v1 The *LORD sent this message to Israel by means of his servant Malachi.
Verse 1 Malachi wrote his book in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew word for ‘message’ here means ‘a weight that someone must carry’. Malachi felt that he needed to declare God’s message. This was Malachi’s duty. ‘*LORD’ is a special name for God. God used this name when he made a *covenant with his people. A *covenant is a special agreement. The *Old Testament is about this *covenant. The word ‘testament’ means ‘evidence’. Malachi is the last book in the *Old Testament. In God’s *covenant with his people:
- God agrees to care for his people.
- God’s people agree to love God and to obey him.
The word ‘Israel’ here means all the *Jewish people. Malachi is a name that means ‘my messenger’. A messenger is someone that brings a message. Malachi probably lived about 450 B.C. B.C. means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’. The word for ‘servant’ here is actually ‘by the hand of’ in *Hebrew. Malachi considered himself to be like a servant. God was Malachi’s master. Although Malachi declared this message, his words came from God.
v2 ‘I have loved you’, says the *LORD. But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ The *LORD answers, ‘Esau was Jacob’s brother. And I (chose to) love Jacob, v3 but not to love Esau. And I have destroyed his mountains. Also, I made his country (called Edom) into a desert where wild dogs live. v4 The people from Edom may say, “(An enemy) has beaten us down. But we will return and rebuild (our country).” This is what the *LORD of Everything says. If they rebuild (their country), I will destroy it. They will be called “The wicked country”. The *LORD will always be angry with them. v5 You yourselves will see it. Then you will say, “The *LORD is great, even outside the country called Israel”.’
Verse 2 This starts the first of 6 arguments, or discussions, between God and his people Israel. They are in:
- Malachi 1:2-5. An argument about the love of God.
- Malachi 1:6-2:9. An argument about the honour of God.
- Malachi 2:10-16. An argument about people who do not do what they promise, especially in marriage.
- Malachi 2:17-3:5. An argument about whether God is a fair judge.
- Malachi 3:6-12. An argument about people who are sorry because they have done wrong things.
- Malachi 3:13-4:3. An argument about people who say things against God.
Here, the people did not agree that God loved them. But God says that he loved Jacob. In other words, he chose to love Jacob. Jacob’s children started the 12 *tribes (or large families) that became Israel. So ‘I chose to love Jacob’ means ‘I chose to love Israel’. The *LORD had changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28).
Verse 3 But God chose not to love Esau. Actually, the *Hebrew Bible says, ‘I hated Esau’. But many Bible students agree with our translation. It means that God chose Jacob for his plan, but he did not choose Esau. God’s plan was to send Jesus to save us from the punishment for our evil deeds. God chose Jacob because later Jesus would be born into the family of Jacob (that is, Israel). That is a plan that can help everyone, ‘even outside the country called Israel’, verse 5.
This verse helps to give us a date for Malachi. It tells us that the *LORD destroyed Edom. That means that the *LORD allowed an enemy to defeat Edom. Edom is the name of the country where the family of Esau lived. An enemy called the Nabataeans probably destroyed Edom about 500 *B.C. The people from Edom moved to the desert south of Jerusalem. This was before Malachi wrote his book.
Verse 4 ‘The *LORD of Everything’ is a special name for God. Another translation is ‘The *LORD of *Angel Armies’. *Angels are God’s servants in heaven, where he lives. We do not often see them, but they are always working for God, even on earth.
Verse 5 Some *Jews thought that God could only work in their own land. But when they will see him work in Edom, they will say, ‘The *LORD is great, even outside the country called Israel!’
v6 ‘A son gives honour to (his) father and a servant (is afraid of) his master’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘I am your father. But you do not show any honour to me. I am your master. But you do not respect me.’ (He says) to the priests, ‘You do not respect my name.’ But you ask, ‘How do we *disrespect your name?’ v7 (He answers), ‘You put *unholy food on my *altar.’ But you ask, ‘How have we been *unholy to you?’ (He answers), ‘Because you say that you do not respect the *LORD’s table. v8 It is wrong when you offer blind animals to me (on the *altar). You should not offer to me animals that cannot walk. And (you should not offer to me animals) that have diseases. That would be very wrong. You would not (dare to) offer them to your ruler! He would not be pleased with you. He would not accept such gifts from you’, says the *LORD of Everything. v9 ‘And now, pray to God himself that he will be *gracious to us! When you offer him these (unclean) things, he will not accept your gifts’, says the *LORD of Everything. v10 ‘(I wish) that somebody among you would shut the doors (of my *temple). Then you would not light *useless fires on my *altar. You are not pleasing me. So I will not accept anything that you offer (to me)’, says the *LORD of Everything. v11 ‘But my name will be great among the nations. (It will be great) from where the sun rises (in the east) to where it sets (in the west). In every place (people will) offer *incense and pure gifts to my name. (This is) because my name will be great among the nations’, says the *LORD of Everything.
v12 ‘But you insult (my name) when you say:
- “The *LORD’s table is unclean.”
- And, “The food on it is nasty.”
v13 And you say, “What a nuisance!” And you blow (down your nose) at it’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘You bring and offer (to me animals):
- that have an injury;
- and that cannot walk well;
- and that have diseases.
So I shall not accept your gifts’, says the *LORD of Everything.
v14 ‘I shall *curse the person that cheats. That person promises to give a good male animal from his *flock. But (then he) offers a bad animal to the *Lord. I am a great king. So the people from every nation must respect my name’, says the *LORD of Everything.
v1 ‘And now, priests, this command is for you. v2 If you do not listen (to me)’ says the *LORD of Everything, ‘then I will send a *curse on you. (I will do this) if you do not really give honour to my name in your minds. A *curse will come (on you) instead of good things. In fact, I have already sent a *curse on you. (This is) because you do not really give me honour in your minds.
v3 Look! Because of you, I will be angry with your children. I will spread *dung on your faces. It will come from the animals that you offer (to God). And they will take you away with it. v4 And you will know that I sent this command. (I sent it) so that my *covenant with Levi will continue’, says the *LORD of Everything. v5 ‘My *covenant was with him. And I gave to him life and satisfaction. So he respected me (because) he was afraid of me. He was afraid of my name. v6 What he taught (people) was true and he said nothing false. He lived with me and had satisfaction. And he did what was right. Also, he turned many (people) away from *sin.
v7 A priest is the *messenger of the *LORD of Everything. So:
- The priest’s words should preserve knowledge.
- And people should listen to his instructions.
v8 But you are not doing these things. Also, you teach things that have caused many people to fall (which means that they do wrong things). You have spoiled (my) *covenant with Levi’, says the *LORD of Everything. v9 ‘So I have caused people to hate you. And I have caused you to suffer shame in front of all the people. (I did this) because you have not obeyed me. Instead, you try to become popular by what you teach.’
A new section starts here. It is about the honour of God.
1:6 The words in brackets … ( ….. ) … are not in the *Hebrew Bible. Usually they are there to help us to understand things better. But ‘his’ is in the old *Syrian Bible and ‘is afraid of’ is in the old *Greek Bible. These priests did not give honour to God. And they did not respect him. ‘Disrespect’ means the opposite of respect. The name of God in the Bible usually means God himself.
1:7 God would not accept any person or thing that was *unholy. The animals were *unholy to offer to God. This was because there was something wrong with them, verse 8. But the priests were *unholy because they did not give honour to God. Neither did they serve him as their master, verse 6. An *altar is a special table. Priests burned animals on it to please God. There were several such tables in the *temple in Jerusalem. These tables were all ‘the *LORD’s table’. It is not the same as ‘the *Lord’s table’ (for the bread and wine) in a church.
1:8 Leviticus 22:17-25 tells us that God wanted them to offer to him perfect animals. Animals that were not perfect were called unclean (that is, *unholy) animals. God told the people to kill these animals in order to teach the people about Jesus. The animals needed to be perfect. And Jesus was perfect (1 Peter 1:19). The animals had to die. And Jesus had to die so that God will forgive our evil deeds (Hebrews 9:13-15).
Animals that were blind were called unclean. (That is, *unholy.) So were animals that could not walk. Or, animals that had diseases. Therefore, God would not accept them. Even their ruler would not accept such animals.
1:9 God would not accept the unclean things that the priests offered. Therefore, they should pray for him to be *gracious. ‘Gracious’ means ‘kinder than you need to be’. Many Bible students think that Malachi was using irony here. Irony is when you say the opposite of what you really mean. It is something that poets do in order to emphasise their message. Really, Malachi thought that the priest should offer good gifts to God. Malachi did not want them to continue to offer bad gifts while they prayed such prayers.
1:10 The doors were probably at the entrance to part of the *temple. The *temple was God’s house in Jerusalem. There was a yard (called a *court) round the building itself. The *altars in verse 7 were in this *court. If the doors were shut, nobody could enter to light fires. The priest lit the fire. Then, the person that brought the animal killed it. The fires burned the animals on the *altars. But it was *useless to burn animals that were not perfect. (‘Useless’ means ‘with no use’.) God would not accept animals that were not perfect. Leviticus 1:5, and other verses, tell us this.
1:11 Notice that the word ‘but’ at the start links this verse with verse 10. ‘From sunrise to sunset’ is used in Psalm 50:1 and Psalm 113:3 and in Isaiah 45:6 and Isaiah 59:19. This phrase means the whole world (see Malachi 1:5). *Incense is a mixture of sticky substances from various trees. When people burn *incense, it gives a pleasant smell. Chapter 16 of the Book of Numbers teaches us that only the Chief Priest could offer *incense to God. We do not know what the ‘pure gifts’ are. They may be animals. But no other place in the *Old Testament says that God will accept them outside Israel. However, see Acts 10:35. But God does not want us to continue to give animals to him. He wants us to obey him and to give our lives to him (Psalm 51:16-17).
1:12 Again, the word ‘but’ at the start links this verse with the previous verse.
1:13 The priests thought that all their religion was a nuisance to them. They hated it, or ‘blew down their noses’ at it. The English way to say this is ‘turned up their noses’ at it. The priests did this when they offered animals that were not perfect. The animal may have had an injury. Maybe a wild animal hurt or killed it. Exodus 22:31 says that the people should not even eat such an animal. To offer it to God insulted God. Or maybe the animals could not walk; or they had diseases. Leviticus 22:20-25 says that the people must not offer these animals to God.
1:14 Sometimes people promised God something, such as a good animal, if he answered their prayers. But when God did answer, they gave him something not so good! This verse says that such a person was cheating. If God *curses someone, something bad, perhaps death, will happen to that person.
2:1 The priests came from the *tribe of Levi. They lived in 48 towns in Judah (the south part of the *Jews’ country) and Israel (the north part). Numbers 35:3 tells us that they kept animals. They were probably the people who cheated in the previous verse.
2:2 A *curse had an important meaning for people from the *Jewish religion. God punished people by a *curse if they did not obey his laws. Deuteronomy 27:14 to Deuteronomy 28:68 has lists of both *curses and *blessings. *Blessings are the opposite of *curses. *Curses cause death, but *blessings cause life. The *Levites read out these lists every year. They did it on the day when the people promised to obey God’s *covenant.
2:3. The *Hebrew Bible uses the word ‘angry’. The *Greek Bible, an ancient translation from 200 *B.C., has ‘cut off’ or ‘make separate’. It probably means that God would not let them be part of the *covenant. *B.C. means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’. ‘Dung’ is the dirt that animals make. It has a bad smell. Priests cleared it up from the *temple and burned it. (See Exodus 29:14.) God says that he will clear his people up. That is, God would take them away from their homes and punish them.
2:4 In verses 4-6, God speaks about Levi as if Levi is one man. In fact, God means the family of Levi, especially the men who were good priests. And God is reminding the evil priests at the time of Malachi about their family history.
Levi himself was really a cruel man (Genesis 34:35). Levi’s father was Jacob. Before Jacob died, he blessed his 12 sons. But Jacob did not bless Levi. Instead of a *blessing, Levi received a *curse on behalf of his family (Genesis 49:5-7). But later, Moses belonged to the family of Levi. And Moses pleased God greatly. So, God appointed priests from Levi’s family. And Moses blessed Levi’s family (Deuteronomy 33:8-11).
2:5 Deuteronomy, Proverbs and Psalms tell us that life and satisfaction happen to people that obey God. Some verses are: Deuteronomy 4:40; 6:2, 3; 30:15-20; Proverbs 3:1-2; 4:10; 4:20-22; Psalms 1:3; 16:11; 91:16.
2:6 ‘Sin’ means ‘not to obey God’s laws’. A priest should know God’s laws. And he should obey them. Then other people will see his behaviour. And then they will learn how to serve God. Today, people should still see that Christians obey God’s laws (1 Peter 2:9).
2:7 The word ‘messenger’ tells us that the priest brings a message from the *LORD himself. The example in Zechariah 3:7 says that the Chief Priest could enter where God was. Ephesians 2:6 may say that this is also true of all Christians. Nehemiah 8:7-11 describes how the *Levites taught people the law of God.
2:8 But the priests did not obey God’s laws. Moreover, what they taught caused other people to *sin also. So these priests destroyed their *covenant with God. God did not destroy his *covenant with his people. He punished the people that did not obey him. Read Matthew 18:5-6.
2:9 So the ordinary people realised what the priests were doing. Therefore they hated the priests. The section ends by repeating what the priests did. They tried to make themselves popular by changing God’s laws. This did not bring honour to God, which is the main subject in this passage.
v10 We all have one father. One God created us all. We should not spoil the *covenant that our fathers made. (But we do spoil it) when we do not *keep our promises to each other. v11(The people in) Judah have not done what they promised to do. They have done something very bad in Jerusalem and in Israel. In fact, (the people in) Judah have made *unholy the *temple that the *LORD loves. This happened when (*Jews) married the daughter of a foreign god. v12 I want the *LORD to cut off everyone who does this. I want him to cut them off, whoever they are. Even if they offer gifts to the *LORD of Everything, (I want the *LORD to cut them off). Then they will not belong to the family of Jacob.
v13 And there is something else that you do. You flood the *altar of the *LORD with your tears! You cry and you weep because:
- (The *LORD) does not give attention to the gifts that you offer (to him).
- He does not accept with pleasure what your hands (offer to him).
v14 You ask, ‘Why (does he not accept them)?’ It is because the *LORD is the witness between you and your wife. (You married her) when you were young. (It is because) you have not kept your promises to her. She is your partner and your wife by your marriage *covenant. v15 (The *LORD) unites a husband and wife. Their body and spirit are his. And why (did he) unite them? Because he wanted them to have children (that obeyed) God. So guard your own spirit. Also, *keep the promises that you made to your first wife. v16 In fact, (the *LORD) hates divorce. (That is) what the *LORD God of Israel says. (He hates it) when people are cruel (to other people). So guard your own spirit and *keep your promises.
A new section starts here. It is about people that do not *keep their promises to each other, especially in marriage.
Verse 10 Malachi teaches his people:
- We all have one father.
- One God created us.
The one father may mean Abraham; ‘Abraham is your father’, (Isaiah 51:2). Some Bible students think that Malachi means God here. God as ‘our father’ is a *New Testament idea. For example, ‘our father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9). In the *Old Testament, God was father to the king and to the whole nation (Isaiah 64:8). ‘Keep our promise’ is an English way to say ‘do what we promised to do’.
Verse 11 There is a note on ‘*unholy’ at 1:7. Here, the *Hebrew word reminds us of images of false gods and false religions. Bible students are not sure what ‘married the daughter of a foreign god’ means. Here are two possibilities:
- They brought a false god from another country into the *temple in Jerusalem. This would make the *temple *unholy.
- Some of the men married foreign women. These foreigners served false gods. But perhaps this would not make the *temple *unholy.
So, the first of these ideas is probably the correct one. In the past, *Jews had married people who were not *Jews. People that were not *Jews joined the *Jews when they left Egypt (Exodus 12:38). Also, Ruth married Boaz (Ruth 4:13). But the Bible makes clear that these foreign people obeyed the God of Israel (Exodus 12:48; Ruth 1:16). Foreign gods had different standards from the God of Israel (1 Kings 11:1-8; Nehemiah 13:23-31). Some Bible students think that ‘the *temple that the *LORD loves’ means his people. This is true in the *New Testament, as Paul tells us (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Verse 12 ‘Cut off’ means that the person would not belong to Israel. Such a person would become a foreigner. And the people in Israel would avoid that person. ‘To belong to the family of Jacob’ is ‘in the tents of Jacob’ in the *Hebrew Bible. Bible students are not sure how to translate ‘whoever they are’. Two ideas are:
- anyone, whether he is a master or a pupil;
- anyone who answers whoever wakes him up.
Jacob is another name for Israel. This meant all the *Jewish people when Malachi wrote his book.
Verse 13 Only the priests could come near the *altar. So either this means the priests, or perhaps the people that they served.
Verse 14 The *Jews believed that God was a witness to a marriage (Genesis 31:50; Proverbs 2:17). Partners that were loyal to each other and to God gave a good home for their children. The word ‘partner’ usually means ‘very good friend’ in the Hebrew language. ‘Companion’ would be a very good translation.
Verse 15 All Bible students agree that the first part is very difficult to translate. Our translation is one possibility among many. Here are some other translations:
- Did not the *LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit, you are his. (New Living Bible)
- Did not the one God make her, both flesh and spirit? (Revised English Bible)
- Did he not create a single being that has flesh and the breath of life? (Jerusalem Bible)
There are many other translations. ‘Flesh’ is another word for ‘body’. Really, it means ‘meat’. One part of the verse is very clear: ‘*keep the promises that you made to your first wife.’
Verse 16 This verse may mean that people had divorced their first wives in order to remarry. Malachi says that this is cruel to the first wives. Actually, ‘to be cruel’ is ‘to cover your clothes with (blood from when you) fight’ in the *Hebrew Bible. Deuteronomy 24:1 says that the *LORD allows divorce. But this verse says that he does not like it. There is more teaching about divorce in Genesis 2:18-25 and Matthew 5:31-32 and 19:4-9.
v17 Your words have made the *LORD tired. But you ask, ‘How have we made the *LORD tired?’ (It is) because you say, ‘People that do evil (things) are pleasing the *LORD. He acts as if they are good.’ Or (you say) ‘God is not a fair judge.’
v1 ‘Look at me! I will send my *messenger. He will prepare the way for me. Then, suddenly, the *Lord that you are looking for will come to his *temple! So, the *messenger of the *covenant will come. (He is) the person that you desire’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘He really will come. v2 But nobody will be able to stay on the day when he will come. And nobody will stand when he will appear. He will be like a fire that burns the dirt away. And (he will be like) soap that people use in a laundry. v3 And he will be (like someone) that sits to clean dirty silver and to make it pure. And he will make the *Levites holy. He will make them pure like gold and silver. And they will offer to the *LORD gifts that are very good. v4 And the *LORD will accept with pleasure what (the people in) Judah and Jerusalem offer. It will be as it was long ago.
v5 So, I will come near to you. I will be your judge. And I will be a witness who opposes:
- the people that use magic
- the people that are *adulterers
- the people that speak lies
- employers who do not pay a fair wage to their employees
- the people that are very unkind to widows and to children without fathers
- the people that are not fair to foreigners
- and the people that do not respect me.’
(This is what) the *LORD of Everything says.
This is a section about whether God is a fair judge.
2:17 Isaiah 43:24 tells us that *sin makes God tired. Sin is ‘not to obey God’s rules’. God becomes tired when people upset him by their evil deeds. He never becomes tired when he hears people’s prayers. What are the *sins here? There are two:
- When people say that there is no difference between right and wrong.
- When people say that God is not a fair judge.
Really, they are saying that there is no God! Zechariah 8:3 made promises about 50 years before. But nothing seems to have happened. But Malachi 3:1 says that something will happen!Later, Malachi says that there is a real difference between right and wrong (Malachi 3:16-18).
3:1 God says, ‘Look at me! I will send malachi.’ ‘Malachi’ is a *Hebrew word that means ‘my messenger’, or ‘a person who brings my message’. It probably means anybody who helps to ‘prepare the way of the *LORD’ (Isaiah 40:3). Mark used these verses to describe John the *Baptist (Mark 1:2-4).
When the preparations are complete, the *Lord will suddenly come to his *temple. ‘Suddenly’ tells us that it may not be a pleasant experience. Verses 2-5 agree with this idea. See what Jesus did in the *temple (John 2:12-17). Jesus cleared out the *temple because the people’s behaviour was *unholy. So perhaps ‘the person that you desire’ is irony. ‘Irony’ is a special way to use words. Someone uses irony to say the opposite of what they really mean.
The *Hebrew word ‘malachi’ can also mean ‘my *angel’. So some Bible students think that ‘malachi of the *covenant’ is the *angel in Exodus 3:2 and Isaiah 63:9. This *angel helped to make the *covenant. But other Bible students think that it is the *Lord Jesus himself. When Jesus came, Ezekiel 43:1-5; Haggai 2:7 and Zechariah 2:10 all became true.
3:2 When the *Lord comes to his *temple, four things will happen:
- Nobody will be able to stay, or remain.
- Nobody will be able to stand. Everybody will fall down.
- He will burn away the dirt in everybody that makes them *unholy.
- He will be like soap and water and he will wash them clean.
But when people cannot stay (or stand), the *Lord will burn away the dirt. He will wash them clean again. Then they can stay in front of him.
3:3 The fire that burns the dirt away (verse 2) describes a *refiner. A *refiner is a man who makes metals pure. In Bible times, he used fire. Today, he uses fire, chemicals and electricity. The dirt that a *refiner burned away included metals like tin and lead. But pure silver and gold remained. The *refiner did this because metals like silver are not pure in the earth. Fire will not burn silver and gold away. The *Levites were the *tribe (or large family) that worked in the *temple. Some of them were priests. Other Levites helped the priests, or taught people about the Bible. They lived in 48 towns all round Judah (the south part of the *Jews’ country) and Israel (the north part). ‘Very good’ at the end of the verse is ‘right’ or ‘righteousness’. Righteousness is something that is very, very good. Really, only God has it, but he shares it with his people.
3:4 First the *LORD will make his priests clean. Then the people will also offer to God gifts that please him.
3:5 God will be both witness and judge. He is the only person able to do both. Everything in the list spoils society. Read Something to do number 6. God will do everything in this verse. Then, people will know that there is a fair God (Malachi 2:17). An *adulterer is a man that has sex with another man’s wife. Also, it is a woman that has sex with another woman’s husband.
v6 ‘Because I, the *LORD, never change, therefore nobody has completely destroyed you, the family of Jacob. v7 But from the time of your fathers you have refused to obey my laws. You have not obeyed my laws. Return to me and I will return to you’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘But you ask, “How shall we return?”
v8 A man should not rob (from) God. But you are robbing me! But you ask, “How do we rob you?” (It is because you have not) offered (me your) *tithes. v9 Because you are robbing me, there is a *curse on all of you, the whole nation. v10 Bring the whole *tithe into the *storehouse. Then there will be food in my house. Test me now in this way’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘Then I will open for you windows in heaven. I will pour *blessings over you until there is no room for any more! v11 And I will prevent *pests. They will not continue to damage or to destroy the crops on your land. Also, *grapes will not fall off the *vines (before they are ripe)’, says the *LORD of Everything. v12 ‘Then all the nations will say that you have my *blessing. And your land will be delightful’, says the *LORD of Everything.
This is a section about people who are sorry because of their wrong actions.
Verse 6 The word ‘because’ may link this verse with verse 5. The ‘family of Jacob’ means all the *Jews. Some Bible students translate this verse: ‘But I, the *LORD, never change; and you are still the sons of Jacob.’ Here, ‘sons of Jacob’ means that they were like Jacob. He cheated his brother Esau (Genesis chapter 27). This other translation includes the idea that the *Jews were cheating God.
Verse 7 Here are words from Zechariah 1:3:
‘Return to me’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘Then I will return to you’, says the *LORD of Everything.
But the *Jews did not think that they had done anything wrong. So they asked, ‘How shall we return?’ Their question may mean ‘We will not return!’
Verse 8 This verse links with the name ‘Jacob’ in verse 6. The word ‘Jacob’ means ‘cheat’ in the Hebrew language. The *Jews cheated God because they were robbing him. Their question ‘How do we rob you?’ may mean, ‘We are not robbing you!’ But they were robbing God when they did not give him their *tithes. A tithe is a tenth part of something. They should have given to God a tenth part of their crops every year.
The rules were:
- The *Jews gave a tenth to the *LORD (Leviticus 27:30).
- The *LORD let the *Levites use this for themselves (Numbers 18:24).
- The *Levites gave a *tithe to the priests (Numbers 18:28).
Verse 9 One of the proverbs says: ‘Someone that shares his possessions becomes rich. But he that does not share becomes poor.’ (See Proverbs 11:24.) This is the *curse on the whole nation. The note on Malachi 2:2 explains ‘*curse’.
Verse 10 A storehouse is a building where people store things. When they bring the *tithe to the *temple, there will be food for the priests and the *Levites. Then God will open the ‘windows of heaven’. This is only a picture, because there are no windows in the sky. But God says that it will be like this. It will be as if God is pouring *blessings on his people from above! The note on Malachi 2:2 explains ‘blessings’.
Verse 11 Here God says how he will bless his people. Pests (insects and diseases) will not destroy the crops. And *grapes will not fall off the *vines before they are ripe. *Grapes grow on *vines and people make wine from the *grapes.
Verse 12 There will be plenty of everything, but this is not all! The land itself (probably this means the people) will be delightful. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-12.
v13 ‘You have said unkind things against me’, says the *LORD. ‘But you say, “What have we said against you?” v14 You have said, “It is of no use to serve God. We gained nothing when we obeyed his requests. We went about like people at a funeral in front of the *LORD of Everything. v15 But now we say that the proud (people) have received a *blessing. And people that do evil (things) certainly become powerful. They even oppose God and escape.” ’
v16 Then the people that respected the *LORD talked with each other. They each (spoke) to a friend. And the *LORD listened (to them). And he heard (what they said). Then (an *angel) wrote a book in front of him to keep them in memory. It was about those people that respected the *LORD. They gave honour to his name. v17 ‘And they will be mine in the day when I will make a special *treasure’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘And I will not punish them, as a man does not punish his son that serves him. v18 And again you will see the difference between good people and bad people. (You will see the difference between) people that serve God and people that do not (serve him).
v1 Now look! A day will come. On that day, it will be as if there is a very hot fire. And then, every proud man and everybody that does evil (things) will become fuel (for the fire). And on that day, they will burn’, says the *LORD of Everything. ‘Neither a root nor a branch will remain among them. v2 But for you (people) that respect my name (this will happen). The sun of *righteousness will rise with health in its wings (see notes). And you will go out and jump happily. (You will be) like young cows (that people) let out from their pen. v3 Then you will jump on wicked (people). They will be like ashes under your feet on the day when I do these things’, says the *LORD of Everything.
This is a section about people who say things against God.
3:13 The unkind words are very unkind. Some translations have ‘hard’. Perhaps ‘cruel’ would be a good translation. It means that people were saying very bad things about God. They were people who did not want to work for God.
3:14 These were the people that did not want to work for God. Perhaps they were the *Levites in Malachi 3:8-10. ‘At a funeral’ is ‘in black (clothes)’ in the *Hebrew Bible. ‘Of no use’ means ‘it does nothing good’.
3:15 They were not happy because God did not seem to punish bad people. The bad people are the ‘proud (people)’ that do ‘evil (things)’. Psalm 73 studies the same problem.
3:16 Perhaps the people that respected the *LORD had said bad things in verses 13-15. But now they were sorry. Or, they may be other people. God put their names into a book. The *Hebrew Bible does not say who wrote it down. Perhaps it was an *angel. ‘Malachi’ can mean ‘my *angel’! There are some verses about God’s book in Something to do number 10. ‘Keep them in memory’ means so that God can ‘always remember them’.
3:17 ‘Treasure’ means ‘something very valuable’. God’s people were valuable to him when he started the *covenant (Exodus 19:5). Read also Deuteronomy 7:6 and 14:2; and Psalm 135:4.
3:18 The good people serve God. The bad people do not serve God. But good people listen to him and they obey him. So God does not punish them.
4:1 A fire can make things pure (Malachi 3:2-3). But here is a fire that destroys things. It will happen to people who do not listen to God. It will happen to people who do not obey him. They are not sorry about their *sins. They will be like a tree. Not one root or branch of them will remain after the fire. ‘Fuel for the fire’ is a word that means ‘stubble’ in the *Hebrew Bible. Stubble is dead bits of plants. A hot sun (verse 2) can make them burn.
4:2 But the hot sun can be ‘a sun of *righteousness’. This is the only place in the Bible that mentions ‘a sun of righteousness’. Its wings are the streams of light from the sun. Christians believe that this is a description of Jesus Christ. A famous Christmas song by Charles Wesley includes the lines:
*Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Sun of *Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
‘Hail’ is another word for ‘praise’. ‘Heaven-born’ means ‘born with help from God in heaven’. ‘Healing’ means health. Jesus is the ‘heaven-born Prince of peace’ who is the Sun of *Righteousness.
Malachi says that people will become very excited. They will jump about like animals that people let out from their pens.
4:3 Deuteronomy 32:35 says that people must not try to punish their enemies. God is the greatest judge. He will punish wicked people. But here, people dance on the ashes of wicked people! The good people are glad because God has saved them from these wicked people.
v4 ‘Remember the law of Moses my servant. (Remember) the laws and rules. I gave them to him at Horeb for all Israel.
v5 Look! I will send to you Elijah the *prophet. (He will come) before the great and terrible day of the *LORD comes. v6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. And (he will turn) the hearts of the children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the country with a *curse’.
Verse 4 The *Hebrew word for ‘law’ is ‘torah’. It usually means the first 5 books of the Bible. Horeb is another name for Sinai, where God gave the law to Moses (Exodus 34:1-28).
Verse 5 God says that Elijah will come to warn people. He will warn them that the day of the *LORD is near. Joel 2:31 also calls it ‘a great and terrible day’. It is the day when God will do something. It often happens, but one day it will really be for the last time. Then it will be very terrible indeed.
Verse 6 Elijah’s job will be to change people’s attitudes. Then people can obey God’s commands. They will prepare their lives for God’s work among them. But God will punish those who do not obey him.
Luke repeated Malachi 4:6 in Luke 1:17. This links John the *Baptist with Elijah. Jesus did the same thing in Matthew 11:10-15. Jesus also repeated Malachi 3:1 in these verses.
Something to do
1. Read some other verses in the Bible that contain the *Hebrew word for ‘weight’, like Malachi 1:1. See Zechariah 9:1 and 12:1.
2. Read the story about Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25:19-34.
3. Make a list of the verses in Malachi where people outside Israel give honour to God. Read again Exodus 12:48 and Ruth 1:16.
4. Pray that people all over the world will trust the one real God.
5. Study some verses about *refiners: Isaiah 1:25 and 48:10; Jeremiah 6:29-30 and Ezekiel 22:17-22.
6. Make a table of the 7 things in Malachi 3:5. Read these verses: Exodus 20:14 and 23:6; Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 6:13-15 and 19:16-20 and 24:17-18; Jeremiah 27:9; Zechariah 7:10. Then decide which bad thing each verse is about. Write it in the table below. You can find many more verses in both Old and *New Testaments that say the same.
|What the *LORD is against||Bible verse that says so|
7. If you can find a map, look for some of the *Levite’s towns. There is a list in Joshua chapter 21.
8. Learn to say some of the verses from Malachi from memory. (‘From memory’ means that you do not look at the words.) Here are some: Malachi 1:11; 2:7; 2:15; 3:10.
9. Study Psalm 73 and make a list of the problems in verses 2-14. Then see how the writer of Psalm 73 found an answer to his problem in verse 17.
10. Read these verses about God’s book: Genesis 15:6 (‘counted’ may mean ‘wrote it down somewhere’); Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28 and 87:6; and Daniel 12:1. Ask God to put your name in his book.
11. What verse in Malachi does 1 Peter 2:7, 9 remind you of?
12. ‘Remember the Torah’, (Malachi 4:4). The Torah is the name (in the Hebrew language) of the first 5 books of the Bible. Read through the notes on Malachi. Make a list of the references to these 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
adulterer ~ a man who has sex with another man’s wife; or, a woman who has sex with another woman’s husband.
altar ~ a special table in the *temple of God (or a false god).
angel ~ a special servant of God.
B.C. ~ 600 B.C. means the year that was 600 years before Jesus came to earth, and so on.
Baptist ~ John the Baptist was born just before Jesus was born; John put people into water to show that they wanted to obey God.
blessing ~ something good that happens to people; the opposite of a *curse.
court ~ a special yard with a wall round it.
covenant ~ agreement, especially, an agreement between God and the people.
curse ~ a wish that bad things and death will happen; in Malachi it does not mean bad language.
disrespect ~ the opposite of respect.
dung ~ dirt from an animal.
flock ~ a group of animals.
gracious ~ very kind (even when you do not have to be kind).
grape ~ a fruit; people make wine from grapes.
Greek ~ a language.
hail ~ praise.
Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.
incense ~ substance that burns to give a pleasant smell.
Jew ~ a person who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children. It is also a name for one of Israel’s people.
Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to a *Jew.
keep our promise ~ do what we promised to do.
Levites ~ the *tribe (or large family) that worked in the *temple. Some of them were priests. Other Levites helped the priests, or taught people about the Bible.
Lord ~ master; also a name for God.
LORD ~ the *covenant name of God.
messenger ~ someone who brings a message.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.
pests ~ insects and diseases that destroy crops.
prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words, and tells them to other people.
refiner ~ someone that makes metals pure by fire.
righteousness ~ something that is very, very good; really, only God has righteousness.
sin ~ not to obey God’s rules.
storehouse ~ a building where people store things.
Syrian ~ a language.
temple ~ the house of a god; the Temple in Jerusalem was God’s house.
tithe ~ a tenth part.
treasure ~ something very valuable.
tribe ~ a large family that started many centuries ago, with just one mother and father.
unholy ~ not suitable for God.
useless ~ of no use.
vine ~ a small tree on which *grapes grow.
Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson. (Bagster)
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary by Joyce G. Baldwin. (IVP)
The Interlinear NIV Hebrew and English Old Testament by J. R. Kohlenberger III (Zondervan)
Word Biblical Commentary on Micah-Malachi by Ralph L. Smith. (Word)