The Unexpectedness of the Advent
Malachi 3:1
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom you seek…

Shall suddenly come Two messengers are spoken of in this verse. John, the messenger, prepares the way for Jesus; and Jesus, the Messenger, prepares the way for God. Each was a sent and commissioned one. The coming to the temple is a figure of speech, and means coming to the people, not our Lord's actually entering into the temple. The people of Israel were the temple of the Lord, and of that true temple the material building was a sign. The point indicated in the expression of the text is that Messiah came with surprising suddenness upon the preparing work of John the Baptist. Only some six months of heralding when the King came. The suddenness may be illustrated along three lines.

I. THERE WAS GENERAL EXPECTATION OF MESSIAH. But it was general and vague, and in no way definite and precise. It anticipated the coming of some great One, but when he was coming, or for what he was coming, none seemed quite to know. So when he did come everybody was surprised. They did not think of his coming then, or in that particular way. Stapfer says that "the expectation of Messiah was visionary indeed. It was confused, capricious, fantastic, and at the same time precise and minute in detail, just like a dream. The very name he was to bear was doubtful."

II. THERE WAS GENERAL DELUSION RESPECTING MESSIAH. We are familiar with the idea of his delivering Israel from the Roman yoke, and restoring the kingdom of David, but this was quite the most sober form of the delusion of the age. Extravagant ideas so occupied men's minds that they could give no room to the idea of a spiritual Saviour from sin. Misconceiving the images under which Christ's coming had been foreshadowed, the people were expecting an earthly deliverer, a champion who would free them from foreign bondage, and they would gladly have spread their garments, waved their palm branches, and shouted their hosannas, if he had come to them as a conquering King. John broke into their delusions by his demand of repentance. Jesus broke into them still further by his ministry to sufferers and sinners. Suddenness and surprise characterized his going to and fro among the people, healing the sufferers and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Suddenness was needed to awaken them out of their delusions. The world had to be startled into thought.

III. THERE WAS GENERAL UNPREPAREDNESS FOR MESSIAH. The servants had not put the house ready for the Master. The priests had not. The scribes had not. Those who had prepared themselves were private persons who had very little influence on society. The unpreparedness is typified in this, "There was no room for him in the inn." His coming was not sudden to Simeon and Anna, because they were prepared through the revealed Word. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

The Messenger of the Covenant Delighted In
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