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The Prophet is here opening to the Church some precious views of the Lord Jesus Christ, in description of his person, glory, majesty and grace; as he was to appear in the days of his flesh to his people. The sad events of his coming to his enemies are also described. The Chapter closeth in sweet and gracious promises to the Church.
The Prophet in the name of the Lord, opens with a blessed proclamation to the Church. The Lord Jesus had said by one of his servants, behold me! behold me! Isaiah 65:1 . And now, by another, the Church is called upon to say, he is at the door. It is a blessed confirmation to this scripture, that when the Lord Jesus Christ was come, one of the Evangelists begins his gospel with saying, that this was to fulfil this very writing of this Prophet, as well as Isaiah's prophecy. See Mark 1:2 . See also Isaiah 11:8 . There can be no doubt to whom both Prophets, Isaiah and Malachi referred. John the Baptist was the herald, and forerunner of Christ. I beg, the Reader to be very particular in marking the characters here given of Christ, and as he looks upon the account, to keep his eye stedfastly fixed on the person and offices of the Lord Jesus, and he will discover their beautiful correspondence. He is said to be the Lord whom they seek. Now we are told in the Gospel, that when John the Baptist came, all men mused in their heart, whether he was the Christ or not, until John totally disclaimed it. See Luke 3:15 ; John 1:19-27 . And so great was the expectation of the people for Christ's coming, at the time he did, (because by the calculation of the books of the Prophets, the time was arrived,) that we are told, Simeon was waiting constantly for the consolation of Israel. And Anna, an aged woman, departed not night and day from the temple on this account. See Luke 2:25-38 . By suddenly coming to his temple, implies the certainty and swiftness of his approach. And when it is expressly called his temple, nothing surely could more decidedly prove his Godhead. For who but the Lord of Hosts can be the Lord of the temple? To ascribe a temple to any but God, would be the highest blasphemy. The word Lord, in this place, is Adonai; meaning the bottom and foundation of it. See Isaiah 28:16 . And it is no dimination of this glory of the Godhead, to call Christ both the messenger or angel of the covenant, as well as the covenant itself; for the Lord Jesus sustains all characters, as Mediator; and is both Lord of all, and Servant of all. Philippians 2:5-11 . One feature more must be attended to, in this sweet verse. He is said not only to be the Lord whom his people seek, but whom his people delight in. Yes! he was truly described by the Prophet to be the desire of all nations. And so he is indeed, in the hearts of all his redeemed, in all kingdoms, nations, and climates of the earth. Every poor sinner, once made sensible of his own wants and miseries, and Christ's ability to deliver from them, will have his whole affections centre in Jesus, and Jesus only. Such then was the Prophet's account of Christ; and such the correspondence of Christ to his prediction. Jesus proved his right to the Temple by the power he exercised there, when making a scourge of cords, and driving the buyers and sellers out of it. John 2:14-17 . Some have thought, and justly thought, that this act of Christ in the Temple, was as striking a miracle as any he performed.
The question is solemn, who may abide the day of his coming, whether we consider the Lord's first coming to a sinner in a way of grace, or hereafter in a day of judgment. Who can describe the soul exercises of the former? And none among the living can know the awfulness of the latter. But, among the faithful, we know that God the Holy Ghost, in his first awakening the soul, becomes the Comforter. And the same Almighty Spirit, by a voice from heaven declared, those dead blessed that die in the Lord. This is a striking character of Christ, a Refiner and Purifier of Silver. And so Jesus is, when by his word and fire he breaks the hardened heart of sinners, and melts the soul into softness and love. Oh! the blessedness, when that Almighty Refiner hath fulfilled his promise in purging away all the dross of his people, and taking away all their sin. Isaiah 1:25 . Sweet is then the offering of a regenerated, renewed soul, when in Jesus, and through Jesus the offering is made! It will be pleasant to Jehovah, because it is wholly of himself; and to himself in Christ.
This verse seems to stand by itself, and is indeed most awful to all the enemies of God and of his Christ!
Here we have the confirmation of that glorious truth, which is the distinguishing character of Jehovah, his unchangeableness. And, Reader! amidst the perpetual fluctuating, dying, and perishing circumstances of ourselves, and all things around, what a grand bottom this is to rest upon, for time and eternity! Unchangeable in his nature, unchangeable in his purposes, unchangeable in all his covenant promises in Christ, to a thousand generations. Oh! for grace to keep it ever in remembrance, and to call to mind that this and this alone is the cause, why the seed of Jacob are not consumed.
Oh! what a charge is here, after contemplating the unchangeable nature of our covenant God in Christ, as in the preceding verse to consider our sad departure from the Lord. Reader! do not confine this view to Israel of old, but look at Israel now. How are we gone away from the Lord, as a nation, as a people? Time was, when the blessed and holy doctrines of our holy faith were cherished in this nation, by all ranks and orders of the people. When the distinguishing truths of the Gospel, such as the everlasting covenant love of God the Father, the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of God the Son; and the quickening, converting, comforting influences of God the Holy Ghost, were heard, preached on, and received with joy and thankfulness, both by ministers and people. But how are we gone away? We may now take up the language of the Prophet, and say, how is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! Lamentations 4:1 . Oh! that He, who saith return unto me, would graciously accompany the invitation with his power, and cause the hearts of the people, as the heart of one man, to return to the Lord, that our land might again be called Hephzibah, and Beulah. Isaiah 62:4 .
Reader! look at those charges spiritually, and then ask, in what doth the robbery of God now consist? Is it not in denying, or disbelieving his covenant relations, and word, and oath, and promises? Is it not in slighting God's dear Son, and setting up idols of self-righteousness in our own hearts? Is it not in thinking light of the Holy Ghost's work in the soul, as the sole means of conversion, and bringing the heart to God? Ponder over these things.
Read these verses also spiritually, and ask what are the tithes the Lord hath respect to in what is here said? What can the Lord be requiring of his creatures, when we know that the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof? What is it then? I humbly conceive the souls of the truly awakened, regenerated believers, bring in revenues of praise to the bountiful giver of all, when God's Christ is our Christ, and the Lord's Holy One, is our Holy One. When the poor sinner thus, comes, and thus looks to the Lord, with an eye of faith to God's rich covenant mercy in Christ, there is then meat in God's house, for Christ himself is the living bread, and in Him, and by Him, the windows of heaven are opened, and blessings so profusely are poured out, that the gladdened heart finds more than his full bosom can hold. Then also the enemy is restrained; Satan is rebuked; ordinances are blessed; and the barrenness of the land is taken away! Oh! for such blessings as these on the nation, and ministers, and people!
I include the whole of these verses under one reading, in order to observe in them what the last verse expresseth, the discerning between the righteous and the wicked. And what can more strikingly set these things forth than what is here said. Here is the Lord's charge against all ungodly, carnal, careless, and Christless persons. What is their conduct, their language, their manners, their behavior? The whole may be summed up in Job's account, they say unto God, that is, if not in word, yet what is the same thing indeed, depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Reader! look into common life, and take with you the words of the man of Uz, as set forth in his book; compare the one with the other, and say how exact a representation he hath made. I beg the Reader to look at the whole passage. Job 21:7-15 . - Now mark the contrast in the Lord's people, as set forth in this beautiful passage. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another. Of what do they speak? Of what do they think? for they are said also both to fear the Lord, and to think upon his name. Mark, I pray you, the several features by which they are here distinguished. And, oh! that the Reader and Writer, through grace, while marking the Lord's account of his people by such distinguishing tokens, may find they are our own. And first, they are said to fear the Lord. Yes! the Holy Ghost, by David, long since observed, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalms 111:10 . Such a fear, I apprehend, as includes the whole of vital godliness. And the effects that follow are then marked. They thought upon his name, that is, no doubt, God in his covenant love and faithfulness, as manifested in the person of his dear Son. For the name of God in scripture language, means the person, work, and offices of God, particularly as revealed in redemption. And thus being full in thought of the Lord in his grace, and love to his people; they spake of those things to one another; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. And thus love was kindled, and communicated from one to another, by this heart-refreshing, soul-comforting conversation. They spake not now and then only, but often one to another. They helped each his fellow, when the glorious topics of redeeming love, in God the Father's covenant mercy in Christ, the person, grace, and loveliness of Jesus, his blood and righteousness, and the Spirit's work in the heart became the sweet subjects of discourse. And we are told, so pleasing are such things to the Lord, that, speaking after the manner of men, he hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him. Not that the Lord needs records, or makes any; or is listening to the words or actions of his creatures, by way of gaining information: for all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:13 . But what is here said of the Lord's hearkening, means his approbation of his redeemed, thus speaking together of the great things of God. He draweth nigh to all such, in a way of grace, and manifests himself to them, otherwise than he doth to the world. See a beautiful proof of this, Luke 24:13-32 ; John 14:22-23 ; Psalms 145:18-19 . But we must not stop here, in our review of this blessed passage. The Lord adds a promise, and a most comprehensive one it is. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. The figure here made use of concerning the great day of God, is that of the world on fire, and Christ gathers his Segullah, his chosen ones, as jewels from the flame, as men would do by saving their valuables in such a time of destruction. And I pray the Reader to observe, how the Lord speaks of them. They shall be mine. The people of God are so from everlasting, in the gift of the Father, the purchase of Christ's blood, and the regenerating testimony in their hearts of the work of God the Holy Ghost. But in that day he publicly owns them before a congregated world of men and angels, and takes them to himself forever. Oh! how eternally safe are all souls, in such securities! Oh! how gracious is the Lord, in the giving by the way such promises! Lord! give both Writer and Reader grace, to know our present interest in these sweet promises, and to live now in the enjoyment of them by faith, until we enter upon the everlasting possession of our inheritance by thy blood and righteousness in glory. Amen.
Reader! behold in this Chapter the gracious goodness of the Lord, in promising to send his Herald, to prepare the way of the Lord! And mark the corresponding event with the prediction, in the account the Evangelist gives of the coming of John the Baptist. And think how every heart must have been big with expectation, and every eye on the lookout in Judæa, when the messenger came, announcing the approach of Jesus. And did not Jesus then come to his temple, at the time predicted? Did not the angel of the covenant appear, as had been foretold? Yes! but when he came to his own, we are told, his own received him not. Alas! what was there offensive in thy person, blessed Jesus, or in thy doctrine, that they rejected thee, O thou Lord of life and glory? Was it thy humble appearance, thou meek and lowly Lamb of God? Did they indeed despise thee for that, which above all things ought to have endeared thee to thy people? Reader! is the offence of the cross ceased? Is not Jesus still a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence? Oh! for the teachings of God the Holy Ghost, to make known among the people the glories of Christ!
But, Reader! whatever others do, may it be your happiness and mine, to welcome the Lord Christ to his temple. Come, thou Almighty Refiner and Purifier! come and melt down all the dross and spots of our corrupt nature. Do thou as with fuller's sope, by the gracious influences of thy blessed Spirit, take out the uncleanness within, and purify all thy kingdom of priests, as the sons of Levi. Keep my poor heart, dearest Jesus, by thy restraining and preventing grace, from going away from thine ordinances, that in thee, and thy perfect righteousness, my offering may go up, and find acceptance in the beloved. And, oh! thou blessed bountiful Lord of all, and Giver of all; open the windows of heaven upon thy Churches, thy Ministers, and thy People; and pour out such a plentiful effusion of blessings in grace, that every heart may be made glad, and refreshed in thine house of prayer. Let the public ministration of thy word be accompanied with such a visible display of thy presence, that all nations may know, that where thy Church is, there is a delightsome land, and all shall call it blessed. And let the private communions of they that fear thee, be so sanctified with the holy conversation concerning Him that is always in their midst, that nothing but the name and sweet savor of Jesus may be known or heard among them. And do thou, dearest Lord, who art now hearkening, and hearing, and knowing all that passeth among thy people, and dost regard with peculiar tokens of thy favor, the affection of thy chosen; do thou remember all in that day, when thou comest to make up thy jewels; yea, Almighty Jesus! manifest then in full open display, as thou dost now in private testify by thy Spirit, whose are thine, and how dear they are to thee. Say of every one, in that solemn hour, when thou drawest the everlasting distinction between the righteous and the wicked, these are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto them a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me. They shall eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Malachi 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27