Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…
Behold, I will send my messenger, etc. This passage seems to be an answer to the question of the sceptic in the last verse of the preceding chapter, "Where is the God of judgment?" It informs us that he will come, but that a preparatory work is necessary. It points to the advent of John the Baptist, the herald of that great Messiah predicted by ancient prophets, and who was the "Desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7, Authorized Version). The passage points to Christ as the great spiritual Reformer of the world, and teaches that as a Reformer -
I. HE IS GLORIOUS. This appears:
1. From the fact that a Divine messenger was sent to prepare the way for him. This messenger who did the preparatory work was John the Baptist, to whom Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5) referred when he spoke of a voice crying in the wilderness. This man was not only the greatest of all the prophets, but Christ tells us he was more than a prophet. He presented to his age, on the banks of the Jordan, in words of flame and a voice of thunder, an epitome of all the teaching of the previous prophets. He denounced sin, he urged repentance. But this man, great as he was, only prepared the way for the true Reformer.
2. From the description that is here given of him. He is here represented as the Proprietor of the temple, and as the "Messenger of the covenant." Christ is the world's spiritual Reformer. He revolutionizes the thoughts, the emotions, the aims, and habits of mankind. No one else has ever done this, and no one else ever can do it.
II. HE IS AWE INSPIRING. "Who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth?" In the presence of this Reformer, whose eye will penetrate into the depths of every soul, unrenewed men everywhere will stand aghast and tremble at their own moral enormities. When he appeared to them he would not flatter their theocratic nation's prejudice, but he would subject their principles to the fiery test of his heart-searching truth. Listen to what John the Baptist, his herald, said of him: "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees, therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and east into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Even Peter, in his awe inspiring presence said, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man!"
III. HE IS THOROUGH. "He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap." Two figures are here employed to indicate how thorough his reformation is. The smelter's fire, which burns out the corrupt ingredients that are mixed with the gold and silver; and the fuller's soap, whose alkaline salt cleanses all polluted garments from their dirt. In Christ's reformation, everything that is wrong, that is impure, is worked out of the human soul.
IV. HE IS PERSISTENT. "He shall sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver." He is intent upon the work, and makes no slight or passing business of it. As a refiner of gold and silver sits over the burning crucible until he sees his own face reflected in the metal, so Christ will continue his work until it is fully accomplished.
V. HE IS SUCCESSFUL. "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." He will constitute for men one day a "holy priesthood," a priesthood that will render to the Almighty offerings that are holy and acceptable to him.
CONCLUSION. Blessed be the Eternal Father for sending such a Reformer into this corrupt world, One in every way qualified for the work, One who has reformed millions now in Paradise, is still reforming thousands on this earth, and will one day work out the moral reformation of the race. "He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he hath set judgment [rectitude] in the earth" (Isaiah 42:4). - D.T.
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.