Study 10 WHO CAN ENDURE THE DAY OF HIS COMING?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Malachi 3:2)
This passage in Malachi speaks to us of the First Coming and Second Coming of Christ. It clearly refers to the first coming (v. 1-2). In verse 1 we have the prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus; in the second part of verse 1 and in verse 2 the reference is also to the Lord’s first coming because these prophecies were literally fulfilled when Jesus came 2000 years ago. However, the second part of verse 1 and verses 2 and 3 also refer to our Lord’s second coming, which we await. When the Old Testament prophets wrote of Christ’s coming they could only see the fact that in a general sense He, the Messiah, would come. They probably thought in terms of one coming only; but as we compare scripture with scripture now, we can see that in actual fact they declared Christ would come twice. See some examples:-
- 1. Genesis 3:15 – a prophecy that Satan would bruise the Saviour’s heel. This he did at Calvary. But there is also the prophecy that Christ would bruise Satan’s head. This He will do when He comes again – compare 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
- 2. Psalms 22 and 24. Psalm 22 is a prophecy of Jesus’ first coming and of His suffering; Psalm 24 is a prophecy of the return of Jesus as the King of Glory.
- 3. Isaiah 61:1-2. Compare these verses with Luke 4:18-19, and notice that in quoting from Isaiah 61, Jesus left out the words “and the day of vengeance of our God”, since these words were not fulfilled at His first coming, but will be at His second coming.
- 4. Matthew 16:21,27. In verse 21 Jesus predicts His death on Calvary; but verse 27 speaks of His coming “in his Father’s glory”.
- 5. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Paul gives the order and significance of the Lord’s Supper, which points back to, and is a reminder of, our Lord’s first coming, and points forward to His second coming – “until he comes”.
- 6. Hebrews 9:24-28. Verse 26 refers to Jesus’ first coming; verse 24 refers to His present session in heaven; verse 28 is the promise of His second coming.
- 7. Revelation, chapters 21 and 22. The two comings of Christ are kept before us right to the very end of the canon of Scripture. Here Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb…”, being special reference to His first coming, no less than seven times – Revelation 21 verses 9,14,22,23,27; Revelation 22:1,3; Then three times in Revelation 22 the cry goes up, “Behold, I am coming soon” (verses 7,12,20)!
From these references we see the harmony of the prophetic word; throughout Scripture there is an interwoven testimony to the two comings of Christ that are inseparable. See what Malachi 3:1-6 says about the second coming of Christ.
1. The Lord Jesus is most surely coming again the second time.
The word ‘messenger’ is used twice in verse 1. The first time it refers to John the Baptist; the second time it refers to Jesus, particularly to His first coming, where He is described as “the messenger of the covenant”. But in verse 2 the reference is also to His second coming. Is it possible that you are not rejoicing in the amazing truth of this? If so, what did Jesus mean in John 14:1-3? What did He mean in His parables, for example Matthew 25:1-12; Luke 19:12-13, and clear references to His second coming in Matthew chapter 24?
2. The One who is coming the second time is the same Lord who came the first time.
This will not be a different Jesus! In Malachi 3:1-6 both comings are placed side by side and refer to the same Lord Jesus, who doesn’t change (verse 6). To his disciples He said, “I will come back” (John 14:3). When He ascended the angels said that the second time it would be “this same Jesus” (Acts 9:1-11); significantly the Apostle Paul says it will be “the Lord himself”, not just “the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
3. Prophecies relating to his first coming were literally fulfilled, and will be again.
This is very important and very logical. We have two illustrations of this in our Scripture:-
- (1) In Malachi 3:1: we have the prophecy of the coming of John the Baptist (literally fulfilled, as the following Scriptures make clear – Matthew 3:3; 11:10; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 1:76; 3:4; 7:26-27; John 1:23).
- (2) In Malachi 3:1-3: we have the prophecy of the coming of the Lord Jesus at His first coming. He came to the temple and was recognized by the aged Simeon (Luke 2:27); He came to the temple again at the age of twelve (Luke 2:49); He entered the temple again when He rode in triumph to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12,14), and in the temple He performed His gracious work of healing. Notice that the work of purifying (verses 3-4) is the work He is doing today in the lives of His people – compare 1 Peter 1:7.
4. The Lord Jesus is coming back again on a certain specified day.
“Who can endure the day of his coming?” is the question asked in verse 2. This ‘day’ speaks of a date or a specified time, but we do not know when the day will be, as Matthew 24:36-37 and Matthew 25:13 make clear.
5. He is coming suddenly (verse 1),
…and it means that He will come at the time when most people are not expecting Him – look up and compare Luke 12:39 with Matthew 24:40-41 and 25:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Revelation 16:15.
6. His coming will mean separation and judgment for the unbeliever.
Malachi 3:2-3 refers to a refining process and a separating of the godly from the ungodly (Matthew 13:30). The Lord will separate the dross from the silver with patient love and unflinching justice. Here we are reminded of the rapture of the Church which will take place before the Lord’s return in glory (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). How solemn!
7. The coming of the Lord will mean rapture for the child of God.
Notice in verse 1, “whom you desire”, and in verse 3, “Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness…” Do you delight in Him? We are awaiting the Son of righteousness (Malachi 4:2), so – look up 1 John 3:2-3!