Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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.The Coming of the Lord
Here is a twofold prediction: we have a forerunner of Christ announced in it and then Christ Himself.
I. This tells us two things of this forerunner.
a. It points out his mission from God. Our Lord Himself refers to this passage, and says that it points to John the Baptist and the ministry of the Baptist
b. The work this forerunner was to perform. The very appointment of a messenger to precede Jesus, even in His Humiliation, was a foresight and evidence of Christ's royal dignity of his being King over His believing people.
II. We have in this passage two statements of Christ's Divinity:—
a. He is called the Lord. It is most important thus to observe the Divinity of Jesus, not only where it is directly but even where it is incidentally stated in Scripture, for the Deity of Christ supports the very substance of our religion.
b. The end of the verse tells us, it is the Lord of Hosts. The Lord Jesus and the Lord of hosts are one and the same. Thus constantly throughout Scripture we meet with this same truth of the Deity of Jesus.
III. He is also called—
a. 'The messenger of the Covenant.' The covenant is the gracious term used by Jehovah in regard to the promises which He makes to His people to bless and save them.
b. A messenger. For it is He who has made known the glad tidings of salvation, and through the Holy Spirit He reveals and offers to us the blessing of the Gospel. In these two names we observe the happy blending together of our Lord's majesty and lowliness. He is the Lord of the temple, and at the same time a Messenger, the Lord of hosts and yet a servant.
IV. Observe the place, He shall come to his Temple; and about this temple the last three Prophets frequently spoke telling the Jews that they polluted and profaned it, but that the Lord Jehovah would one day honour it and come to it.
—E. J. Brewster, The Shield of Faith, p. 174.
The Glory of God's House
Malachi 3:1, etc
I. We may trace four stages in Messianic prophecy:—
a. From the Fall to the Exodus.
b. From the time of Moses to Saul.
c. The period of the earlier kings.
d. From Isaiah to Malachi.
II. Malachi tells of the coming of the Lord to His temple, and calls attention to the unexpectedness of that coming and to the misapprehension of its purpose. They had expected him to come and judge the heathen. But the Prophet warns them that they themselves shall be first judged.
III. The purpose of the temple was twofold. A house for God to dwell in among His people, and a place where acceptable sacrifices might be offered. We may notice three stages in the development of the sacrificial idea:—
e. The building of altars of sacrifice.
f. The building of a tabernacle in the wilderness to be a dwelling for the ark with which was associated God's abiding presence.
g. The temple planned by David and built by Solomon was but a development of the tabernacle, linked in the same way with God's presence.
IV. The temple reached its glory when Christ entered it The two ideas connected with the Temple blend into one in the Holy Eucharist, the presence and the sacrifice.
—A. G. Mortimer, One Hundred Miniature Sermons, p. 181.
References.—III. 1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 268. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 126. H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2611. III. 1, 2.—Bishop E. H. Browne, Messiah as Foretold and Expected, p. 30. III. 1, 3.—C. Stanford, Symbols of Christ, p. 175. III. 2.—F. B. Woodward, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 73. III. 3.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. v. p. 205. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1575.
The Light of Other Days
It seems as if we heard God's own voice in these words and the words that accompany them. This is not a man talking about the light of other days; it is, in the person of the Prophet, God Himself speaking, and saying, in effect, O that it were as it used to be! what times we had together in the long ago, in the former years, in the days of old! Things have gone wrong since then; the house is not what it used to be: O if these people would only return, repent, and give Me the opportunity of saying, I forgive you all, we should bring back the centuries we have lost, we should make new time, we should make forty-eight hours instead of twenty-four in the day; and by My grace and power we should accomplish the miracle of living our lives over again.
I. You remember some of the former days; the days, you know, when our love saw no difficulties. Love has always been blind; in that sweet sense may love never get its eyesight! To be blind is sometimes to be right and happy and secure. When love begins to see difficulties you may close the windows, and turn the key, and send in the man who will buy up wrecked happiness for bronze. If love should give way the mother has given way, and we always said that as long as mother was there we need not trouble about grate or cupboard or bed to sleep on. But when love gives way, sell your house, go out into the wilderness, and by accident drop in the sea if you can.
II. And who cannot recall those happy years when the soul was absolutely without a suspicion? Once we believed everybody; of course it never occurred to us that anybody could be saying anything that was not true. 'Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay.' That is the very soul of the kingdom of God—sincerity, simplicity, directness, emphasis, and candour. I long for the days when we never suspected anybody, when we thought there were no wrinkles in any heart, when we were perfectly sure that what was said to us was said in truth and innocence, simplicity and love, and might be relied upon to the last tick and syllable of the speech.
III. I sometimes want the days to come back when my confidence was absolutely strong, when I rose with a simple creed and worked it out all day, and then laid my head upon it at night and slept well. There was a time when. I thought that everything would come right, when I was quite sure that everything was right because God was in it.
Now we are glad when any man arises to give us an excuse for giving up our old ways; if he will hint that there is something wrong in this page or on that page, enough, we are quite willing if he can prove that, then we are away to serve the devil. Not that we care for criticism or archaeology or any verbal difficulties, but we are glad that men have arisen to point all these out, because it gives us chance to go with an easier conscience to redouble our social iniquities. Will the enthusiastic days of faith ever return, when men are battling at the church gates and saying, Open to me the gates of Zion; I will enter in and be glad and shout the Lord's song? I wonder.
—Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. Iv. p. 69.
References.—III. 6.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 236. III. 7.—J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 236. III. 8.—W. Baird, The Hallowing of our Common Life, p. 23. J. Foster, Lectures (2nd Series), p. 339.
Faith in Darkness
The internal state of Jerusalem was bad beyond all former example. The crimes of those men who one after another filled the high priest's office, and the general wickedness of the people, were quite enough to prevent them from expecting those blessings which had been promised as the reward of their faithful obedience.
I. To what then could a good man look with hope in such a time of darkness? Outward signs of God's favour to His people were nowhere to be seen; their condition was in no respect better, and in some it was worse, than that of the heathen nations around them. Had God then cast them off utterly, and was there nothing more to be hoped from trying to serve Him? Many of them did not scruple to say that it was so.
II. For those who looked only on the surface of things, there was nothing that could support their faith. But the more thoughtful, and those who loved God better, sought to find whether there was not some ground of comfort yet left them. They turned over the volume of the law and the prophets; they found trust in God urged as a duty which would never be practised in vain.
III. We must live by faith; that is, we must take much upon trust; we must sow in patience, believing that the harvest will come All our practice in common life is founded upon belief, not upon certainty: we cannot be sure that a single plan we form will answer; we cannot be sure that a single step we take will lead to our good. So then we may believe or not, as we choose; and herein lies our trial.
References.—III. 16.—J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 20. III. 16, 17.—J. C M. Bellew, Christian Life: Life in Christ, p. 249. C. D. Bell, The Name Above Every Name, p. 85. III. 18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1415. III.—Canon Jelf, Sermons for the People, p. 152.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?
And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.