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CHAPTER 3

The Messenger of the Covenant

1a Now I am sending my messenger—

he will prepare the way before me;*

And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple;

The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—

see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts.

2But who can endure the day of his coming?

Who can stand firm when he appears?

For he will be like a refiner’s fire,

like fullers’ lye.

3b He will sit refining and purifying silver,

and he will purify the Levites,

Refining them like gold or silver,

that they may bring offerings to the LORD in righteousness.

4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem

will please the LORD,

as in ancient days, as in years gone by.

5I will draw near to you for judgment,

and I will be swift to bear witness

Against sorcerers, adulterers, and perjurers,

those who deprive a laborer of wages,

Oppress a widow or an orphan,

or turn aside a resident alien,

without fearing me, says the LORD of hosts.

Gifts for God, Blessings for the People

6For I, the LORD, do not change,*

and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be.

7c Since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside

from my statutes and have not kept them.

Return to me, that I may return to you,

says the LORD of hosts.

But you say, “Why should we return?”

8d Can anyone rob God? But you are robbing me!

And you say, “How have we robbed you?”

Of tithes and contributions!

9You are indeed accursed,

for you, the whole nation, rob me.

10e Bring the whole tithe

into the storehouse,*

That there may be food in my house.

Put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts,

And see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you,

and pour down upon you blessing without measure!

11I will rebuke the locust for you

so that it will not destroy your crops,

And the vine in the field will not be barren,

says the LORD of hosts.

12f All the nations will call you blessed,

for you will be a delightful land,

says the LORD of hosts.

The Need To Serve God

13Your words are too much for me, says the LORD.

You ask, “What have we spoken against you?”

14g You have said, “It is useless to serve God;

what do we gain by observing God’s requirements,

And by going about as mourners*

before the LORD of hosts?

15But we call the arrogant blessed;

for evildoers not only prosper

but even test God and escape.”

16h Then those who fear the LORD spoke with one another,

and the LORD listened attentively;

A record book* was written before him

of those who fear the LORD and esteem his name.

17i They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,

my own special possession, on the day when I take action.

And I will have compassion on them,

as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.

18Then you will again distinguish

between the just and the wicked,

Between the person who serves God,

and the one who does not.

19j For the day is coming, blazing like an oven,

when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble,

And the day that is coming will set them on fire,

leaving them neither root nor branch,

says the LORD of hosts.

20k But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice

will arise with healing in its wings;*

And you will go out leaping like calves from the stall

21and tread down the wicked;

They will become dust under the soles of your feet,

on the day when I take action, says the LORD of hosts.

Moses and Elijah

22l Remember the law of Moses my servant,

whom I charged at Horeb

With statutes and ordinances

for all Israel.

23m Now I am sending to you

Elijah* the prophet,

Before the day of the LORD comes,

the great and terrible day;

24He will turn the heart of fathers to their sons,

and the heart of sons to their fathers,

Lest I come and strike

the land with utter destruction.

* [3:1] My messenger…before me: Mt 11:10 applies these words to John the Baptist; Mt 11:14 further identifies John as Elijah (see Mal 3:23). Some take God’s messenger in v. 1a to be a person distinct from “the lord” and “the messenger of the covenant” in v. 1b; others hold that they are one and the same person. Some consider “the lord” and “the messenger of the covenant” to be divine, while others hold that in the text’s literal sense he is a messianic earthly ruler.

* [3:67] Not change: God remains faithful to the covenant even when the human partners break it.

* [3:10] Storehouse: the temple treasury.

* [3:14] As mourners: the adverb translated “as mourners” means something like “with a long face.”

* [3:16] Record book: see note on Ex 32:32.

* [3:20] Wings: a common symbol of the manifestation of a god in the ancient Near East is the winged sun disk found, for example, on premonarchic jar handles. Cf. Nm 6:25; Ps 4:7; 31:17; 34:6; 84:12.

* [3:23] Elijah: taken up in a whirlwind, according to 2 Kgs 2:11. Here his return seems to be foretold. A Jewish tradition interpreted this literally; the gospels saw Elijah in the person of John the Baptist (Mt 11:1314; 17:1013; Mk 9:913).

a. [3:1] Ex 23:2022; Is 40:3; Mt 11:10; Mk 1:2; Lk 1:17; 7:27.

b. [3:3] Is 1:25; Zec 13:9.

c. [3:7] Zec 1:34; Acts 7:51.

d. [3:8] Neh 13:1014.

e. [3:10] Dt 28:2, 12; 2 Chr 31:1011; Neh 10:38; 13:12; Prv 3:910.

f. [3:12] Dt 28:10; Is 61:9.

g. [3:14] Jb 21:1415; 22:17; Ps 73:1112; Is 58:3; Zec 7:27.

h. [3:16] Rev 20:12.

i. [3:17] Ex 19:5; Dt 7:6; Ps 103:13; 135:4.

j. [3:19] Is 13:9; 34:8; Jl 3:3; Zep 1:18; 2 Pt 3:7.

k. [3:20] Lk 1:7879.

l. [3:22] Ex 20; Lv 26; Dt 4:1, 56.

m. [3:23] 2 Kgs 2:1012; Sir 48:10; Mt 11:1314; 17:1013; Mk 9:913; Lk 1:17.




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