Behold, I will send my messenger
These are the words of Christ, in answer to the question put in the last verse of the preceding chapter ( Malachi 2:17 ) , "Where [is] the God of judgment?" intimating that he would quickly appear, and previous to his coming send his messenger or angel; not the angel of death to destroy the wicked, as Jarchi thinks; nor an angel from heaven, as Kimchi; nor Messiah the son of Joseph; as Aben Ezra; nor the Prophet Malachi himself, as Abarbinel; but the same that is called Elijah the prophet, ( Malachi 4:5 ) and is no other than John the Baptist, as is clear from ( Matthew 11:10 ) ( Mark 1:2 ) called a "messenger" or "angel", not by nature, but by office; and Christ's messenger, because sent by him and on his errand; and which shows the power and authority of Christ in sending forth ministers; his superior excellency to John, and his existence before him, or he could not be sent by him, and so before his incarnation; for John was sent by him before he was in the flesh, and consequently this is a proof of the proper deity of Christ: and the word "behold" is prefixed to this, in order to raise the attention of those that put the above question, and all others; as well as to show that the message John was sent upon was of the greatest moment and importance; as that the Messiah was just ready to appear, his kingdom was at hand, and the Jews ought to believe in him; though it also respects the coming of the Messiah, spoken of in the latter part of the text: and he shall prepare the way before me;
by declaring to the Jews that he was born, and was in the midst of them; by pointing him out unto them; by preaching the doctrine of repentance, and exhorting them to believe in him; and by administering the ordinance of baptism in general to all proper subjects, and in particular to Christ, by which he was made manifest to Israel; (See Gill on Mark 1:2) the allusion is to kings and great men sending persons before them when on a journey, to give notice of their coming, and provide for them: and the Lord, whom ye seek;
this is the person himself speaking, the Son of God, and promised Messiah, the Lord of all men, and particularly of his church and people, in right of marriage, by virtue of redemption, and by being their Head and King; so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of him, and even Abarbinel F17 himself; the Messiah that had been so long spoken of and so much expected, and whom the Jews sought after, either in a scoffing manner, expressed in the above question, or rather seriously; some as a temporal deliverer, to free them from the Roman yoke, and bring them into a state of liberty, prosperity, and grandeur; and others as a spiritual Saviour, to deliver from sin, law, hell, and death, and save them with an everlasting salvation: shall suddenly come to his temple;
meaning not his human nature, nor his church, sometimes so called; but the material temple at Jerusalem, the second temple, called "his", because devoted to his service and worship, which proves him to be God, and because of his frequency in it; here he was brought and presented by his parents at the proper time, for the purification of his mother; here he was at twelve years of age disputing with the doctors; and here Simeon, Anna, and others, were waiting for him, ( Luke 2:22 Luke 2:25 Luke 2:27 Luke 2:38 Luke 2:46 ) and we often read of his being here, and of his using his authority in it as the Lord and proprietor of it; and of the Hosannas given him here, ( Matthew 21:12-15 Matthew 21:23 ) the manner in which he should come, "suddenly", may refer to the manifestation of it, quickly after John the Baptist had prepared his way by his doctrine and baptism: even the messenger of the covenant;
not of the covenant of works with Adam, of which there was no mediator and messenger; nor of the covenant of circumcision, at which, according to the Jews, Elias presides; nor of the covenant at Sinai, of which Moses was the mediator; but of the covenant of grace, of which Christ is not only the Surety and Mediator; but, as here, "the Messenger"; because it is revealed, made known, and exhibited in a more glorious manner by him under the Gospel dispensation, through the ministration of the word and ordinances. De Dieu observes, that the word in the Ethiopic language signifies a prince as well as a messenger, and so may be rendered, "the Prince of the covenant", which is a way of speaking used in ( Daniel 11:22 ) : whom ye delight in;
either carnally, as they pleased themselves with the thoughts of a temporal prince, and of great honour and grandeur under him; and as they would have done, had he submitted to have been made a king by them in this sense; or rather spiritually, and so is to be understood of such who had a spiritual knowledge of him, and joy in him; who rejoiced and delighted in the contemplation of his person, offices, righteousness, and salvation: he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts;
this expresses the certainty of his coming, being said by himself, who is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of armies in heaven and in earth, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. This passage is, in some Jewish writers F18, interpreted of the world to come, or times of the Messiah.
F17 Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 76. 4.
F18 Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 16. fol. 219. 4.