The messenger

The messenger

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. – Malachi 3:1

Malachi 3:1-5

 1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

 2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.

 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.

 4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.

 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

The end of the 20th century saw the rise of the new technology SMS (Short Message Service). Originally it was alphanumeric characters but soon expanded to digital images, video, sound, and ideograms (emoji). SMS was used for the 1st time in 1992 in the UK.

Text messaging, or simply texting, became a quick and easy way to meet communicate.

Messaging of course is nothing new. In the Old Testament, the Father used His servants the prophets to communicate His messages. Messages bring good news or bad news and are often intended to challenge and provoke repentance and restoration.

The Hebrew word translated messenger is malak. While the Greek word is aggelos. From which we get the English word angel. The name of the prophet Malachi translates into English as my messenger.

The prophet Malachi is the last writing prophet of the Old Testament. He prophesied between about 450 BC and 425 BC. He was sent by the Father to the Jewish people living in Judea after their return from the Babylonian exile. In the Protestant Bible, Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. The end of his prophetic ministry inaugurated a time of silence from the Father that lasted over 400 years.

It was finally broken by John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, preparing the way of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last Old Testament prophet anticipates the coming of the first New Testament prophet, John the Baptist.

How do we know that John is the messenger that Malachi spoke of in his prophecy? So often people simply share their opinions and ideas without any biblical basis. In this particular case, the Lord Jesus Christ identified John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy.

Matthew 11:10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.”

REFLECT & PRAY

The words of John the Baptist prepared away in the wilderness for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, it is in Your loving heart to communicate with Your children. When You send a message, make my heart sensitive and open to receiving it. May John’s words prepare the way in my heart to receive and walk with You fully.

INSIGHT

Malachi is among the most confrontational minor prophets. His book is a long, heated argument between him, the Father’s servant, and the rebellious, materialistic religious leaders. They are still intractable and bellicose. Sadly, when they defied the Father, the living God, our misguided priorities moved them to make tremendously poor choices. Sadder still, they had learned little from dreadful consequences of their actions: the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, the cessation of the reign of Davidic kings, and 70 years of harsh, difficult captivity.

They had returned from the Babylonian captivity. But rather than focusing on making things right, worshiping the Father, and restoring the Temple, they spent their time and resources on themselves. Rather than honoring the Father by offering top-of-the-line, spotless sacrifices, as required by the law of Moses, they presented the Lord God Almighty with their rejects, seconds, and paltry leftovers. Their trifling performance was essentially good for nothing.

If you are on the receiving end, how would you feel if something similar happened to you? The Father is livid! His words spoken through Malachi are burning hot. You almost have to duck as you read them.

Malachi 1:6-12

 6 “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’“

 7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect.”

 8 “When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

 10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.”

 12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table.”

The people are in total denial. In essence, they are saying, “We have done nothing wrong! What’s the problem?” Besides, the Lord God Almighty does not truly deserve our best, does He? It’s just too much trouble!

Malachi 1:13 “You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the LORD,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the LORD.

Surely, almost any reasoning child of the King would experience a sense of outrage towards such utter disrespect and contempt of the Father that they love. However, before we condemn them for their actions outright, a bit of self-reflection is in order. Are we free from similar attitudes? Do we give the Father our best? Or do we simply give Him what we have leftover? What was the last time a church received a brand-new piano, rather than a secondhand one?

In my mind’s eye, I visualize Malachi confronting me about my misplaced priorities and poor choices. My heart is sad, my countenance is fallen. For I know in my heart of hearts, I am not significantly different than ancient Israel.

The Father calls it robbery! Were they really stealing from the living God? Did they honestly think they can cheat Him of what He deserves? Indeed so! And what about us? Do we rob God (Malachi 3:8)?

Malachi is a book of transitions. His writings marked the end of the Old Testament itself. He is the last of the Old Testament messengers. His book inaugurates 400 years of silence from God. The silence is only broken by the messenger of which he prophesied. The Old Testament came to a close without the hoped-for, promised King or kingdom. The New Testament opens with the entrance of the King. The Father’s promised messenger introduces His promised King, the Lord Jesus Christ to Israel (John 1:29–31).

¯\_()_/¯

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