Malachi 2: 17-18, 3: 1-5 (NIV)
17 You have wearied the LORD with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”
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.
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. 3 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, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come near to you for judgement. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.
This passage exemplifies the style used on six occasions by Malachi (“my messenger”) in chapters 1-3:
- he levels the LORD’s complaint against the people;
- he rehearses the most likely response of the people, “In what way?”; then
- he delivers the LORD’s response, showing how their actions demonstrate contempt.
Sadly these same complaints could well be levelled against our own society today.
For example, in wearying the LORD “by saying ‘all who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD …’ ”, our society attempts to legitimise so-called progressive social policies that strip away the rights of the unborn child, that undermine marriage and that encourage unbridled consumption including of services and products harmful to society.
“He will purify the Levites” demonstrates how far the priestly tribe had separated itself from God’s ideal purpose (Malachi 2: 1-9). Today the churches need to be purged of all who have exploited the vulnerable for whom the church holds special responsibility – including through sexual and other forms of abuse.
The LORD will “be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud …, who oppress …, and deprive … of justice, but do not fear (the LORD)”. The reader will readily identify today’s parallels in this country and in societies across the world.
Malachi foresaw the coming of John the Baptist (3: 1a, referred to as the prophet Elijah in 4: 5) to prepare the way before the coming of the Lord. This coming, said the LORD Almighty through Malachi, will be for judgement which will be like a refiner’s fire to purify and refine.
We who wait for the return of the Lord anticipate that time of judgement. Even so, we must continually allow his Spirit to scrutinise us. We must be open and honest as we consider whether, in the words of Malachi 2: 17 we, who call ourselves Christians, have wearied the LORD.
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (Malachi 4: 2a).