Book of Malachi Chapter 3 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verse 1—"'Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear 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." This Scripture was obscure for a few centuries until it suddenly was made clear. Jesus Christ quoted this verse, Malachi 3:1, relating it to John the Baptist and adding "...Among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist, but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7:24-30). The "messenger" is John the Baptist, viewed by many as the last of the Old Testament prophets...he would "clear the way" before the Lord by bringing people to repentance, a need today, just as then.
Verses 2-3 continue, "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness." Verse 2 asks the question, "...who can endure the day of His coming?" and the true answer is: Nobody. We are sinners who cannot be in the presence of the Lord unless we are first washed by the blood of the Lamb. John the Baptist exposed our need through the ritual of baptism. The reference to "fullers' soap" expresses our need to be made clean. "Silver" is heated until it finally becomes pure. The "sons of Levi" were priests in Israel, but before anyone can minister to others, they must first be made clean in the sight of God, "so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness." It's possible to be so focused on what others lack that we fail to see our own need.
The Bible fearlessly reveals the sins of those contained within its pages, doing it so effectively we can miss the faithfulness, good hearts, thoughts and deeds which also fill its pages. There have been many within Israel's priesthood and people who were holy and faithful servants of God. That can be seen in Verse 4, which speaks of priests in the past and future from the time of Malachi: "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years." Verse 1 referred to John the Baptist and Verse 2 is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His work that makes us clean. Isaiah 53 makes it clear. Verse 6 of that chapter concludes, "the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Come to Him and be washed inside.
Verse 5 is a look inside the process that purifies us in the sight of God. "I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,' says the Lord of hosts." These "sorcerers" include anyone who offers some kind of substitute in place of our need for faith in the Lord. What is it that takes your time, energy, money and attention? If it's not the Lord, you are involved in sorcery, also called idolatry. God is displeased with "adulterers" who ruin the sanctity of marriage in thought or deed, and liars, those who "swear falsely." You are to treat others fairly, help the needy, such as "the widow and the orphan" and the "alien"—those different than you. And most of all, you are to "fear" the Lord—respect Him by giving your life to Him. He is your Creator—our faith in Him is simply His right.
Everything in this world is changing, all the time. You might like new things, but your NEED, especially when trouble comes, is for the One who stays the same and is consistently there when you need Him. Verse 6 is an encouragement: "I the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." You can count on Him. The promise is for the "sons of Jacob" (Israel) and all who are willing to trust in the Lord. Hebrews 13:8 says—"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." The promise was for Malachi's time and it is true right now.
All have broken the Law of God. We have sinned as seen in Verse 7—"'From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,' says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’" The answer is in Romans 6:23—"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Turn to Him, trust in Him, and you will be saved. Give yourself to the Lord...your load will lessen and you will find His peace. As Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). "Return to (Him) and (He) will return to you."
Continuing the end of Verse 7, which asks "How shall we return?" God answers in Verses 8-10: "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'" Let your whole life belong to God, demonstrating faith in the Lord by openly recognizing that everything you have and are belongs to Him. That includes your body, money, future, reputation, health or lack of it—it's all His, and so if He calls you to give of yourself to the care of "widows and orphans" as in Verse 5, then do it. As He leads, "tithe" cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). He will care for others through you, and He will give you purity, along with blessings that would not otherwise be yours.
Receiving the Lord and giving yourself to Him will improve your life. Verses 11-12 promise, "Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. 'All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,' says the Lord of hosts." That's the promise to Israel, and the pledge to us all is seen in Luke 6:38—"Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your bosom. For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Take the risk—as the Lord leads—freely "give."
Are you arrogant? Verses 13-14 address arrogance and it should cause us to examine ourselves. "'Your words have been arrogant against Me,' says the Lord. Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts?'" Do you get discouraged? Do you doubt the Lord? Take a look at Habakkuk 3:17-18...He said...even though everything seems lost, "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Don't be afraid—He will see you through. Verse 15 is what the world does—"call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape." Our perspective is so limited. We see those who seem to do well, not understanding they may lack what is most important in life—God's grace through faith which brings us—purity.
Do you "esteem" the name of the Lord? Do you love Him? Then Verses 16-17 are for you. "Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name." If you trust the Lord, your name is in a "book of remembrance" at the Throne of God. He will never forget you. You are safe and pure in His sight—forever.
Verse 17—"'They will be Mine,' says the Lord of hosts, 'on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.'" Place your faith in the Lord and you will be His. You are His possession, His beloved child, rendered able to serve Him in spirit and in truth. You have been saved from the penalty of sin, and praise God, there is a time you will be saved from the presence of sin. The chapter concludes with the promise in Verse 18: "So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him." Gifts such as the capacity to "distinguish between the righteous and the wicked" are being given to people like you and me. Give Him your life. Let Him make you pure.
Dear Lord, I give myself to You. I am Yours. Do with me as You will. I trust You. Take my thoughts and make them pure. I need You and love You. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.