1 "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in. Behold, he will come," says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may endure the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. 3 And 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 so that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years.
5 "And I will come near to you for judgment and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and who turn aside the stranger from his right and do not fear me," says the LORD of hosts. 6 "For I am the LORD and I do not change; therefore, you sons of Jacob are not consumed.
7 "Even from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you said, 'In what shall we return?'
8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, 'In what have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me—even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the store-house, so that there may be food in my house, and prove me now with this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, so that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 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," says the LORD of hosts. 12 "And all nations shall call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the LORD of hosts.
13 "Your words have been stout against me," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'What have we spoken so much against you?' 14 You 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? 15 And now we call the proud happy. Even those who work wickedness are built up. Even those who test God are delivered.'"
16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke often to one another. And the LORD listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the LORD and who esteemed his name. 17 "And they shall be mine," says the LORD of hosts, "even my own peculiar treasure, in the day that I prepare. And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him." 18 Then you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who does not serve him.
This chapter begins with a prophecy of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ; and of the coming of Christ, and the effects and consequences of it, with respect both to the righteous and the wicked; and it contains accusations and charges of sin against the Jews, intermixed with exhortations to repentance. John the Baptist is promised to be sent, and is described by his office as a messenger, and by his work, to prepare the way of the Lord; and the Messiah is prophesied of, who is described by his characters; with respect to himself, the Lord and Messenger of the covenant; with respect to the truly godly among the Jews, as the object of their desire and delight; whose coming is spoken of as a certain thing, and which would be sudden; and the place is mentioned [where] he should come into (verse 1), and this his coming is represented as terrible to the wicked, and as trying and purifying to the righteous, expressed by the various similes of a refiner's fire, and fuller's soap; and the end answered by it, their offering a righteous offering to the Lord (verses 2-4), but with respect to the wicked, he declares he should be a swift witness against them, whose characters are particularly given, and this assured from his immutability; the consequence of which to the saints is good, being their security from destruction (verses 5-6), and next a charge is commenced against the wicked Jews, as that in general they had for a long time revolted from the Lord, and were guilty of sins of omission and commission, and are therefore exhorted to return to the Lord, with a promise that he will return to them, and yet they refuse (verse 7), and, in particular, that they were guilty of sacrilege, and so accounted, even the whole nation, in withholding tithes and sacrifices, which they are exhorted to bring in; to which they are encouraged with promises of blessings of prosperity and protection (verses 8-12), and that they had spoken impudent and blasphemous words against the Lord; which, though excepted to, is proved by producing their own words (verses 13-15), and by the contrary behavior of those who feared the Lord, who were taken notice of by him, and were dear to him (verses 16-17), therefore it is suggested, that the time would come when there would be a manifest difference made between the one and the other (verse 18).
[v.1] - Quoted in Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:76, 7:27.
[v.2] - Reference, 1st Samuel 6:20; Psalm 76:7; Revelation 6:17.
[v.6] - Reference, Hebrews 13:8.