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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Messenger of the covenant, the Baptist, the Apostle, the Judgment

“But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I sendG649 My messengerG32, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.” (Luke 7:26,27).

G32 aggelosangelos” from aggellō (probably derived from G71; compare G34; to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication a pastor: -angel, messenger.

G71 agō A primary verb; properly to lead; by implication to bring, drive, (reflexively) go, (specifically) pass (time), or (figuratively) induce: -be, bring (forth), carry, (let) go, keep, lead away, be open.

G34 agelē From G71 (compare G32); a drove: -herd.

G2097 euaggelizo From G2095 and G32; to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel: -declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

G2095 eu Neuter of a primary word eus (good); (adverbially) well: -good, well (done).

G652 apostolos From G649; a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially the commissioner of Christ (“apostle”), (with miraculous powers): -apostle, messenger, he that is sent.

In other words, John the Baptist and the disciples (later turned apostles), were all the messengers of the Lord, the angels of the Lord; they were all like their Lord, the great Angel of the Lord. They were sent by their Lord, as He was sent by His Father to turn away the curse of the Law and give the message of Well Done to His people who had accepted the punishment of their iniquities by four overlording Empires. Christ had been sent by God, His Father! The Messiah had come! “Who is blind, but My Servant? or deaf, as My MessengerH4397 that I sentH7971? who is blind as He that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’s Servant?” (Isa. 42:19).

H4397 mal‘âk From an unused root meaning to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God, that is, an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher): -ambassador, angel, king, messenger.

The last book of the Old Testament, MalachiH4401, is really not the name of a prophet, but of the subject matter—that before the great a terrible day of the Lord God would send His fully vested Messenger.

H4401 mal‘âkîy From the same as H4397; ministrative; Malaki, a prophet: -Malachi.

“Behold, I will send My messengerH4397, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the MessengerH4397 of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:1).

We could call it the very first version of the three angels’ messages. “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” (Rev. 14:6,7). We could rename Revelation into “Malachi, Part II”. The last message of the Old Testament would be the same warning about Judgment Day that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd angels’ messages proclaim in the last message of the New Testament. Who would be able to stand on the Lord’s side with Moses like the tribe of Levi did in the apostasy at Mt. Sinai?

“But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the LORD of hosts.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:2-6).

Of interest is the connection between the heavenly Messenger and the Law of God. An earlier part of the Old Testament’s Judgment Day message said, “Ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that My covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared Me, and was afraid before My name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with Me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messengerH4397 [mal’âk] of the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 2:4-7). The claims of the Law are always restored before the Lord comes close for judgment.

This “messenger of the Lord” is key throughout the whole tenor of Malachi.

John the Baptist was the special son of Levi, who was the ancient messenger of the Lord. John was the ambassador/apostle (“he that is sent”) [G652 apostolos of God] to prepare the way before His Son, Messiah the Prince. Therefore, John the Baptist was more than a prophet. John was Levi resurrected from the dead works and from the atrophied memory banks of the nation. Thus, of all the prophets that had been sent to revive the Law and the memory of Levi, not a greater prophet than John had arisen. The time had come—the accomplishment of the 600 year punishment of Israel’s sins and the time to comfort and redeem the captive Israelites, as it was written in Isaiah 40:1,2. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

Israel’s national deliverance, “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness” (Dan. 9:24), would be amplified in a larger victory over the adversary of all time. The Jews’ Day of Judgment prefigured a larger Day of Judgment for the whole human race,  involving everyone from the fall of Adam and Eve to the world living at the Second Advent of the Son of God. The Messenger’s judgment was time to fulfill the plan of salvation.

Apart from the context of the whole book, this usage of “messenger” in Malachi 3:1 is confusing because it reuses the title of messenger for both John, “the messenger of Jesus”, and Jesus, “the Messenger of the covenant”. But, the double title makes sense when we see that John was a sub-apostle and sub-priest under the greatest “ApostleG652 and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus”, who His Father anointed with “the oil of gladness above [His] fellows.” (Heb. 3:1; 1:9). Christ was one among His fellows, yet His fellows knew He was above them. As the Son of God, they knew He had come out from the bosom of His Father and had been sent as God’s foremost Apostle, and Messenger of the covenant. “For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me…. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one…. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:8,22,26). Jesus’ apostles “are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.” (2Cor. 8:23).

When the Messiah came, He brought again the great revival of Elijah and Elisha, His revival being reinforced by John the Baptist on His left, and Paul and the other apostles on His right, according to a timeline.

John the Baptist was an apostle as much as Paul and the gospel ministers were apostles. And the apostles were prophets as much as Joh was. But, just as with Elisha following up Elijah with a greater reformation, the gospel work covered a greater area and brought forward a greater and more glorious gift to the world than John did. Just as Jesus was sent by His Father to this world, and the apostles were sent by Jesus throughout Israel, the reception of the apostles and the Son of God determined which souls received God Himself. “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.” (Matt. 10:40). This chain of apostleship also explains the chain of inspiration.

“And I fell at his feet to worship him [Gabriel]. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10).

The testimony of Jesus, which we always associate with the gift of prophecy, was not only given to prophets and apostles, but also to angels. In Revelation 19:10 we hear the apostle John being told by Gabriel that he was a fellowservant of the human prophets. Gabriel, an angelic messenger who Daniel called a “man” (Dan. 9:21; 10:18), was a fellow messenger of the human messengers, an angel associate with men.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” (Rev. 1:1,2).

Present truth originated from God to His Son to Gabriel to John to the church. This is the chain of inspiration and also the chain of command. It is also the chain of messengers of the Lord, the chain of apostleship. Under God they are all fellows, the sheep under the under-shepherds, the under-shepherding prophets a little lower than the angels, and the angel ministering spirits lower than the divine Son of God, the Word of God, the great Spirit of truth who God would send to give His testimony to the apostles, so that they could bear witness to the world (see John 15:26,27; 14:18,19). The Spirit of truth comes from the Father through His only Son begotten of God from the days of eternity, to His angel. 

Then Gabriel and his angelic hosts pass it on to their human counterparts the prophets. And finally, the prophets pass it to other messenger sons of men who, down through the ages, the prophets inspire, marshal, and send out. All are given the power of the Highest to give the strait testimony like Elijah gave it, and are protected from the poison of Satan’s hosts and men. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” (2Chron. 16:9). “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven.” “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Dan. 4:35; Heb. 1:14).

Surrounded by His prophets and teachers and messengers and apostles of both Old and New Testaments, Christ is like fearsome Mt. Rainier with its sky-scraping fellow mountains that sit around it. They are humbled by Rainier’s towering height, yet meekly surrendered to its message of greatness to the world. Not only does Christ’s greatness of divine justice and mercy surpass all His angelic and human fellows, but so does His oil of joy stand head and shoulders above these His fellows.

Who will abide the day of the Messenger’s coming? Who will stand when the strait testimony of the True and Faithful Witness reappeareth? Who will be found merciful and unselfish, the character of Christ which “rejoiceth against judgment” (Jas. 2:13)?

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