Summary: This sermon ties Old Testament prophecy with New Testament fulfillment on the First Advent and the forerunner, John the Baptist.
PREPARING THE WAY OF THE LORD
Text: Malachi 3:1-7
There is the story about a man who visited the Fiji islands. This visitor was skeptical of missionaries. He even spoke with the chief and told him that the missionaries only wanted to get rich of them. The visitor said that nobody believed what the Bible had to say nowadays. He even went as far as to say nobody listens to the story about Jesus either. He concluded his remarks by saying “People know better now, and I am sorry for you that you have been foolish”. The Fijian chief shocked this visitor when he told him about their old savage ways. The chief said, “Do you see that stone over there? On that stone we smashed the heads of our victims to death. Do you see that native oven over there? In that oven we roasted human bodies for our great feats. If it had not been for those good missionaries, the Bible and the love of Jesus Christ which changed us from savages into God’s children, you would never leave this spot! You have to thank God for the Gospel, otherwise you would have been killed and roasted in the oven and we would feast on your body in no time!” (A. Naismith. 1200 Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes. Great Britain: Pickering Paperbacks, 1988, p. 134).
This story makes a wonderful point. There were missionaries who were forerunners to other missionaries until the Fijian people received God’s salvation into their souls.
In The Old Testament, there were prophets who were preceded by other prophets until their mission was accomplished. Malachi 3:1-7 is a scripture that points out how there will be a forerunner who preceded the Lord’s coming. Every messenger or prophet has a message to deliver. The people who hear the message have a response to make.
A messenger has a message to communicate to others. A messenger receives a message from a higher authority and passes it on. That is exactly what Malachi is doing. He is communicating a message from God. Malachi gets the message that he is to send on to others. Malalchi’s message is about preparation. The message is about preparing the way for the Lord’s coming.
The messenger has a message to proclaim. A proclaimation is an official announcement. An official announcement is not an announcement from just anybody. An official announcement is message that comes from one of the highest authority figures. The proclaimation being made by Malachi comes from the highest authority of all---God, our creator. Malachi is told to proclaim the Lord’s coming and the need to prepare for it.
The messenger cannot have assumptions. To make assumptions is to take the message and alter its meaning. The messenger has to therefore deliver the message as it is. He has to deliver the message in God’s own words. That is what Malachi is doing. He is bringing God’s message to the people the way that God told him to say it.
The messenger is to proclaim God’s covenant. A covenant is a promise made by God to man. Malachi is being sent by God to remind God’s people that He cares so much that He is coming Himself to show it. God’s people had grown impatient. When we get impatient, we have a tendency to feel like may be somebody has forgotten about us. When we get impatient, we start to lose hope. But, God keeps the hope before us with His message.
The message is clear. The Lord is coming soon. The Lord is coming because He cares. That is the whole reason behind the message being sent. The Lord is coming because He cares. There is a saying that says, “They do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” God wants us to know that His love for us is far greater than our ability to comprehend it. God wants us to know that He cares far beyond our ability to understand just how great His love is for us.
The Lord will be preceded by a forerunner. The forerunner that Malachi is speaking of is John the Baptist. The Jews thought that Elijah had to come before the Messiah---God’s promised One. John comes in the spirit and the power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). John will come proclaiming “prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3). John will tell the people to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 3:2). John will tell them that the ax is at the root of the tree. John is telling them that every tree that does not produce fruit will be thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10). John is telling them not only to repent but to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). John is telling them to stay righteous.