Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…
The event announced is the appearance of that Great Deliverer who had for many ages been the hope of Israel, and was to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Concerning this desire of nations, Malachi here delivers no new prediction; but, by an earnest asseveration, uttered in the name and, as it were, in the person of the Deity, he means to confirm that general expectation which his predecessors had excited.
1. The characters under which the person is described whose coming is foretold. "The Lord," or Proprietor. It denotes dominion. "The Lord shall come to His temple." That is Jehovah's. Then the Christ whose coming Malachi announces is no other than the Jehovah of the Old Testament. From many texts it may be gathered that the promised Messiah is described by the more ancient prophets as no other than the everlasting God, the Jehovah of the Israelites. "The Messenger of the covenant." Not the Mosaic. Another covenant is spoken of as the new and the everlasting covenant. Of this covenant, so clearly foretold, and so circumstantially described by the preceding prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Malachi thinks it unnecessary to introduce any particular description. The Messenger of the covenant is Jehovah's servant, for a message is a service; it implies a person sending, and a person sent; in the person who sendeth there must be authority to send, — submission to that authority in the person sent. But the servant of the Lord Jehovah is the Lord Jehovah Himself; not the same person with the sender, but bearing the same name because united in that mysterious nature and undivided substance which the name imports. The same person therefore is servant and Lord. Another character of the Messiah must be added. He is the Messenger whom "they delight in" But this expression here is ironical; the words express the very reverse of that which they seem to affirm. There is more or less of severity in this ironical language, by which it stands remarkably distinguished from the levity of ridicule, and is particularly adapted to the purposes of invective and rebuke. It denotes conscious superiority, sometimes indignation, in the person who employs it; it excites shame, confusion, and remorse in the person against whom it is employed, — in a third person, contempt and abhorrence of him who is the object of it. Irony is the keenest weapon of the orator.
2. The particulars of the business upon which the person announced is said to come. It is reducible to these — the final judgment, when the wicked shall be destroyed; a previous trial or experiment of the different tempers and dispositions of men, in order to that judgment; and something to be done for their amendment and improvement. The trial is signified under the image of an assayer's separation of the nobler metals from the dross with which they are blended in the ore. The means used for the amendment and improvement of mankind, by the Messiah's atonement for our sins, by the preaching of the Gospel, and by the internal influences of the Holy Spirit, — all these means, employed under the Messiah's covenant, for the reformation of men, are expressed under the image of a fuller's soap, which restores a soiled garment to its original purity. One particular effect of this purification is to be, that the "sons of Levi" will be purified. The worship of God shall be purged from all hypocrisy and superstition, and reduced to a few simple rules, the natural expressions of true devotion. "And then shall this offering of Judah and Jerusalem" (that is, of the true members of God's true Church) "be pleasant unto the Lord." All these prophecies were fulfilled, or will yet be fulfilled, in Jesus of Nazareth.
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.