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II. The Purposefully Refining God v1-4
In the first part of chapter 3 and verse one we hear Malachi prophesy, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger…” I am going to send my messenger, literally in Hebrew “Malachi.” He alludes to this messenger’s identity in Malachi 4:5: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.” This messenger is not Malachi. This messenger is referred to as Elijah. We learn more as we read in verse 1: “and he will clear the way before Me.” That phrase, clear the way, is used elsewhere in Scripture. In Isaiah 40:3-5 were read, “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Obviously this is prophesying the coming of John the Baptist, whom Jesus informed his disciples was “Elijah” (Matthew 11:14).
We see John fulfill this prophesy from Malachi and Isaiah in Mark 1:1-11. We read:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; 3 THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.
As we put the puzzle pieces together, we learn if “my messenger” is John the Baptist, then the “me” is Jesus. Malachi is showing us that John the Baptist would come and clear the way for Christ, the Lord. He goes on in the latter part of verse one to say, “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.” John cleared the way before the coming of the Lord who would appear suddenly! He did appear suddenly in the temple when He cleansed it. It was sudden when He began swinging His whip, overturning tables, loosing animals, and driving Jewish religious leaders out of the temple. He came suddenly when He died on the cross and the veil separating the holy of holies from the holy place was torn in from top to bottom opening the way for us to enter into His presence. And in A.D. 70 when the temple was destroyed, it was a sudden coming of judgment from Jesus Christ Himself most likely prophesied, at least in a way and to an extent, in Matthew 24.
Malachi goes on in verse two: “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” This is not the blonde haired, blue eyed, she-Jesus that we see in all of the Roman Catholic paintings. This is the Jesus that drives us to our knees! This is the Jesus of Revelation 1:13-17a.
“and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.”
He came first to redeem with blood. He will come again to refine with fire! Now notice that he describes the Lord and the messenger of the covenant as the one in whom you “delight” in verse 1. Remember that they had just accused God of delighting in the one who did evil in v17. So it is as if God is saying, you think I delight in evil and you think you delight in the Lord, but you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. You will not be able to endure the day of his coming! You won’t be able to stand. He will be like a refiner’s fire. Verses 3 and 4 say, “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.” The Lord of Hosts is a purposefully refining God. He is thirdly the supreme judge God.