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Summary: Advent 2 (C) -- Our Lord sends his messenger John the Baptist. John the Baptist prepares the way for our Savior, Jesus, who purifies sinners.

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OUR LORD SENDS HIS MESSENGER (Outline)

December 7, 2008 --

ADVENT 2 --

Malachi 3:1-4

INTRO: There is always excitement expecting a special day to arrive. There are many special days in our lives. They can include birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and holidays. We have only three weeks left before we celebrate Christmas. In the Scriptures messengers were sent out to proclaim special events that were coming. When the day arrived messengers were sent out again for the final invitation to attend. Today we receive messages rather than personal messengers for announcements and invitations. The importance of a messenger may be lost on us today. There we want to be reminded of the value of God’s messengers. The greatest messenger in the New Testament was John the Baptist. John’s coming and message were clearly announced by Old Testament messengers, God’s prophets. "A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God’" (ISAIAH 40:3).

OUR LORD SENDS HIS MESSENGER.

I. John the Baptist prepares the way.

II. Jesus, our Savior, purifies sinners.

I. JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARES THE WAY

A. A quick recap of Malachi. The captivities and conquering of God’s people were over.

1. God returned Israel to the Promised Land. BUT they had begun to forget and forsake God.

2. God sent Malachi to remind the people to return to the Lord. How indifferent they were!

3. Malachi repeated: “The day of the Lord is coming!” God’s word needed to be heard.

B. Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets. After him the Lord is “silent” for 400 years.

1. The Lord God next sends John the Baptist – his chosen Way-Preparer.

2. Verse 1a,c. A messenger to prepare the way before me. That me is the LORD Almighty.

C. Verse 1b. The messenger, John the Baptist, prepares the way for the Lord, the Messiah, the Christ.

1. John and Jesus lived during the same time. The Lord they desired would appear suddenly.

2. Suddenly is compared to the long wait from the promise made to Adam centuries before.

D. John’s message was one of preparation. Get ready; the kingdom of God is near. Get ready; the Lamb of God is here. The gospels record the message of John. John used physical terms with spiritual encour-agements. "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation"(LUKE 3:5,6). Our Lord fills in the valleys of despair in our hearts. It is God who is able to make molehills out of our mountains rather than the other way around. Christ creates straight roads out of our crooked paths of disobedi-ence. Our Savior makes our rough hearts smooth with his precious blood. John says, “Prepare”.

E. Thankfully, the Lord is the one who prepares us. It is the Holy Spirit who opens our ears to hear so that our hearts may believe. Our eternal salvation is so vitally important that our gracious God would not let this depend on our choice or decision. For goodness’ sake Adam and Eve made the wrong choice. And they lived in a perfect world. It is by grace we have been saved not by our works, not by our choice, not by our desire, but by God’s choice alone. "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh"(EZEKIEL 11:19).

F. Our stone-cold, hardened hearts have been graciously changed into hearts of flesh. This can only be done and happen by the power and miracle of God’s grace. Now in our beating hearts of flesh our loving Lord plants the seed of his word so that it may spring up and bear abundant fruit. Listen to another Old Testament messenger. "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart"(JEREMIAH 24:7). By God’s grace we are preparing our hearts for Christmas Day – not just our homes. The Lord has given us hearts to know him and to love him as his dear children. We prepare this season for an eternity.

OUR LORD SENDS HIS MESSENGER.

John the Baptist prepares the way.

II. JESUS, OUR SAVIOR, PURIFIES SINNERS.

A. Malachi’s message about John was clear. John’s message prepared men’s hearts for Jesus.

1. Jesus – the messenger of the covenant, the one they desired – would come to his temple.

2. Malachi asks verse 2a. Can the sinful stand in the presence of the sinless?

a. Speaks of Last Day. b. Also Jesus “hid” his all-consuming holiness with human flesh.

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