Prophetic Debate Four, Five, and Six
For those skeptics who think God blesses the evil and judges the good, Malachi answers.
a) The messenger has been sent in the person of Malachi (whose name means messenger) to prepare the way of Yahweh to come and judge (also the messenger prophetic of John the Baptist).
b) Yahweh's coming is therefore certain.
c) Yahweh's coming will be sudden (unexpected).
d) The Lord coming into His temple was also the messenger of the covenant (1).
The Purpose of the Messenger (2-4)
The Messenger coming into the temple is the one who comes to purify the sons of Levi, burning away all the corruption of mixture. Also the Messenger comes to wash away their sin like one treading on their clothes in a wash basin full of ash, like soap cleansing the dirt and stains from their garments (3).
The results of this cleansing by the Messenger would be twofold:
1) The priests would be purified and come in faith and affection bringing their offerings to the Lord (4)
2) The people would finally have a witness brought against their sinful activity
a) dabbling in the occult
b) engaging in sexual immorality
c) misusing God's name in taking oaths they have no intention of fulfilling
d) cheating employees of their wages through delay or non-payment
e) oppressing the widow and orphan by taking advantage of them and using their vulnerability for their own gain
f) depriving foreigners justice
Those who engaged in such activity were declared as having no reverence for Yahweh (5).
The Messenger's Compassion (6)
Malachi then affirms the Lord's faithfulness and character. Yahweh does not change, He does not alter His Word—this is the very reason Jacob is not destroyed, the very reason Yahweh keeps reaching out in mercy.
Fifth Prophetic Debate (3:7-12): Israel's Reluctance to Give Offerings Condemned
Faithlessness is a recurring theme: once a heart begins to scorn or view God's Word disrespectfully, the same heart falls from Yahweh. Malachi calls Israel to return to Yahweh so they can experience His return to them.
Malachi, anticipating the question Israel would ask, asks it for them, “How can we return when we have never fallen away?" Here is seen the self-righteous blindness and the spiritual arrogance of a heart unrepentant and disconnected from Yahweh (7).
Malachi continues to explain how they have walked out on Yahweh: by cheating Him. The word “cheat" here means to rob or to take something from someone else by force.
Malachi states Israel has taken by force the tithes and the offerings which did not actually belong to them but were holy (Leviticus 27:30) and belonged to Yahweh (8).
Malachi then told the nation the complete and total disrespect they had for Yahweh had put the whole nation under a curse (9).
Malachi then directed them to bring all the tithes to the Temple and two blessings would follow.
a) the Temple ministry would have plenty
b) the windows of heaven would open and pour out more harvest than they had barns to preserve it
Malachi urged them; if they wanted to test the Lord in some way, they could test Yahweh's faithfulness to bless those who gave Yahweh His tithe and offering (10).
In the test, Malachi told them Yahweh would watch over their crops and they would witness three outcomes:
a) crops would be abundant
b) crops would be preserved from insects and disease
c) crops would mature (11)
Malachi then assures Israel they would be so blessed the nations would call them blessed and the land would be a delight to harvest. Here again Malachi reminds them the Lord of Heaven's Armies is guarding the fledgling nation; they are protected and defended by Yahweh's hosts (12).
Sixth Prophetic Debate (3:13-4:3): Cynics Destroyed, the Reverent Rewarded
Malachi reminds Israel again of the horrible things they have said about Yahweh, like He doesn't honor and reward the faithful, living by His word is not a profitable business exchange, Yahweh blesses the proud God rejecters, and the unprincipled never suffer harm. The truth was, the worship of Yahweh bored them (13-15).
The Faithful Band (16-17)
Among those who lectured God about His inequity were the faithful band, the remnant. They were among them but they didn't lecture Yahweh with them.
They honored Yahweh and He listened to what they had to say. They refused to forget what Yahweh had done, so they wrote down what He had done and the names of those who had revered Him and were giving constant attention to the honor of Yahweh's name (16).
Yahweh looked upon this band of the faithful and declared His Army would watch over them; they would be His people and when He did act in judgment, they would be judged His special treasure.
Further, Yahweh would be a Father to them and spare them as honorable children (17).
Malachi further told those who complained about Yahweh, grumbling that evil seemed to be more blessed, that there was a day of judgment coming. At that day of judgment, those who walked faithfully before the Lord would be plainly evident (18).