Tag Archives: John the Baptist

In the Book of Malachi, Jesus is the Messenger of the Covenant

11 May

John the Baptist preaching
The people had just asked, “Where is the God of justice?” God responds by saying, He is coming. How will they recognize Him? A messenger will be sent on ahead of Him, to prepare the way.
“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me.” Mal. 3:1a
The idea here is of an envoy sent ahead to smooth out the path before a monarch arrived. He would make sure all was ready for the arrival of the king.
He is called My messenger, which is the meaning of Malachi’s name, but he is not referring to himself. This messenger will come in the spirit and power of Elijah. This is not Elijah himself, returned to earth. But someone much like him in appearance and in message.
The fact that “he will prepare the way before Me,” would remind them of Isaiah’s prophecy, which John the Baptist quotes to describe who he is.
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” Isa. 40:3-5
Each of the gospels quotes at least part of this text and Matthew also quotes from Malachi, linking the two in reference to John the Baptist.
“Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’
He said: ‘I am
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Make straight the way of the LORD,’“ as the prophet Isaiah said.’”
John 1:22,23
We know that John the Baptist, who preached in Judea prior to Jesus’ public ministry was similar in appearance to Elijah.
“Then he said to them, ‘What kind of man was it who came up to meet you and told you these words?’
So they answered him, ‘A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.’
And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.’” 2 Kings 1:7,8
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.’ ”

“Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”
Matt. 3:1-6
The content of John the Baptist’s preaching is described; it will reach men’s hearts and change them. He will prepare the way for the Saviour.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Mal. 4:5,6
The angel Gabriel announced this to John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias:
“But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” Luke 1:13-17
Jesus clearly says that John is the fulfillment of this prophecy:
“And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’
Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
Matt. 17:10-13
For this is he of whom it is written:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
Matt. 11:10-14
So, since we know that this prophecy was fulfilled 400 years after it was given, in the person of John the Baptist, it tells us that the Messenger of the Covenant would follow behind. He did. It’s one thing to send a messenger, which He had been doing up until this point, but quite another thing to come Himself.
“’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,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,’
Says the LORD of hosts.” Mal. 3:1
Malachi tells us a few things about Him: He is the Lord. He will come suddenly (unexpectedly), to His temple. He is the Messenger of the covenant.
First, He is the Lord. Isaiah’s prophecy said to ‘prepare the way of the LORD.’ And ‘a highway for our God.’ We saw in the book of Zechariah that God promised several times that He would come and dwell in their midst.
Second, He will come suddenly, to His temple. For it to be His temple and not just to the temple, means that He is the Lord. Jesus first public appearance after His baptism was to cleanse the temple. Three of the gospels record this. (Matt.21:12, Mark 11:15, and John 2:13).
Finally, He is called the Messenger of the covenant. He came to establish the new covenant.
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’” Lu. 22:19,20
So if the messenger who comes before is John the Baptist, then we know that Jesus is the One he was preparing the way for, as John also testified.
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.”’” John 1:29,30
The next description of what He would come to do was in reply to their question, “Where is the God of justice?” He says He is coming near for judgment, and to purify with fire and with soap. This refers to both His first and second coming, as in the first advent, He dealt with our sin problem. This resulted in offerings made that pleased Him. When He comes the second time, it will be for judgment, and all wrongs will be made right, because He is a God of justice.
The image of a refiner’s fire is that when a metal worker is refining silver, he heats it up, then scoops away the dross which rises to the surface. He keeps peering into it until he can see his reflection in the silver. Then he knows it is pure.
Likewise, God refines us in the fire of affliction, removing our sins, until He sees His image reflected in us.
When Jesus read from the prophecy of Isaiah in Nazareth, He read,
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,” Isa. 61:1, 2a
He then announced that this remarkable prophecy had been fulfilled in Himself. (Lu. 4:18,19) But if you look at what He didn’t read, the next line, it shows that a day of grace would precede the final judgment.
The next verse was, “and the day of vengeance of our God.”
This is similar to what we see here in Malachi’s prophecy. When prophets were given messages, they didn’t know which parts would be fulfilled when. Even John the Baptist preached themes of judgment that didn’t occur during Jesus’ ministry.
We are now in that day of grace between Jesus’ first and second advent. We should never demand justice, only cry for mercy.
Just as there were 400 years of silence till these prophecies were fulfilled, we are experiencing the silence of God for 2,000 years. Don’t be anxious for Him to speak again. He has said all that needs to be said through His Son. The next time He speaks will be when He comes to judge the earth. Today is the day of grace. Come to Him while there is still time.

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