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, 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.
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.