The messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come … I the LORD do not change!’ Malachi 3:1,6
“Through the tender mercies of our God; whereby the dayspring (rising sun) from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78,79)
For a long time now we have studied the first section of the Holy Scriptures, known as the Old Testament. This first section contains the first five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and the other Holy Scriptures. As we have seen, God used
more than thirty prophets
over a period of around
one thousand five
to write the Old Testament.
We have come to a very important lesson, because we will complete our journey in the first section of the Holy Scriptures. However, before we look at the last chapters of the book of the Old Testament, we would like to think a little about what we have gleaned from this holy book from the first lesson until now. We can summarise the message of all the prophets with three great thoughts:
One: God is holy and must judge every sin.
Two: All the children of Adam are born in sin and must face God’s judgement.
Three: God planned to send down a holy Redeemer who would bear the punishment of sin for the children of Adam.
Those are the three truths which all the prophets of God preached. Let us repeat these three points.
First: God is Holy, and cannot overlook sin.
Second: Man is unholy, full of sin, and has no way of saving himself from the penalty of sin.
Third: God has a plan to cleanse sinners and save them from judgement.
Have these truths grasped you? Do you realise how holy God is? Do you recognize how great your sins are in the eyes of the One who must judge you? Do you know that God has a plan to cleanse you from your sins? Indeed,
God is holy
man is unholy.
We have seen those two truths often in our studies in the Holy Scriptures.
The holiness of God
was the reason that God created the unquenchable fire for Satan and everyone who follows him. The holiness of God was the reason that He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden on the day that they ate of the forbidden tree. The holiness of God was the reason that God commanded the sons of Adam to sacrifice animals as a burnt offering to cover sin.
was also the reason He did not accept Cain’s offering. Because God is holy He destroyed sinners in Noah’s time with a flood of water and rained fire in Abraham’s time on the people of Sodom and Gomorrhah.
The holiness of God
is the reason that God has prepared a day when He will judge the world in righteousness. Listen to what God’s prophets wrote about the holiness of God and the unholiness of man. They said: “Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord … Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:12,13) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) If God is so holy and man is so unclean,
who then can be saved?
How can we be saved from the eternal fire of hell? How can the children of Adam spend eternity in the presence of the God who is pure and holy?
The response to that question is the third point in the message of the prophets. After the prophets preached that God is holy and that the children of Adam are unholy, they went on to declare that God Himself had a plan to cleanse the children of Adam from their sin.
The most important message of the Old Testament is that God promised to send into the world a righteous Redeemer who would die in the place of the unrighteous children of Adam to redeem all those who believe in Him.
Only through the Redeemer’s shed blood can God forgive sin and reconcile sinners to Himself, and still remain righteous.
To advance His plan to send the Savior into the world, God called Abraham to make of him a new nation, from whom the prophets of God and the Messiah would come. God spoke to Abraham, saying: “You will be a blessing and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” And so Abraham begot Isaac in his old age, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot twelve sons who produced the tribes of
So, we learned that when God called Abraham, He was continuing forward with His plan to send the Savior into the world, because it was from the family of Abraham, through the nation of Israel, that the Messiah was to be born.
Next we saw how the children of Israel moved from the land of Canaan and settled in Egypt where they became slaves of the Egyptians. But
God did not forget the descendants of Abraham,
the Israelites. God called Moses to free the Israelites and lead them to the land which God had promised to their ancestor Abraham long before. God also used the prophet Moses to give us the book called the Pentateuch or the first five books of the Old Testament, which is
of everything that God has made known since then.
After the time of Moses, we saw how God sent many prophets to the Israelites, but most did not heed the words of the prophets. However, the unfaithfulness of the Israelites
did not hinder the faithfulness of God
and the plan He had designed to send the Messiah into the world! Thus we saw how God chose
as king of Israel and the prophet who would write most of the lovely and profound hymns found in the book of Psalms. The prophet David wrote much concerning the Messiah and how the children of Adam would persecute Him and even pierce His hands and His feet. But David also prophesied that after the Messiah had shed His blood as a sacrifice that removes sin,
He would conquer death and rise from the grave!
In our journey through the Scriptures, we also discovered that it was not only Moses and David who wrote about the Messiah.
For example, the prophet Isaiah announced that the Messiah would be born in a way which, as you know, no one had ever been born. He said: “The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
The prophet Isaiah wrote this
seven hundred years
before the Messiah was born. There was another prophet who lived at the same time as Isaiah. His name was
God revealed to Micah the name of the town in which the Messiah would be born. Listen carefully to what the prophet Micah wrote. In the book of Micah, we read: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet
out of thee shall he come forth
unto me that is going to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2) Thus, Micah announced that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem, the hometown of King David! Three lessons from now, we will learn how God fulfilled this prophecy, for it was
in the town of Bethlehem
that the Messiah was born, just as God’s prophet, Micah, declared it hundreds of years beforehand. Surely God prepared the arrival of the Savior of the world very carefully!
God’s holy Book contains hundreds of references by the prophets
about the coming of the Messiah.
Perhaps you are asking: Why did God place in the minds of the prophets all these thoughts concerning the Messiah before He came into the world? There is one very important reason. God inspired the prophets to write much about the Messiah before He came, so that when He came and fulfilled all that the prophets wrote concerning Him,
we might know beyond any doubt
that He and He alone is the Savior whom God sent. God does not want anyone to deceive you! God wants you to know who the Messiah, the Savior of sinners, is, so that you can believe in Him and follow Him and be saved from your sins. That is one of the reasons He gave us this wonderful, reliable Book called the Old Testament—
so we might distinguish the truth from error.
Now to finish our journey in the Old Testament, we would like to read from the book of Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament. The words of the prophet Malachi are important for us, because they are the final words which God sent down to the children of Adam before the Messiah visited the earth. Only four hundred years remained
before the Redeemer would be born.
Listen to what the prophet Malachi wrote in the last chapter of the Old Testament. He said, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts …for
I am the Lord, I change not;
therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed … but unto them that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Mal. 3:1,6; 4:2) Thus the prophet Malachi prophesied that God planned to send a prophet before the Messiah to prepare His way. Do you know who that prophet was? In our next lesson, we will see that the one who would prepare the way before the Messiah was the prophet
However, Malachi also wrote: The LORD Almighty says: “The messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come . . . I the LORD do not change!” (Mal. 3:1) About two hundred years earlier, the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that
I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which, my covenant, they broke, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34) With these words, God was announcing that the Messiah would bring a new covenant
as He had promised so long ago.
The New Covenant would not depend on man who had failed to respect God’s covenant; it would depend on God who, in His faithfulness and mercy, would send the Messiah, the Messenger of the Covenant, into the world.
For thousands of years, God had required the sacrifice of animals so that He might forgive the sins of the children of Adam. Animal sacrifices were an important part of the First Covenant (Old Testament ) which God gave to mankind through His prophets. However, the Messiah would bring to the world
the New Covenant,
because He would fulfil what the animal sacrifices meant and thus set aside the First Covenant.
The Messiah would not come to abolish the words of the prophets, but to fulfil them. That is why the prophet Malachi calls the Messiah “the Sun of Righteousness.” How would the Messiah be like the sun? The prophets were like the moon or a candle which shines a little light in a dark world. However, the Messiah is
is the rising sun,
because He came to drive out the darkness of our sin and set us on the way of righteousness forever! Who needs the light of the moon or a candle once the sun has arisen? The Messiah is
the Sun of Righteousness!
In our next lesson, we will see that Zachariah, the father of the prophet John, spoke of the Messiah in a similar way, saying: “Through the tender mercies of our God; whereby the dayspring (rising sun) from on high hath visited us,
to give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78,79)
And so, friends, we have come to the end of our journey in the books of the Old Testament. In our next lesson, God willing, we will begin the wonderful section which follows, that is, the New Testament. It is in the Gospel that we discover how the Messiah fulfilled the words of the prophets.
God bless you as you heed this warning:
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19)
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