Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…
In these words Malachi proclaims to the Jews in Jerusalem the ideal future. Every nation lives in its past. It derives inspiration for noble and worthy conduct, from the memory of illustrious heroes whose names adorn its roll of fame. The Jew appealed to the magnificent episodes in the earlier history of His people, when God had signally and miraculously interposed on Israel's behalf. And He drew from this historical source arguments for a renewed faith in God, for a purified religious and national life. But every nation in whom there still throbs the pulse of a vigorous life lives also in an ideal future. It believes in its individual destiny. That destiny may not be clearly defined. It does not need clear definition to exert its power in shaping the course of a nation's history. The presence of a great idea is sufficient of itself to shed a guiding light upon a nation's onward track. Israel possessed a great leading idea with respect to its future, that, namely, of the coming of a Messiah. The nation held this idea under different forms at different periods of its history. In the latest of the prophets, in Malachi, there is a departure from the traditional picture of the nation's future. Malachi no longer speaks of the coming of an earth-born prince. He speaks of a heaven-born Messenger, who should carry into effect the covenant long established between Jehovah and His people. The "Messenger of the covenant," who should "sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver," who should separate the evil from the good; who should, like a glorious sun new risen upon the world with healing in his beams, bring new life and invigoration to all earnest souls, to all who feared the name of God. The moment in the nation's history which this verse brings before us is that when it is face to face with its apparently destined future, as that future is disclosed by the inspired voice of Malachi. The purpose for which the prophet draws his picture is, that he may rouse the conscience of the different classes of the people; and lead them to reconsider seriously, and in God's sight, their national, religious, and domestic duties. He derives from his contemplation of the ideal future of his nation an incentive for present action. Let us draw from a contemplation of the near future of our own country a motive and stimulus for present guidance and action.
1. Contrast Malachi's vision of the future of Israel with the ideal future of our own country. What is the mightiest force at present working in our national life? It is the progress of popular government, the rule of the country by the people of the country. The nineteenth century was the age of the growth of democratic institutions, of the spread of democratic ideas. This is the one grand force in our national life which contains within itself inexhaustible energies, the capacity for almost unlimited development. Nothing can successfully oppose its course. The tide of popular development will sweep forward. It is destined to attain vaster proportions. Shall we, as religious, God-fearing men, loving our country and humanity, caring for posterity, fail to recognise in this tendency of our age the summons of God to renewed earnestness, to intensified zeal? Shall we say that these vast political movements and issues have no voice for our conscience, no bearing on our Christian duty and Christian faith? The great Hebrew prophet Malachi rebukes us.
2. Look at our duty as Christian men, as Christian workers, in the light of the political destiny of our country. We should —
(1) Accept it fearlessly, and with full faith in God.
(2) Let the Christian Church determine that the movement shall be under the direction of Christian men.
(3) The necessity of promoting education and enlightenment becomes ever more clear.
(4) A new impetus is given to the preacher of the Gospel by the contemplation of this magnificent future of our country.
(A. J. Griffith.)
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.