Malachi 3:1 says, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Who is Malachi speaking of in this verse? The messenger of the covenant is Jesus Christ. A covenant is a promise between God and man, and the covenant referred to here is the covenant God made to send His children a redeemer.
“Our Lord is the Messenger of the Covenant. (Mal. 3:1.) He came in his Father’s name (John 5:43), bearing his Father’s message (John 7:16-17), to fulfil the covenant of the Father that a Redeemer and Savior would be provided for men. (Moses 4:1-3; Abra. 3:27-28.) Also, through his ministry the terms of the everlasting covenant of salvation became operative; the message he taught was that salvation comes through the gospel covenant.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 488.)
The purpose of the Savior was to bring about the salvation of man, as well as to teach people what their Heavenly Father expected of them. He devoted His brief ministry entirely to His Father’s work, teaching, healing, and then taking on the sins of the world and dying so those who were not perfect could return to God if they were willing to repent and keep the commandments.
The scripture in Malachi refers to someone who comes to prepare the way for the coming of that messenger. The scriptures often refer to those sent to prepare the way as Elias’. John the Baptist was one such messenger.
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1) Jesus’ cousin, he knew from his family of the miracles that had attended the Savior’s birth, and knew His purpose on earth. He was sent to allow people to know the Savior’s mission was about to begin, and later had the privilege of baptizing Jesus. John the Baptist was the primary Elias of the first coming.
The scripture in Malachi is not speaking of that first coming however, because it talks about Jesus coming suddenly to his temple, not being born in a manger. This verse is referring to the Second Coming. There have been Elias’ to foretell the second coming as well, including Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the restoration. After the death of Jesus Christ and the apostles, the world fell into an apostasy. There were no prophets to receive guidance from God and conflicting churches arose, as people tried to figure out for themselves what was true. In 1830, Joseph, a teenager trying to figure out where God’s church was, prayed to know what church to join and was visited by God and Jesus Christ personally to tell him not to join any church, because none were completely true. In a few years, an angel named Moroni began to tutor him in the ways of God and in time, he was authorized to begin teaching the gospel as it had been taught when Jesus was on the earth.
Once again, there was a prophet who could testify of the coming of the Savior and to teach people how to prepare for it. Since that time, there has been an unbroken chain of Mormon prophets who teach about the Savior and encourage them to prepare for the second coming. As Malachi warns, it will come suddenly, with no further time to prepare. Today is the time to do our preparation-seeking, finding, and verifying truth, keeping the commandments, and building a relationship with God.