Malachi 3:1

"'See I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the Lord Almighty." NIV translation

The first part of this verse is quoted in all of the gospels and refers to the coming of John the Baptist. We know that it is John the Baptist because all of them use that description of him. The second part refers to the coming of Jesus not as a sacrifice but as the "God of justice" that the people asked for at the end of chapter two. Jesus came the first time in the form of a baby to be the prefect payment for our sins. Therefore, we know that this speaks of Jesus' return as the judge as recorded by John in Revelation.

Malachi 3:2

"But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap." NIV translation

This verse speaks to the purpose for Jesus' return and that is to make His people pure by removing all of the effects of sin. The purpose of a "refiner's fire or a launderer's soap" is the same and that is to make something pure/clean. In order to make something pure, someone has to determine what is impure (Judge) and provide a means for its removal.

Malachi 3:3 & 4

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years." NIV translation

This passage refers to the thousand year reign as recorded by John in Revelation 20. Those that have been purified by the tribulation (fire) and given their lives (offerings in righteousness) will be resurrected to reign with Jesus for this period.

Malachi 3:5

"'So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,' says the Lord Almighty." NIV translation

The people have not believed that the Judge is coming but God not only says that He is coming but gives specific examples of those that will be judged. He not only says that He is the Judge but also that God is going to "testify against" them.

Malachi 3:6 & 7a

"'I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,' says the Lord Almighty." NIV translation

God continues to speak to his people as he reminds them that he has never changed. God chose them to be His people and He keeps his promises. If God changed and did not keep His promises, they would have been completely destroyed because of the disobedience of their fathers before them. Then, God repeats his promise to them that, if they repent, He will forgive. That is the same promise that we have today in Jesus Christ.

Malachi 3:7b & 8

"'But you ask, "How are we to return?" Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, "How do we rob you?" In tithes and offerings.'" NIV translation

We may say that this is the Old Testament and therefore it does not apply to us. That is partially right as we do not have to keep any of the law to obtain salvation as that is only through faith in Jesus Christ. But, Jesus told us that, if we love Him we will obey His commands and they will not be a burden. Tithes and offerings, for us as Christians, should be a heartfelt remembering of what God has given us and a simple giving back the first portion to Him.

Malachi 3:9

"'You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me.'" NIV translation

The people had stopped giving in faith and so we see here that God tells them they are "under a curse" and not just the individual but the nation as a whole. They had not been faithful with what God had given them so God can simply not give them the harvest until they get in line with His will. This is true for us today as well. When times get tough, many Christians stop giving a tithe and offerings so they can "make ends meet" but this is not of faith. A tithe is the first portion of what God has given you and God has given everyone something (see Luke 21:1-4). Offerings are anything that God places on your heart to give over and above what you give through the tithe. Anything less is robbing God and, if you do that, quite simply your finances will be under a curse.

Malachi 3:10

"'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'" NIV translation

El Shaddai (God Almighty), who is the Creator and Supplier of all things, is speaking and has given them and us a promise. That promise is that, if we trust Him and bring the whole tithe (the full measure and not the leftovers), He will bless us. God owns everything and so He is the only one that can make a promise like that!

Malachi 3:11

"'I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,' says the Lord Almighty." NIV translation

God not only tells the people He will bless them if they honor Him with the tithes but He tells them how. This can serve to remind us that God is not only the Creator but He is also the Sustainer.

Malachi 3:12

"'Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,' says the Lord Almighty." NIV translation

Why does God bless the obedient even today? The answer is simple and is given in this verse. God blesses His people when they are obedient because He wants others to see His love. This brings glory to His name and leads others to want a relationship with Him.

Malachi 3:13-15

"'You have said harsh things against me,' says the Lord. 'Yet you ask, "What have we said against you?" You have said, "It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape."'" NIV translation

Now, God brings up the next charge against the priests and the people. They went so far as to say it did no good to serve the Lord and that it would be better to just do their own thing. They were looking for material blessings in the here and now instead of the blessing of a relationship with God. God can and will bless His people here on earth but the most important blessing is a proper relationship with Him.

Malachi 3:16

"Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name." NIV translation

Then, some of God's people repented and turned back to Him. God is faithful and forgave them just as He does with us. God has always preserved a remnant of His people.

Malachi 3:17 & 18

"'They will be mine,' says the Lord Almighty, 'in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you again will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.'" NIV translation

The final answer to the question of why they should serve the Lord is given in this passage. On the day of judgment, there will be a separation of the righteous from the wicked. The righteous will live with God for all of eternity while the wicked will be doomed to hell.

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