The Word Made Fresh
1“Look, I am sending my messenger to prepare my way, and the LORD you seek will suddenly appear in the temple. The messenger you claim to be so delighted in is coming,” says the LORD Almighty. 2But who can survive the day the LORD comes, and who can stand when the LORD appears? For God is like the fire of a refinery, and like the soap of a launderer. 3The LORD will refine and purify silver and purify the descendants of Levi like gold and silver so that they will bring the right offerings to the LORD. 4Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD. It will be like the olden days and the years of long ago.
5“Then I will approach you and judge you. I will quickly accuse the sorcerers and the adulterers and those who spread lies and those who refuse to pay hired workers a decent wage and those who mistreat widows and orphans and those who push the foreigner aside and have no fear of me,” says the LORD Almighty.
6“I do not change,” says the LORD, “and that is why you children of Jacob have never completely perished. 7Ever since the time of your ancestors you have ignored my laws. But if you return to me, I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you are asking how to return.
8“Would you think anybody would steal from God? But you are stealing from me! You ask how – the evidence is in your gifts of tithes and offerings. 9And you, the whole nation, have been cursed because you are robbing me. 10Bring the full tithe to the storehouse so there will be food in my house. That is how you can test me. See if I won’t open the windows of heaven for you and pour out an overflowing blessing for you. 10I will turn back the insects so they won’t destroy the crops your soil has provided. And your vines will not be bare, says the LORD Almighty. 12Then all the nations will see that you are blessed and will call you the land of delight,” says the LORD Almighty.
13″You have said some terrible things about me,” says the LORD. “Yet you pretend not to be aware of it and ask, ‘How so?’ 14You have said, ‘It is foolish to serve God. What profit is there for us for keeping God’s commands or by walking around like people in mourning before the LORD Almighty? 15From our perspective evildoers are happy. They are not only prosperous, but whenever God is tested they escape without harm.'”
16Then those who respected the LORD gathered and talked. The LORD heard them, and had a book written to serve as a remembrance of those who respected the LORD and called on the LORD’s name. 17“They will belong to me,” says the LORD Almighty. “They will be my special people and on the day I act they will be protected as parents would protect their children who are faithful to them. 18Then once again you will see the difference between the righteous and the wicked; between those who serve the LORD and those who don’t.”
1-4: “My messenger” in verse one is the same word that is rendered “Malachi” at the beginning of the book, but it is doubtful that the prophet is referring to himself at this point. Also, “The Lord” in verse 1 is not the proper name of God but rather a word that is usually used for human rulers. The pronouncement is that at some time in the future a messenger will appear who will herald the arrival of a righteous king who will reform the priesthood.
5-7: With the new reforming king in place God will point out the crimes of those who were supposed to be the shepherds of the people. God will once again invite the people to return to the covenant relationship established with their ancestors, and once again they demur with a question about procedures.
8-12: God charges them with not offering a full tithe. If they will once again tithe fully, God will bless the land and they will prosper accordingly.
13-15: They are accused of misrepresenting God and dissuading the people from being faithful, thus giving the wicked more opportunity to cheat others.
16-18: Malachi foresees the day when there will be an accounting of who is faithful and who is not, and the faithful will be rewarded.
The lesson here is that faithfulness to God’s way will reward us, and faithlessness will destroy us. Neither the reward nor the destruction will come at once, even perhaps not in this life, but it will come, nevertheless.