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The Prophecy of Malachi – Part 4, Preparing the Way of the Lord
When the magi journeyed to Judaea from Parthia to see the Christ child, the infant had already been presented at the temple, and was circumcised according to the law, and had already been moved by His parents out of the manger and into a house in Bethlehem. So by the time that they arrived in Judaea, the Christ child may have already been a year old, and possibly closer to two. And while they apparently acted on information which is now wanting in our sacred writings, the magi were not alone in their anticipation of the promised Messiah. We see the same expectation in many of other people in Judaea, such as the apostles themselves who exclaimed from the beginning that “We have found the Messias,” as it is recorded in John chapter 1, or the Samaritan woman at the well who said “I know that Messias cometh,” as it is recorded in John chapter 4. Additionally, there was the elderly Simeon, described in Luke chapter 2, who was told that he would “not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ”, and did see Him as he was presented in the temple eight days after His birth.
But in the courts of government in Jerusalem there was completely a different reaction, not of joy but of fear and enmity, as we may discern from Matthew chapter 2 where it says: “1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Judaeans? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”
Ostensibly, all Jerusalem was troubled upon the announcement of the birth of a savior for Israel because, as we read here in Malachi chapter 2, “11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.” And not only was Malachi characterizing the reason why there was apostasy in ancient Judah, as we saw in the corroborating testimony of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, but he was also making a prophesy of what was about to become of Judaea in his own near future, and we described the historical record of how that was fulfilled in the absorption of the Edomites and other Canaanites of Palestine in the 2nd century BC, when all of those alien peoples were converted, and brought into the polity of the people of Jerusalem. By the time of Christ, those Edomites and Canaanites had become predominant in Jerusalem, and many of the good people of the nation were pushed to the margins of the society. The result is the divisions among the people and their diverse reactions to Christ which are apparent in the Gospel. For this same reason, when the appropriate time had come, the voice of the godly cried out from the wilderness, and not from the temple of God.
In the statement that “Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god”, we see a refutation of the rhetorical questions which preceded, where it was asked “Have we not all one father?” and “hath not one God created us?” while at the same time we are told why the people dealt “treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of [their] fathers”. The truth is that we do not all have one God, and that same God has not created all of us, for which reason it is that when Christ was confronted with these same assertions, as it is recorded in John chapter 8, He denied that His adversaries were born from God. He denied that those who opposed Him had a common origin with Him, in spite of the fact that they could claim to be offspring of Abraham. So He explained to them that they were actually the children of Cain, and we have already explained in our last segment of this presentation just how such things could be, from the history of the Old Testament. Cain was a bastard, Cain in turn married into a race outside of the garden of God, and the deeper truth of these matters is revealed in a greater study of the angels that sinned, the resulting corruption of the original Creation, and the idioms of Genesis chapter 3 along with the textual problems found in Genesis chapter 4, things which we cannot possibly reproduce here.
Therefore, speaking of the men of his own time and beyond, and addressing the priests specifically, the prophet Malachi then said in reference to this sin of Judah that “12 The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts. 13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” So we see that the people of Malachi’s time had run out of chances of repentance, having committed the same sins of race-mixing repeatedly. So we see the end of the Levitical priesthood in an example of what happens to a society which would corrupt itself in that manner, and this is precisely what happened to Jerusalem in the 70-Weeks Kingdom of the period between the Old and New Testaments.
Here Malachi has warned the priests collectively, that their offerings would no longer be accepted. Yet as individuals, they may still walk the path of righteousness, where he had said at the beginning of these admonitions that the commandment for the priests was on the condition that “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart”. Therefore, as we shall see in chapter 3 of Malachi, a cleansing of sin and another chance of repentance was offered to the sons of Levi. That would not come, however, until the time of John the Baptist. For now, in the balance of chapter 2 of Malachi, the prophet continues to describe the nature of the sins of the priests:
14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
Here Yahweh is not referring to the individual wives of each priest. Rather, the priests are being addressed here as the messengers of Yahweh, as we have seen in verse 7 where it says “7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” Therefore the wife being discussed here is actually an allegory for the children of Israel, which are collectively described as being the wife of God throughout the books of the earlier prophets. By integrating the people of Judaea with the Edomites and Canaanites, the priests are dealing treacherously with their companion Israelites. The priests are being blamed for this, and as it happened historically, the high priest John Hyrcanus was chiefly the advocate of this policy. While the priests are Israelites individually, in their capacity as priests they are mediators of the Old Covenant and representatives of God. So the “wife of thy covenant” is the wife of the special priestly covenant which Yahweh had made with Levi, which was also mentioned earlier in this chapter.
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
The Hebrew of this verse is difficult, and while the translation in the King James Version is confusing, or better yet, confused, all of the popular translations add words, often unjustly, in their attempts to make sense of this passage. After studying the verse at length we are not satisfied with any translation, including the Greek of the Septuagint. But we believe that one of the better attempts is found in the New American Standard Bible, where we read: “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.”
Now, the New American Standard Bible does well with the opening and final clauses of the passage, and the opening clause reads: “But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit.” This means that those priests in Jerusalem at the time of Malachi who had the residue of the spirit had not taken strange wives or promoted or approved of such race-mixing amongst their brethren. But where it has the second clause to read “And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring?” it also adds words such as “did that” and “do while he was”, putting only some of them in italics. Without adding any words, for the corresponding Hebrew we would instead write “And how does one seek a godly offspring?” Then, going back to the same translation for the final clause, it reads in a manner which perfectly answers our own translation of the second clause:: “Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” So the priests who maintained a remnant of the spirit of God had remained on the path of righteousness, and where the question arises as to how one seeks a godly seed, or offspring, the answer is to obey the spirit of God, and not deal treacherously against the children of Israel.
Then the explanation, which is still in answer to Judah’s having married the daughter of a strange god, continues in verse 16:
16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
First the prophet reminds the priests that Yahweh is the God of Israel, and then he says that Yahweh hates “putting away”. In the King James Version, the word divorce does not appear as a verb, except for the construction “bill of divorce” in Jeremiah chapter 3, a phrase which is actually a substantive, which is a noun that is usually translated as bill of divorcement. The bill of divorcement is not the act of divorce, rather it is only a piece of paper commemorating the act. Where we see phrases such as “putting away”, we see the verb which corresponds to the act of divorce – as when a man puts away a wife. In ancient times, there were no divorce courts, but for right or wrong, a man simply forced a woman out of his house and onto the streets. So once again, the priests are warned to take heed, and not deal treacherously against the wife of their youth, the children of Israel to whom they represented the will of God the Husband through the teachings of the law, in which they had been partial. Ultimately, Yahweh God Himself will not put away the children of Israel, because He hates divorce.
As for the reference to committing violence with their garments, it is evident that in ancient times garments represented a man’s vocation and position in society. Therefore it is our opinion that this means that the Levites, advocating race mixing, were using their positions as priests to commit violence against the people by abusing their office and giving their approval to such sins.
This passage is a further rejection of universalism, and a rejection of replacement theology, that Yahweh would not bring anyone into His covenant except those to whom he had originally made the promises. This is also a prophecy which anticipates certain aspects of the Gospel of Christ. In Luke chapter 16, in relation to this very same phenomenon, we read: “16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of Yahweh is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. 18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
At another time and in a different context, Yahshua Christ had spoken similar words, as they are recorded at Matthew 11:12: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” So this is how “every man presseth into” the kingdom of God, and Yahshua warned the priests that a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. Men commit adultery quite frequently, however God Himself will not commit adultery, because God does not sin
Yahweh had put away the children of Israel, and scattered them among the nations of the ancient Adamic οἰκουμένη. As the Scripture and history describe, He was compelled to do this for their sin. However He would not marry another, lest He by His Own mouth be found as adulterer. So He also promised never to forsake the children of Israel even as He was putting them away, and in fact, this is a subject of prophecy as early as Deuteronomy chapter 4 where we have a warning that upon the disobedience of the children of Israel, “the LORD shall scatter you among the nations,” and then a little further on it says “30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” So Yahweh God would not forsake the wife of His youth. Therefore when Paul brought the Gospel to the nations of scattered Israel, he exhorted them to obedience in Christ.
As the children of Israel were being put away in punishment, as in the very time of the prophet Isaiah they were being carried off into captivity by the Assyrians, Yahweh said through the prophet, in Isaiah chapter 42: “16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” As we shall soon see, this making of crooked things straight is a theme of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning John the Baptist, so by this we know that Christ is the light which Yahweh made for these scattered children of Israel that He would not forsake.
Then He spoke also in Hosea, another prophet of the same period, and said to these same scattered and divorced children of Israel: “16 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [or my husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali [or my lord]. 17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. 18 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. 19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel [meaning God sows]. 23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” This passage regards the children of Israel exclusively, and both Peter and Paul had cited it in relation to the scattered Israelites of the so-called “Gentile” nations to whom they wrote their epistles, 800 years after Hosea had written those words.
This message is the reason why the Gospel was sent to the scattered nations of Israel, and Paul of Tarsus was chosen to bear it. But the same Edomite Jews at Jerusalem who trembled when they heard of the birth of the Messiah also feared and hated the mission of Paul of Tarsus. So we read in Acts chapter 22 where Paul is arrested in Jerusalem and speaking about Christ in his own defense he says to the crowd: “21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” Then we see the immediate response of the Jews in the next verse: “22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.” As soon as they heard that the Gospel was going to be brought to the nations of scattered Israel, the Jews wanted to kill Paul for doing so. So in Acts chapter 26 where he again defended his actions, Paul said: “6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.”
So Yahweh God rejects divorce, and for that reason Yahweh will ultimately be reconciled to the same divorced children of Israel of the Old Testament, and Yahweh will not join Himself to others in their place. The priests of Malachi’s time dealt treacherously against the children of Israel when they began to admit others, and when Christ gave His discourse on divorce He upheld these words of Malachi and the other Old Testament prophets in this regard. These others whom the ancient priests had admitted had eventually come to control Judaea, they were the wicked hands through which Christ had been slain, and after His resurrection they opposed the Gospel of Reconciliation which Paul was bringing to the so-called Gentiles, which were the nations of scattered Israel (as Paul himself explained in Romans chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 10).
When Christ spoke to His adversaries in Judaea about those who force their way into the kingdom in relation to the subject divorce, He was speaking of the very people who were the result of these same sins for which Malachi addressed the priests of his own time here. Therefore Malachi says in the final verse of this chapter:
17 Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?
And again we see a dialogue, with the priests depicted as asking how it is that they wearied Yahweh, and the answer is that the priests were justifying the wicked, even claiming that God delights in them, while at the same time asking themselves “Where is the God of judgment?”, showing that they really did not even believe in that God which they supposed to represent, and therefore they had become a law unto themselves.
This is, ostensibly, what they must have been doing in the second century before Christ, when they decided that they could take the Edomite and Canaanite bastards, circumcise them, and bring them into the covenants of Israel, imagining that they were “good”. They had done this for political purposes, as a means of control. Much later in history, the Roman Catholic Church would develop the same policy, and as a result, until this very day the denominational churches are found converting beasts into presumed “Christians”. But that is a digression.
Studying the history of these events of which Malachi prophesied, this policy was executed in Judaea precisely for the reason that these Edomites and Canaanites had constantly agitated the people of Judah with violent acts. As Christ had said, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force”, and the Edomites gained control over Jerusalem in that same manner. Likewise today, the Jews have subverted every Christian society through acts of war, and now through acts of terrorism, either of their own doing or by encouraging others to it, such as the negroes or the arabs.
Yet the professional priests of modern times are also preaching equality and universalism. In essence they too are claiming that everyone who does evil is “good in the sight of the Lord”, and in conjunction with the claim that all people are children of the same God, they claim that God hates the sin, but that men should love the sinners. All of these claims are false. So once again, there is nothing new under the sun. The modern churches are repeating the same sins which were made on a much smaller scale in ancient Judaea, and here we learn the source of the heresy. Chapter 3 of Malachi is a response to this very phenomenon as it was at the time of the prophet, and when we present chapter 4 we will also see that the same response is also a valid prophecy for modern times.
Commencing with Malachi chapter 3:
1 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.
The Greek of the Septuagint for this passage is very much like the King James English, except that among other minor variations we see a word which means to look upon, or survey – as Brenton has it – rather than to prepare. But other Greek readings listed by Origen in his Hexapla do support that of the Masoretic Text, which also agrees with the prophecy of this same messenger in Isaiah. Here it is apparent that the prophet foretells the coming of one messenger, and then of another. The first messenger is said to prepare the way before Yahweh Himself. Then the lord, from the Hebrew word adon which means lord or master, suddenly comes to His temple, and he is the messenger of the covenant and in whom the people are expected to delight. So there is a prophecy of two messengers, and the second messenger must be Yahweh God Himself, since the first messenger prepares the way for Yahweh, and the second messenger is said to be the lord of the temple, which rightfully can only be Yahweh.
There is another and earlier prophecy of a messenger preparing the way before Yahweh God, in Isaiah chapter 40 where the Word of Yahweh says “3 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. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” With this we see once again that this first messenger prepares the way for the coming of Yahweh Himself, which is Yahshua Christ.
Here, where Malachi proceeds, it is not readily evident whether the subsequent words apply to one messenger or the other, or if we may venture to say that they apply to both:
2 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: 3 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.
In chapter 3 of the Gospel of Luke, the apostle cites that very passage in Isaiah chapter 40 in reference to John the Baptist, where we see that he is the messenger sent to prepare the way before Yahweh, and it says: “1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, 2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
The fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius began in 28 AD, so that is when John began his preaching, and the baptism of Christ came shortly thereafter. As the histories of Josephus attest, both Annas and Caiaphas were of the sect of the Sadducees, a sect with whom Christ had never had communion. That they were Sadducees is corroborated in Acts 5:17 where we are informed that the high priest and “all they that were with him” at that time were the sect of the Sadducees. They were also apparently Edomites, for which we have an indication in Acts chapter 4 where it says “6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.” That word kindred is γένος, or race, and therefore the race of the high priests was distinguished by the apostles along with their particular sect. If they were Israelites, they should have been of the same race as the apostles, and in that manner the “race of the high priests” would not have been referred to. The Sadducees denied things that the children of Israel were taught throughout Scripture, according to both Josephus and Luke, where it says in Acts chapter 23 “8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” Members of the sect of the Sadducees held the office of high priest almost exclusively from the time of the first Herod to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, and as many as three-fourths of the men appointed to the position were of the families of either Annas or Caiaphas. We had explained the historical details supporting these assertions in our presentation of Acts Chapter 4 given here in 2013.
While Luke was a better provider of details linking facets of the ministry of Christ and the Gospel to the wider narrative of secular history, Matthew seems to have often given more precise details regarding some of the things internal to Judaea, having witnessed many events first hand because he was a Judaean and an original apostle, and having only some vicarious accounts whereas all of Luke’s accounts are vicarious. So we will discuss aspects of the account of John from Matthew’s version, where we read in Matthew chapter 3 that: “1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”
So we must keep in mind that while the apostles chose to cite the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 40 in reference to John the Baptist being the messenger sent to prepare the way before Yahweh, that same event also fulfills this prophecy here in Malachi, and therefore John the Baptist is the first messenger of this prophecy where it says “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me….”
Then, regarding the baptism of John, Matthew continues and says: “5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
As for the remark of John the Baptist which was repeated by both Matthew and Luke, “for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham”, the same universalist denominational churches abuse that passage to promote their own treachery against the bride of Christ. In fact, Christ Himself admitted that His adversaries were Abraham’s seed, in John chapter 8. But as we had illustrated here discussing that very passage from John in the last segment of this presentation of Malachi, they were not children of God and they were not children of the promise. Paul also explained this in Romans chapter 9, and again in Galatians chapter 3, that Isaac was the son of the promise, and from him it was passed on to Jacob, but not to Esau. This eliminates the Edomites from any part in the inheritance of God, and Paul in that same chapter of Romans calls them “vessels of destruction”, ostensibly because Esau was a race-mixer and his progeny were bastards, as Paul explained in his epistle to the Hebrews.
Likewise, if God raised children of Abraham from stones, neither would they be children of the promise, and the result would be much the same – a race of men without the spirit and the law in their hearts which Yahweh God had promised to impart to the children of Israel where He said in Jeremiah chapter 31 that “31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah…. 33 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.”
In the phrase “generation of vipers” as it appears in Matthew 3:7 and also in the corresponding account of Luke, the word for generation is γέννημα, which is offspring and is related to the word γένος, or race. Being in part descendants of both Cain and the Rephaim, the Edomites could certainly be referred to as a race of serpents, and they often were. Concerning the appearance of these priests whom John referred to as a race of vipers, in our presentation of Luke chapter 3 given here in 2012, we said in part: “The Pharisees [where we should have added Sadducees] did not come to John because they believed him. They really came in order to see what he was doing. Christ later challenged them concerning this, as it was recorded at Matthew 21: ‘25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?’ Luke tells us later, in Luke chapter 7: ‘29 And all the people heard, and the tax-collectors deemed Yahweh just, being immersed in the immersion of Iohannes. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of Yahweh in regard to themselves, not being immersed by him.’ So we see that these men were certainly not baptized by John.” Reading the same account given by the apostle John in chapter 1 of his Gospel, that estimation is fully corroborated. These men were acting as priests, yet rejected the counsel of God and the baptism of John, and ultimately rejected Christ.
Continuing with the account of John the Baptist from Luke chapter 3 we read something which Matthew did not record fully, even though he recorded John’s answer to the priests regarding the expectation of another man who would follow him, where Luke wrote: “15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; 16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.”
As Yahweh Himself in Genesis chapter 4 had challenged Cain to do good, and Cain immediately went out and killed his brother, so also John the Baptist challenged the Pharisees and Sadducees to do good, and he even challenged Herod, who was demonstrably an Edomite, to do good, yet he himself was nevertheless slain for it. Then they went so far as to kill God Himself in the person of Yahshua Christ. As Christ had said, as it is recorded in John chapter 8, they sought to kill Him, thereby doing the works of their father the devil, Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. This is the way that the counsel of God had chosen to separate the wheat from the tares. The Wheat accepted the Gospel and became Christians, and the Tares remained to become know as the accursed Jews.
Here in Luke we see the people had pondered whether John may have been the Christ, so we see that an even greater portion of the population were expecting the promised Messiah at this time. Matthew did not explain this in his records concerning the baptism of John. But the people evidently did not realize that the prophets had foretold of a messenger which would precede the Christ, to prepare his way, even though we see a prophesy of that in both Isaiah and in this chapter of Malachi. So finally, we read of John further on in Matthew chapter 3: “21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
This leads us to discuss John’s success of baptizing people down by the river. It is evident in the book of Ezekiel, who was a prophet of the Assyrian captivity, that when there was no legitimate assembly, or synagogue, the people met at the locval river to pray. That is why Ezekiel had his early visions at a river. Likewise, in Philippi in Acts chapter 16, we learn that the town in Macedonia had no synagogue, and therefore Lydia and the other faithful women were met by Paul, Silas and company as they prayed by a river. Evidently in Judaea, a great many of the people must have distrusted the priests at the temple and in the synagogues, and took to assembling at the rivers instead, where John the baptist had his success.
The apostle John gives an even fuller account of John’s testimony at the baptism of Christ, and we read: “15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” These two disciples, hearing John, then in turn announced to their brethren that “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.”
With both this record in the Gospel of John and the words of John the baptist recorded by Luke we see the two messengers of Malachi chapter 3, and the purpose of the second was announced by the first. And if the first is the prophesied preparer of the path, then the second is the true Lord of the Temple. Here we will read again what Malachi said in the opening verses of this chapter:
1 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. 2 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: 3 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.
Christ Himself, who was the Lamb of God, was the offering that they offered in righteousness, the righteousness being the will of God.
As it also prophesies in Isaiah chapter 40, which three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John) had cited in this very context, John the Baptist fulfilled the role of the messenger sent to prepare the way of Yahweh, who came in the person of Yahshua Christ. Yahshua Christ is “the Lord, whom ye seek [the Messiah which many of the people had been expecting], [who] shall suddenly come to his temple” and the “messenger of the covenant”, the new covenant promised by Yahweh as it is recorded in both Jeremiah and in Ezekiel. Yahweh had explicitly announced through the prophet Zechariah (chapter 11), who wrote at least some years before the time of Malachi, that the Old Covenant was broken for the sins of the people.
Here where we see it said that “he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3 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” it seems to be ambiguous as to which of the two messengers it refers, because the statements concerning the second messenger seem to be parenthetical to the purpose described of first messenger. So the subject changes from the first messenger to the second, and then perhaps after the parenthetical remarks it changes back, or perhaps not. But in any event it should be evident that perhaps the statements refer to both and to either messenger as they are both operating to fulfill the will of the same God.
As we had seen from the Gospel of John, the first messenger, which is John the Baptist, announced that Yahshua Christ was the Lamb of God as John had baptized Him. In the law there are specific commandments that the priests were to be cleansed before the sacrifice of sin offerings and other offerings. The passover lamb and other sin offerings were also to be cleansed in a certain manner. These things are seen in Leviticus chapter 1, Exodus chapter 12 and elsewhere.
We said the following in our presentation of Luke chapter 3: “In the Old Testament, washing of the body is seen of the priests before they enter into the temple to do service and to make sacrifice. From Leviticus 8:4-6: ‘4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 5 And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done. 6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.’ And from Numbers 8:21-22: ‘And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them. 22 And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.’ All of Numbers chapter 8 describes the cleansing of the Levites. Aside from these passages concerning the priests, or certain occasions where people are instructed in what to do upon exposure to diseases or corpses, or certain other circumstances, there is no other ritual cleansing of the body required by the law. Remember the words of Yahweh in the prophecy of Malachi chapter 3, ‘and he shall purify the sons of Levi’: John the Baptist was also a Levite, so he could fulfill the priestly role of cleansing which Moses the Levite had done first, long before him.”
As it is recorded in Matthew chapter 21, Yahshua Christ had challenged His adversaries and asked them: “25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?” Here in Malachi, we see that the baptism of John was by the authority of Yahweh, as John the Baptist had cleansed the sons of Levi, and he had also cleansed the Christ and declared for Him to be the Lamb of God, ceremonially fulfilling the requirements of the law and thereby preparing the way for Christ to be an appropriate passover sacrifice. The symbolic meaning in this fulfillment therefore reveals the deeper and spiritual truths of Scripture.
But Yahshua Christ Himself, who is the lord come to His temple and the messenger of the covenant, would cleanse the sons of Levi in another way, as Malachi had written that “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”. So as John the Baptist himself had said, from Luke chapter 3, that “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.”
John the Baptist cleansed the sons of Levi and fulfilled the ritual requirements of the law in relation to the sacrifice of Christ for sin. But Christ Himself purged the sons of Levi of impure elements in the separation of the wheat and the tares which is evident in the Gospel of Christ. He spoke in this same manner to his apostles where He said, as it is recorded in John chapter 15, “3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
Over the several centuries after the Resurrection, the Christian Gospel spread throughout the dispersed nations of Israel, and the Jew was separated from the greater society, ultimately becoming ostracized as his usury, filth, and his perversion were no longer acceptable among the Christian nations. Once that was accomplished, the situation endured for a proverbial thousand years, and now Satan is let loose from the pit once again. The idea that Jews should have been admitted into the Christian society, and especially that the Jews should be converted even though Christ Himself had disdained the thought of converting them as they were not His sheep, had ultimately helped result in the undoing of Christendom, although Yahweh God had certainly foreseen that undoing. The end of this shall be a subject of our discussion when we present Malachi chapter 4.
In the meantime, once the wheat and tares were separated with the Gospel, we see it said in the next verse of Malachi that:
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Of course, in Christ the substance of the offerings had changed, but up until this point, as Malachi had explained in chapter 1 of his prophecy, the offerings were not acceptable at all, because of the sins of the priests. Once the priests were again separated from the bastards by the Gospel of Christ, they could offer sacrifices acceptable to God.
However the way of the Lord must be prepared once again before His Second Advent for very much the same reasons, but in a quite different manner. This we will see described in greater depth in the next segment of our presentation of this prophecy of Malachi.