Malachi 3 – The Day Of The Lord

The Day Of The Lord Will Be Preceded By The Forerunner; Then The Lord Himself Will Arrive On Earth; He Will Judge His People; We Needed To Meet Our Financial Obligations; We Needed To Know That God Is Righteous And He Is Worth Serving; The Good Response Of Those Who Feared The Lord Was Recorded In Heaven

Things weren’t going well for the Chosen People in the time of Malachi. It seems that an unusual amount of tragedies were occurring. The harvests were bad. Pests were attaching the crops. Maybe the weather was bad. Maybe we were being attacked by enemies. Maybe there was an unusual amount of sickness and death.

When things are going well for you, it’s natural to enjoy your life on Earth and want a lot more of it. When things are not going well; if you are suffering; if you are undergoing physical pain, mental or emotion trauma, the pain caused by a lost or damaged relationship, it’s natural to want to leave this world. In the case of the Jewish people, instead of wanting to leave this world, we wanted the Lord to come to Earth in very special and powerful way, and radically change life for the better for us.

That dramatic intervention in history is called the Day of the Lord. The people in the time of Malachi were unhappy and wanted the Day of the Lord to come, but they were underestimating the Lord’s holiness, and their lack of holiness. Youv’e heard the expression: “be careful what you wish for”? Malachi warned them that they should be careful what they wanted. If they didn’t change, the Day of the Lord would not bring them what they expected.

We were complaining that the Lord didn’t care about justice. The wicked went unpunished and the righteous suffered – so why should we care about being righteous? But the Lord does make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Israel wanted the Lord to bring them justice? He will bring justice to the nation – especially when He arrives on Earth in the person of the Messiah. This is a prophecy is about Yeshua’s second coming. The Lord is the One who is speaking.“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. The Lord Himself will come to Earth. But, before He does so in the person of the Son of God, He will send a messenger to prepare His way. That messenger is Elijah the prophet – Eliyahu ha-navi.

Elijah is very special. He is one of our greatest prophets. He lived in a very difficult time. It was a time of spiritual apostasy. He courageously served the Lord in that difficult time. He had great courage – courage to not only confront wicked rulers like Ahab and Jezebel, but confront all the false prophets on Mount Carmel in the presence of Israel. Among the prophets, only a few did miracles. Elijah is one of the few prophets who did miracles. And Elijah never died. He was taken by God to be with Him until He sends him back to Earth as His messenger to prepare Israel for the Lord’s return.

After Elijah arrives and prepares the Lord’s way by calling Israel to repentance, the Lord Himself will arrive on Earth – in the person of Messiah Yeshua. 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 of Hosts. The Lord, who is Messiah Yeshua, will come to His temple – referring to either the third temple, which has not yet been built, but will be built before the Messiah returns; or the temple refers to the forth temple, the millennial temple. Or the temple refers to both the third and fourth temples. The Lord will come to His temple.

The Lord is also the messenger of the covenant. That title, messenger of the covenant, tells us that the Lord is not only able to send a messenger, like Elijah, but also is able to be a messenger. The Lord is able to be sent to Earth to represent God. The Lord is able to be sent on a mission which is connected to a covenant.

Of course, this is exactly what the New Testament teaches about the ministry of the Son of God. He is the Lord. He is equal to God the Father in divinity and in authority. Yeshua is Lord; and He also is a messenger, sent by the Father to Earth for the purpose of fulfilling a covenant. The covenant that the Lord will fulfill is the covenant God made with Abraham. When the Son of God returns, He will make sure every aspect of the covenant made with Abraham is fulfilled. And when He returns, He will also fulfill His New Covenant which He instituted at His first coming. He is the messenger of the covenant.

Although this is a prophecy about Messiah’s second coming, there are similarities with Messiah’s first coming.

The Lord will send a messenger, Elijah, to prepare the way for His second coming.

The Lord already sent a messenger, John the Baptist, who came in the spirit of Elijah, to prepare the way for His first coming.

At His second coming, the Lord will come to His temple. At His first coming, the Lord came to His temple.

Israel had been questioning whether God was just; if He would punish the wicked and reward the righteous; if serving Him was worth it. This prophecy assures us that when the Lord comes, He will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. However, Israel should not assume that it will only be our wicked enemies who will be punished. The Lord’s judgment will include the Chosen People as well. When He arrives, Israel will be judged – the entire nation, everyone from the special leadership tribe of the Levites to the ordinary people of Judah and Jerusalem.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? The answer is – no one can endure the Lord’s arrival. Not a soul will be able to stand when this great and holy God and King arrives – unless they have been faithfully serving Him. So, the Jewish people should make absolutely sure they were faithfully serving Him.

When He arrives, the Lord will thoroughly judge the holy people. His judgment will result in us being completely purified like soap cleans clothes and like fire purifies precious metals. For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

After He judges us, a purified Israel will be able to offer pure worship; and our worship will then be acceptable to Him, like it was in previous generations when we were close to Him – not like it was in Malachi’s generation. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. And, since the Lord will make sure that pure worship from a purified people will take place in Israel’s future, shouldn’t the same kind of pure worship from a pure people be taking place then – in the days of Malachi?

We needed to repent, to turn from our bad attitudes and actions and dishonoring worship, and turn to the Lord and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

And the same principle applies to us today: if we are the sons and daughters of the holy God – which we are; if we are kings and queens who will rule with the Son of God over a new and holy heavens and Earth – which we are – shouldn’t we be living as holy people now? Shouldn’t we be serving the Lord with all our hearts and souls – now?

The Jewish people in the days of Malachi were thinking that our lives would be so much better when the Lord comes. There would be peace and prosperity for everyone. But, the Lord wanted us to understand that when He arrives, things won’t immediately get better. Before there can be peace and prosperity, there will be a great trial. There have been some important trials in history: the trial of Socrates; the trial of King Charles I; the trials of Luther, Thomas Moore and Galileo; the trials of the Nazi leaders at Nuremberg; the trial of Adolf Eichmann who was convicted for his role in the “Final Solution.” This trial will be far greater than any trial that has come before it. This will be a trial with the Lord Himself as the judge, prosecutor and witness. “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers (better – those who swear falsely), against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord of Hosts.

The Lord will be the prosecutor. He will put us on trial and bring the charges against us. And since He knows everything, He will make sure we are thoroughly prosecuted.

And the Lord will be the judge. He is an impartial judge, and a just judge and an all-knowing judge. He can’t be bribed or fooled. His judgment will be fair and perfectly just.

And the Lord will be the witness. And He is a unimpeachable witness. He is a witness who knows the truth and tells the truth. He has seen everything we have done that is wrong and will testify about the sins we have committed.

The Lord provided a list of some of the sins Israel will be judged for. This implies that the Jewish people of Malachi’s day were engaging in these sins.

Sorcery: practices connected to the occult; witchcraft; magic; spells; charms; contacting the dead; contacting spirits; trying to receive hidden information about the future.

Adultery: while having an affair with a married person can be exciting, it’s wrong and very destructive; and it will be thoroughly punished.

Perjurers/those who swear falsely: those who lie in a legal situation; those who make vows and break them; those who swear by other gods, which means they worship false gods; those who participate in false religion will be punished.

People who take advantage of people who have less power: Those who take advantage of the laborer; those who take advantage of the weakest members of society – the widows – women without husbands to provide for them and protect them; the fatherless – children without a father to provide for them or protect them; the foreigners – who have less power or rights than citizens.

The Lord promised He will punish sorcerers, adulterers, those who swear falsely, those who defraud laborers, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners of justice.

It wasn’t just Malachi’s generation that had failed the Lord. Israel’s preceding generations had consistently failed the Lord. The penalty that the Chosen People deserved for failing the Lord generation after generation? National destruction, as our twin-brother nation, the Edomites, would be destroyed. But, the Lord assured us that would not happen. “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them.

In spite of our repeated failures to love the Lord and obey Him the way we should, generation after generation, the Lord let us know that He would not destroy us – even though that’s what we deserved. Why? Because He does not change. He is gracious. He is merciful. He is faithful. And He had made a covenant with Abraham and promised to bless Abraham and his descendants so that the whole world would be blessed through us. And because this gracious, merciful and faithful covenant-making and covenant-keeping God does not change; because He is the same yesterday, today and forever – we would not be destroyed.

God loved us. He wanted to bless us. But, it’s not good to bless a nation in rebellion against God. Before the Lord would bless us, we needed to repent. “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Hosts. This is the way that the Lord deals with people and with nations. He wants them to turn to Him, get right with Him, stop their evil practices and do what is right. And when a person or a nation turns to God, that person, that nation will find that the Lord has been eagerly waiting, and the Lord will respond to that first step toward Him with a giant step toward the that man, that woman, that nation. Israel needed to take that first step and return to the Lord.

The Lord knew that there was something specific that His erring people could do that would help them return to Him. They needed to honor Him with their finances. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’” “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.” “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’“In tithes and offerings.” The Sinai covenant required the Jewish people to tithe, to give ten percent of their income to the Lord, which went to support the worship center – the temple and the priests and the sacrifices. And in addition to the ten percent tithe, additional offerings were required – like sin offerings.

When a person is right with God, he wants to give generously to God, because he understands how much the Lord has done for him. When a person is not right with God, he does not want give generously to the Lord. The same principle applies to a nation. You are under a curse – your whole nation – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. The nation was not right with God. And it showed by our lack of financial support. By not giving what He required us to give, the Lord considered us to be robbing Him. And the Lord does not like thieves. Why should He bless us when we were stealing from Him? So, instead of blessing us, He had been cursing us. He had been removing our blessings and allowing harm to come to us.

We shouldn’t wait until things got better and then gave to Him out of our abundance. No, we needed to trust the Lord right then, and give our ten percent and our other offerings. If we did, the Lord assured us that He would respond – immediately and generously. Our curses would be replaced by blessings – so many that it would be like a gate being opened so that a flood followed – not a destructive flood of water, but a flood of blessings. “Test me in this,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord of Hosts.”

The Jewish people are a special people. We are designed by the Creator to be a light to the other nations. We are a sign nation. The other nations are to see us and learn from us. When we were bad, the Lord punished us severely, and the other nations learned that it was dangerous to disobey the God of Israel. When we were good, the Lord blessed us abundantly, and the other nations learned that it was good to serve the God of Israel.

If our nation would only return to the Lord, give Him what we were required to give Him, He would bless us and we would make an impact on all the other nations of the world. And who wouldn’t want that to happen? Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of Hosts.

Some related thoughts about taxation and our financial responsibilities to give to God: first, the Jewish people were required to give ten percent of their income. It was a ten percent flat tax. It didn’t matter if the person was rich, middle class or poor – ten percent of their income was to be given to God. The rich would give more because they made more. The middle class would give less, because they made less. The poor would give even less, because they made even less. I mention this because I don’t like our tax system, which is not based on a flat tax. I would like to have a simple flat tax.

Second: Christians and Messianic Jews are not the nation of Israel living under the Sinai Covenant, and are not required to support the temple and the priests and the sacrifices in the same way – with tithes and offerings. Under Messiah’s New Covenant, the Lord does not set a percentage of what we are required to give to Him. He encourages us to give generously – of our time, and our talents and our treasures.

Third: Those who are under Messiah’s New Covenant don’t have the same promises of blessing and cursing that the nation of Israel had. The Lord does not promise to bless us with financial blessings if we tithe or if we have faith or sow seed money into some corrupt ministry. He does promise to bless us for being generous with our time, talents and treasures, but that blessing is more likely to be in the form of spiritual blessings; and rewards after our life in this world is over.

Israel needed to return to the Lord, and we needed to show that we were returning to Him by meeting our financial obligations under the Sinai covenant. And we needed another attitude adjustment. We had been complaining that the wicked were prospering and the righteous were suffering. The priests were corrupt yet they and their corrupt friends may have been prospering. Israel was the only nation that served the Lord, yet things were not going well for us and things may have been going well for other nations that did not serve the Lord. The people were questioning whether God was fair and if it was worth it to serve Him. “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord of Hosts? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

The people needed to know that the Lord is righteous. He always and only does what is right. And He is fair. And He will treat the wicked and the righteous differently. But He does not always immediately punish the wicked and reward the righteous. There may be times, even long periods of time, when He allows the wicked to prosper and the righteous to suffer. But eventually, even if it is not in this life, He will judge the wicked and reward the righteous. He does make a distinction between those who serve Him and those who don’t. It is worth serving Him. Malachi’s generation needed to know that and renew their commitment to serve the Lord and do what was right.

After Malachi gave these God-inspired, challenging messages, some, but not all of the people, responded the way they should have responded. Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other. Those who were impacted by Malachi’s messages and had respect for the Lord talked with each other and encouraged each other to renew their commitment to the Lord, and serve Him the way He should be served.

When someone respects me and honors me, I want to do something nice for him. The Lord was aware of those who feared Him, and responded to their good response. And the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name. The names of those people who feared and honored the Lord were written, not in some obscure location, but in the presence of God Himself. That shows how important they are to God; and how much He is aware of them. The names of those who feared and honored the Lord were recorded in a special scroll, to ensure that they would not be forgotten. The Lord will remember to do nice things for them, like:

Treat them as a treasured possession. “On the day when I act,” says the Lord of Hosts, “they will be my treasured possession.” How does one treat a treasured possession? With honor. With care. With love.

Spare them. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. The Lord will protect them. He will make sure they are safe.

Treat them differently than He treats the wicked. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. He will honor, them bless them, reward them, vindicate them. Is it worth it to fear God, to honor Him, to serve Him, to be in a right relationship with God and be committed to consistently do the right things? Yes it is.

Let’s pray:

Father, thank You for revealing to us that the Son of God will return to Earth, and that before He does, Elijah the prophet will be sent as a messenger to prepare His way. Thank You for giving us information about the future.

Lord, we acknowledge that Messiah Yeshua is the messenger of the covenant, and that when He returns, He will fulfill every aspect of the covenant made with Abraham, and fulfill His New Covenant. Thank You for that.

Father, You have made it clear that when Your Son returns, there will be a great judgment, and that judgment will include the people of God. Since we are Your sons and daughters, help us to live as holy people now. Help us to serve You with all our hearts and souls – now.

Thank You God, that You do not change. You were a merciful and faithful covenant-making and covenant-keeping God throughout the generations and You are still a merciful and faithful covenant-making and covenant-keeping God now. We praise You for being our Rock who we can depend on in an unstable, chaotic world.

Lord, You required Israel to give tithes and offerings. Help us understand how much You have given, are giving and will give to us and help us to give generously to You – of our time, and our talents and our treasures.

Lord, when we see the wicked prospering and the righteous suffering or going unrewarded, give us the faith to know that You are righteous. You are fair. You do make a distinction between the wicked and the righteous and will treat them differently; that You are worth serving.

Lord, You told Israel: Return to me, and I will return to you. If any of us have strayed from You and Your good ways, give us the grace to return to You. Help us fear You and renew our commitment to serve You and do what was right.

May we be like those who were impacted by Malachi’s messages and had respect for You, and talked with each other and encouraged each other to renew their commitment to the You, and serve You the way You should be served.