "Behold the
Lamb of God who lifts up and takes away the sin of
the world." He came preaching repentance and
announcing the coming of the kingdom of God.
In the light of fulfilled
prophecy it is evident that this prophecy gathers up
both the first and the second comings of Jesus
Christ. Even though there is judgment involved in
both comings, the ultimate fulfilment will take
place at the second coming of Christ. The essential
fulfilment took place at His first coming.
At His first coming
Christ was preceded by the "forerunner," John the
Baptist. In the light of this fact we can conclude
that the prophecy's final fulfillment will take
place at the coming of the great Day of the Lord at
the second coming of Christ.
At His second coming
Jesus will appear suddenly in His literally
"palace." The God-King will dwell therein forever
(Ezek. 43:7; 37:26, 26). "For the Lord Himself will
descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of
the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the
dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are
alive and remain shall be caught up together with
them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and
thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1
The Maleakh, "the
Covenant angel" is One in essence with Yahweh, the
coming of the Lord to His Temple is represented as a
coming of Maleakh. He is fulfilled in the
coming of Christ in whom Malekah, the Logos,
became incarnate (Isa. 42:6; Ex. 3:6f; 14:19; 23:20;
33;14; Heb. 9:15; 12:24; Mark 1:2).
"The Angel of the Lord"
is the Son of God before His incarnation. This Angel
appears first in the age of the patriarchs and then
throughout the history of Israel in every age from
Moses, the Judges, David, Elijah, Zechariah, and
here in Malachi it is the same person as the Angel
of the Covenant. This Angel of the Covenant or
Messenger of the Covenant is the Second Person of
the Trinity, the Son of God, before His incarnation.
He is seen as One with Yahweh. The LORD identifies
the Angel of God with Himself (Exodus 23:20ff). The
Lord calls this Angel God, Lord, Yahweh (Gen.
16:7-11, 13; 32:28; Hosea 12:4f; Ex. 3:2-15; 13:21;
14:19; Num. 20:16; Judges 6:12-16). This Angel of
the Lord is I AM THAT I AM (Ex. 3:2-14) and is just
as truly Yahweh's Messenger, His Angel sent by the
Lord. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John
10:30). "He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how
do you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe
that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? .
. . Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the
Father in Me . . . " (14:9-11; cf. 17:21-26).
For an in depth look see our study on the Angel of
the Lord in this series.
The Lord will come into
His temple to sanctify and judge (3:2-6). "And who
can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when
He appears?" His coming is like the "refiner's fire"
and the alkali of the fuller. John the Baptizer
announced, "As for me, I baptize you in water
because of repentance, but He who is coming after me
. . . He Himself will baptize you with the Holy
Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). He comes to refine
and purify. He comes to give a new heart, to break
to pieces the stony heart out of their flesh and
give them and soft sensitive heart to His presence.
He comes to put the Spirit in them and to clothe
them with garments washed in His own blood, robes of
righteousness. He comes to implant in their hearts
faith in the Redeemer and He continues to do it
until the day He calls them home to be with Him in
heaven. This purifying refining work goes on
throughout the believer's life on earth (Rom.
6:11-21; 7:5-25; 8:1ff; Gal. 5:13-26).
It is my prayer that you
will let Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
the Messiah become the desire of your heart. If you
need help in knowing Him in an intimate personal
relationship here is A Free Gift for You.
Title: Malachi 3:1
The Messenger of the Covenant
Christ in the Old Testament