Malachi 3:1 states:
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.”
On page 23 of the January 1989 Ensign, it reads:
Malachi prophesied of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s role as the Lord’s “forerunner” to the latter days, when he recorded the Lord’s words: “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.” (Mal 3:1.)
BYU professor explains that originally “messenger” was “interpreted in early LDS writings as the gospel.” However, “it is only gradually that Saints came to associate the messenger of Malachi 3:1 with Joseph Smith” (p. 52).
He goes on to say,
Scholars explain that, when read in context, the “messenger” in Malachi appears to be an allusion to Elijah whose appearance would prepare the way before the Lord’s coming in judgment as prophesied in Malachi 4:4. (p. 53)
We must not only allow interpret passages based on their context, but we must allow scripture to interpret scripture. Matthew 11:10-11 says this was talking about John the Baptist, not Joseph Smith. It reads,
“For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”
As Harrell states,
In the New Testament, the “messenger” of Malachi’s prophecy is reinterpreted as being a reference to John the Baptist coming in the “spirit and power” of Elijah (Matt. 11:10, 14, 17:11-12; Luke 1:17) to prepare the way before Jesus. . . These early Christians believed that the judgment and kingdom promised in the Old Testament was nigh at hand and saw John as being the very messenger spoken of by Malachi. (p. 53)
For other passages discussing common passages used by Latter-day Saints, click here.