|Posted by Lorraine Serra on July 27, 2010 at 8:46 AM|
Chapter 3 of Malachi opens with a powerful and revealing statement which is both historical in context and messianic. It begins, “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way for Me, and the Lord, whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple.”
First, isn’t it interesting that Malachi, who IS the messenger here, prophecies about yet another messenger to come? His words link us to John the Baptist, the messenger who would be born to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Of course, this was not to happen for about another 450 years yet.
Second, it is also interesting to note that the name Malachi means “messenger” in the Hebrew. God is clearly speaking to His people. He desires communication. He speaks through Malachi. God is involved with His creation.
Third, we see mentioned the ultimate Source of Communication, God Himself, is the “Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight . The first verse ends with, “Behold, He is coming.”
Who is coming? The messenger and the Message! John the Baptizer, of whom Isaiah prophesied, will come to prepare the way for Messiah. Read Isaiah 40:3. It is so clear. Isaiah heralds John, who then comes heralding the Christ! “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.”
Then, Mark, one of Jesus’ apostles, begins his gospel quoting this Isaiah passage, written about 600 years before the birth of Christ. Even John refers to it in the first chapter of his gospel account as he begins to tell the story of who Jesus is and why He came. The prophecy is threaded throughout history and fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ.
The most precious New Testament reference in my eyes is in the gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verses 68 – 79 where Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, suddenly prophesies over his newborn son. We recall that Zacharias had been struck mute because he doubted the messenger angel Gabriel (another messenger!) who announced to old Zach that he and his old wife, Elizabeth, would conceive a child who would prepare the way of the Christ. He remained mute throughout the 9 month pregnancy.
Then, upon seeing this newborn son, he writes on a tablet “his name is John” and immediately his tongue is loosed and he cries out, filled with the Spirit, a beautiful song of praise to God for His plan of redemption, the gift of this child who will be called the prophet of the Most High, and praise for the One whose path John will prepare. John will preach about the coming of grace, forgiveness and peace through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
History has recorded that all these events did indeed come to pass. The historical context of Malachi’s prophecy has been played out. What remains now, on this side of the cross of Christ, is the choice to also see and believe the messianic context; Christ is the Messiah, who came with mercy and grace, and He will come again in power and judgment.
Malachi’s prophecy continues with a pretty big question in verse 2: “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?”
God reminds us through Malachi’s voice that He is to be honored with reverent awe and holy fear. Verses 2 through 5 speak about purification and judgment; washing up and shining up the people of God so that the offerings of their hearts may be truly righteous and sincere, truly worthy of the King of Kings.
This brings to mind the picture of doing laundry back in Bible times. Rubbing clothing with soap and beating and pounding it on rocks in the river to wash them clean. Even into the early 20th century, scrubbing, rubbing and wringing were part of the process of making things clean.
It does feel at times that the Lord allows me to feel the scrubbing effects of my poor choices, or the consequences of my attitude, all of which can be quite painful. But, hopefully these experiences serve to redirect me to doing life His way. What about you?
If a soapy beating hasn’t redirected you yet, perhaps you’d prefer the refiner’s fire? It is an interesting metaphor. I leave you with a story I read once with regard to the process of refining silver.
An apprentice watched the master work the piece in the fire. He heated it to such a high temperature that it became very malleable. Pounding and shaping it, he returned the final product to the flame and carefully rotated it to and fro, burning away the impurities, sealing it for good.
The apprentice asked “When will you know that it is finished?”
His Master replied, “When it clearly reflects the image of its maker.”
Categories: MALACHI Study