"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.Malachi 3:1(NASB)
The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi, which lists the serious charges the Lord had against backsliding Israel and the judgement that must inevitably fall on His errant people. It condemns their sacrilegious offerings and pronounces judgement on the wicked, because of their gross apostasy, serious idolatry, and shocking denial of God's holy character.
But it is also a book of hope that proclaims restoration for a faithful remnant, prophesies of the coming Messiah, and implores God's people to be obedient to His Word and to look for the coming of Elijah, who was to be the forerunner of God's anointed King.
"Behold, I am going to send My Messenger," is the encouraging proclamation at the start of chapter 3. "Be ready," is the watchword. "I am about to send My herald, who will clear the way before Me." God was telling His faithful remnant that one day, He would send a man to be a voice in the wilderness. He was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah and cry out, "Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness. Make a straight highway for our God in the desert." Israel were to repent of their sin and welcome their King.
Although four hundred years would have to pass before John the Baptist became that lone voice, crying out in the desert and preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, he was to be God's final witness to Israel before, "The Lord, Whom the nation sought, would suddenly come to His Temple."
Daniel had given a very specific timeline. "Seventy 'weeks' have been decreed for your people and your holy city - to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place."
Daniel's time-piece had been ticking away for 90 years before Malachi prophesied - and 400 more years were decreed, before God's messenger would arrive in the land, when the Lord, for Whom they longed so passionately, "would suddenly come to His Temple."
John was the forerunner and Jesus was the Lord about whom Malachi prophesied. John pointed to Jesus Who was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. John was the messenger who proclaimed God's Message, and it pointed to Jesus. HE was the Message from God - the Word of God - the Word made flesh. Jesus was the Anointed of Israel Who suddenly came to His Temple and overturned the money tables and Who fiercely accused them of desecrating the Temple, "My Father's House is a House of prayer for all people and YOU have made it a den of thieves."
JESUS was the pure Message from God as well as the Messenger of the New Covenant, in whom Israel delighted. He came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel to cut the New Covenant in His blood. But He came with a message of repentance, which Israel refused to hear - but as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become sons of God.
For the faithful remnant, we read that Elijah already came, in the person and work of John the Baptist, but most did not recognise him, "but did to him whatever they wished."
However, for those who believed, the Lord Jesus was sent by God at the appointed time. He suddenly came to His temple, just as Malachi claimed and will return once more - suddenly.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace to all people. Thank You that You have told us the end from the beginning, through faithful men of old like Malachi. Thank You for the message of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus. Thank You that Jesus came at the appointed time to be our Saviour and that as many as believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. I pray that my faith may grow and that I come to a deeper knowledge and understanding of Your Word. I pray that I will decrease and Christ will increase in my life. In Jesus' name, AMEN.