A brief comment about method: One writer astutely observes, “I know from personal experience that the move from (higher) criticism of the Bible to trust in the Bible does not occur through arguments that consider the intellectual presuppositions of the Bible critic in such a way that he can accept those arguments.” So it is with us.
The whole enterprise of narrative theology, narrative-historical criticism, and historical criticism arose as the result of worldview bias and a dissatisfaction with the current state. Avoiding bias is impossible. My only objection with those who desire to remain evangelical while rejecting the essential tenets of evangelicalism. That is confusing from nearly any perspective.
Responding to Malachi 3:1-4, God is said to be the one who is coming immediately after He sends His messenger to prepare the way. We may want to take a closer look: הָאָדוֹן אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּם מְבַקְשִׁים.
Concerning Jesus’ identity as God and the view that the NT writers were merely showing that Jesus had been chosen and authorized by God, this view is anachronistic. The immediate history surrounding the Christ event in addition to passages you have not mentioned make such claims untennable. John tells us, through the Holy Spirit that Jesus was there from the beginning with God, and that He was God. He also tells us in 1:18 that μονογενὴς θεὸς ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο: The one and only God who is in the bosom of the Father, that one He has explained. John testifies by the Spirit repeatedly that Jesus is divine. In Phil. 2:6-11, Paul provides compelling proof that he believed Jesus existed prior to His incarnation. Col. 1:16 tells us He created all things, and that He is before all things, and that in Him all things are held together. How many times is the Church called the “Church of God?” Yet Jesus said I will build MY Church! Hebrews 1:8 could hardly be clearer that Jesus is presented by the NT writers as God. As you know, there is so much more that could be said about this subject, but time and space are unyielding at present.
Why the language in the NT about elevating Christ to this place of Lordship? The Christ event is the event when God emptied Himself to become a man. Becoming a servant in flesh was temporal as you know. It is not difficult to understand that such language is used to refer to the man we see called Jesus of Nazareth. He has been elevated to God’s right hand. Yet, this same Jesus was also there from the beginning, a member of the one triune God.
The Christian confession is that we believe in our heart that God has raised this Jesus from the dead and that we confess Him as Lord over all, our Lord and as Thomas said, my Lord and My God! Jesus said He would raise Himself from the dead in John 2:18-22. Entrance into the Christian community is precisely right here. A regenerate heart confesses not that Jesus is a Lord, a very special Lord, but that He IS Lord! The one and only Lord of all that is, ever has been, or ever will be.
This discussion has to turn to method. Before we approach the text and merits of our understanding around what it says, we must discuss method. I believe historical criticism to be dead, a useless tool of the skeptic to call into question the Word of God and the faith of the saints. I believe the method can be shown to rest upon speculations and human reason that is far from scientific. It is impossible to move the conversation forward until we can find common ground hermeneutically speaking. In my next comment, I will say a few things about narrative-historical criticism, and where I believe its fundamental problems reside.
At bottom, hermeneutical methods that are deeply rooted in secular philosophies are ipso facto hostile to God. Paul warned the Church about such philosophies even in his day. All assumptions underlying hermeneutical methods that would confute even the most basic Christian doctrine must be subjected to the highest degree of scrunity. Instead, we find the young, restless, evangelicals so-called (why I do not know) all too eager to uncritically accept anything that comes along so long as it is different and against tradition, or so it seems to this theologian.