We will begin in this essay our exposition of the last two chapters of this unique prophecy in which all the former prophets find their consummation. We may here repeat what we wrote in an earlier essay: Malachi is truly the last prophet in the Old Testament dispensation. He is the last before John the Baptist.
As we give our attention to these chapters and their marvelous unfolding of the mysteries of God’s faithfulness to Jacob whom He loves, we do well to ask: what is here the “key of knowledge” (Luke 11:52), lest we be numbered amongst the Scribes who have no understanding, with the very scroll of God in their hands. (Acts 13:27)
We will go and sit at the feet of Christ who at the proper occasion opened the minds of His disciples, and beginning from Moses, the psalms, and all the prophets, taught them that the Christ must suffer all these things and thus enter into His glory. Since the prophets wrote by the Spirit of Christ the time and the manner of the sufferings to come upon Christ and the glory to follow, He could unerringly know their meaning. He was the Author, who was explaining His own Book; the Poet reciting His own Poem (work)! He is our chief Prophet, Who came to reveal unto us the secret counsel of God concerning our redemption and concerning the restitution of all things in heaven and on earth.
We notice then particularly that Christ has interpreted for us the two chapters under consideration. He gave us guide-posts along which we can fill in the particulars from other parts of the Scriptures. The latter also is His interpretation of this prophecy, be it then less directly.
First of all, we notice that Christ interpreted for usMalachi 3:1. We have this interpretation in Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, and Luke 7:27. At the proper place we will call attention to this interpretive Word of Christ concerningMalachi 3:1. Here we simply call your attention to the fact that Christ did give us in these interpretations the “key” to understand the entire prophecy as given in these last two chapters. We need not be as blind men searching for the light!
Secondly, we call attention to the fact that Malachi 4:5 is also rather clearly and definitively explained and exegeted for us by the New Testament Scriptures. Gabriel, who stands before God, came to announce to Zacharias, in the temple, the wonderful birth of his son, John. In elucidating upon the calling and ministry which would, be John’s, Gabriel cites the last two verses of the prophecy of Malachi. Thus he quoted the last two verses in the Old Testament Canon. John would come in the power and spirit of Elijah, and thus the “restitution” of all things would be initially brought about. With John’s work merely a beginning of this restitution is made. He is the forerunner of the Messenger of the Covenant, Who will reconcile all things in heaven and on earth by the blood of the Cross. Luke 1:17. Furthermore, we have the explicit testimony of the Lord Jesus that John is Elijah which was to come (Matthew 11:14), and that he will “restore all things.” (Matthew 17:11). Thus the commonwealth of Israel, the true Theocracy of God shall be established in righteousness forever. The sons of Levi shall indeed be purified, and in the day when the LORD makes up his peculiar treasure, his jewels, perfect sacrifices shall be brought continually.
At this point we would also make a few remarks concerning what I would call the prophetic character of these announcements respecting the “coming” of the Angel of God’s Covenant.
In general, I believe we may state, that these two chapters unfold before our believing eyes the new and better era of the New Testament dispensation, as it is the dispensation of the fulness of times, and the ushering in of the eternal state. It is the time in which the kingdom of heaven has come upon us. CompareEphesians 1:9-11 and Luke 11:20! This is exceedingly evident from Christ’s word to Peter, James, and John when they descend from the Mount of transfiguration. Matthew 17:11, 12. This is Jesus’ answer to the disciples who ask, sensing that the kingdom is near: must not first Elijah come? They had seen a bit of the “coming” of the Lord in glory on the mount which would be realized through His decease (exodus) which He was about to accomplish at. Jerusalem. And that would be the restitution of all things after heaven had received him for this very purpose. Acts 3:21. Of this spake all the prophets, Peter tells the church at Jerusalem. And this united testimony of the prophets is brought to a focus-point here in Malachi. Hence, we may conclude that the last two chapters of Malachi indeed speak of the better and more glorious era of the New Testament dispensation, in which the least in the kingdom is greater than John. Matthew 11:11.
More particularly we would emphasize, that notwithstanding this clear indication that these two chapters speak of the great and better era to come, the beacon light here is ever a prophetical one. It shines more and more unto the perfect day, to be true. However, it does not clearly delineate the historical steps, the moments in this history. No sharp distinction is made between what we like to call: the first and the second coming of Christ. Fact is, that in this prophecy, one receives the impression that these two comings are not even explicitly indicated. When one readsMalachi 3:2-4, one rather has the impression that this is too eschatological language. It speaks of the New Testament era, and the perfection of the eternal state of Christ’s Parousia in one breath. Malachi speaks in Old Testament phraseology and symbolism in these verses, and one gets the feeling that he ‘is’ dealing with what is often called the “Apocalyptic.”
It is for this very reason that the phrase “day of His coming” does not allow for limiting this to the event of the birth of Christ in the night of His nativity, but certainly refers to the entire coming of Christ as announced by John, who spake of the baptism with the Holy Ghost of Jesus. It must refer to each step of Christ’s coming through His state of humiliation and his resurrection, ascension and sitting at the right hand of God, and His return to judge the living and the dead.
Finally, we would observe too that Malachi therefore very really speaks of the eternal state here in chapter 3. He spoke of the “glory to follow.” I Peter 1:11. Had Malachi already spoken of the New Testament era in chapter 1:11, that His name would be great among the heathen, here the search-light lets us see a bit of what will be ours when the inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled and which does not fade away, shall be ours in eternal bliss. The details of this are given us when Christ himself further unfolds this prophecy in his words and works and through his suffering and glorification.
Then shall the Word of the Lord shine forth in wondrous luster that He has loved Jacob,—that the purpose of election might stand. For underneath all this prophecy is the rock-bottom assurance that He is JEHOVAH, the I AM THAT I AM! That Jacob-Israel is not consumed in the judgments of God, as were Esau and all the “rest” who are hardened, is due to God’s faithfulness, who has promised! Malachi 3:6.
Jacob shall do valiantly!
For in this better and more wonderful and richer display of the sovereign mercies of God, the Angel of the Covenant shall be the one Lord over all the house of Israel, both from, those who are near and those who are far. Whosoever shall call upon the Name of Lord shall be saved. And to every one that walketh according to that rule there is peace, even upon the Israel of God!
The Messenger Before My (Thy) Face. Malachi 3:1.
The LORD of hosts here has a wonderful message of hope and redemption. Says He “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come saith the LORD, of hosts.”
Here we have a unique prophecy. It refers to “my messenger.” This messenger is none else than John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. It can be said of no other prophet in the Old Testament that his birth was foretold many centuries before, as was that of John. The reason is that he is “more than a prophet.”Matthew 11:9, 10. No other prophet had the distinction of being able to baptize and to point out publicly to Israel, the Lord, Christ. None ever came to run directly before the chariot of the King. But John is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.” He is a very distinguished messenger. Among all the prophets born from women in the Old Testament, none was greater than John. Think of Samson, Samuel, David or any of the Old Testament greats. His greatness is that he is “greatbefore the Lord.” Luke 1:15. He is a life-time Nazarite, separated unto the Lord’s service in the midst of an apostatizing priesthood, the sons of. Aaron. He is the Levite than which there was none greater among all those separated unto the Lord’s service. He will teach the people the ways of the Lord.
His greatness is due to his proximity to the Lord Who is “great.” The latter will sit upon the throne of His father David, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Before this “Lord” John is great! He is called by the LORD of hosts “My messenger!” He is prepared, called from his mother’s womb, filled with the Holy Ghost. He appears like Elijah, only he is far greater. His place in Judah is what Elijah’s was amongst the ten tribes. Both prophesied before the day of the Lord came for Ephraim and Judah respectively. He is a messenger; he bears a message from the Lord. His message is gospel-tidings concerning the immediate breaking of the dawn. He will prepare the people to be ready to meet their King, the LORD of hosts.
His final utterance is possibly in that wonderful verse inJohn 1:29 “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” And then John can bow out of the picture and decline. His work is finished and he languishes away in prison, and is beheaded, thus joining the ranks of the faithful prophets who are killed for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Such is “my messenger.”
He indeed prepared the way before the Lord. The valleys were lifted up and the hills were made low, and the highway of the Lord’s work was prepared; and the crooked was made straight, and the rough places were made plain. Isaiah 40:3, 4.
And this great and unique prophet must be seen as the LORD’s messenger. “Behold,” says the LORD. Here the counsel of wisdom and might is being uncovered before the believing eyes of the saints. It is the oft-repeated “behold” in the Bible whenever the Seer sees more of this wonderful work of God into which angels are desirous to look. I Peter 1:12. For here, in the saints, is revealed the exceeding mercy and manifold wisdom of the LORD, in bringing about salvation, causing Jacob to do valiantly in the Christ of God. Fact is, that twice in this passage in Malachi 3:1 we read this admonition to behold! We must behold the messenger before my face in conjunction with beholding the “Messenger of the covenant,” Christ. We must not behold the one without beholding the other. Then we will “behold” the unfolding of the mystery of God, indeed, hidden from of old, but made known in these last days!
(to be continued)