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.John Calvin's Prayer for verses 2:17-3:3:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are by nature so prone to rash judgment, we may learn to submit to you, and so quietly to acquiesce in your judgments, that we may patiently bear whatever chastisements you may daily allot to us, and not doubt but that all is done for our well-being, and never murmur against you, but give you the glory in all our adversities; and may we so labor to mortify our flesh, that by denying ourselves we may ever allow you to be the only true God, and a just avenger, and our Father, and that thus renouncing ourselves, we may yet never depart from the purity of your word, and be thus retained under your yoke, until we shall at length attain that liberty which has been procured for us by your only-begotten Son.— Amen.
[v.6] - Reference, Hebrews 13:8.John Calvin's Prayer for verses 4-8:
Grant, Almighty God, that since you have been pleased to choose us as priests to yourself, not that we may offer beasts to you, but consecrate to you ourselves, and all that we have,— O grant, that we may with an readiness strive to depart from every kind of uncleanness, and to purify ourselves from all defilements, so that we may duly perform the sacred office of priesthood, and thus conduct ourselves toward you with chasteness and purity; may we also abstain from every evil work, from all fraud and all cruelty toward our brethren, and so to deal with one another as to prove through our whole life that you are really our Father, ruling us by your Spirit, and that true and holy brotherhood exists between us; and may we live justly toward one another, so as to render to each his own right, and thus show that we are members of your only-begotten Son, so as to be owned by him when he shall appear for the redemption of his people, and shell gather us into his celestial kingdom.— Amen.
[v.10] - Reference, Proverbs 3:9-10.John Calvin's Prayer for verses 9-15:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we continue to afford many and various reasons to induce you to withdraw your blessing, and to show yourself displeased with us,— O grant, that we may patiently bear your scourges, by which you chastise us, and also profit under them, and so contend with all our depraved affections and the corruptions of the flesh, that we may become partakers of your paternal kindness, which you offer to us, and also so taste of your goodness, which in innumerable ways is manifested toward us, that it may keep us in the pursuit of true religion; finally, may our tongues be consecrated to magnify your judgement and to celebrate your justice, that whatever happens to us, we may always serve you through our whole life as our Father, and declare also your goodness toward us, and confess that we are justly punished whenever you visit us with severity, until we shall at length reach that blessed rest, which is to be the end of all our evils, and an entrance, not only into life, but also into that full glory and happiness, which has been procured for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son.— Amen.John Calvin's Prayer for verses 15-17:
Grant, Almighty God, that as Satan strives to draw us away from every attention to true religion, when things in the world are in a state of disorder and confusion,— O grant, that we may know that you care for us; and if we do not perceive this by what we find in the world, may we rely on your word, and doubt not but that you ever watch over our safety; and being supported by this confidence, may we ever go on in the course of our calling: and as you have deigned to make us partakers of that evidence of your favor, by which we know that we are reconciled to you in your only-begotten Son; and being thus made his members, may we never hesitate cheerfully to offer to you our services, however defective they may be, since you have once promised to be a propitious Father to us, so as not rigidly to try what we offer to you, but so graciously to accept it, that we may know that not only our sins, which justly deserve condemnation, are forgiven and remitted to us, but that you also so bear with our infirmities and our defects in our imperfect works, that we shall at length receive the reward which you have promised, and which we cannot attain through our merits, but through the sanctification of your Spirit, and through the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.— Amen.
[v.18] - John Calvin's Prayer for this verse is included with the first two verses of the next chapter. Therefore, the prayer is in the next chapter.