Malachi Chapter Three


Read Malachi 3:1-5 – John the Baptizer and Christ


v.1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”


            The prophet starts this section of his writing with a declaration of the coming of God’s special messenger and “THE LORD, WHOM YE SEEK”.  This is obviously referring to John the Baptizer and Jesus the Messiah and is one of the most important prophecies in the Old Testament.  When the angel appeared to Zacharias to tell him that Elisabeth would bear a child who was to be called “JOHN”, he also tells Zacharias God’s mission for his son:


Luke 1:17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


The records of Matthew, Mark and Luke confirm John’s purpose as Jesus himself assures his disciples and refers back directly to Malachi 3:1:


Luke 7:27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”


v.2But 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:”


            The Messiah, when he comes, will be like a “REFINER’S FIRE” and like “FULLER’S SOAP”.  The words of Malachi parallel those of Isaiah writing about the coming of the church:


Isaiah 33:14The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”


Many times I think fear, as much as jealousy, was what caused Christ to be crucified.  It served God’s purpose but was generated in evil men; those Jesus called hypocrites many times in his teaching.  Also the words of Malachi parallel even more closely the words of Zechariah that we studied just a few weeks ago:


Zechariah 13:9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”


            We understand how fire would refine or purify and I think it is used symbolically here to represent a cleansing agent rather than persecution, though that did purify the church in many ways.  What is fuller’s soap?  A fuller was a person who cleaned and prepared cloth for use.  Fuller’s soap was the alkaline solution that they used for that purpose.  The place where they dried the cloth was called a fuller’s field, (II Kings 18:17).


v.3And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: 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.”


            Christ did indeed purge all men “as A REFINER OR PURIFIER” by removing the sins of men through the shedding of his blood.  But the term “SONS OF LEVI” don’t refer just to the Levitical priests.  All of those that Christ has purged by the washing away of their sins in baptism are priests in the kingdom of God just as Peter declares:


I Peter 2:5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”


And as such our offerings to God are spiritual, righteousness or right living, the dedication of our lives to the precepts of the gospel of Christ; a dedicated service that Paul reminds us is “REASONABLE” or within reason:


Romans 12:1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”


v.4  Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”


            Then the prophet makes the simple observation that when men are purged of their sin, when they have been cleansed or refined and purified, then their relationship with God will be such as those of old when they walked with God.  As we look back at the history of Israel what is probably the high point of Israel’s relationship with God, is when they dedicated the first temple:


II Chronicles 7:1Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”


v.5And 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.”


            When his Son comes to earth God will stand in judgment of mankind. In physical Israel of old, which contained all manner of men and men who performed all manner of sin, were part of God’s people by physical birth.  But under the New Covenant spiritual Israel will not contain anyone of this nature.  How is this to be?  First of all it is God who adds us to his church, his people not man:


Acts 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”


God will add only those who have been purged by the washing away of their sins in baptism.  So God adds us but we can remove ourselves, how?


Hebrews 10:26-27For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.


            And we no longer have fellowship with God or with those who are truly His:


I John 1:5-6This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”




  1. This prophecy concerning the coming of John the Baptizer and Jesus the Christ underscores and emphasizes the inspiration of the words of the prophet Malachi and the deity of Jesus Christ.  Just as the Apostle testified:


2 Peter 1:21 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”


  1. The Messiah, Jesus The Christ was:


    1. The one for whom the Jews were searching but then rejected.
    2. The one for whom John the Baptizer would prepare the way.
    3. The one who would immediately follow John
    4. The one who would come to His temple
    5. The one whom God would call the “Messenger of the Covenant
    6. The one who would come to bring judgment
    7. The one who would deal with the priests and the people alike
    8. The one who would make possible acceptable worship to God


Read Malachi 3:6-7 – God’s Unchanging Mercy


v.6For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”


            God does not change.  His love of mankind, His attitude toward sin, His requirement of exact obedience has not changed since before the beginning of time.  Those things that he told us he hated in Proverbs 6:16-18 are still the things he hates today.  The apostle Paul stated simply:


Romans 11:29  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”


And James in the scripture that is probably more familiar to us than that of Paul:


James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness (can be no variation, ASV), neither shadow of turning.”


Why is it important for the Jews to understand here that God has not and will not change?  Because God is not only a God of justice for also a God of mercy; the apostle describes him this way:


II Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


If this were not so, then the sons of Jacob would have been consumed, totally destroyed a long time before the days of this prophet.  God had tolerated much, carried Israel along, punished them but also preserved them for his own purposes.


v.7Even 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. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”


            These Jews of the day of Malachi were no better than the generations of their fathers who had rebelled against God, ignored God’s commandments, broken the Covenant God made with Israel and were punished for their sins.  Malachi had written previously about this present generation:


Malachi 1:6A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”


God again shows his mercy toward his people because he tells them that if they will return to Him, He will return to them.  The earlier prophet Zechariah carried the same message:


Zechariah 1:3Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.”


But did they change?  Not more than 450 years later Stephen stood before the Sanhedrin, speaking by the direction of the Holy Spirit declared:


Acts 7:51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”




  1. God does not and cannot do anything that not in harmony with his nature.  God is a God of perfect justice, at the same time God is a God of perfect mercy.  One does not cancel out or overrule the other, both will be administered perfectly.
  2. If God dealt with mankind on the basis which we have earned and deserved, mankind would have been totally destroyed long ago.
  3. Many people today do not understand the nature and goodness of God.  Paul wrote the Roman church regarding the same problem:


Romans 2:4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”


  1. When men leave God, God leaves them.  When men return to God then God will return to them.  We have this example among the parables of Jesus with the prodigal son:


Luke 15:20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”


  1. When God calls the Jews to return to him and when he calls men to return to him today he means that they must:


    1. Return in reverence and respect for God
    2. Return in genuine repentance for our sins
    3. Return in recognition of God’s love for mankind
    4. Return to honoring God with our offerings of time, talent and means
    5. Return to God’s laws concerning the family
    6. Return to purity of heart, mind and speech
    7. Return to purity in worship


Such is God’s call to man today just as it was in the days of Malachi.


  1. God assures the Jews and us today that when we do return to him that we will be accepted and blessed as his children.
  2. But the people asked “WHEREIN SHALL WE RETURN?”  It’s like they asked “but what are we doing wrong?”  Wouldn’t that be the question all of our religious neighbors today?  Isn’t that the cry we hear from our wayward brethren today as well?  If they were sincere what should they change?  Simply read again the seven things listed above that men should do to return to God.


Read Malachi 3:8-12 – The Jews Robbed God


v.8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”


            God accuses the Jews of robbing him and they asked how have we robbed thee?  I expect that preachers by the hundreds have used this scripture to preach in giving and rightly so.  When Nehemiah came to put things right at Jerusalem this is one of the problems he found:


Nehemiah 13:9-10 “Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.  10And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.”


Because the Jews were not tithing and making offering as they had been commanded; the Levites and singers who were tasked with keeping the temple couldn’t do so because they had to be out in the fields making a living.  This problem is becoming more and more of a common today as well.


v.9-10Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  10Bring 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.”


            So God pronounces a curse upon those who robbed him, in this case the whole nation.  When they obeyed God’s commandments there was plenty:


II Chronicles 31:10And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.”


They not only had plenty but the blessings of God would be such that the prophet says that there would not be room enough for them to receive the bounty He would provide.  When they returned to their proper giving and secured these blessings God would also:


v.11And 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, saith the LORD of hosts.”


            How did Amos describe the devastation that God would bring upon the disobedient?


Amos 1:4That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.”


But if the Jews would return to God he would stop the destroyer, the one who would devour all of their substance.


v.12And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.”


            If they would but return to God; “ALL NATIONS SHALL CALL YOU BLESSED”; all those around them would recognize that they were God’s special people.  They would be as Isaiah had promised:


Isaiah 61:9And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.”


They should be a delightsome or delightful land, rich, lush, blessed in every way.  Isaiah gives us a similar description, the source of the song “Beulah Land


Isaiah 62:4Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”




  1. God is not pleased with partial, half-hearted service.  He wanted Israel to bring the whole tithe, the full amount with which they had been prospered.  We likewise are to honor the first and great commandment by our total obedience:


Mark 12:29-30And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”


  1. It is tragic that men can and do rob God.  Old Testament Judah robbed God by withholding that which was due to God by his commandment.

Men rob God today in many ways:


    1. By failing to use their time wisely and properly in service to God; Ephesians 5:15
    2. By failing to present themselves as instruments of righteousness; Romans 6:13
    3. By failing to present themselves as living sacrifices to God; Romans 12:1-2
    4. By failing to train up the children that God has given them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; Ephesians 6:4 
    5. By failing to give as they should

e.      By failing to labor in the Lord’s work; Mark 13:34ff


Read Malachi 3:13-15 – The Jews Spoke Against God


v.13Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?”


            God charges the Jews of speaking against him but they denied his charges.  But what had the prophet already recorded?  They had profaned their worship because:



Malachi 1:12But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.”


            Does anyone do this today?  What about the complainers, the whiners, those who come to worship God out of necessity rather than love?  What about those who have decided to worship God as they chose rather than as God has commanded or authorized?


Malachi 1:13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.”


v.14Ye 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?”


            They questioned the value of serving God and concluded that it was in vain, that it was to no profit, that it served no purpose to walk mournfully before God.  God punished them to the extent that:


Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?” Zechariah 1:12


But they did not learn their lesson; only about 100 years later their tolerance for evil was such that the prophet declared:


v.15  And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.”


            They called the proud happy, they “SET UP” actually honored those who worked wickedness and “DELIVERED” protected and failed to punish even those who tempted God.  The ungodly prospered just as the Psalmist wrote:


Psalms 73:12Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.”




  1. We must keep our speech pure; God is always listening.
  2. We need to work at not jumping to unwarranted conclusions based upon ignorance, willful or otherwise.
  3. It pays to serve God, there is value in serving God, things are not always as they seem.


Read Malachi 3:16-18 – Words to the Faithful


v.16Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”


            Then they that “FEARED THE LORD SPAKE OFTEN ONE TO ANOTHER”; the Hebrew writer encouraged that we:


Hebrews 3:13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”




Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”


            Contrary to what many of the Jews would have recorded in that book of remembrance; what we want to be recorded is our faithful service, our humble worship our life of respect and honor for God and His word.


v.17And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”


            The people of God – he promised Israel:


Deuteronomy 7:6For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”


            Speaking of the church, the prophet of God recorded:


Isaiah 62:3Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.”


            And the Apostle Peter assures us that those who are God’s people:


are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” I Peter 2:9


v.18  Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”


            If we but follow the admonition that the prophet provides us in the last few verses we will indeed be able to discern between good and evil, be able to clearly see the difference between what is righteous and what is wicked and who is a true child of God and who his not.  The advice of the prophet Amos to Israel would serve us well today as well.


Amos 5:15 “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.”


In so doing we will become as those approved of God because we will be able to handle the strong meat of God’s revelation as the Hebrew writer tells we must do:


Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”




  1. It was gratifying and a blessing to be able to see that in spite of a wicked nation that there was a remnant who were faithful to God.  Likewise today it is a blessing to be able to see those in this sinful nation who are faithful. And it’s even more of a blessing to see those within those within the church who are among those added to His church that are faithful in spite of so many that have abandoned the Word of God for the innovations and inventions of man and have fallen away.
  2. It is very important for the faithful to encourage and uplift one another.  We strengthen and uplift one another by our singing (Ephesians 5:19), exhort each other by our conversation (Hebrews 3:13) and encourage one another by our attendance to the worship of God (Hebrews 10:25).
  3. We must remember that God sees and hears all that we do, say and even what we think.
  4. There is a day when God’s book of remembrance will be brought forth and we will be judged by what is recorded there alongside the gospel of His son Jesus Christ.  Those that persevere with fare well (Revelation 2:10).
  5. On that wonderful day God will indeed gather his jewels about him for all of eternity.  Then it will be evident to all mankind that there is a real difference between the righteous and the wicked; between those that have obeyed God and those who have not.