“Behold I send my Angel and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, Whom you seek, and the Angel of the testament, Whom you desire, shall come to His temple. Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of hosts. And who shall be able to think of the day of His coming? and who shall stand to see Him? for He is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb. And He shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice. And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years.” Malachi 3:1-4
1. Not only was the Messiah foreshadowed by the prophets in the general way, but details of His life gradually peered through the darkness. Thus one of the earliest prophets told his people that when Juda ceased to be a kingdom, then He would come: “The sceptre shall not be taken from Juda, nor a ruler from His thigh, till He come that is to be sent, and He shall be the expectation of nations” (Genesis 49:10). And one of the latest prophets made this time still more definite: “Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished, and everlasting justice may be brought, and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled, and the Saint of saints may be anointed (Daniel 9:24).
2. Another prophet told the place where He should be born. “And thou, Bethlehem, Ephrata, art a little one in the thousands of Juda, out of thee shall He come forth unto me Who shall be the Ruler in Israel, and His going forth is from the beginning, and from the days of eternity. Therefore will He give them up even unto the time when she that travaileth shall bring forth, and the remnant of His brethren shall be converted to the children of Israel” (Micah 5:2). We know how deeply this prophecy was stamped into the minds of the Jews, for when the Wise Men came from the East, asking where He was born, at once the scribes and priests gave answer: “In Bethlehem of Juda.”
3. Another prophet announced the change that would come over the sacrifices of the law, as if this were to be the final proof that indeed it was He. With the prophecy quoted above, compare this well-known passage from Malachi: “From the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered in My name a clean oblation, for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11). Thus would “Christ, when He was lifted up, draw all things to Himself,” uniting in Himself, making fruitful in Himself, all the sacrifices that had been or would be; in this sense “the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world,” and to the end, as St. John expresses it.
Summary Meditation Points:
1. As the time for His coming drew near, prophets began to say more clearly when that time would be; and the hungering hearts of the faithful Jews were full of expectation.
2. Others began to add in details by which He might be discovered; the place of His birth, the place of His exile, the place of His upbringing, as the Evangelists record.
3. Lastly, at least one other marks the one stamp upon His work: the sacrifice of the new Law.
Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).
Art: The picture is a Greek Catholic icon depicting the prophet Daniel. The icon was painted in the end of the 18th century as part of the iconostasis of the Greek Catholic Cathedral of HajdÃºdorog, Hungary. Daniel’s icon is placed on the third tier of the iconostasis, the so called Prophets tier. This icon is the first painting from the left, 18th century, Jojojoe, own work, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S. J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.