Malachi 3:1-3. “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.2 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.3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
Malachi is the last prophet to speak before the birth of Jesus Christ. But as the nation of Israel awaits their savior they will wait through 400 years of silence and the hiddenness of God. They will live through years of oppression at the hands of nation after nation opposed to God. But Malachi has a message of hope for the nation and the world. I will send my messenger, he says. And, don’t miss what God says next, he will prepare the way before ME.
The messenger will go before the Lord himself – The Lord will come to his temple. God’s Messiah is God.
But as with all the prophets, Malachi paints a picture of impending judgment and doom. It’s not pretty. Who can endure the day of his coming…who can stand when he appears? So much for hope. Yes, God will return, but no one can withstand the judgment of God. Can they?
But look at verse 2b and 3. The judgment of God is a refiner’s fire.
There is hope. We can survive. Not only can we survive, we can come out of the judgment better than when we went in. The judgment of God upon us won’t destroy us, it will refine us. But how? How is this possible?
Union with Christ.
400 years later, John the Baptist will be the messenger Malachi predicted. And if that is true, then that means Jesus is the coming Lord God. The one who will suddenly come to his temple. The one who brings refinement through judgment.
Malachi’s prophecy can be traced through John’s gospel. Jesus Christ is God (1:1-3). John the Baptist testifies of Christ (1:6-7); who then refines or judges the temple (2:13-22). This is the great plot twist of history, and Malachi foresaw it – God himself is his own Messiah. Jesus the Messiah is both human and divine. Man and God. Of course, it all makes sense now. No mere human could save us. God himself had to break into time and space to do it himself.
In this is the greatest of hopes, that Christ our judge is also Christ our savior. The One who will judge you and me has already been judged FOR you and me. And by our union with Christ’s death he has already judged us at the cross. Therefore, we are justified already. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And now Malachi’s prophecy finds it’s fulfillment in our hearts. The one who has judge us at the cross has entered into his temple – us! This is our hope. The hope of “to live is Christ.”
Now we can answer Malachi’s question – But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
Those who are united to Christ. How? Because the refining fire and fuller’s soap has worked in us by the Spirit of Christ in us, to cleanse us of all sin, and to purify us for eternity.
Now what the prophet declared can be said of each of us:
Malachi 3:17-18. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
“To live is Christ” is to be hope realized. We are what Israel waited 400 years to be – the treasured possession of the Lord. And at the second coming of Christ we will be spared by God because of the Son who served him. And so today may we be the living temple of the Lord God. And through our lives may others see THE Righteous Servant of the Lord. Jesus our Savior.
Where is your hope today? Is it in Jesus your Savior Judge?
You in Christ
In Christ you are the cleansed temple of God. How does this change your heart today?
Christ in you
Can people see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked in your life?
Playlist: Songs of hope.