God answers their complaints of the absence of His judgments, that they would come, but would include those also who clamored for them. For no one who knew his own sinfulness would call for the judgment of God, as being himself, chief of sinners. Augustine pictures one saying to God, "Take away the ungodly man," and that God answers, "Which?"
Behold, I send My messenger before My face, and he shall prepare My way before Me - they, then, were not prepared for His Coming, for whom they clamored. The messenger is the same whom Isaiah had foretold, whose words Malachi uses Isaiah 40:3 : "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straiqht in the desert a highway for our God. Luke 1:76. Thou, child," was the prophecy on John the Immerser' s birth, "shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way, to give knowledge of salvation unto His people, for the remission of their sins." Repentance was to be the preparation for the kingdom of Christ, the Messiah, for whom they looked so impatiently.
He who speaks, is He who should come, God the Son. For it was before Him Who came and dwelt among us, that the way was to be prepared. He speaks here in His divine nature, as the Lord Who should send, and Who should Himself come in our flesh. In the Gospel, when He was come in the flesh, He speaks not of His own Person but of the Father, since "indivisible are the operations of the Trinity, and what the One doth, the other Two do, since the Three are of one nature, power and operation." Whence Christ, in order to give no excuse to the Jews to speak against Him before the time, refers it, as He does His life John 6:57. His doctrine John 7:16 words John 3:11; John 5:43; John 8:38, John 8:40, John 8:47, John 8:55; John 12:49; John 14:10, John 14:24 and works John 4:34; John 5:19-20, John 5:26, John 5:30, John 5:36; John 6:38; John 8:28; John 9:4; John 10:25, John 10:32, John 10:37-38; John 14:10-11 to the Father.
"Those works, which do not relate to that which b uniquely belongs to each Person, being common, are ascribed now to One Person, now to Another, in order to set forth the One Substance in the Trinity of Persons." Thus, John says John 12:41. Isaiah spoke of the unbelief of the Jews, when he "saw" the "glory" of God the Son "and spake of Him," and Paul says Acts 28:25. that the "Holy Spirit spake" then "by" him.
And he shall prepare the way before Me o - "The same is God' s way here, and Christ' s there, an evident proof that Christ is one God with the Father, and that, in Christ, God came and was manifest in the flesh." The prophets and all who turned men to righteousness, or who retained the knowledge of the truth or of righteousness or of God in the world, did, in their degree, prepare the way for Christ. But John was His immediate forerunner "before His Face," the herald of His immediate approach; from where he is called "the end of the law, and the beginning of the Gospel," "the lamp before the Light, the voice before the Word, the mediator between the Old and the New Testament;" "the link of the law and of grace; a new morning star; a ray, before the true Sun should burst forth," the end of night, the beginning of day.
And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple - He, Whose Coming they sought for, was Almighty God, "the God of Judgment." He who should come, was "the Lord," again Almighty God, since, in usage too, none else is called "the Lord," as none else can be. The temple also, to which He was to come, the temple of God, is His own. "The messenger, or the Angel of the covenant," plainly, even from the parallelism, is the same as "the Lord." It was "one," for whom they looked; one, of whose absence they complained; Malachi 2:17, "where is the God of judgment?" one, who should come to His temple , one whose coming they sought and prepared "to have pleasure in;" one, of whom it is repeated, "lo, He cometh," one, in the day of whose coming, at whose appearing, it was asked, "who shall stand?" "All Christian interpreters are agreed that this Lord is Christ Acts 2:36, whom God hath made both Lord and Christ, and Acts 10:36. Who is Lord over all; by whom all things were made, are sustained and governed; Who is (as the root of the word implies) the basis and foundation, not of any private family, tribe or kingdom, but of all; I Corinthians 8:6. by whom are all things and we by Him: and whose we are also by right of redemption; and so He is Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16. Lord of lords and King of kings, deservedly called the Lord." As then the special presence of God was often indicated in connection with "the Angel of the Lord," so, here, He who was to come was entitled the Angel or messenger of the covenant, as God also calls Him the covenant itself.
Isaiah 42:6, "I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, a light of the Gentiles." He it was Isaiah 63:9, "the Angel of His presence," who saved His former people, in whom His "Name was," and who, by the prerogative of God, would Exodus 23:21, "not pardon their transgressions." He should be Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 8:6, "the Mediator of the new and better covenant" which is promised Jeremiah 31:32-33; Hebrews 8:9, "not according to the covenant, that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt," which "My covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord; but this shall be the covenant, that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God and they shall be My people."
Whom ye seek, are seeking, whom ye delight in - , i. e., profess so to do; "He will come," but will be very different from Him whom ye look for, an Avenger on your enemies. Judgment will come, but it will begin with yourselves.
Shall suddenly come - o "unawares, when men should not think of them; whence perhaps it is that the Jews reckon the Messiah among what shall come unawares." As, it is here said of His first Coming, so it is said of His second Coming (which may be comprehended under this here spoken of) that except they diligently watch for it Luke 21:35, "it shall come upon them unawares Mark 13:36. suddenly Matthew 24:44. in such an hour as they think not." "The Lord of glory always comes, like a thief in the night, to those who sleep in their sins."
Lo, He will come - : he insists again and calls their minds to that Coming, certain, swift, new, wonderful, on which all eyes should be set, but His coming would be a sifting-time.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Malachi 3:1:
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