Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. There is discussion as to whether this was the prophet’s name or a title, “the messenger’. Nonetheless, he was most likely a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century BC (that is the 400’s).
Because the book is short, four chapters long (our count, the bible wasn’t divided into chapter and verses until the 13th and 16th centuries (respectively)), so it was not considered a major prophetic book.
And I have to admit it, I never really paid much attention to Malachi until recently. Probably, like many, I was familiar with Malachi 3:8-10 but I never realized how powerful this book is in the other 85% of this and the other 3 chapters. Nor how relevant it is for today, beyond tithes and offerings.
The author points to the coming of our Lord Jesus and His return.
He speaks of coming judgment and the sparing of Israel.
He speaks of being cleansed and purified.
Malachi goes on to describe the blessings and benefits of getting back on track (should we stray). Father also has our backs so we don’t lose what He has given us.
But, hold on! Malachi doesn’t stop here.
Like Israel, have we spoken ‘against’ God? Have we declared it useless to serve God? Where is God when we need Him? What do we gain by being obedient to His word? Where is our joy? Do we exalt the proud or esteem those who do wickedly against the Lord?
God takes note of those who truly serve Him and spares them. Just as Abraham spared his son Isaac. As we seek the Lord, there will be no doubt who is with the Lord and who is not. Remember the sheep and the goats?
We’re looking specifically at chapter three, so read on!
1 Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way for Me and the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to His temple. Even the messenger in whom you delight shall come says the Lord of hosts.
2 But who may abide in the day of His coming? Who shall stand when He appears? He is like the refiner’s fire and the washer’s soap.
3 And He shall sit as the refiner and purifier of silver and He shall purify the sons of Levi, purge them as gold or silver that they may offer their offerings to the Lord in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant to the Lord as in the days of old, the former years.
5 And I will come near to you to judgment and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, the false swearers, those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, the fatherless and those who turn strangers away and don’t respect me says the Lord of hosts.
6 For I am the Lord and I do not change. Therefore sons of Jacob are not consumed.
7 Even from the days of your fathers, you have strayed from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me and I will return to you says the Lord of hosts. But you said how shall we return.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet, you have robbed Me. You say how have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse because you have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in My house and in so doing, prove Me says the Lord of hosts and see if I will not open the windows of heaven to you and pour out more than enough blessing to you.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground (endeavors) neither will your vine cast her fruit before it’s time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.
12 All nations shall call you blessed for you shall be a delightful land says the Lord of hosts.
13 Your word has been strong against Me says the Lord. Yet you say how have we spoken against You?
14 You have said that it is vain to serve God and how do we profit by keeping His ordinances? And we have walked as if in mourning before the Lord of hosts.
15 And now we call the proud happy, yes, we even lift up those who work wickedness, even those who tempt God are delivered (escape –judgment by our hand).
16 Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another and the Lord took notice and heard and a book of remembrance was written before him (those) who respected the Lord and thought upon His name.
17 They shall be mine said the Lord of hosts. In the day when I make up My treasures, I will spare him as a man who spares his son who serves him.
18 Then you shall return and discern between righteous and wicked, between he who serves God and he who does not.
I started this presentation with a bunch of questions. Now I’m going to raise some more!
I’m only presenting a synopsis of what Malachi says here in chapter three. To take this passage concept for concept would take a lot of space because there is so much that could be said. So -
Who is our Lord going to cleanse? Of course, Malachi is speaking to Israel, the church of the Old Testament. We are of the New Testament, covered by grace right? Supposedly, we have picked up the banner of our Lord and ae carrying it forward. Not bound by the ‘old’. Now, wait a minute. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not do away with it. Israel did works to assure salvation, we are saved (by grace) so we do he works because our faith has brought us unto salvation. Faith without works is dead. Right? How will people know that we are saved if we don’t do the works of God? Actions speak louder than words? The apostle Paul gives us several lists of those who will not enter into eternity, substantiating some of what Malachi says in these verses. Sooo …
How many in today’s church have fallen away from God’s ordinances, laws and statutes? How many have decided they do better in the world than under God’s wing? How many in today’s church attend a fellowship simply because they think they should and not because they truly love the Lord? I heard, in my youth, “you have to go to church in order to be a well-rounded person.” Observe then and think about it. God told the prophet Jeremiah (in part) to tell Israel that He’s going to deliver judgment because of their wickedness. Why? Because there were those who had forsaken Him, offered their incense (praise) to other gods and decided to worship the works of their own hands. This was the church in Jeremiah’s day. Today, Christianity is the church, but the church surely isn’t guilty any of these things. Right?
Jesus told His disciples that there would first be falling away, before He comes back for us. Today’s church hasn’t fallen away, has it?
Jesus also reminded His disciples to do what God told Israel “love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength!” What was that first word? Heart! Jesus berated the scribes and Pharisees because, even though, the said and did the right things their hearts were far from Him. They were merely performing rituals.
When our heart is right, we will do those things that please the Lord. Husbands, don’t you endeavor to do those things which please your wives? Wives, don’t you try to please your husbands? Get the picture?
The world has continually drifted away from God since man was
booted out of the garden in
Eden. The church has been up and down ever since, whether trying to live by what God told man in the beginning, following the Ten Commandments as given through Moses or the adjustment into true love through Jesus Christ.
The church has done the same thing Israel has done – despite grace. Just remember, again, Jesus didn’t do away with the Law, He reinforced it through love land grace. In the Old Testament, as long as the church didn’t do evil they were OK. Jesus says that should we consider doing it even without any action, we are still guilty.
Israel knew that when they truly repented the evil they did, God would forgive them. That hasn’t changed. When we truly repent, God forgives us, as well. We just leave that which was broken behind. It should no longer be a part of our lives. Then press forward in our walk with the Lord.
Do you see any parallels between 4000 BC & 2000 AD? (OK, for nitpickers – BCE & ACE, I choose to acknowledge the “year of our Lord – ‘Anno Diem’ and not the ‘common era’)
God is always the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He never changes. However, man is constantly changing, through the ages, through the generations, even within a single life. Man is with God, strays, repents and comes back. Reading about Israel in the Old Testament implies that this could happen even multiple times. With true repentance come true forgiveness. When we are honest in repenting, God is faithful to forgive and forget.
We need to focus on the Lord and should we slip, get back on track and keep pushing forward. Go back and read the chapter again and ask Father “Where do I fit into all this?” Listen and examine yourself. Be honest then refocus on the One who desires us to be in eternity with Himself. In the gospel of John, to paraphrase Jesus’ words ‘Father, I would that they (the believers) would be one with Me as I am with You’. We become one by living, not just with Him, but in Him.
Erdman’s Handbook to the Bible, 1937