“Behold I send My messenger, and he will clear the path before Me, and suddenly the Lord whom you seek will come to His sanctuary, and the messenger of the covenant for whom you yearn, behold he comes, says the Lord of hosts. Who can bear the day of his coming and who can survive when he appears? For he will be like the smelters fire and like the launderer’s soap. He will sit smelting and purifying silver; he will purify the children of Levi and refine them like gold and like silver, and they will be for the Lord presenters of offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in years gone by.”
In this passage the prophet speaks of a visitation of the Divine into the Temple, but it does not specify in which Temple the manifestation will occur. The prophet simply states that the Master will enter His sanctuary suddenly. This could refer to the future Third Temple as easily as it could refer to the Second. This passage cannot be used as evidence that the Messiah must come before the destruction of the Second Temple as missionaries contend, because the prophecy does not indicate which Temple it is referring to.
What this passage does tell us is that when the manifestation does occur, it will not be a Christian manifestation. Christianity believes that the sacrificial system and the Levitical priesthood were terminated with the advent of Jesus. Malachi has a different message. Malachi teaches that the Levites will be purified so that the offerings of Israel will be pleasing to God exactly as they were in days gone by. There is no way that one can repudiate the Levitical priesthood together with the sacrificial system and claim to fulfill this prophecy at the same time.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal