Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…
I. HIS FORERUNNER. John was to "make ready a people prepared for the Lord," and accordingly he aroused their attention, he removed their prejudices, he awakened their consciences., he announced the nearness of Messiah's approach, proclaimed the nature of His reign, convinced them of sin, and showed them that they stood in need of a much greater salvation than deliverance from the Roman yoke.
II. His CHARACTER. He is described in three ways.
1. By His person — the Lord. The word used is Adonai, a name for God, but not an incommunicable one like the name of Jehovah; for we find it sometimes applied to kings and superiors, It properly signifies authority and dominion. How fully does this apply to Him. He must have had a previous claim to dominion before He acquired this by obedience and suffering unto death.
2. By His office. "The Messenger of the covenant." Of the covenant of grace. He is the Mediator, and the Surety, and the Messenger of this covenant, because He was not only to procure its blessings, but to bestow them. "Messenger of the covenant" is His inferior title. It shows His infinite condescension and grace. His people will never suffer His glory to be injured by His goodness.
3. By the estimation in which He was holden. "Whom ye delight in." This will apply even to the carnal Jews, who did look for a Messiah. Much more does it apply to spiritual Jews.; He was desired and delighted in by all the people of God from the beginning.
III. HIS ADVENT. "Suddenly come to His temple." He was now to come incarnate — "clothed in a body like our own." Two things are mentioned with regard to His advent: the one regards the manner in which He was to come. Suddenly; which may mean both "soon" and "unawares." The other regards the place to which He was to come, His temple, Fulfilled by His presentation in the temple, and subsequent visits to it, and teaching in it.
IV. THE AWFULNESS OF HIS COMING. "Who may abide?" Observe the awfulness —
1. In the occasional emanations and displays of His majesty.
2. In His detection of characters.
3. In the calamities which were to renew the rejection of Him.
V. THE OPERATIONS OF HIS GRACE. "Like a refiner's fire," etc. The fuller's soap takes stains out without destroying the texture of the cloth, and gives it clearness and freshness of appearance: and the refiner's fire severs the dross from the ore, and instead of injuring it, prepares it for circulation or use, and makes it shine. Thus the Lord does with all the subjects of Divine grace. The incarnation of our Saviour regards two classes of men. To the one it is injurious, and to the other beneficial.
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.