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Behold: Beware, Believe, Repent, Receive (Mal. 3:1-6)

Studies in Malachi  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:13:27
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We as sinners are in desperate need of God’s intervention to deliver us from the wages of our sin which is death. “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

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Many other writers have done what I would deem a better summary of this passage than this humble preacher could do, for instance, Wiersbe summarized these verses eloquently as dealing with the Lord's Messenger, Jesus Christ and His: Unannounced Coming (3:3) to an Unprepared People (3:1) who represented an Unclean Nation (3:2b-4) worthy of God's Unsparing Judgment (3:5) because He is an Unchanging God (3:6).
The Alliterated John Phillips summarized these verses as:
2. The Lord’s Coming (Mal 3:1–4:6)
1. To Deal Judgmentally with Sinners (Mal 3:1–15)
1. Their Ungodly Actions (Mal 3:1–6)
1. Lord’s Coming in Grace (3:1a–b)
1. The Message for the Times (Mal 3:1a)
2. The Messiah in the Temple (Mal 3:1b)
2. Lord’s Coming in Government (Mal 3:1c–6)
1. His Immediate Reception (Mal 3:1c)
2. His Imperial Resolve (Mal 3:2–5)
1. To Refine (Mal 3:2–3)
2. To Revive (Mal 3:4)
3. To Remove (Mal 3:5)
3. His Immutable Righteousness (Mal 3:6)
[John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 1:1–4:6.]
Main Thought: The bottom line is that we are sinners in need of God's intervention to keep us from receiving the just wages of our depravity.
Sub-intro: Connect the previous verses of Chapter Two with our study here in regards to the importance of morality and ethics before God and man.
Note that in this passage, we don't have to look very far to find elements pertaining to both the first and second advents of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I. Christ's Incarnation Expected (Mal. 3:1).

Malachi 3:1 KJV 1900
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, Even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Note - J. Vernon McGee provides a clear distinction between the two messengers here:
Here in one verse we have two messengers. The first messenger who is to go before and to prepare the way is John the Baptist. The second is “the messenger of the covenant,” the Lord Jesus Christ. [J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 3 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 1016.]

A. A Personal Messenger.

"I will send MY messenger...before ME"

B. The Preparatory Messenger.

"he shall prepare the way"
Matthew 11:10 KJV 1900
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Isaiah 40:1–3 KJV 1900
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, That her warfare is accomplished, That her iniquity is pardoned: For she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

C. The Seeking of this Messenger.

"the Lord whom ye seek"
Note Malachi's Sarcasm for their hypocrisy.

D. The Suddenness of His Arrival.

"shall suddenly come"
suddenly, surprisingly Nu 12:4; = befitʾōm 2 C 29:36; petaʿ pitʾōm all of a sudden Nu 6:9, pitʾōm lefeta‘ in an instant Is 30:13; paḥad pitʾōm sudden terror Pr 3:25. [William Lee Holladay and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 300.]

E. The Proprietorship of This Messenger.

"to HIS temple"

F. The Promised Messenger.

"Even the messenger of the covenant"
"Behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts"

G. A Pleasing Messenger.

"whom ye delight in"
Illustration: Simeon & Anna (Luke 2); watching for Messiah. There is a Remnant who remain faithful.
The opening verses of this chapter stir the heart like the call of a trumpet. We remember how literally they were fulfilled in the presentation of our Lord in the Temple by his parents. Unnoticed by the crowds, jostled amid the press, borne in the arms of poverty, the King suddenly came to his Temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant. Only two faithful retainers, Simeon and Anna, were there to welcome him. But there is another and more personal reference. Let us keep the doors of our hearts wide open to the coming of the King. There may be no blare of trumpet, no flash of jewel, no cry of herald, but into your heart’s secret shrine he will come. Is not this just what we need? Make haste, great Lord of all, and in our poor hearts do thy blessed work, that we may be refined as gold and silver, and offer to thee an offering in righteousness. Then will it be a delight to bring all the tithes into the storehouse. [F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 4 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 223.]

II. Christ's Inauguration Expounded (Mal. 3:2-4).

A. Abiding at His Appearing (v. 2a).

Malachi 3:2 KJV 1900
But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
Note that unlike the Jews of Malachi's day, we as under the grace of God have been purged of our sins in the sight of God and can live our lives in the power of Christ in a way that we need not be ashamed at His appearing.
1 John 2:28 KJV 1900
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

B. His Refining and Purifying Presence (v. 2b-3a).

Malachi 3:3 KJV 1900
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Illustration - The Silver Smith, "Sir, how do you know when the Silver is ready?" "When I see myself in its reflection."

C. Purging of the Priesthood (v. 3b).

John 2:15–16 KJV 1900
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
Malachi asked, “But who may abide in the day of His coming?” and then described what Messiah would do when he came: He would purify the Jewish nation, especially the priests, and bring swift judgment to the sinners who arrogantly disobeyed His Law.
In the Law of Moses, God provided three ways for people and things to be cleansed and made acceptable to God: water, fire, and blood. There is no mention here of blood because Jesus Christ died for sinners at His first coming. But he would wash the unclean nation like a launderer washes dirty clothes. He would purify the tribe of Levi the way a jeweler purifies precious metal in his furnace. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1).
Once the nation is cleansed, and the priests are purified, then they can become an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord (Mal. 3:4), and He will be pleased with them. The priests in Malachi’s time were offering sacrifices that were unacceptable (1:7–8), and the priests themselves were unacceptable, but in that great day, God’s Messenger would make His people “living sacrifices” that would be acceptable to the Lord (Rom. 12:1). [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 155–156.]

III. Criminal Injustices Eradicated (Mal. 3:5).

A. A Witness Against the Oppressors:

1. Sorcerers

sorcery and magic
The attempt to discover or influence the future by means forbidden by God, including the use of divination, astrology or witchcraft. Such practices are strongly condemned in Scripture.
Examples of magic and sorcery
Magic practices Rev 18:23 Babylon, here, represents the world as the centre of seduction.
Divination Zec 10:2
Spiritism Isa 8:19-20 See also 2Ch 33:6
Astrology 2Ch 33:3-5 pp 2Ki 21:3-5
Examples of those who practised sorcery
Egyptian magicians: Ex 7:11; 8:18
Balaam: Nu 22:6; 23:23
2Ki 21:6 Manasseh, king of Judah; Isa 47:9-13 the Babylonians; Ac 8:9-11 Simon of Samaria; Ac 13:6-8 Bar-Jesus of Cyprus; Ac 19:19 people in Ephesus
All sorcery and magic is strongly forbidden
Dt 18:9-12 See also Lev 19:26,31; Jer 27:9-10; Eze 13:18,20
God is stronger than sorcerers and magicians
Ex 7:11-12; 8:16-19; Isa 44:24-25
God’s judgment comes upon sorcerers and magicians
Lev 20:6; Mic 5:12; Ac 13:6-11; Rev 21:8; Gal 5:19-21
God made participation in occult practices punishable by death Ex 22:18; Lev 20:27
King Saul was judged for occult practices 1Ch 10:13-14
Jesus Christ can deliver from occultism
Ac 16:16-18; 19:18-19; Ro 8:38-39
[Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).]

2. Adulterers

Note - Topical Examples in the Bible (1579 verses): Pharoah (Gen. 12:10-20); The Men of Sodom (Gen. 19:1-11); Lot's Daughters (Gen. 19:30-38); Abimelech (Gen. 20:1-18); Schechem (Gen. 34:1-31); Reuben (Gen. 35:16-22; 49:1-28); Judah (Gen. 38:1-30; Mt. 1:1-17); Potiphar's Wife (Gen. 39:1-23); The Mosaic Prohibition (Ex. 20:1-17; 22:16-31; 34:10-28; Lev. 18:1-30; 20:1-27; Num. 5:11-31; Deut. 5:1-22; 22:13-30; 23:15-25; 31:14-29; Rom. 2:17-24; 13:8-10); The Israel and the World Nations (Gen. 32:1-35; Num. 25:1-18; Jer. 2:1-5:31; 7:1-9:16; 13:15-27; 23:9-40; 29:1-32; Ezek. 6:1-14; 15:1-8; 16:15-43; 18:1-18; 20:1-32; 22:1-16; 23:5-49; 33:23-29; Hos. 1:2-9; 2:2-13; 3:1-5; 4:1-19; 5:1-15; 6:4-11; 7:1-10; 9:1-17; Mal. 2:10-17; 3:1-7); Gideon (Judg. 8:22-35); Jephthah's Mother (Judg. 11:1-28); Samson (Judg. 16:1-22); The Levite of Ephraim and the Men of Gibeah (Judg. 19:1-30); The Sons of Eli (1 Sam. 2:22-36); King David (2 Sam. 11:1-27; Ps. 51; Mt. 1:1-17); Absalom (2 Sam. 16:15-17:4); [Spiritually] The Leaders of Reuben, Gad & Manasseh (1 Chron. 5:24-26); [Spiritually] Jehoram, the Son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 21:1-20); Job's list of Societal Grievances (Job 24:1-25); Job's Determination Against It (Job 31:1-40); Solomon (Prov. 2:1-22; 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; 9:15-18; 22:14; 23:26-28; 27:13; 30:20; 31:1-9); Jerusalem (Is. 1:21-31); Mentioned in Conjunction with Sorceresses (Is. 57:1-13); Tamar, Rahab & Bathsheba (Mt. 1:1-17); Jesus', Paul's & James' Exposition of the Mosaic Law (Mt. 5:27-32; 19:1-26; Mk. 10; Lk. 18:9-27; Rom. 7:1-6; Heb. 13:1-6; Jas. 2:1-13; 4:1-6); The Evil & Adulterous Sign-Seeking Generation (Mt. 12:28-45; Mt. 15:1-20; 16:1-4; Mk. 7:1-23; 8:34-38; 10:1-22); Herod (Mt. 14:3-12; Mk. 6:14-29); The Woman Taken (Jn. 7:53-8:11); The Corinthian Church Member (1 Cor. 5:1-13; 6:1-11); [Spiritually] False Teachers (2 Pet. 2:12-17); Spiritual Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-29).

3. Liars

4. Extortioners

Note - the close connection in Scripture and Society to idolatry, drugs, sex, violence, dishonesty, corruption. Is there any surprise as to how our News Headlines read when our society seems to thrive on debauchery?

B. A Witness for the Oppressed:

"the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and... the stranger...."
Note God's care is a constant theme throughout the pages of Scripture, (e.g James 1:27).

IV. Christ's Immutability & Enduring Mercy (Mal. 3:6).

A. He Is Completely Unchangeable.

"For I am the LORD, I change not"

B. He Is Compassionately All-Merciful

"therefore ye...are not consumed"


In light of God's immutable righteousness, we putrefy in our sinful darkness; but there is hope in His compassionate mercy through His provision for sinners.
As a closing application, I'm going to break the rules of outlining, and introduce some pertinent information that we haven't directly covered in this particular study, but information of which this message has been building to thus far:
This passage is a powerful confirmation that the Messenger—Jesus Christ—is truly God’s answer to sin and every injustice and wrong committed by the human race.
⇒ Christ is the answer to our need for forgiveness and salvation.
“But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house” (Lu. 5:24).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).
“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Ga. 1:4).
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pe. 2:24).
⇒ Christ is the answer to our need for strength within marriage.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ep. 5:25
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ep. 5:22).
⇒ Christ is the answer to our need for personal, spiritual peace.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Ph. 4:7).
⇒ Christ is the answer to the world’s need for lasting peace, established by Christ’s eternal kingdom.
“He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire” (Ps. 46:9).
“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Is. 2:4).
“And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely” (Ho. 2:18).
“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” (Mi. 4:4).
“And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth” (Zec. 9:10).
⇒ Christ is the answer to the world’s need for righteousness.
“In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Je. 23:6).
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Ro. 8:4).
“(As it is written, He (Christ) hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever” (2 Co. 9:9).
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom” (He. 1:8).
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Re. 19:11).
⇒ Christ is the answer to the world’s need for justice and judgment of the wicked.
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Mt. 13:41).
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (Jn. 5:22).
“And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (Jn. 5:27).
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Ro. 2:16).
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts” (1 Co. 4:5).
“To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:15).
[Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Habakkuk–Malachi, The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2009), 344–345.]
Beware God's holiness; believe His mercy; repent and receive His salvation.
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