I must confess that I love the prophets of the Old Testament. Their character, their bravery, their commitment and faithfulness are so inspiring. The last prophet was Malachi. He delivered some stirring words to the people of Israel because their worship to God was in a total state of decay. He made an amazing prophesy that a messenger would soon come and announce the coming Messiah. He also said that the Messiah would suddenly appear in his temple. This Messiah is the one all the nations desire (Malachi 3:1).
John the Baptist fulfilled the part of the prophesy pertaining to the forerunner. However, the other part was fulfilled the day Jesus cleansed the temple following the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. A preposterous scam had been going on in the temple for a long time. Animals for sacrifice were being sold at exorbitant prices, money was being exchanged at dishonest rates, and the high priest was benefiting from it all according to Josephus. The very court that was being used for business was the Court of the Gentiles. That was the only place in the temple where Gentiles could go to pray and meditate. Jesus suddenly entered the temple and literally turned the tables over. Though his actions were violent, his words were deliberate. His words referenced both Isaiah and Jeremiah: “My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it 'a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:45-48).
Jesus referenced Isaiah 56:7 where God expressed his desire for the foreigner to be able to come to his house and find him. God wanted the outsider to experience his presence and to be able to feel his acceptance. Jeremiah 7:11 referred to sincerely and honestly seeking God in his house and honoring God.
When Jesus sent the money changers scurrying out of the temple, he was voicing his father’s displeasure at excluding the Gentiles from his house and his kingdom. When Jesus said, "My house will be a house of prayer," it was to be a house of prayer for all nations. This was Jesus’ cry for the lost to be found and for the love of God to be present in his house.
Our world is broken, and we cannot fix it no matter how hard we try. People long for something they cannot find, and what they do find doesn’t satisfy. Malachi’s words were never more fitting than they are today: "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3:1). This is a missions prophesy. The one the prophet spoke about did come, and he suddenly appeared in the temple. He was upset that God’s temple was not a place where sinners could find God. He is truly the one the nations desire. May we ever be faithful in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth so that those who open their hearts can find Jesus.