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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Mal; The Messenger

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Portraits of Christ
“The Messenger”—Malachi

Malachi’s message was the Lord’s last prophetic Word before God spoke most clearly in Christ.
“The burden of the Word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.” (Malachi 1:1)

  1. The prophets of old spoke of Christ.
    • The Lord promised Christ to Adam.
      • “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
    • Enoch prophesied of Christ’s coming.
      • “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:21-24)
      • “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 14-15)
    • Abraham saw Christ’s day and rejoiced.
      • “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
      • “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
    • David prophesied of Christ’s coming resurrection.
      • “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:30-31)
    • The prophets prophesied of Christ’s coming.
      • “God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21-22)
      • “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” (John 12:41)
      • For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
      • “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)
      • “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the Fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
  2. The Lord spoke to Israel through Malachi.
    • Malachi means “God’s Messenger” or “My Messenger.”
    • Some suggest he is Ezra, the priest who wrote the Book of Ezra during Jerusalem’s rebuilding.
    • As Malachi was God’s appointed messenger to Israel, so the priests were supposed to be God’s messengers to the people of Israel.
    • Twenty times in fifty-five verses we read, “Says the Lord”—“the covenant-keeping God.”
    • This is a claim of divine inspiration and authority.
    • He spoke at least one hundred years after Cyrus decreed Nehemiah could return with his countrymen to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in BC 538.
    • Malachi’s prophecy likely came sometime after the ministry of Nehemiah around BC 458-445.
    • Malachi is the last prophet to speak before Christ.

Malachi’s message is alluded to in the New Testament.

Malachi   New Testament
“Yet I have loved Jacob but I have hated Esau” (Malachi 1:2-3)   “I have loved Jacob and hated Esau” (Romans 9:13)
   
“If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” (Malachi 1:6)   “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
   
“the Lord’s table” (Malachi 1:7, 12)   “the table of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
   
“from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11)   “So that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you (2 Thessalonians 1:12) “Lord who will not fear and glorify your name?” (Revelation 15:4)
   
“for the lips of the priests should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:7-8)   “Do whatever they teach you & follow it: but do not do as they do, they do not practice what they teach” (Matthew 23:3)
   
“Have we not all one father?” (Malachi 2:10)   “there is one God, the Father” (1 Corinthians 8:6) “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being…have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Acts 17:26-29)
   
“See I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.” (Malachi 3:1)   “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” (Mark 1:2; Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:27)
   
“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” (Malachi 3:3)   “for the great day of their wrath has come & who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17)
   
“he will purify the descendants of Levi & refine them as gold and silver” (Malachi 3:3)   “so that the genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold, that, though perishable, is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7)
   
“against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages.” (Malachi 3:5)   “Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud.” (James 5:4)

The Lord promised His justice would come. (Malachi 3:1-6)

  1. His messenger would come to prepare the way for the “Justifier.” “Behold, I send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me.” (Malachi 3:1)
    • The Lord’s messenger was “John the Baptist” who came to prepare the way for Christ by calling sinners to repentance.
      • He came in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
      • He was the Lord’s messenger: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah.’” (Matthew 3:3)
    • The Lord’s messenger will prepare for His first and second coming, by clearing the way before Him.
      • He was not Elijah but came in the spirit of Elijah: Jesus said, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” (Matthew 11:14)
      • Elijah, the prophet will come again before the Day of the Lord, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:11-13)
  2. His Messenger would prepare the way before “Me” (Jehovah, the Lord of hosts—Christ).
    • The Lord of hosts is Jesus Christ, whom Israel longed to come—“the Lord, whom you seek,”
    • God, the Father promised to send “My messenger of the covenant,” who is our Lord Jesus Christ.
      • John the Baptist announced, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:27)
  3. His messenger would come unexpectedly—“Will suddenly come to His temple.”
    • He would come as a “thief in the night” to bring judgment.
      • “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:10-11)
      • “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
    • He would come to “His temple” in Jerusalem (to bless, circumcise, cleanse, heal, preach) His people.
      • “Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:6-8)
      • “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” (John 2:19-21)
      • “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
  4. His Messenger was the “Messenger of the Covenant” in Whom they delighted.
    • This is “the Lord of hosts,” “the Angel of the Lord,” “Angel of God’s Presence”—the pre-incarnate Christ.
    • The Messenger came to save as well as to execute justice and wrath.
    • If Israel wanted justice, it would come in the Person of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
  5. His Messenger would come to judge the sin and injustice Israel claimed God delighted in. “Behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” (Malachi 3:1-2)
    • Who will be able to stand before His righteous eyes and not fall before Him aware of sin?
    • Will Israel really stand before Christ and accuse Him of winking at sin?
  6. His messenger would be like a “refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap.”
    • He will test the works of our life like a refiner’s fire burns away the dross.
      • “The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:4-5)
      • “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
      • “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26).
    • He will cleanse our filthy rags with the blood of Christ like a launder’s soap cleanses dirty clothes.
      • “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6)
      • “So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:14-15)
  7. His Messenger will purify the sons of Levi: “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.”
    • The Messenger is the purifier.
    • He fixes His eyes on the elect to precisely burns away the dross and discover the true metal by which to make them into the image of Christ.
    • He will purify a holy priesthood to worship Him.
      • “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)
      • “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
      • “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
    • He will purify His priests so that their offerings will once again be pleasing to the Lord.
      • “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
      • “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)
  8. His Messenger will come near to be a swift witness against Israel’s seven deadly sins:
    • He will judge against sorcerers
    • He will judge against adulterers
    • He will judge against perjurers
    • He will judge against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans
    • He will judge against those who turn away an alien
    • He will judge against those who do not fear the Lord.

Those who fear the Lord shall find healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:1-6)

  1. The proud shall face the Lord’s burning wrath.
    • “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, Says the LORD of hosts. That will leave them neither root nor branch.”
    • The day is coming when God’s wrath shall suddenly come upon the wicked who openly and boastfully defied the Gospel.
    • The proud and haughty transgressor shall be like grass in a field burned to the stubble and like uprooted trees utterly destroyed.
      • “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7)
      • “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10-11)
      • “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)
      • “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12)
    • This graphic language is a reminder to the righteous never to envy the wicked.
    • Today is the best day of the wicked, but tomorrow will be judgment.
  2. The “God-fearers” shall face the Sun of Righteousness. “But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”
    • Those who fear the name of the Lord need not fear judgment day.
    • For the righteous it will not be “condemnation” but “commendation.”
    • Christ is called the “Sun of Righteousness” because He ushers in a bright new, glorious future.
      • “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:6)
      • “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)
      • “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
      • “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14)
      • “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19-20)
    • He is not only infinitely righteous but He is the righteousness of the “righteous.”
    • His wings will be like beams of the sun at sunrise bringing healing to the sin-sick soul.
      • “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:2-4)
    • The righteous shall be transformed with glorified minds and bodies like that of Christ.
    • They shall no longer walk in the “valley of the shadow of death,” but in the glorious light of eternity.
    • They shall “shine forth as the sun” reflecting Christ’s glory.
    • They shall “go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.”
    • They shall be set free from sin and death like calves released from their lifelong constraint in a dirty stall, to playfully leap in the fields with unrestrained joyful and youthful strength.
  3. The Redeemed shall tread down the wicked in battle on the Day of the Lord. “You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this, says the LORD of hosts.”
    • Wickedness appears to triumph in the dark but the rising of the Sun of Righteousness spells their ultimate defeat.
    • Their supposed prosperity will turn to adversity and their being built up will be torn down.
    • The righteous shall be the army attending Christ’s final destruction of Satan and the ungodly.
    • It will be the mighty triumph of God’s promised deliverance given in Genesis 3:15.
    • The Lord of host promises He His seed (the elect) shall utterly crush under their feet the head of the Serpent and the Serpent’s seed.
      • “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
      • “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:19-20)
      • “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)
      • “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—“And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:14-16)
    • The thought of the Day of the Lord should terrify the wicked and fortify the righteous.
  4. The righteous are called by Malachi to remember the Law (Word) of Moses.
    • The Mosaic Law along with all the Scriptures were to be in force until John came. (Matthew 11:13)
    • The Lord withheld prophets from Israel until John came so that they might seek after Christ with greater desire.
    • He came preaching repentance by preaching Law & Gospel—the impossible but necessary demands made upon sinners, along with the incredible promises of Christ.
  5. The Lord will send Elijah before the Day of the Lord. (Malachi 4:5-6) “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”
    • Moses and Elijah are connected in the Bible with the Lord’s comings (at Christ’s birth and His return).
    • Moses and Elijah were witnesses at Christ’s transfiguration (exodus).
    • Moses was a reminder of the Law (both the promises as well as the demands of the Law).
    • Elijah was the prophet taken up into heaven to return before the Day of the Lord (in the spirit of John the Baptist, as well as in person at the end of days).
      • “He answered, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:11-13)
    • Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses who come to prepare the way before the Day of Christ.
      • “These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.” (Revelation 11:6)
  6. The Lord sent Elijah (John the Baptist) “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
    • John preached to turn his generation to same faith preached long ago to the Fathers of Israel.
      • “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)
    • Elijah’s and John the Baptist’s message was one of reconciliation with God through faith in Christ.
    • The Kingdom of God will no longer be delayed but shall come visibly. (Matthew 23:37-39)
    • Unless there is this reconciliation with God through faith in Christ the Lord will return to strike the earth with the consequences of the curse—eternal death and punishment (Not Annihilation!).
      • “It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe.” (2 Thess.1:6-10)
    • The closing words of the Old & New Testaments offer hope to the righteous as well as warning to the unrepentant.
    • The Last Word of God before Christ’s Incarnation

      “And he will turn
      The hearts of the fathers to the children,
      And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
      Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
      (Malachi 4:6)

      The Last Words of Christ from Heaven

      “He who testifies to these things says,
      ‘Surely I am coming quickly. Amen.’
      Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
      The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
      (Revelation 22:20-21)
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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