“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.”
The final book of the Old Testament was written by a prophet named Malachi roughly 400 years before Jesus’ birth. Chapter 3 speaks of the coming of John the Baptizer. Malachi 4:5–6 provides more details about this messenger John: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
God makes the incredible promise to enter human history, following a messenger who has a preaching ministry like Elijah’s, who will herald the Lord’s arrival much like a parade that gets everyone fired up for the honored guest at its end. He will come to the temple, and one of the effects of his ministry will be to bring sinners to repentance.
Following this prophecy, there are 400 years of divine silence as the Old Testament concludes and awaits the fulfillment of this prophecy. No book of the Bible is written, and no prophet speaks. Some begin to wonder if God’s provision has left God’s people. With exceptions, each generation becomes a little more stiff necked, hard hearted, and cold. Many people aren’t walking with God as they ought.
But a remnant remains devoted to the Lord, including a man named Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth. Luke tells us, “they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (1:6). It is their son, John, who will fulfill Malachi’s prophecy and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who do you know that has remained faithful to the Lord amidst trials like Zechariah and Elizabeth? How can you encourage them today (e.g., a call or text)?