Rev. Haak is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Lynden, Washington.
In these verses of Malachi’s prophecy the prophet speaks words of consolation and joy to true believers and words of severe judgment and warning to those who walk in wickedness. We have noted that the days in which Malachi prophesied were times of trouble for God’s people who had returned from the Babylonian captivity. It was a time of apostasy, cold indifference, and treachery. Even on the part of God’s true people there was despondency and secret despair. “Where is the God of judgment?” they ask in chapter 2:17. A class of rich had arisen whose wealth was gained from their oppression of the poor. For the true believer it was a dark day, a day in which wickedness I seemed triumphant.
In answer comes the mighty promise of God’s sure judgment on the wicked and His salvation of the righteous. “Behold. . . the messenger of the covenant will suddenly come to his temple!” Unto the wicked He shall appear as a fire to consume and to execute swift judgment against all who practice wickedness and fear not God. For those who seek and delight in Him, He comes to purify them and present them before God in righteousness. And this is certain, for it is the word of the Lord, the one who changes not. Therefore the sons of Jacob, the elect of God, would be preserved even in the darkest of times.
Malachi very plainly speaks of the coming of Jesus Christ. This passage is, in part, very similar to Isaiah 40:3. Isaiah’s prophecy must have been well known to the Old Testament believers. Malachi refers then to the promise of John the Baptist, the forerunner (see John 1:23, Matt. 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 1:76, Luke 3:4-6, Matt. 11:10).
Concerning the coming of the promised Savior, the hope and salvation of all the church, Malachi has much to teach us.
1. It will be preceded by “my messenger,” whose work would be to prepare the way before Him.
2. The promised Messiah is the “messenger of the covenant” who is the delight as well as the object of faith of all God’s people.
3. The promised Christ is God, equal to and the same as God, one being with Jehovah. Note verse 1: “I will send my messenger . . . and the Lord whom ye seek . . . saith the Lord of hosts.”
4. The coming of Christ in both His birth and return in judgment is viewed as one coming. Clearly Malachi speaks of His advent as well as His second coming in judgment.
5. This coming serves a dual purpose. He appears as aflame of fire to take vengeance on the wicked (vs. 5). And He comes to purify by fire the sons of Levi that they may offer to God sacrifices of righteousness (vs. 3).
Finally, our passage teaches us the certain preservation of the true children of God (vs. 6). The perseverance of the saints is guaranteed, not by their unchangeable love to God, but by His unchangeable love to them, and by His eternal purpose and promise in Christ Jesus.
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.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Questions for Study
1. Verse one is a beautiful prophecy of the coming and identity of Jesus Christ. We will want to examine it carefully to see its power and beauty.
a. Show from the New Testament Scriptures that the messenger who is to prepare the way for Christ is John the Baptist.
1) What does it mean that John was “to prepare the way before me”? (Is there any correlation to today as we await the final return of Christ?)
2) How did John prepare the way for Christ? Why was this necessary?
b. The identity of the promised Messiah.
2) Look up Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 12:24, and Hebrews 9:15 and then explain what is meant by the fact that Christ is the messenger of the covenant. What is the relationship between Christ and the covenant?
d. What does it mean that Christ shall “suddenly come to his temple”?
2. The purpose of Christ’s coming: judgment and salvation.
a. What is the significance of the fact that Malachi sees the advent of Christ in Bethlehem and His final return as basically one coming?
1) Who are meant by “the sons of Levi”?
d. Make a list of the sins mentioned in verse 5, finding other scriptures which mention the same evil and what the sin actually is.
e. How are all these sins summed under “and fear not me”?
3. The preservation of saints is founded on the very being of God.
b. What then is God’s immutability?
c. Why is this the reason for the preservation of saints?
d. Why does this produce comfort and carefulness in the saints, and not carelessness?
4. Can you write from memory that familiar