Prepare the Way, Part 1
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.” (Malachi 3:1)
The opening of Mark’s gospel quotes two Old Testament prophecies about John the Baptist. The first is from Malachi, the final book in the Old Testament.
But Malachi isn’t speaking his own words. He quotes directly from God, the Lord Almighty. In this way, we hear our Lord’s own words through his prophet and servant Malachi.
God says he will one day send someone to go before him and prepare the way for him. The messenger, as we’ll later learn, is John the Baptist. He will go ahead of Jesus to make the way for him.
Now let’s pull back a bit and look at the prophet’s words in context. To do so we’ll need to start at Malachi 2:17 and read to Malachi 3:5.
Malachi writes that the people have wearied God with their words.
“How?” the people ask, not understanding their failings.
They do so by calling evil good (see Isaiah 5:20–21) and assuming God is pleased with them. They also question God’s apparent lack of justice.
In response to these people who weary God with their twisting of words and insulting accusations, he shares his solution. He’ll send a messenger tasked with preparing the way for me to come. And by me, he means Jesus.
After God’s messenger makes the way, then Jesus will suddenly appear. He’ll be the one they seek, the solution they desire.
“But who can endure his coming?” Malachi asks. “Who can stand before him?” These questions may seem like Jesus is someone we should fear. But we can also see this as a reason to revere God as the awesome Lord that he is.
In addition, Malachi writes that the message will purify them and refine them to make them—and us—right before God.
He’ll also speak out against sorcerers (false religions), adulterers (sexually immoral practices), and perjurers (liars). He will oppose those who cheat their workers, take advantage of widows and orphans, and prevent outsiders from receiving justice.
This is our Lord’s response to the naysayers who ask, “Where is God’s justice?”
In what ways might we weary God with our words?
Do we care as much about justice as God does?
Most significantly, have we allowed Jesus to make us right with his Father?
Prayer: Jesus, may we have a heart aligned with yours for justice and then act to pursue it. May our actions to promote justice serve as both an act of worship and as a witness.
[This devotional is taken from the November 29 reading from The Advent of Jesus.]
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Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.