Look! I am sending my messenger,* and he will prepare the way for me. The Lord you are seeking will suddenly arrive at his Temple. The messenger of the agreement you say is so happy with you is coming, says the Lord Almighty. Who can survive the day when he comes? Who can stand before him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing furnace that refines metal, or like the strong alkali that cleanses stains. He will sit down like a refiner who purifies silver; he will purify Levi's descendants and refine them like gold and silver so they can present pure offerings to the Lord. Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord as they did in the old days, in the former years. I will come and put you on trial. I am ready to be a witness against those who:
practice witchcraft
commit adultery
tell lies
give false evidence
cheat employees
oppress widows and orphans
abuse foreigners
and do not respect me, says the Lord Almighty. For I am the Lord, I don't change, and you haven't stopped being descendants of Jacob.§ From the time of your forefathers onward, you have turned away from my laws and not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.
But you ask, “How should we return?”*
Should people defraud God? Yet you are defrauding me!
But you ask, “How have we defrauded you?”
In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse, for you and the whole nation are defrauding me. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse so that there will be food in my Temple. Put me to the test in this, says the Lord Almighty, and I will open the windows of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won't have enough room for it. 11 I will prevent locusts from destroying your crops, and your vineyards will not fail to bear fruit, says the Lord Almighty. 12 All nations will call you blessed because you live in such a wonderful land, says the Lord Almighty.
13 You have said hard things about me, says the Lord.
But you say, “What have we said against you?” 14 You have said, “What's the point of serving God? What benefit is there in keeping his commandments or going before the Lord Almighty with long faces?§ 15 From now on we'll say that the proud are blessed. Evil people do well, and nothing happens when they dare God to punish them.”
16 Then those who truly respected the Lord spoke to each other, and the Lord heard what they said. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence of those who respected the Lord and paid attention to him.* 17 They shall be mine, says the Lord Almighty, my prized possession on the day when I take action. I will treat them kindly, as a father treats an obedient son. 18 Then you will once again be able to distinguish those who do right from those who do wrong, between those who serve him and those who don't.
* 3:1 Malachi means “my messenger.” 3:1 In the light of the previous verses, the idea that God is being sought is surely ironic. 3:1 “You say is so happy with you”: referring back to 2:17. § 3:6 There is debate over the meaning of this second part of the verse. It could be interpreted that it is because of God's unchanging nature that the descendants of Jacob have not been destroyed. However, in context it seems more likely that God is saying “I haven't changed, and you haven't changed either—you are just like your forefather Jacob who was a deceiver too…” The word used can mean either “ended as in destroyed,” or simply “stopped.” * 3:7 The sense seems to be that the people do not see any necessity to return, not recognizing they have done anything wrong. 3:8 “Defraud”: this is closer to the original meaning than rob. It also continues the theme of the people being descendants of the deceiver Jacob, who defrauded his brother out of his birthright. 3:11 Literally, “the devourer.” § 3:14 “Long faces”: literally, “as mourners”—however it does not appear that the people were sincerely repentant. * 3:16 “Paid attention to him”: literally, “pondered his name.”