11/5 Malachi 3:1

1 "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 in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

The people of the restored nation were asking, "Where is the God of justice" (Malachi 2:17). They saw the backslidden condition of their nation and yet wondered why the Messiah didn't come and set things right. The same cry was going up in Jesus' day. The corrupt priesthood and the oppression of the Romans had people praying for the coming of the Messiah. You may have heard or even uttered a similar cry. When will the LORD return to end all injustice and suffering?

God answered that cry with a stern warning. The first sentence is quoted in three of the Gospels (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27). They tell us that it refers to John the Baptist. "Me" is the Lord, for whom the way is prepared. The rest of the passage in Malachi tells us that His coming was not quite what they expected. He was coming to refine them all like metal is refined in a furnace. He was going to be a witness against sorcerers, adulterers, liars, abuse of workers by employers, those who oppress the widow and fatherless, those who would not help travelers, as well as those who do not fear Him (Malachi 3:5).

The messenger of the covenant is Jesus, who is not the same as the messenger who prepares the way. Jesus did come unexpectedly to the Temple and cleaned it out (John 2:15-17). He made a new covenant between God and man with His own blood. He did expose the hypocrisy of the religious and the sin of many. Like most prophecies, the ultimate fulfillment will be when He comes the second time in judgment. And who can stand when He appears (Malachi 3:2)!

Consider: The refinement comes through the trials of life. For those who are in Christ, those fiery trials burn off the dross and help prepare us for heaven.