MALACHI CHAPTER 3.

The Great Day of the Lord.

JEHOVAHíS MESSENGER AND THE ANGEL OF THE COVENANT. ó Chap. 2, 17. Ye have wearied the Lord with your words, with their dissatisfied grumbling over recent events. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? the same disobedient people again standing out in opposition to God, in resenting the rebuke of His prophet. When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delighteth in them, this being the statement of godless insolence in direct opposition to the rebuke of the prophet, or, Where is the God of judgment? The great mass of the people boldly declared that there was no foundation for the prophetís threat, that the talk of the coming Judgment was unfounded. Cp. 2 Pet. 3, 4. Over against this question of doubt and unbelief the Lord places a very definite statement. V. 1. Behold, I will send My messenger, the special prophet spoken of Is. 40, 3, the passage upon which the present statement is evidently founded, and he shall prepare the way before Me, Mark 1, 3; and the Lord whom ye seek, for whose coming they were so anxiously waiting, shall suddenly come to His Temple, to dwell in the midst of His people, of His Church, even the Messenger of the Covenant, the great Angel of the Lord, the Son of God Himself, whom ye delight in, namely, all those who still desire the covenant of the Lord with His people to he fulfilled. Behold, so the announcement is once more made with impressive solemnity, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. This is the preaching of repentance in order to prepare the hearts for the great advent of Jehovah. V. 2. But who may abide the day of His coming? be able to endure that Day of Judgment upon the disobedient and secure? Cp. Matt. 3, 8-12; Luke 3, 9. And who shall stand when He appeareth? Cp. Joel 2, 11. For He is like a refinerís fire, which separates the dross from the pure metal, and like fullersí soap, thoroughly to cleanse the garment of His Church from all impurities; V. 3. and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, the entire Messianic period being a time of testing and of judgment, John 9, 39, culminating in the day of the final Judgment; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, for the judgment begins at the house of God, and purge them as gold and silver that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness, so that all the members of the New Testament priesthood, in fact, might serve Him in holiness and righteousness. V. 4. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, the entire Church worshiping Him in spirit and in truth, as in the days of old, when the children of Israel were still in truth His Church, and as in former years. Cp. Titus 2, 14; 1 Pet. 2, 5. V. 5. And I will come near to you to judgment, namely, the judgment of wrath upon the wicked; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the transgressors of the First and Second Commandments, and against the adulterers, those disregarding the Sixth Commandment, and against false swearers, with reference both to the Second and the Eighth Commandments, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, by withholding them altogether or by underpaying him, the widow, and the fatherless, as being without a natural protector, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, cp. Deut. 27, 19, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts, this last point indicating the source of all iniquity - lack of the fear of the Lord. V. 6. For I am the Lord, I change not, the name Jehovah itself indicating that He is the same from everlasting to everlasting; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed, literally, "and ye, the Sons of Jacob, ye are not yet consumed," that is, the Lord will keep the true spiritual Israel safe while He sends His judgment upon the wicked in their midst. Even so the Church of Christ in the New Testament is preserved in the midst of hypocrisy and deceit, and the wicked will finally be destroyed.

THE PEOPLE REBUKED. ó V. 7. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances and have not kept them, this being the reason why He has withheld the fullness of His blessing and salvation from them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts, His appeal being made in all Sincerity, since He wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. But ye said, still blind toward their transgressions, Wherein shall we return? They did not realize that the real service of Jehovah must be a growth from within, from a heart which lives in His fear. Therefore the prophet asks, in turn, in order to arouse them to a consciousness of the true meaning of worship, V. 8. Will a man rob God, defraud Him? Is not the very idea preposterous and revolting? Yet ye have robbed Me, actually trying to defraud Jehovah of the service which He rightly expected. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? And the answer is, In tithes and offerings, for these the people had deliberately withheld, thus making a mockery of their worship of Jehovah. V. 9. Ye are cursed with a curse, as a consequence of such behavior; for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation, for the practice rebuked was general among the people. Therefore He admonishes them with great solemnity: V. 10. Bring ye all the tithes, the entire tithes, not only a part, into the storehouse, not keeping back a part, as heretofore, that there may be meat in Mine house, as food for His servants, Num. 18, 24; and prove Me now herewith, to find out whether He is not still the same righteous and holy God as of old, salth the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, in plentiful harvests, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, their prosperity being practically limitless. V. 11. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, not permitting the locusts to devour the crops, to ravage the land, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, all the ordinary field-crops; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts, that is, the grapes would not fall before they had matured. V. 12. And all nations shall call you blessed, praising them for the obvious blessings which they enjoyed as a gift of Jehovah; for ye shall be a delightsome land, an object of pleasure, saith the Lord of hosts. Even today the Lord often rewards a life sincerely led in agreement with His Word with outward gifts of His goodness.

THE WAYS OF GOD VINDICATED. ó V. 13. Your words have been stout against Me, salth the Lord, namely, in the murmuring which He has rebuked above. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against Thee? The Lordís answer through His prophet is, V. 14. Ye have said, It is vain to serve God, it does not pay, just as scoffers in our days say; and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? with all indications of deep sorrow and mourning over their sins. Their complaint was that it was poor business, that it did not pay. V. 15. And now we call the proud happy, they had actually reached the stage when they praised the wicked, with their apparent happiness in matters of this world; yea, they that work wickedness are set up, they are the lucky ones, in their opinion; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered, they have no misfortune, they have everything that their heart desires. This is ever the accusation which the backsliders try to bring against the Lord. V. 16. Then, namely, when the scoffers were making these blasphemous remarks, they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, they made it a practise to encourage one another over against such blasphemous talk; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, He paid attention to their remarks, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name, the subject of their conversations being things which pertained to His glory. V. 17. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, the precious people of His inheritance, 1 Pet. 2, 9, in that day when I make up My jewels, when He would impart to them the fulness of His glory; and I will spare them, in manifesting His tender mercies upon them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him, ready to show his love and goodness in such an instance. V. 18. Then shall ye, those who were now grumbling, return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, noting the difference between the two classes, also in the manner in which God dealt with them, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. The time of grace is still at hand, but infidels and scoffers will do well not to delay repentance.