Malachi 3:1. Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:
The name Malachi means “my messenger.” The reference here is, of course, to John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way of the Lord.
Malachi 3:1. And the lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,
Now, the temple at Jerusalem is utterly destroyed, so how can the Jews still think the Lord, whom they profess to seek, will suddenly come to his temple? He must have come there already, — so we know he did, — for there is not one stone of the temple left standing upon another: “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple,” —
Malachi 3:1. Even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
Christ was the great messenger of the covenant, the messenger of mercy; and the Lord’s own people, even in that ancient time, delighted in anticipating the coming of the Christ of God, the anointed and appointed messenger of the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 3:2. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
All that only looked like religion, but was not real and genuine, was purged away at his coming. He was like a refiner’s fire, consuming the false pretensions of the Pharisees, and the vain boastings of the Scribes. There is, in the religion of Jesus Christ, a power that is a great purgative and a great refiner.
Malachi 3:3. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:
Christ comes suddenly, but he comes to stay: “He shall sit.” If he comes into our heart at this moment, — and he may come there suddenly, — he will come to stay there, and he will sit there “as a refiner and purifier of silver.”
Malachi 3:3. And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Those men, called to holy service, shall offer unto the Lord offerings in righteousness after he has cleansed and purified them. You cannot worship God aright until you have been cleansed by Christ. Till then, you are like priests with defiled feet, unfit to come into the sanctuary of God; but when Christ has purified you, fail not to draw near to God, and to present your thanks-offering unto him.
Malachi 3:4-5. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.
See how hard taskmasters are put, by divine inspiration, with sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers. They do not think badly of themselves, but the Lord thinks badly of them, and his judgment is always just.
Malachi 3:6. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
This is their comfort; even the immutability of God is on the side of his people. He is just, and always just, he hates sin, and always hates sin; yet that unchangeableness of his is always on the side of the people of his choice.
Malachi 3:7. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
Ye wanderers from God, take this invitation home to your hearts, and act upon it. Arise, and return unto your Father; for when you are yet a great way off, he will see you, and will run to meet you, and have compassion upon you: “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Malachi 3:7. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
God takes notice of what men say to him after he has spoken to them. He will take notice of what you say when you go out of this house of prayer. Erring men usually have something to say for themselves. The self-righteous can always invent some excuse, or ask some question, as they did here: “Wherein shall we return?”
Malachi 3:8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.
They were always ready to deny or question a just accusation, instead of letting it operate upon their conscience, so they asked about this charge.
Malachi 3:8. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
They had kept back from God’s service the money which was needful for the carrying on of the worship of his house. We read, in Nehemiah 13:10, that “the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field,” for they could not live at Jerusalem, because “the portions of the Levites had not been given them,” — their supply of provisions having been stopped through the meanness of the people who had thus robbed the Lord “in tithes and offerings.”
Malachi 3:9. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation,
They could not make out why they were so poor, and why they could not get on; the real reason was that there was a curse resting upon all that they did, because they had robbed God.
Malachi 3:10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
They had kept themselves poor by their own meanness. If they had behaved rightly towards God, he would have enriched them with the bounties of his providence; the very windows of heaven would have been thrown open to give them abundance for all their needs.
Malachi 3:11. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, with the LORD of hosts.
The locust and the caterpillar came up and ate their harvests, all because God was angry with them; and he alone could change their miserable circumstances.
Malachi 3:12. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
God is able, simply with a turn of his hand, or a glance of his eye, to enrich or to impoverish. He gives in a thousand ways that we cannot control, and he takes from us in as many ways which perhaps we cannot understand. It is always best to be right with God.
Malachi 3:13-15. Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
Those were indeed bad old times when the mass of the people looked only to their own temporal comfort, when they saw the wicked become rich, they wished that they were wicked too, in order that they might be rich. They thought that it was of no use to serve God; but happily there was another set of people in the land, as there always is, more or less. God never leaves himself without witnesses; and when the wicked are proudest, God’s people are often boldest.
Malachi 3:16. Then —
At that very time, —
Malachi 3:16. They that feared the LORD spake often one to another:
They could not bear to hear their God thus spoken of, so they went to one another’s houses, they found one another out, and talked to one another.
Malachi 3:16. And the Lord hearkened, —
He loves to listen to the holy talk of a holy people: “The Lord hearkened,” —
Malachi 3:16. And heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
That is a very precious expression; you cannot perhaps, speak much for the Lord, yet you think the more about him; and God remembers those who think upon his name. Yet, often, thinking leads to speaking; and there ought to be no speaking without previous thought. God loves to listen to the thoughtful conversation of a loving people who stand true to him in the midst of an ungodly crowd, and he thinks very highly of them.
Malachi 3:17. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels;
“Others, who thought much of themselves, shall be thrown away like worthless pebbles, but these faithful ones shall be mine in that day when I am putting my jewels into my crown, for they shall be precious in my sight.”
Malachi 3:17. And I will spare them, as a man prepareth his own son that serveth him.
When the sword of the foe-man is drawn from its sheath, when disease is putting down its myriads, when God’s vengeance has laid hold upon the ungodly, he will be a hiding-place for his people, and will care for them as a man would anxiously care, not only for his son, but for his only son, one who is obedient and faithful to his father: “his own son that serveth him.”
Malachi 3:18. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked,
Not now, but then; by-and-by, there shall be a distinguishing mark set upon all mankind: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked,” —
Malachi 3:18. Between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
This exposition consisted of readings from Malachi 3:4.