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Summary: Messengers were important in Bible times. God has sent His Messengers and God continues to send His messengers to prepare the way.

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In our lives there are many special days,

days like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. When you wait for a special day to arrive do you get excited?

It’s only three weeks till we celebrate Christmas. Anyone excited?

In bible times, messengers were often sent out to proclaim special events that were coming.

When the actual day of the event arrived messengers were sent out again to give a final invitation to attend.

Messengers were replaced with postmen and many people wrote and posted personal invitations rather than send an actual messenger.

Actually, today we are more likely to receive an email or a text message for announcements and invitations.

I get around 60 emails a day and my son has a mobile that allows him to send 4000 messages a month, so perhaps the importance of a messenger may be lost on us today.

So I want us to take a little time this morning be reminded of the value of God’s messengers. Perhaps the greatest messenger in the New Testament was John the Baptist.

John’s coming and message were clearly announced by the messengers of the Old Testament, God’s prophets.

For example ISAIAH 40:3 speaks of “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God’”

Speaking of preparing the way.

There is a 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 exploit the islanders.

The visitor said that nobody believed what the Bible had to say now.

He even went as far as to say nobody listens to the story about Jesus either.

The man concluded his comments 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 feasts.

If it had not been for those 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!”

This story has a wonderful point.

There were missionaries who prepared the way for other messengers 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.

This morning we are going to look at a passage from the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi.

This is part of the bible that points out how there will be a messenger who preceded the Lord’s coming.

Every messenger or prophet has a message to deliver and those who hear the message need to make a response.

Let me give you a quick recap of Malachi.

Nothing is known about Malachi as a person.

His Hebrew is clear and forceful and direct;

sometimes almost rhythmical.

Malachi’s message has a permanent value for us as well as an immediate value for his own time.

Nearly all biblical scholars are agreed that Malachi prophesied during the Persian period,

and after the reconstruction and dedication of the second temple in 516 B.C.

Malachi probably lived during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The captivities and conquering of God’s people were over.

God returned Israel to the Promised Land.

BUT they had begun to forget and forsake God.

Serious abuses had crept into Jewish life;

the priests had become lax and degenerate, defective and inferior sacrifices were allowed to be offered upon the temple altar,

the people were neglecting their tithes,

divorce was common and God’s covenant was forgotten and ignored

His primary aim was to encourage a disheartened people who were still looking for Haggai’s and Zechariah’s predictions to be fulfilled.

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

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

Let’s read Malachi 3:1-6

1 “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

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