Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…
Here before us is a twofold prediction. We have a forerunner of Christ announced in it, and then Christ Himself.
I. A FORERUNNER OF CHRIST.
1. His mission from God. "Behold I will send My Messenger" — there is his Divine mission. Reference is to John the Baptist. Observe the honour it puts upon him. It not only describes him as in the mind of God before his appearance, and as specially appointed by God to his office, but it makes him, like his great Master Himself, the subject of prophecy, and an object of expectation for ages to the Church. It was no personal pre-eminence that so peculiarly distinguished this man. It was this — he was nearer to Christ; he testified more plainly and fully of Him.
2. The work this forerunner was sent to perform. "He shall prepare the way before Me." Jehu came, sustaining the character and doing the work of the herald of Christ. The preaching of the Baptist should not only lead men to expect the Messiah, but should prepare their hearts to receive Him. What was it that first led some of you to seek Christ and welcome Him? Was it not a consciousness of sin, a sense of God's anger, a dread of merited destruction? Now examine John's preaching, and you will find it calculated to produce just these effects.
II. A PREDICTION OF CHRIST.
1. The names applied to Christ. He is "the Lord." He comes to "His temple." Thus the Holy Spirit asserts the Redeemer's Godhead. Another name is applied to Christ, a lowly one "the Messenger of the covenant." He sustains in relation to the covenant a similar character to that which John sustained towards Himself. He is God's servant, sent into our world on an errand connected with God's covenant of grace. The "covenant" is the term applied by Jehovah to the promises He has given His people to bless and save them. It shows them the stability of these promises, and the fixed purpose of God to perform them. And Christ is called the Messenger of this covenant, because He it is who makes it known. He, in His human nature, is the instrument employed by Jehovah in carrying it into effect. Observe the happy blending together in these two names of the Redeemer's greatness and lowliness — the Lord of hosts, and yet a servant.
2. The appearing of Christ in our world. Mark the place — "His temple." Mark the predicted manner of His appearing — "suddenly." Mark the certainty of His advent — "He shall come." Put three questions.
(1) What reception have you given to this heaven descended Saviour?
(2) With what feelings and expectations do you come up to this house of the Lord?
(3) How stand you prepared for the future coming of the Lord?
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes!" says Yahweh of Armies.