Malachi 3:1
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. It is fully recognized that the allusion here is to the ministry of John the Baptist. In him was realized the fulfilment of the promise that Elijah should come again. Our Lord declared that Elijah had come, in his time, and had not been recognized. And the disciples understood him to speak of John the Baptist. The more familiar figure of a "preparer of ways" is that given in Isaiah 40:3, 4. In vision the prophet sees the march of a triumphant king and army. The heralds pass on before, ordering the removal of every obstacle, making level and safe the roadway, and proclaiming with sound of trumpet the speedy coming of the great king. If John was the Lord's herald or messenger, he certainly was a very strange one. There was nothing whatever about him that suggested the herald; no gay clothing, no bannered trumpet. He did not hurry through the land, proclaiming his message in every market place. He tarried by the banks of the Jordan, a quiet man, dressed only in cheap camel's hair garments, and satisfied with a leather thong for a girdle. The mission entrusted to him was distinctly and only a mission of preparation. But that work was complete in itself, and of the utmost importance in relation to the after work of the Redeemer. The subject suggested is the mission of those who effect no results, but only prepare the way for those who achieve results.

I. PREPARATION WORK IS ESSENTIAL. The secret of the failure of many enterprises that looked hopeful is found in the fact that they were not efficiently prepared for. The Reformers before the Reformation were preparers of the Reformation. A building depends upon the skill with which the lines for its walls are dug, and the concrete foundations laid. David did an invaluable work when he gathered the material for the temple which he might not build. Two things may be, opened out.

1. The man prepared for can never do the preparer's work. He is not fitted for it. And yet he is wholly dependent on that preparer's faithfulness. With reverence we may say that our Lord could not do John's work, yet John's work must come before his.

2. Material preparations often precede spiritual missions. There is a removing of obstructions, a mastering of difficulties, and a smoothing of roads, which must precede the free exertion of moral and spiritual influences.

II. PREPARATION WORK IS REALLY COMPLETE WORK. It always is relative to the man who does the preparations. It does not seem to be when we are judging the whole work. A man does his life work well who just completes the preparations entrusted to him. But there is no encouragement of manifest results; and men entrusted with preparation work have to be men of faith. - R.T.







Behold, I will send My messenger.
Sermons by Monday Club.
The coming of the Messiah was in the time of the world's deepest wants. As in all instances of national degeneracy, two special causes bore their fruit in Malachi's time.

1. Neglect of the Divine ordinances. No Divine law has ever been given that was not essential to human well-being. A neglect of the Divine standard is consequently a sin against one's self. There is not a Bible precept that is unreasonable, and therefore it is unreasonable to give no heed to what is written. In this respect the sufferings of Israel were self-imposed.

2. Decay of spiritual life. It is hardly possible to realise the depth of wickedness portrayed by the prophet.The priests despised the name of Jehovah. The people had robbed God, and declared it a vain thing to serve Him. In a twofold way we observe the relation of such a lack of service to the national life. This sin resulted in the alienation of the hearts of the children from their parents. It is a mark of national decay when the children make light of their fathers, when they scoff at former virtues. Again, sin against God always carries with it wrong-doing against man. Love cannot be localised upon men while withheld from God. The man who cannot truly honour God will not truly honour man. Our deeds declare our religion. Well did the prophet ask, "Who may abide the day of His coming?" Who shall bear the tests of His judgment? The prophesied coming of Elijah referred to John the Baptist. There is something sublime in the rugged character that confronted a degenerate nation. He only who knows the Divine greatness and power can have courage to rebuke the self-conceit that resists God. The life of the Baptist interprets the two great lessons of the prophecy in our text calling for notice.

1. Our hope rests in the unchanging God. The idea of changeableness in the one trusted destroys all faith in its very essence. It is unhuman to love the being that to-morrow may turn against us. But for this Divine characteristic no sinner could stand in God's sight. It was this truth against whose bright background Israel's sin is of the deepest guilt.

2. The suicide of unbelief. God added no terrors to Israel's sufferings in the fiery day. They had but to remember their words, "His blood be on us, and on our children." Unbelief can stay the exercise of Divine mercy towards the individual, but it cannot keep back its own retribution. It can give blindness to the heart, but it cannot blot out the Divine judgment. Against the darkness of the prophet's picture there is another, of brighter meaning. There is a healing power in the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Light takes the place of darkness. The righteous shall not be as flowers to fade and to die, but rather, strong and a source of joy, like the herds that feed in richest pastures. Jehovah is that blazing sun of glory. Unbelief brings a sunset of terror, while righteousness is itself the sunrise of everlasting joy.

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

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.

(Bishop Horsley.)

1. John the Baptist as a kind of connecting link between the law and the Gospel. He displayed much of the austerity of the prophets of old. He may be said to have taught that the law was about to be swept away as a covenant of works; there was not to be introduced any system but one of strict and self-denying morality As he preached a baptism of repentance, and not one of mere ceremonial purification, it became evident that the long twilight of figure and type was about to be succeeded by the clear day of spiritual and heart work religion. John occupied a most singular position: commissioned neither to enforce the law nor to proclaim the Gospel. He may be called a man of two worlds. He stood mysteriously between the law and the Gospel, being neither instructed to marshal the shadows nor privileged to exhibit the substance. And yet with all this John was not ignorant of the atoning sacrifice which Jesus was to offer. From the lips of John flowed the first announcement of an expiatory sacrifice. "Behold the Lamb of God." But the preaching of the Gospel includes a vast deal more than the showing forth of the doctrine of the dying Redeemer. Upon this doctrine, as a foundation, rests every other; but the superstructure is not to be confounded with the foundation. Christ must be preached as a risen, a living, and a glorified Saviour. John was a messenger sent to prepare Christ's way. But in every case the herald of an illustrious personage announces but part of the business on which that personage comes.

2. Notice the titles here given to Christ: "the Lord" (Adonai), and the "Messenger of the covenant." There is much in the latter title which has to do with the offices of Christ. His special business was, enacting a fresh covenant between God and the human race. The only covenant God could make is one whereby He promises blessings and at the same time prescribes conditions. The whole drawing up of the covenant must be, so to speak, with God. God proposes it, and the only thing which man can have to do is merely to embrace it.

(Henry Melvill, B. D.)

The Thinker.
I. THE GREATNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.

1. The angel said he should be "great in the sight of the Lord" (Luke 1:18). He was "a prophet," and "more than a prophet."

2. What is a prophet? A teacher? Yes, but one who is taught directly by God. He not only predicts the future, but he is the revealer of God's will for the present.

3. John was "more than a prophet." This is explained in three ways.

(1)He was prophesied of.

(2)He was more than a prophet in the richness of his illumination.

(3)Through his nearness to Christ — going before the face of the Lord.

4. The praise of Christ is the purest indication and guarantee of the excellence of His forerunner.

II. THE GREATNESS OF HIS WORK.

1. He had to make ready the way of the Lord in souls, by preaching repentance.

2. The most remarkable part of his office was that of pointing out and bearing witness to "the Light."

III. LESSONS.

1. Observe how God uses human agency in the accomplishment of His purposes.

2. The preparation is the same in all approaches of the Lord.

3. The work of the Baptist reminds us of the importance of preparation before Holy Communion, when Christ comes hiddenly to us.

(The Thinker.)

These words were spoken to the unbelieving priests of Malachi's days, who professed that they could see no tokens of the presence of God among His people. The Lord describes —

I. THE PREPARATION FOR HIS COMING. John the Baptist prepared the way "of the Lord" —

1. By his singular birth.

2. By his awakening ministry.

3. By direct testimony. "He saw and bare record that this was the Son of God."

II. THE TIME OF HIS COMING. Suddenly, or immediately after the preparation of His way by the "messenger." How remarkably did the facts agree with the prediction!

III. THE DIGNITY OF HIS COMING. No mere man could use such authoritative words. "He shall prepare the way before Me."

IV. THE SPECIAL BUSINESS OF HIS COMING. "Messenger of the covenant." "Equal with the Father, as touching His Godhead," Christ is at the same time " inferior to the Father as touching His manhood," in order that He might become the Messenger of heaven to a lost world. He came to reveal and to fulfil His own part in a gracious covenant of redemption for guilty sinners.

V. THE CERTAINTY OF HIS COMING. The unbelieving Jews doubted it; even the faithful were despondent; the prediction is therefore attested by a most solemn assurance, "Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts."

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

This passage cannot speak of any intervention of the Deity, like that which the nation of Israel had often experienced; here was a prediction of the Messiah to come. His Divine nature is declared, and yet, when He is spoken of as the Messenger of the Almighty, we see Him as distinct from God in His human nature. He is the Lord who should come to His own temple; and He is the Messenger or Servant of the Lord of hosts. He is not the Messenger of the Mosaic covenant. That had long previously been established under Moses, as its mediator. Isaiah writes of another covenant, an "everlasting covenant." The national covenant must pass to give way to a better. Of this new covenant, to receive the elect remnant of the Jews, and to gather around them all the elect people of the Gentiles — of this covenant it is here said, that the Messiah to come was to be the Messenger; He should establish the covenant; He should be its source; He should be its Mediator; He should be the very substance of the covenant. It was His blood formed that covenant; when He made an atonement for transgression He rendered it possible, because it became just and right that the Almighty should again enter into a covenant of peace with His rebellious creatures. Look at Christ under this character, the "Messenger of the covenant," — Him who was sent of God to establish and confirm it. He, in order to bring His people into covenant with God, has been their substitute in suffering. He would also secure us every best blessing. He has become our wisdom, He has also become our sanctification. He is also our perfect example. He becomes an advocate for each of His offending people. And He is our High Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities. The prophet tells of the reception which the Saviour was to meet. "Whom ye delight in." And good reason have we to delight in this Messenger of the covenant, if indeed we have tasted of His love. We may delight in what He has done, what He does, and what He will do for us.

(Hon. and Rev. B. W. Nod, M. A.)

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.)

What manner of personage would He be did He condescend to appear among us? Should we know Him merely by His bearing and character? We must believe that, as in Judea of old, Christ would meet men with all consideration and courtesy. All, or almost all, the good manners which we have among us — courtesies, refinements, self-restraint, mutual respect — we owe to Christ, to the influence of His example, and to that Bible which testifies of Him. Conceive — but which of us can conceive? — His perfect tenderness, patience, sympathy, graciousness, and grace, combined with perfect strength, stateliness, even awful ness, when awe was needed. He alone, of all personages of whom history tells us, solved in His own words and deeds the most difficult paradox of human character, — to be at once utterly conscious and utterly unconscious of self; to combine with perfect self-sacrifice a perfect self-assertion. He condescended, in His teaching of old, to the level of Jewish knowledge at that time. We may therefore believe that He would condescend to the level of our modern knowledge; and what would that involve? It would leave Him, however, far less than Himself, at least Master of all that the human race has thought or discovered in the last eighteen hundred years. He might speak as never yet man spoke on English soil, might speak with an authority, originality, earnestness, as well as eloquence which might exercise a fascination, purifying though painful as a "refiner's fire"; a fascination equally attractive to those who wished to do right, and intolerable to those who wished to do wrong. But how long would His influence last? As before, there might come a day when His hearers and admirers would become fewer through bigotry, envy, fickleness, cowardice, etc. And so the world, the religious world as well as the rest, might let Him go His way, and vanish from the eyes and minds of men, leaving behind little more than a regret that one so gifted and so fascinating should have proved — so unsafe and so unsound a teacher.

(Canon Charles Kingsley.)

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.)

In the days of Malachi there were many who, as the prophet says, even " wearied the Lord with their words." They said that God delighted in the wicked as much as in the good, and denied that He would ever put any difference between them. "Where," said they, "is the God of judgment?" Notice —

I. WHAT THE PROPHET SAYS RESPECTING OUR LORD'S ADVENT. Jesus is here described under the most august titles. He is the Lord, the supreme Ruler and Governor of heaven and earth. Yet, notwithstanding His equality with the Father as God, He assumes the form of a servant, and comes as the Messenger of the covenant. In this office He was an object of desire and delight long before He came into the world. He was "the Desire of all nations." The circumstances of His advent were minutely foretold.

1. He was to be preceded by a herald or messenger. This messenger was John. The conduct of the Baptist excited universal attention, and very general admiration.

2. The temple was the place to which especially He was to come.

3. His advent, though so long predicted, was to be sudden. The manner of His appearance was so contrary to the worldly notions entertained respecting Him that He was overlooked and even rejected as an impostor.

II. THE EFFECTS WHICH THE PROPHET DESCRIBES AS ATTENDING THE ADVENT OF THE SAVIOUR.

1. As the characters of those to whom He was to come were very various, so His advent was to prove discriminating. To discover the hidden dispositions of the heart was one intent of our Lord's coming. This effect still follows from the preaching of the Gospel. Men, though unconscious of it them selves, are led to manifest their real characters, either as careless Pharisees or atheistical scoffers or humble believers.

2. As a consequence of this discriminating effect of our Saviour's advent it will also prove destructive. A refiner's fire will consume the dross, and fuller's soap will purge the filth of that to which it is applied. So will our Lord eventually destroy many of those to whom He comes. Their sins are aggravated by His coming.

3. There are many whom the advent of Christ will have the effect of purifying. How comfortable it should be for those who are enduring trials of affliction below, to know that while they are in the furnace the Refiner Himself sitteth over them, watching the process with all due solicitude, and taking care that they shall lose nothing but their dross. Two questions.

(1)What reception have you given to Christ since His first coming?

(2)What preparation have you made for His future advent?

(G. Preston.)

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.

(William Jay.)

Taking John the Baptist as only the precursor of the Lord Jesus, let us look at what is here predicated of Him.

1. It is declared, "He shall suddenly come to His temple." "His" temple implies that He was Lord of the temple. The Jewish people anxiously looked forward to His coming, but greatly mistook its object. They little thought what a searcher of heart and correcter of wrong He would be.

2. Notice how He acted in respect to His temple when He came.(1) One of His early acts was to cast out them that bought and sold there.(2) Observe His righteous indignation against evil wherever He met with it.(3) This was the proximate cause, no doubt, why the Jews put Him to death.

3. Notice the result of His coming as respects others.(1) It would subject men's characters to a severe trial. Fire separates between the gold and the dross: and the fuller's soap fetches the spots out of the stained cloth. How would this be done? By the preaching of the Word. By His dealings with His people.

(Stephen Jenner, M. A.)

I. THROUGH HIS FIRST COMING. The prophet Malachi announces the Saviour as one who on His appearing will set on foot a great purifying among the people of Israel. Christ's forerunner, John the Baptist, of whom our text speaks, alluded to this. With the greatest earnestness he insisted on purification of heart. The forgiveness of sins, through faith in Christ, is the great purification, through which we are presented pure and holy before God. Thus has Christ laid in Himself a foundation for the purifying and sanctifying of our entire race.

II. THROUGH HIS DAILY, INVISIBLE COMING the Lord exercises His purifying office for our salvation. What Christ did in person at His first coming in the flesh He does now by His Holy Spirit. Even the gold that has been purified needs a continuous purifying. The stain of earthliness still clings too readily even to the pure heart, the flesh always lusts against the spirit; and sin, so long as we tarry in the body, is a foe always cleaving to and burdening us. Therefore does the Lord come even to believing souls with many a crucible of affliction, in which He again and again cleanses the gold from dross, that it may be fitted for His temple. But He often exercises His purifying office inwardly by a gracious coming to our hearts. He then comes with a specially blessed sense of His love, by which we are made ashamed and dissolve in love, such fire of love removing impurity.

III. AT HIS SECOND COMING IN GLORY the lord will destroy all anti-Christian ways, and all human pride that raises itself against Him. The day of His first coming the people might, well abide. He had veiled His glory under our weak flesh, Who would not rather in the day of grace be purified by the inner fire of Christ's and the Spirit's love and grace? To-day is the season of grace, to-morrow perhaps not.

(S. C. Kapff.)

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