A Broken Agreement
10Don't you know that we all have God as our Father? Didn't the one God create each of us? Then why do you cheat each other by breaking the agreement God made with your ancestors? 11You people in Judah and Jerusalem have been unfaithful to the Lord. You have disgraced the temple that he loves, and you have committed the disgusting sin of marrying the worshipers of other gods. 12I pray that the Lord will no longer let those who are guilty belong to his people, even if they eagerly decide to offer the Lord a gift.
13And what else are you doing? You cry noisily and flood the Lord's altar with your tears, because he isn't pleased with your offerings and refuses to accept them. 14And why isn't God pleased? It's because he knows that each of you men has been unfaithful to the wife you married when you were young. You promised that she would be your partner, but now you have broken that promise. 15Didn't God create you and your wife to become like one person? And why did he do this? It was so you would have children, and then lead them to become God's people. Don't ever be unfaithful to your wife. 16The Lord God All-Powerful of Israel hates anyone who is cruel enough to divorce his wife. So take care never to be unfaithful!
17You have worn out the Lord with your words. And yet, you ask, “How did we do that?”
You did it by saying, “The Lord is pleased with evil and doesn't care about justice.”
The Promised Messenger
1 I, the Lord All-Powerful,
will send my messenger
to prepare the way for me.
Then suddenly the Lord
you are looking for
will appear in his temple.
The messenger you desire
is coming with my promise,
and he is on his way.
A Day of Change
2 On the day the Lord comes, he will be like a furnace that purifies silver or like strong soap in a washbasin. No one will be able to stand up to him. 3The Lord will purify the descendants of Levi, as though they were gold or silver. Then they will bring the proper offerings to the Lord, 4and the offerings of the people of Judah and Jerusalem will please him, just as they did in the past.
Don't Cheat God
5The Lord All-Powerful said:
I'm now on my way to judge you. And I will quickly condemn all who practice witchcraft or cheat in marriage or tell lies in court or rob workers of their pay or mistreat widows and orphans or steal the property of foreigners or refuse to respect me.
Malachi’s harsh words of judgment now fall on the common people. His complaint is that they have been unfaithful in their spiritual and human relationships. They have gone after other gods, worshipping them, even disgracing the temple recently rebuilt. Even when they worship, it is not with the heart. They go through the motions giving outward displays of their apparent spiritual convictions and devotions.
God is not pleased with their offerings and refuses to accept them. Their standing before God is impacted because of their unfaithfulness in their most important human relationship, that of being spouses. The fidelity expected of a couple has been broken. God’s desire is to see human beings committed to each other within a covenant framework that reflects the relationship between himself and his people. God wants to bless his people but how can he when they have been unfaithful?
Chapter 3 reminds us that God is a God of justice. He will not stand by and put up with hypocrisy, disobedience, and unfaithfulness. A day of judgment looms, a day announced by a special messenger who prepares the way for God to come. We understand this to refer to John the Baptist who prepares the way for Jesus.
Proper offerings could only be brought after the people were purified. Only then would God be pleased. So much can stand in the way of our relationship to God but there is hope. The coming of Jesus offers a way to be made pure, to be forgiven, and to enter into a right relationship with God.
Holy God, You are faithful in all your ways. Grant us grace, so that we can be faithful to the things we have committed to. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.