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THE FORERUNNER AND THE MESSENGER
‘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.’
I. The forerunner and his commission.—(1) The forerunner of the ‘Messenger of the covenant’ was John the Baptist (cf. St. Luke 2:25; Luke 2:38). (2) His commission was preparative. This is indicated ( a) By his own confession. ( b) By the character of his preaching.
II. The Messenger of the covenant and His commission.—(1) ‘The Messenger of the covenant’ is our Lord Himself. (2) His commission involved a fulfilment of human desire and expectation. (3) This commission included an unexpected visit to His Temple. (4) His commission is implied in the name assigned— Messenger of the Covenant.
There is much in the nature and history of jewels that strikingly illustrates the character of the Lord’s people.
I. There is an intrinsic difference between jewels and other common stones.—Carve and polish a flint as you will, you can never make it a jewel. So is it with the Christian: he has a new heavenly birth, a new life, one with Christ and Christ with him, created anew by the Holy Spirit in the image of God. It is no partial reformation, hewing off here and there a glaring sin, but a thorough vital change.
II. Jewels are won with cost, and toil, and peril, from dark and lonesome mines, or as pearls from the bed of the ocean.—‘Ah!’ the Christian will exclaim, ‘here is a picture of my case. Words cannot tell the blackness of my own heart before the grace of God; and the ungodly were my chosen companions. Jesus came from heaven to this world of sin and sorrow, and rescued me with infinite labour and cost; but oftentimes with deepest humiliation “do I look unto the rock whence I was hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence I was digged.” ’
III. Jewels, after they have been found and won, are mostly carried many hundred miles over stormy seas and burning sands.—Very few Christians are transplanted to heaven at once; most have to tread a long pilgrimage, and traverse ‘the waves of this troublesome world.’
IV. Jewels, moreover, have to undergo many processes before they are fit for setting in gold; they are carved, and ground, and polished, enduring many a hard blow, many a delicate operation. See in this the preparing of the Lord’s people for glory, their being ‘made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’
V. Jewels are only bought with a great price.—I need not remind you ‘Ye were redeemed not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ.’ Oh! if earthly treasures had availed, the Lord could have created ten thousand worlds of gold, and myriad angels would have brought the riches of the universe. But ‘it cost more to redeem one soul, so that man must let this alone for ever.’
Yet the weakest believer may well swell the joyous acclamation, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives.’
—Bishop E. H. Bickersteth.
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Malachi 3". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26