Malachi 3


‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. “So, I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.’ Malachi 3:1-5

Now those people who thought you could live un-righteously and still prosper, Malachi 2:17, weren’t alone in that belief, it was becoming widespread among God’s people but God says, the time is coming when He will stop that kind of thinking when He sends His messenger.

Now, who is this first messenger?

This passage is quoted in reference to the coming of John the Baptist, Mark 1:2-3 / Isaiah 40:3-5 / Isaiah 52:7 / Isaiah 57:14.

The priests in Malachi’s time were partial to the wealthy, as those priests of Jesus’ time, Luke 16:14. This would indicate that the coming of the Messenger would be in a time similar to what Malachi was experiencing in his own generation.

As we looked at earlier in this study when Jesus visited the temple during His ministry, he threw out the money changers, and the fulfilment of the prophecy in John the Baptist would have been verified, John 2:13-14.

Notice Malachi uses the words ‘The Lord,’ this is from the Hebrew word ‘Adonai’, it isn’t the word for ‘Yahweh’. This was the Lord, ‘Adonai’ whom Peter announced on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Acts 2:36 / 1 Corinthians 12:3 / Philippians 2:11. Jesus was God in the flesh coming to His people, John 1:14.

Who is the second messenger?

This Messenger is a different messenger than the one that was previously noted at the beginning of the verse. This is the incarnate Lord Jesus, the Messenger of the new covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34 / Galatians 3:17 / Hebrews 9:7-13. He is the Mediator of the new covenant, Hebrews 12:24.

He came to approve the new covenant with His blood offering, Matthew 26:28 / Hebrews 13:20. Jesus was the revelation of the mystery of God, Ephesians 3:1-5.

The judgment of God would first come to His people, ‘his temple’ and He would first cleanse His people, Ezekiel 9:6 / 1 Peter 4:17. In other words, the Lord Himself would come to purify the priesthood.

After the Gospel was initially preached on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30, there were many priests who were obedient to the faith, Acts 6:7 but the meaning here in Malachi is beyond the physical sons of Levi because all those who have obeyed the Gospel are now priests before God, 1 Peter 2:5 / 1 Peter 2:9.

The priesthood of disciples was cleansed by their obedience to the Gospel by baptism, Acts 2:38 and as they walk in the light of the Gospel, they are continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus, 1 John 1:7.

Notice Malachi uses the words, ‘like launderer’s soap’, a launderer was someone who bleached and cleansed the clothes. Revelation 7:14.

So why is the Lord coming? Simply to execute judgment upon the unrighteous. Jesus came into the world for judgment, John 9:39 and judgment came according to how a person responded to Jesus.

If one rejected Him, then they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, John 1:11 / John 3:18 / Acts 13:46. When John the Baptist spoke of the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire, he certainly had this prophecy in mind, Matthew 3:11-12.

Those who would receive the Lord Jesus would receive the benefits of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, those who would reject Jesus would receive the baptism of fire which is speaking about the final judgment. They would be consumed in the fire of judgment that would purify the people of God, Hebrews 12:29.

Malachi 3:5 answers the question of Malachi 2:17. Once the temple of God’s people was cleansed, the injustices that prevailed among the people at the time of Malachi’s ministry would be set right. In the community of God’s people, there would be no sorcerers, adulterers, or those who dealt unjustly with employees.

Widows and orphans would be cared for in the church of God’s people, Acts 6:1-6. Those social sins that prevailed at the time of Malachi would be corrected in the household of God. James 1:27.

‘I the LORD do not change. So, you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation— because you are robbing me.’ Malachi 3:6-9

Men change in reference to their obedience to God but God doesn’t change His commandments in order to comply with the behaviour of men and He doesn’t change in reference to His promises, Hebrews 6:17-18. The Jews were still claimed by God, and because of that God didn’t cast off His people as He did the nations that surrounded them, including the nations that took them into captivity.

God could have justly cast off His people because they broke the conditions of the covenant but because He doesn’t change, He maintained the covenant in order to preserve His people.

Returning to God through repentance is more than a change of mind and sorrow for sin. It’s a behaviour change, it’s a return to obedience to the will of God, Matthew 3:8.

‘Will a mere mortal rob God?’ According to the law, a tenth of the produce and livestock was to be given to God for the food of the Levites, Leviticus 27:30-32 / Numbers 18:21-24 / Nehemiah 9:38 / Nehemiah 10:32-39 / Nehemiah 13:10-14.

The people were robbing God in that they weren’t giving what was required by the law and so because of that God says they are ‘under a curse’.

During the days of Haggai, the land was suffering from drought because the people were being indifferent concerning the reconstruction of the temple. The same situation may have prevailed here because the people were being stingy in their offerings. They were consuming the offerings on themselves, rather than bringing the tithe to the temple for the priests.

Do we as Christians, need to tithe today?

You would be forgiven for thinking Christians still have to tithe today, maybe that’s the practice of some churches but it doesn’t make it right. The above verses are commonly used in some churches to get people to tithe, ‘give a tenth of their income’ but a careful study of the topic will put this practice to rest. It’s not so much who is robbing God? But who is robbing the people?

1. The New Testament contains no commandment for the Christian to tithe.

In fact, the concept of tithing is completely missing from the New Testament. Tithing is a concept found only in the Law of Moses, and it was intended to support the Levitical priesthood, the operation of the temple and the observance of the Jewish festivals in Jerusalem.

2. The Levite priesthood is no longer functioning, and the Jewish Temple is no longer standing, so it’s literally impossible for anyone, Jew or Christian to tithe in the way Scripture requires.

More importantly, the Christian is not under the Law of Moses, Romans 6:14 / Romans 7:6 / Galatians 5:18, so the requirements of the Old Testament Law don’t apply to the New Testament believer in any case.

3. The original law is found in Numbers 18:21 but Hebrews 7:5 says, ‘Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.’

Christians are not Jews and the ‘pastor’ is not a son of Levi. We’re not under the law of Moses, Galatians 5:4 / Hebrews 9:15-17. Malachi 3:10 was written to and for Israel not for Christians.

Christians don’t practice tithing today but they are still required to give, Acts 2:42 / 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 / 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 / 2 Corinthians 9:7.

‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.’ Malachi 3:10-12

The people were evidently holding back part of the tithe for themselves, thinking that they needed it more than the priests. The situation may have been that only a few were offering their tithes, and so the support of the priests depended on the support of a few.

Others were robbing God by not tithing at all. Malachi’s encouragement was that everyone must bring their tithe in order that the priesthood is supported, Nehemiah 13:10-12 / 1 Corinthians 9:14.

The grain offerings were stored in the temple and God had ‘held back the rain’ in order to bring about their repentance. If they were obedient in bringing their tithes, then God would bring forth the rain.

Despite their poverty, they were to show their obedience to God’s Law in reference to tithing. It wasn’t the principle that God would first bless them with rain for their crops, and then they would give out of their abundance.

The lesson was that they must give out of their poverty, and then God would send the abundance, Haggai 2:19 / Zechariah 8:9-13 / Luke 21:1-4.

In what way, will all the nations call them blessed?

The prosperity of the land would be the signal to the nations around them that God was blessing His people because of their obedience to His will. We must keep in mind that the bringing of the tithe in order that Israel prosper was a promise that God had made in His covenant with Israel as a nation.

The promise of prosperity as a result of obedience isn’t a promise to the church or any individual member of the church as some groups claim today. God prospered Israel in order to preserve the nation for the coming of the Saviour.

The Christian lives under a covenant wherein the Saviour has already come and our real prosperity will come at the end when Jesus comes again.

Someone’s poor condition as a Christian isn’t directly the result of some sin in their life because poverty is more often the result of our economic environment. However, if a nation lives according to the principles of the Bible, these principles will lead to the development of the country.

‘You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly, evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’ Malachi 3:13-15

Because of their struggles in poverty, the people seem to have become sceptical concerning the presence of God’s help among them. The people had been talking among themselves, speaking arrogantly about their circumstances and in their arrogance, they were actually murmuring against God, Exodus 16:7-8 / Matthew 20:1-20.

As they compared their struggle in poverty with the surrounding nations, they wondered if God was working among them. It seemed that the nations were blessed in their unrighteous idolatry, while they suffered as God’s people in poverty. And so, they came to the conclusion that there wasn’t any benefit in being faithful to God, for God wasn’t bringing blessings into their lives.

They were mourning instead of rejoicing but the reason for feeling this way was simply because they had ceremonially performed the outward appearance of keeping the ordinances of God but inside they were grumbling against God because He hadn’t prospered them. At the same time, they saw the pride of the nations around them, go unpunished by the Lord and so they thought if the other nations can get away with idolatry and still be wealthy, why can’t we?

Whilst they refused to repent, they were in effect, throwing themselves a pity party.

‘Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honoured his name. “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.’ Malachi 3:16-18

Those who feared the Lord are a different group of people from those who grumbled against God. This godly group listened to the words of Malachi, understanding that their situation was caused by their unrepentant behaviour. They turned from their wayward ways in obedience to God. The confidence that was revealed by Malachi was that they would be remembered by God in His book of remembrance.

It wasn’t that God would forget but the thought is that when God remembers, He is taking action to bless and protect. His remembrance isn’t simply a recollection of one’s existence and identity, Genesis 8:1.

Notice again God says, ‘they will be my treasured possession, Exodus 19:5-6. God treasures those who serve Him. It is for this reason that the church of God’s people is His unique possession, 1 Peter 2:5-10.

Not only is the promise to preserve those who fear Him valid in this life, but also in the eternal life to come. Once the godly applied themselves to repentance and a change in their behaviour, they would be blessed by God.

The blessing of the formerly promised rains would be an indication that they had turned to God.

Go To Malachi 4