Malachi 3 commentary

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Malachi 3 Commentary Written and edited by Glenn Pease 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. 1.If the messenger being spoken of here is John the Baptist, then the speaker here is Jesus Christ the Messiah, for he says he will prepare the way before me. At the end of the verse he is the Lord Almighty, and so Jesus is the Lord Almighty. It is the Lord himself who is the Messiah, and so Jesus was truly God in flesh. He was the God of the Old Testament, the Lord Almighty, who came into history as a man. Here is a clear statement of the deity of Christ. He is coming to his temple, and that temple is God's temple. 1B. The implication is that this messenger will come shortly and quickly, and just suddenly show up at the temple, but we know it was 400 years later before he arrived. In God's time table where a thousand years is like a day, this was less than half a day away, and so from his perspective it was soon and sudden. It is hard for us to live on God's time table, for what is soon and quickly done is agonizingly slow from our perspective. It takes enormous patience to wait on the Lord, for we never know when it is his time to act. 1C. Piper makes a logical case here for the full deity of Jesus. He wrote, "This is another messenger, different from the first. Who is this person? Three things point to the divine Son of God and Messiah.- He is called "Lord" -- a term that Malachi would not apply to Elijah or John the Baptist. This person is someone greater.- The temple is said to belong to him: He will suddenly come to "HIS temple." Of whom could you say that he is the owner of the temple of God? - This person seems to be almost identical with Jehovah, not only because Jehovah's temple is his temple, but also because he seems to take the place of the word "me" in the first half of the verse. It says, "Behold, I send my messenger (Elijah = John the Baptist) to prepare the way before ME . . ." But then he switches without any difficulty and instead of saying, "And I will suddenly come to my temple . . ." he says, "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." It looks as though "me" --Jehovah -- is virtually interchangeable with this other person called

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If the messenger being spoken of here is John the Baptist, then the speaker here is Jesus Christ the Messiah, for he says he will prepare the way before me. At the end of the verse he is the Lord Almighty, and so Jesus is the Lord Almighty. It is the Lord himself who is the Messiah, and so Jesus was truly God in flesh. He was the God of the Old Testament, the Lord Almighty, who came into history as a man. Here is a clear statement of the deity of Christ. He is coming to his temple, and that temple is God's temple.

Transcript of Malachi 3 commentary

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Malachi 3 CommentaryWritten and edited by Glenn Pease

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.

1.If the messenger being spoken of here is John the Baptist, then the speaker here is Jesus Christ the Messiah, for he says he will prepare the way before me. At the end of the verse he is the Lord Almighty, and so Jesus is the Lord Almighty. It is the Lord himself who is the Messiah, and so Jesus was truly God in flesh. He was the God of the Old Testament, the Lord Almighty, who came into history as a man. Here is a clear statement of the deity of Christ. He is coming to his temple, and that temple is God's temple.

1B. The implication is that this messenger will come shortly and quickly, and just suddenly show up at the temple, but we know it was 400 years later before he arrived. In God's time table where a thousand years is like a day, this was less than half a day away, and so from his perspective it was soon and sudden. It is hard for us to live on God's time table, for what is soon and quickly done is agonizingly slow from our perspective. It takes enormous patience to wait on the Lord, for we never know when it is his time to act.

1C. Piper makes a logical case here for the full deity of Jesus. He wrote, "This is another messenger, different from the first. Who is this person? Three thingspoint to the divine Son of God and Messiah.- He is called "Lord" -- a term that Malachi would not apply to Elijah or John the Baptist. This person is someone greater.- The temple is said to belong to him: He will suddenly come to "HIS temple." Of whom could you say that he is the owner of the temple of God? - This person seems to be almost identical with Jehovah, not only because Jehovah'stemple is his temple, but also because he seems to take the place of the word "me" inthe first half of the verse. It says, "Behold, I send my messenger (Elijah = John theBaptist) to prepare the way before ME . . ." But then he switches without any difficulty and instead of saying, "And I will suddenly come to my temple . . ." he says, "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." It looks as though "me" --Jehovah -- is virtually interchangeable with this other person called

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the Lord, who owns the temple of God. . ."

2. Barnes, "Malachi uses Isa_40:3 : “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straiqht in the desert a highway for our God. Luk_1:76. Thou, child,” was the prophecy on John the Immerser’s birth, “shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His way, to give knowledge of salvation unto His people, for the remission of their sins.”

3. Barnes goes on, "As, it is here said of His first Coming, so it is said of His second Coming (which may be comprehended under this here spoken of) that except they diligently watch for it Luk_21:35, “it shall come upon them unawares Mar_13:36. suddenly Mat_24:44. in such an hour as they think not.” “The Lord of glory always comes, like a thief in the night, to those who sleep in their sins."

4. Stedman, "This prophecy of Malachi was given by a man whose name means "mymessenger." It is most suggestive that this last book of our Old Testament centers around the theme of a messenger of God and a prediction of the coming of another messenger. In this, therefore, we have a direct tie between Malachi and the Dew Testament. Chapter 3, for instance, begins with this prophecy: "Behold, I send my messenger [in Hebrew that would be "Behold, I send Malachi"] to prepare the way before me, ..." {Mal 3:1a RSV} And as you discover in the book of Matthew, that messenger was John the Baptist. He came to prepare the way of the Lord and to announce the coming of the second messenger from God. That second messenger is here in this prophecy in the next phrase: "... and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant ..." {Mal 3:1b RSV}It was the work of the Lord Jesus on the closing night of his ministry to take wine and bread with his disciples and holding the cup up to say, "This is my blood of the [new] covenant." (Matt. 26:28) The messenger of the covenant is the Lord Jesus himself. . . "

5. Gill, "These are the words of Christ, in answer to the question put in the last verse of the preceding chapter Mal_2:17, "Where is the God of judgment?" intimating that he would quickly appear, and previous to his coming send his messenger or angel; not the angel of death to destroy the wicked, as Jarchi thinks; nor an angel from heaven, as Kimchi; nor Messiah the son of Joseph; as Aben Ezra; nor the Prophet Malachi himself, as Abarbinel; but the same that is called Elijah the prophet, Mal_4:5 and is no other than John the Baptist, as is clear from Mat_11:10 called a "messenger" or "angel", not by nature, but by office; and Christ's messenger, because sent by him and on his errand; and which shows the power and authority of Christ in sending forth ministers; his superior excellency to John, and his existence before him, or he could not be sent by him, and so before his incarnation; for John was sent by him before he was in the flesh, and consequently this is a proof of the proper deity of Christ: and the word "behold" is prefixed to this, in order to raise the attention of those that put the above question, and all others; as well as to show that the message John was sent upon was of the greatest

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moment and importance; as that the Messiah was just ready to appear, his kingdom was at hand, and the Jews ought to believe in him; though it also respects the coming of the Messiah, spoken of in the latter part of the text:"

6. Gill continues, "and the Lord, whom ye seek; this is the person himself speaking, the Son of God, and promised Messiah, the Lord of all men, and particularly of his church and people, in right of marriage, by virtue of redemption, and by being their Head and King; so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of him, and even Abarbinel himself; the Messiah that had been so long spoken of and so much expected, and whom the Jews sought after, either in a scoffing manner, expressed in the above question, or rather seriously; some as a temporal deliverer, to free them from the Roman yoke, and bring them into a state of liberty, prosperity, and grandeur; and others as a spiritual Saviour, to deliver from sin, law, hell, and death, and save them with an everlasting salvation:

6B. Gill goes on, "..shall suddenly come to his temple; meaning not his human nature, nor his church, sometimes so called; but the material temple at Jerusalem, the second temple, called "his", because devoted to his service and worship, which proves him to be God, and because of his frequency in it; here he was brought and presented by his parents at the proper time, for the purification of his mother; here he was at twelve years of age disputing with the doctors; and here Simeon, Anna, and others, were waiting for him, Luk_2:22 and we often read of his being here, and of his using his authority in it as the Lord and proprietor of it; and of the Hosannas given him here, Mat_21:12 the manner in which he should come, "suddenly", may refer to the manifestation of it, quickly after John the Baptist had prepared his way by his doctrine and baptism:

6C. Gill continues, "..even the messenger of the covenant; not of the covenant of works with Adam, of which there was no mediator and messenger; nor of the covenant of circumcision, at which, according to the Jews, Elias presides; nor of the covenant at Sinai, of which Moses was the mediator; but of the covenant of grace, of which Christ is not only the Surety and Mediator; but, as here, "the Messenger"; because it is revealed, made known, and exhibited in a more glorious manner by him under the Gospel dispensation, through the ministration of the word and ordinances. De Dieu observes, that the word in the Ethiopic language signifies a prince as well as a messenger, and so may be rendered, "the Prince of the covenant", which is a way of speaking used in Dan_11:22,"

7. Keil, "... it was because the priests did not fulfil their duty as the ordinary ambassadors of God that the Lord was about to send an extraordinary messenger. Preparing the way ( an expression peculiar to Isaiah: compare Isa_40:3; also, Isa_57:14 and Isa_62:10), by clearing away the impediments lying in the road, denotes the removal of all that retards the coming of the Lord to His people, i.e., the taking away of enmity to God and of ungodliness by the preaching of repentance and the conversion of sinners. The announcement of this messenger therefore implied, that the nation in its existing moral condition was not yet prepared for the

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reception of the Lord, and therefore had no ground for murmuring at the delay of the manifestation of the divine glory, but ought rather to murmur at its own sin and estrangement from God. When the way shall have been prepared, the Lord will suddenly come. not immediately (Jerome), but unexpectedly. “This suddenness is repeated in all the acts and judgments of the Lord......This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Christ, in whom the angel of the covenant, the Logos, became flesh, and in the sending of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Him."

8. Henry, "The first words of this chapter seem a direct answer to the profane atheistical demand of the scoffers of those days which closed the foregoing chapter: Where is the God of judgment? To which it is readily answered, “Here he is; he is just at the door; the long-expected Messiah is ready to appear; and he says, For

judgment have I come into this world, for that judgment which you have so impudently bid defiance to.” One of the rabbin says that the meaning of this is, That God will raise up a righteous King, to set things in order, even the king Messiah.

And the beginning of the gospel of Christ is expressly said to be the accomplishment of this promise, with which the Old Testament concludes, Mar_1:1, Mar_1:2. So that by this the two Testaments are, as it were, tacked together, and made to answer one another. Dow here we have,

8B. Henry goes on, "A prophecy of the appearing of his forerunner John the Baptist, which the prophet Isaiah had foretold (Isa_40:3), as the preparing of the way of the Lord, to which this seems to have a reference, for the words of the latter prophets confirmed those of the former: Behold, I will send my messenger, or I do

send him, or I am sending him. “I am determined to send him; he will now shortly come, and will not come unsent, though to a careless generation he comes unsent for.” Observe, 1. He is God's messenger; that is his office; he is Malachi (so the word is), the same with the name of this prophet; he is my angel, my ambassador. John Baptist had his commission from heaven, and not of men. All held John Baptist for a prophet, for he was God's messenger, as the prophets were, and came on the same errand to the world that they were sent upon - to call men to repentance and reformation. 2. He is Christ's harbinger: He shall prepare the way before me, by calling men to those duties which qualify them to receive the comforts of the Messiah and his coming, and by taking them off from a confidence in their relation to Abraham as their father (which, they thought, would serve their turn without a saviour), and by giving notice that the Messiah was now at hand, and so raising men's expectations of him, and making them readily to go into the measures he would take for the setting up of his kingdom in the world. Dote, God observes a method in his work, and, before he comes, takes care to have his way prepared. This is like the giving of a sign. The church was told, long before, that the Messiah would come; and here it is added that, a little before he appears, there shall be a signal given; a great prophet shall arise, that shall give notice of his approach, and call to the everlasting gates and doors to lift up their heads and give him admission. The accomplishment of this is a proof that Jesus is the Christ, is he that should come, and we are to look for no other; for there was such a messenger sent before him, who made ready a people prepared for the Lord, Luk_1:17. The Jewish writers run into

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gross absurdities to evade the conviction of this evidence; some of them say that this messenger is the angel of death, who shall take the wicked out of this life, to be sent into hell torments; others of them say that it is Messiah the son of Joseph, who shall appear before Messiah the son of David; others, this prophet himself; others, an angel from heaven: such mistakes do those run into that will not receive the truth."

9. Henry continues, "He is the Messenger of the covenant, or the angel of the

covenant, that blessed one that was sent from heaven to negotiate a peace, and settle a correspondence, between God and man. He is the angel, the archangel, the Lord of the angels, who received commission from the Father to bring man home to God by a covenant of grace, who had revolted from him by the violation of the covenant of innocency. Christ is the angel of this covenant, by whose mediation it is brought about and established as God's covenant with Israel was made by the disposition of

angels, Act_7:53; Gal_3:19. Christ, as a prophet, is the messenger and mediator of the covenant; nay, he is given for a covenant, Isa_49:8. That covenant which is all our salvation began to be spoken by the Lord, Heb_2:3. Though he is the prince of the

covenant (as some read this) yet he condescended to be the messenger of it, that we might have full assurance of God's good-will towards man, upon his word. 3. He it is whom you seek, whom you delight in, whom the pious Jews expect and desire, and whose coming they think of with a great deal of pleasure. In looking and waiting for him, they looked for redemption in Jerusalem and waited for the consolation of Israel,

Luk_2:25, Luk_2:38. Christ was to be the desire of all nations, desirable to all (Hag_2:7); but he was the desire of the Jewish nation actually, because they had the promise of his coming made to them. Dote, Those that seek Jesus shall find pleasure in him. If he be our heart's desire he will be our heart's delight; and we have reason to delight in him who is the messenger of the covenant, and to bid him welcome who came to us on so kind an errand. 4. He shall suddenly come; his coming draws nigh, and we see it not at so great a distance as the patriarchs saw it at. Or, He shall come immediately after the appearing of John Baptist, shall even tread on the heels of his forerunner; when that morning-star appears, believe that the Sun of righteousness is not far off. Or, He shall come suddenly, that is, he shall come when by many he is not looked for; as his second coming will be, so his first coming was, at midnight,

when some had done looking for him, for shall he find faith on the earth? Luk_18:8. The Jews reckon the Messiah among the things that come unawares; so Dr. Pocock. And the coming of the Son of man in his day is said to be as the lightning, which is very surprising, Luk_17:24. 5. He shall come to his temple, this temple at Jerusalem, which was lately built, that latter house which he was to be the glory of. It is his temple, for it is his Father's house, Joh_2:16. Christ, at forty days old, was presented in the temple, and thither Simeon went by the Spirit, according to the direction of this prophecy, to see him, Luk_2:27. At twelve years old he was in the temple about

his Father's business, Luk_2:49. When he rode in triumph into Jerusalem, it should seem that he went directly to the temple (Mat_21:12), and (Mat_21:14) thither the blind and the lame came to him to be healed; there he often preached, and often disputed, and often wrought miracles. By this it appears that the Messiah was to come while that temple was standing; that, therefore, being long since destroyed, we must conclude that he has come, and we are to look for no other." What Henry is

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saying is that it is folly for the Jews to be still looking for the Messiah, for he came to his temple, which is now gone in judgment, and they missed him by their blindness to this promise."

10. Calvin, "Here the Prophet does not bring comfort to the wicked slanderers previously mentioned, but asserts the constancy of his faith in opposition to their blasphemous words; as though he had said, “Though they impiously declare that they have been either deceived or forsaken by the God in whom they had hoped, yet his covenant shall not be in vain.” The design of what is announced is like that of the declaration made elsewhere, “Though men are perfidious and false, yet God remains true, and cannot depart from his own nature.” (Dumbers 23:19.) God then does here gloriously triumph over the Jews, and alleges his own covenant in opposition to their disgraceful slanders, because their wicked murmurings could not hinder him to accomplish his promises and to perform in due time what they thought would never be done; and he adopts a demonstrative adverb in order to show the certainty of what is said."

11. Grace notes gives us the actually Dew Testament passages that reveal how clearly that this prophecy is fulfilled in John the Baptist.

"The Greek term for "messenger" is AGGELOS, which is defined as "messenger, one who is sent in order to announce, teach, or perform anything." [113] And the distant reference, as noted, is to John the Baptist. And in Malachi 3:1, Malachi is quoting Isa. 40:3, and this same quote is repeated in Matthew 3:3, which says, "This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: 'A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

And in Matthew 11:10, Matthew quotes Malachi 3:1: "This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'"

Luke 1:76 repeats the quote: "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him."

And again, in Luke 3:4: "As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 'A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."

Luke 7:26-27 is also a quote of Malachi 3:1: "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'"

Mark 1:2-3 declares: "It is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way' -- 'a voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" Mark, it should be

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noted, quotes first Malachi 3:1, then Isa. 40:3.

And in John 1:23, the prophecy meets the prophet: "John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, 'I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"

In the above verses, then, the Baptist's coming was "predicted as the herald of the King, Messiah, but in such a way as to make it plain that Messiah Himself was identified with Jehovah; for the word is, 'He shall prepare the way before Me.'" [114]

And recall that the Greek word for "messenger" is AGGELOS, or "angel;" thus, John was the AGGELOS of Christ, but Christ is the "messenger" or AGGELOS of the Covenant. And all three of the messengers, Malachi, John the Baptist, and the Messenger of the Covenant, i.e., Christ, are alluded to in Exodus 23:20-21: "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Dame is in him." And the last five words in Exodus, "my Dame is in him," declare, openly, that Jesus Christ, the Messenger of the Covenant, is, was, and always will be God."

12. Grace notes also sees the coming to his temple fulfilled in the following text. "Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple;" this clause refers to our Lord as he entered the Temple, circa 30 AD. John 2:13-25 narrates this "sudden" entrance, MOxtP. "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, 'Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!' His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.' Then the Jews demanded of him, 'What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?' But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Dow while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man."

13. Grace notes goes on, "And as has already been noted, the phrase "messenger of the Covenant" is Christ at the first advent, and is so defined in Exodus 24:8, and Zech. 9:11, both of which passages designate the blood of the sacrifices as the blood of the covenant. And the blood of Christ is called the blood of the new covenant in

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Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, and Hebrews 13:20. Matthew 26:28 reads, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

And remember, if the blood of Christ had not been poured out, not one covenant would have been valid. Finally, the phrase "whom you desire" should be examined. The term in the Hebrew is CHAPHETS, and it is the Qal active participle, masculine plural. And the phrase is literally, "him whom delightings."The word is defined as "to bend, to bend towards; and metaph. applied to the will, it implies entire and full inclination towards an object or person: it may carry with itself the notion of delight and affection." [116] And the term was used in Mal. 1:10 to denote "pleasure." And this idea of pleasure is present in Mal. 3:1; but there is more than simple pleasure, as the relative refers back to the "messenger of the covenant." Thus, this is Christ as He gives pleasure to the Justice of God. For, remember, that Mal. 3:1 is beginning the answer to: "Where is the God of Justice?" Thus, the term refers to "him (in) whom pricelessnesses" reside. In other words, "the darling" of God, i.e., our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the only sacrifice that is acceptable to the Justice of God. Thus, the Justice of God is still existing, and is not lost."

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.

1. Barnes, "The implied answer is, “Do one;” as in the Psalm Psa_130:3, “If Thou, Lord, wilt mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Joel had asked the same , “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” “How can the weakness of man endure such might; his blindness, such light; his frailty, such power; his uncleanness, such holiness; the chaff, such a fire? For He is like a refine’s fire. Who would not fail through stupefaction, fear, horror, shrinking reverence, from such majesty?”

2. Barnes continues, "Malachi seems to blend, as Joel, the first and second coming of our Lord. The first coming too was a time of sifting and severance, according as those, to whom He came, did or did not receive Him. The severance was not final, because there was yet space for repentance; but it was real, an earnest of the final judgment. Joh_9:39, “for judgment,” our Lord says, “I am come into this world, that they which see not may see, and they which see might be made blind;” and again Joh_12:31, “Dow is the judgment of this world;” and Joh_3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the Only-Begotten Son of God; Joh_3:36. He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

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3. Barnes goes on, "For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soup - Two sorts of materials for cleansing are mentioned, the one severe, where the baser materials are inworked with the rich ore; the other mild, where the defilement is easily separable. “He shall come like a refining fire; Psa_50:3-4, ‘a fire shall burn before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. Then He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, that He may judge HIs people;’ streams of fire shall sweep before, bearing away all sinners. For the Lord is called a fire, and a Deu_4:24. consuming fire, so as to burn our 1Co_3:12. wood, hay, stubble. And not fire only, but fuller’s soap. To those who sin heavily, He is a refining and consuming fire, but to those who commit light sins, fuller’s soap, to restore cleanness to it, when washed.” "Our Lord is, in many ways, as a fire. He says of Himself; Luk_12:49, “I am come to send a fire upon earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled?” John Baptist said of Him Luk_3:16, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” He kindles in the heart “a fire of love,” which softens what is hard, the will."

3B. It appears that God is answering the question that ends chapter 2 about where the God of justice is, by the sending of their Messiah, for he will separate the sheep from the goats, and the true priests of God, like the many Pharisees who became Christians, from the hypocritical Pharisees who rejected their Messiah and perished in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. Jesus purified the Jewish people, and the gold and silver he took into his new kingdom, but the dross and all the waste of people who had no time for God, he burned up with fire in that judgment brought on them by the Romans. God was exceedingly patient, and he gave them 400 years to shape up, but their time came to an end with the coming of Jesus, for those who would not receive him as their Messiah and Savior were cut off and rejected by God. They rejected him for the last time, and God ended the whole religious system of the Temple and its sacrifices. Jesus finally brought on the corrupted priest of Israel the judgment they deserved.

4. Jamison, "The Messiah would come, not, as they expected, to flatter the theocratic nation’s prejudices, but to subject their principles to the fiery test of His heart-searching truth (Mat_3:10-12), and to destroy Jerusalem and the theocracy after they had rejected Him. His mission is here regarded as a whole from the first to the second advent: the process of refining and separating the godly from the ungodly beginning during Christ’s stay on earth, going on ever since, and about to continue till the final separation (Mat_25:31-46). The refining process, whereby a third of the Jews is refined as silver of its dross, while two-thirds perish, is described, Zec_13:8, Zec_13:9 (compare Isa_1:25)."

5. Keil, "With the coming of the Lord the judgment will also begin; not the judgment upon the heathen, however, for which the ungodly nation was longing, but the judgment upon the godless members of the covenant nation. The Lord when He comes will be like a smelter's fire, which burns out all the corrupt ingredients that are mixed with the gold and silver (cf. Zec_13:9), and like the lye or alkaline salt by which clothes are cleansed from dirt (cf. Isa_4:4). The double figure has but one meaning; hence only the first figure is carried out in Mal_3:3, a somewhat different

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turn being given to it, since the Lord is no longer compared to the fire, but represented as a smelter. As a smelter purifies gold and silver from the dross adhering to it, so will the Lord refine the sons of Levi, by whom the priests are principally intended."

6. Calvin, "... the Jews, inflated with false confidence, thought that God could not forsake them, as he had pledged his faith to them; but he reminded them that God had been so provoked by their sins, that he was become their professed and sworn enemy. So also in this place, Come, the Prophet says, come shall the Redeemer; but this will avail you nothing; on the contrary, his coming will be dreadful to you. We indeed know that Christ appeared not for salvation to all, but only to the remnant, and to those of Jacob who repented, according to what Isaiah says. (Isaiah 10:21, 22.) But since they obstinately rejected the favor of God, it is no wonder that the Prophet excluded them from the blessings of the Redeemer.

6B. Calvin continues, "Who then will endure his coming? and who shall stand at his appearance? as though he had said, “In vain do ye flatter yourselves, and even upbraid God, that he retains the promised Redeemer as it were hidden in his own bosom; for he will come in due time, but without any advantage to you; nor will it be given you to enjoy his favor; but on the contrary he will bring to you nothing but terrors; for he will be like a purifying fire, and as the herb of the fullers. The latter clause may be taken in a good or a bad sense, as it is evident from the next verse. The power of the fire, we know, is twofold; for it burns and it purifies; it burns what is corrupt; but it purifies gold and silver from their dross. The Prophet no doubt meant to include both, for in the next verse he says, that Christ will be as fire to purify and to refine the sons of Levi as gold and silver. With regard then to the people of whom he has been hitherto speaking, he shows that Christ will be like fire, to burn and consume their filth; for though they boasted with their mouth of their religion, yet we know that the Church of God had many defilements and pollutions; they were therefore to perish by fire. But Malachi teaches us at the same time, that the whole Church was not to perish, for the Lord would purify the sons of Levi."

7. Henry, "He shall be like a refiner's fire, which separates between the gold and the dross by melting the ore, or like fuller's soap, which with much rubbing fetches the spots out of the cloth. Christ came to discover men, that the thoughts of many hearts

might be revealed (Luk_2:35), to distinguish men, to separate between the precious and the vile, for his fan in his hand (Mat_3:12), to send fire on the earth, not peace,

but rather division (Luk_12:49, Luk_12:51), to shake heaven and earth, that the wicked might be shaken out (Job_38:13) and that the things which cannot be shaken

might remain, Heb_12:27. See what the effect of the trial will be that shall be made by the gospel.

7B. Henry continues, "The gospel shall work good upon those that are disposed to be good, to them it shall be a savour of life unto life (Mal_3:3): He shall sit as a

refiner. Christ by his gospel shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it shall regenerate and cleanse particular souls; for to this end he gave

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himself for the church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water

by the word (Eph_5:26) and purify to himself a peculiar people, Tit_2:14. Christ is the great refiner. Observe, [1.] Who they are that he will purify - the sons of Levi, all those that are devoted to his praise and employed in his service, as the tribe of Levi was, and whom he designs to make unto our God spiritual priests (Rev_1:6), a holy

priesthood, 1Pe_2:5. Dote, All true Christians are sons of Levi, set apart for God, to do the service of his sanctuary, and to war the good warfare. [2.] How he will purify them; he will purge them as gold and silver, that is, he will sanctify them inwardly; he will not only wash away the spots they have contracted from without, but will take away the dross that is found in them; he will separate from them their indwelling corruptions, which rendered their faculties worthless and useless, and so make them like gold refined, both valuable and serviceable. He will purge them with fire, as gold and silver are purged, for he baptizes with the Holy Ghost and with fire

(Mat_3:11), with the Holy Ghost working like fire. He will purge them by afflictions

and manifold temptations, that the trial of their faith may be found to praise and

honour, 1Pe_1:6, 1Pe_1:7. He will purge them so as to make them a precious people to himself. [3.] What will be the effect of it: That they may offer unto the Lord an

offering in righteousness, that is, that they may be in sincerity converted to God and consecrated to his praise (hence we read of the offering up, or sacrificing, of the

Gentiles to God, when they were sanctified by the holy Ghost, Rom_15:16), and that they may in a spiritual manner worship God according to his will, may offer the

sacrifices of righteousness, (Psa_4:5), the offering of prayer, and praise, and holy love, that they may be the true worshippers, who worship the Father in spirit and in

truth, Joh_4:23, Joh_4:24."

8. Gill, " But who may abide the day of his coming?.... When he should be manifest in Israel, and come preaching the Gospel of the kingdom; who could bear the doctrines delivered by him, concerning his deity and equality with God the Father; concerning his character and mission as the Messiah, and his kingdom not being a temporal, but a spiritual one; concerning his giving his flesh for the life of the world, and eating that by faith; concerning distinguishing and efficacious grace; and all such that so severely struck at the wickedness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and their self-righteous principles; and especially since for judgment he came, that they might not see? nor could they bear the light of this glorious Sun of righteousness; and he came not to send peace and outward prosperity to the Jews, but a sword and division, Joh_9:39 very few indeed could bear his ministry, or the light of that day, it being so directly contrary to their principles and practices:

8B. Gill continues, "..and who shall stand when he appeareth? in his kingdom and glory, to take vengeance on the Jews for their rejection of him and his Gospel; for this coming and appearance of his include all the time between his manifestation in the flesh and the destruction of Jerusalem; and so all those sorrows and distresses which went before it, or attended it, and were such as had never been from the creation of the world; and unless those times had been shortened, no flesh could have been saved; see Mat_24:3, for he is like a refiner's fire; partly by the ministry of the word, compared to fire, Jer_23:29 separating pure doctrines from ones of

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dross; and partly by his fiery dispensations and judgments on the wicked Jews, when he distinguished and saved his own people from that untoward generation, and destroyed them:"

9. Maclaren, "We next note the aspect of the coming which is prominent here. Dot the kingly, nor the redemptive, but the judicial, is uppermost. With keen irony the Prophet contrasts the professed eagerness of the people for the appearance of Jehovah and their shrinking terror when He does come. He is ‘the Lord whom ye seek’; the Messenger of the covenant is He ‘whom ye delight in.’ But all that superficial and partially insincere longing will turn into dread and unwillingness to abide His scrutiny. The images of the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ soap imply painful processes, of which the intention is to burn out the dross and beat out the filth. It sounds like a prolongation of Malachi’s voice when John the Baptist peals out his herald cry of one whose ‘fan was in His hand,’ and who should plunge men into a fiery baptism, and consume with fire that destroyed what would not submit to be cast into the fire that cleansed. Dor should we forget that our Lord has said, ‘For judgment am I come into the world.’ He came to ‘purify’; but if men would not let Him do what He came for, He could not but be their bane instead of their blessing."

10. Spurgeon, "His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for Him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting Him when He came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will His second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked." When in His humiliation He did but say to the soldiers, "I am He," they fell backward; what will be the terror of His enemies when He shall more fully reveal Himself as the "I am?" His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, He shall summon the quick and dead before Him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest He be angry! Though a lamb, He is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though He breaks not the bruised reed, yet will He break His enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Done of His foes shall bear up before the tempest of His wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of His indignation; but His beloved bloodwashed people look for His appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them He sits as a refiner even now, and when He has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of Him sincere and without rebuke in the day of His appearing."

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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,

1. Barnes, "These had been first the leaders in degeneracy, the corrupters of the people by their example and connivance. Actually Act_6:7, “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Barnabas also was a Levite. Act_4:36. But more largely, as Zion and Jerusalem are the titles for the Christian Church, and Israel who believed was the true Israel, so “the sons of” Levi are the true Levites, the Apostles and their successors in the Christian priesthood."

2. Clarke, "The sons of Levi - Those who minister in their stead under the Dew covenant, for the Old Levitical institutions shall be abolished; yet, under the preaching of our Lord, a great number of the priests became obedient to the faith, Act_6:7; and, as to the others that did not believe, this great Refiner threw them as dross into the Roman fire, that consumed both Jerusalem and the temple."

3. Calvin, "The Prophet says, that Christ would sit to purify the sons of Levi; for though they were the flower, as it were, and the purity of the Church, they had yet contracted some contagion from the corruption which prevailed. Such then was the contagion, that not only the common people became corrupt, but even the Levites themselves, who ought to have been guides to others, and who were to be in the Church as it were the pattern of holiness. God however promises that such would be the purifying which Christ would effect, and so regulated, that it would consume the whole people, and yet purify the elect, and purify them like silver, that they may be saved. He tells us afterwards that the Levites themselves would need a trial to cleanse them; for they themselves would not be without filth, because they had mixed with a perverse people, who had wholly departed from the law, and from the fear and the worship of God."

4. Gill,"..as a refiner sits and observes his metal while it is melting, and waits the proper time to pour it out and separate the dross from it; so Christ is here represented as sitting, while his people are purifying and refining by the various ways and means he makes use of: it denotes the continued care of Christ over them; his eye is upon them, that nothing be lost but their dross and corruption; and his patience in waiting to be gracious to them, and do them good; and his diligent attention to the proper season of doing it; designing by all that he does, not their hurt and damage, but their real good, for he saves them, though it be by fire; and indeed every trial and affliction is for the purifying of their souls, and the brightening of their graces, and increasing their spiritual experience, light, and knowledge."

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4B. Gill continues, "And he shall purify the sons of Levi; the priests, either literally understood, some of these were converted from their evil principles and practices, and became obedient to the doctrines of the Gospel, Act_6:7 or figuratively, the apostles of Christ and ministers of the Gospel, who were made clean by him; or rather all the people of God, who are made priests as well as kings, and are a royal priesthood, and are purified by Christ, both by his blood, and the imputation of his righteousness, by which they become without spot and blemish, and as white as snow; and by the Spirit in sanctification, he sprinkling clean water upon them, and purifying their hearts by faith in the blood of Jesus; and also by afflictive dispensations of Providence sanctified unto them. Mention is made of the priests and Levites, because these were so very corrupt in the times of Christ, and as appears from the preceding chapters."

5. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."-- 1Peter 1:7.

6. Grace Dotes, "For the unbelieving apostate Levitical priests of Malachi's day presumed that their natural ancestry and status as members of the Tribe of Levi were sufficient for deliverance. Remember, the Levites had human talents, education, and physical comeliness; indeed, physical beauty was a prerequisite for the priesthood. They were rhetoricians, vocalists, and musicians of expertise; all the tangible advantages were theirs.

In their arrogance, they assumed that they were sufficient unto themselves. They had been beguiled and betrayed by their own 'perfections.' For the enjoyment of beauty is magnified in the presence of others; and they theorized that God, too, must admire their attractiveness. What marvelous effrontery; it can almost be admired. In reality, before the God of the universe, they were frail, vulnerable, egregious, boorish, and unacceptable. Ceremonial cleansing was insufficient; for Proverbs 20:9 states, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"

After the refining process, after proving and trying them, "then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness." Ezekiel 48:11 says, "This will be for the consecrated priests, the Zadokites, who were faithful in serving me and did not go astray as the Levites did when the Israelites went astray."

4. and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

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1. Barnes, "Judah and Jerusalem then are here the Christian Church. “They shall be, pleasant (literally sweet) unto the Lord.” It is a reversal (using the self-same word) of what God had said of them in the time of their religious decay Hos_9:4. “they shall not offer wine-offerings to the Lord, neither shall they be sweet unto Him; Jer_6:20. your burnt-offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto Me.”

1B. Dr. Paul Choo, ""Judah and Jerusalem" refer to the Christian church, expressed by the name of its Old Testament type. The simple sincere offerings of men of old, eg. Abel (GED 4:4), Doah (GED 8:20,2 1), pleased God."

2. In the good old days the offerings were given out of the heart with love and gratitude to God for his love and mercy, and those days will be restored by the Messiah. Things will get back to what they were meant to be. Much will be changed, for the old sacrifices will be gone, and in their place will be the once for all sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb of God, but the offering of praise and thanksgiving will be like the Psalms of old coming from the hearts of those who are filled with gratitude for his loving sacrifice.

3. Henry, "The offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasant unto the Lord. It shall no longer be offensive, as it has been, when, in the former days, they worshipped other gods with the God of Israel, or when, in the present days, they brought the torn, and the lame, and the sick, for sacrifice; but it shall be acceptable;

he will be pleased with the offerers, and their offerings, as in the days of old and as

in former years, as in the primitive times of the church, as when God had respect to Abel's sacrifice and smelled a savour of rest from Doah's, and when he kindled Aaron's sacrifice with fire from heaven. When the Messiah comes, First, He will, by his grace in them, make them acceptable; when he has purified and refined them, then they shall offer such sacrifices as God requires and will accept. Secondly, He will, by his intercession for them, make them accepted; he will recommend them and their performances to God, so that their prayers, being perfumed with the incense of his intercession, shall be pleasant unto the Lord; for he has made us

accepted in the Beloved, and in him is well pleased with those that are in him (Mat_3:17) and bring forth fruit in him."

5. "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the

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fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.

1. Barnes, They had clamored for the coming of “the God of judgment;” God assures them that He will come to judgment, which they had desired, but far other than they look for. The few would be purified; the great mass of them (so that He calls them “you”), the main body of those who had so clamored, would find that He came as a Judge, not for them but against them."

1B. Barnes continues, "God would be a “swift witness,” as He had said before, “He shall come suddenly.” Our Lord calls Himself (Rev_3:14; Rev_1:5, “I, and not other witnesses, having seen with My own eyes.” Theod. Jerome) “the Faithful and True witness,” when He stands in the midst of the Church, as their Judge. God’s judgments are always unexpected by those, on whom they fall. The sins are those especially condemned by the law; the use of magical arts as drawing men away from God, the rest as sins of special malignity. Magical arts were rife at the time of the Coming of our Lord; and adultery, as shown in the history of the woman taken in adultery, when her accusers were convicted in their own consciences. (Joh_8:9, “adulterous generation.” Mat_12:39. Lightfoot on Joh_8:3 quotes Sotah f. 47. 1. “From the time that homicides were multiplied, the beheading of the heifer ceased: from the time that adulterers were multiplied, the bitter waters ceased:” and Maimonides on Sotah, c. 3. “When the adulterers multiplied under the second Temple, the Sanhedrin abolished the ordeal of the adulteresses by the bitter water; relying on its being written, ‘I will not visit your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery.’” Lightfoot subjoins, “The Gemarists teach that Johanan ben Zacchai was the author of that advice, who was still alive, in the Sanhedrin, and perhaps among those who brought the adulteress before Christ. For some things make it probable, that the “scribes and Pharisees,” mentioned here, were elders of the synagogue.” Justin reproaches them with having fresh wives, wherever they went throughout the world. Dial. fin. p. 243. Oxford translation.)

1C. Barnes goes on,"Oppress the hireling - , literally “oppress the hire,” i. e., deal oppressively in it. “Behold,” says James Jam_5:4, “the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is by you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” The mere delay in the payment of the wages of the laborer brought sin unto him, against whom he cried to God Deu_24:14-15. It is no light sin, since it is united with the heaviest, and is spoken of as reaching the ears of God. The widow and the fatherless stand in a relation of special nearness to God.

And fear not Me - He closes with the central defect, which was the mainspring of all their sins, the absence of the fear of God. The commission of any of these sins, rife as they unhappily are, proves that those who did them had no fear of God. “Dothing

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hinders that this should be referred to the first coming of Christ. For Christ, in preaching to the Jews, exercised upon them a judgment of just rebuke, especially of the priests, Scribes and Pharisees, as the Gospels show.”

2. Jamison,"I whom ye challenged, saying, “Where is the God of judgment?” (Mal_2:17). I whom ye think far off, and to be slow in judgment, am “near,” and will come as a “swift witness”; not only a judge, but also an eye-witness against sorcerers; for Mine eyes see every sin, though ye think I take no heed. Earthly judges need witnesses to enable them to decide aright: I alone need none (Psa_10:11; Psa_73:11; Psa_94:7, etc.).

sorcerers — a sin into which the Jews were led in connection with their foreign idolatrous wives. The Jews of Christ’s time also practiced sorcery (Act_8:9; Act_13:6; Gal_5:20; Josephus [Antiquities, 20.6; Wars of the Jews, 2.12.23]). It shall be a characteristic of the last Antichristian confederacy, about to be consumed by the brightness of Christ’s Coming (Mat_24:24; 2Th_2:9; Rev_13:13, Rev_13:14; Rev_16:13, Rev_16:14; also Rev_9:21; Rev_18:23; Rev_21:8; Rev_22:15). Romanism has practiced it; an order of exorcists exists in that Church.

adulterers — (Mal_2:15, Mal_2:16).

fear not me — the source of all sins.

3. Calvin, "Here the Prophet retorts the complaints which the Jews had previously made. There is here then a counter-movement when he says, I will draw nigh to you; for they provoked God by this slander — that he hid himself from them and looked at a distance on what was taking place in the world, as though the people he had chosen were not the objects of his care. They expected God to be to them like a hired soldier, ready at hand to help them in any adversity, and to come armed at their nod or pleasure to fight with their enemies: this they expected; but God declares what is of a contrary character, — that he would come for judgment; and he alludes to that impious slander, when they denied that he was the God of judgement, because he did not immediately, or soon enough, resist their enemies: “Oh! God has now divested himself of his own nature! for his judgement does not appear.” His answer is, “I will not forget nay judgement when I come to you, but I shall come in a way contrary to what you expect”. They indeed wished God to put on arms for their advantage, but God declares, that he would be an enemy to them, according to what he also says by the mouth of Isaiah."

4. Calvin goes on, "He then mentions several kinds of evils, in which he includes the sins in which the Jews implicated themselves. He first names diviners or sorcerers. It is indeed true, that among various kinds of superstitions this was one; but as the word is found here by itself, the Prophet no doubt meant to include all kinds of diviners, soothsayers, false prophets, and all such deceivers: and so there is here again another instance of stating a part for the whole; for he includes all those corruptions which are contrary to the true worship of God. We indeed know that God formerly had by his word put a restraint on the Jews, that they were not to turn aside to incantations and magical arts, or to anything of this kind; but he

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intimates here, that they were then so given up to gross abominations, that they abandoned themselves to magic arts, and to incantations, and the juggleries of the devil. He mentions, in the second place, adulterers, and under this term he includes all kinds of lewdness; and, in the third place, he names frauds and rapines; and if we rightly consider the subject, we shall find that these three things contain whatever violates the whole law. The design of the Prophet is by no means ambiguous; for he intended to show how perversely they expostulated with God; for they ought to have been destroyed a hundred times, inasmuch as they were apostates, were given to obscene lusts, were cruel, avaricious, and perfidious.

5. Calvin continues, "And this reproof ought to be a warning to us in the present day, that we may not call forth God’s judgement on others, while we flatter ourselves as being innocent. Whenever then we flee to God for help, and ask him to succor us, let us remember that he is a just judge who has no respect of persons. Let then every one, who implores God’s judgement, be his own judge, and anticipate the correction which he has reason to fear. That God therefore may not be armed for our destruction, let us carefully examine our own life, and follow the rule prescribed here by the Prophet; let us begin with the worship of God, then let us come to fornications and adulteries, and whatever is contrary to a chaste conduct, and afterwards let us pass to frauds and plunder; for if we are free from all superstition, if we keep ourselves chaste and pure, and if we also abstain from all plunders and all cruelty, our life is doubtless approved by God. And hence it is that the Prophet adds at the end of the verse, They feared not me; for when lusts, and plunder, and frauds and the corruptions which vitiate God’s worship, prevail, it is evident that there is no fear of God, but that men, having shaken off the yoke, as it were run mad, though they may a thousand times profess the name of God. By mentioning the orphan, the widow, and the stranger, he amplifies the atrocity of their crimes; for the orphans, widows, and strangers, we know, are under the guardianship and protection of God, inasmuch as they are exposed to the wrongs of men. Hence every one who plunders orphans, or harasses widows, or oppresses strangers, seems to carry on open war, as it were, with God himself, who has promised that these should be safe under the shadow of his hand."

6. Keil, "God comes as a practical witness against the wicked, convicting them of their guilt by punishing them. The particular sins mentioned here are such as were grievous sins in the eye of the law, and to some extent were punishable with death. On sorcerers and adulterers see Exo_22:17; Lev_20:10; Deu_22:22. That sorcery was very common among the Jews after the captivity, is evident from such passages as Act_8:9; Act_13:6, and from Josephus, Ant. xx. 6, de bell. Jud. ii. 12, 23; and the occurrence of adultery may be inferred from the condemnation of the marriages with heathen wives in Mal_2:10-16. On false swearing compare Lev_19:12......to bow down the stranger, i.e., to oppress him unjustly. The words, “and fear not me,” point to the source from which all these sins flowed, and refer to all the sinners mentioned before."

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7. Gill, "And I will come near to you to judgment,.... And so will manifestly appear to be the God of judgment they asked after, Mal_2:17 this is not to be understood of Christ's coming to judgment at the last day, but of his coming to judge and punish the wicked Jews at the time of Jerusalem's destruction; for the same is here meant, who is spoken of in the third person before, and who will not be afar off; there will be no need to inquire after him, when he will come he will be near enough, and too near for them:..and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers; not only a judge, but a witness; so that there will be no delay of judgment, or protracting or evading it, for want of witnesses of facts alleged; for the Judge himself, who is Christ, will be witness of them, he being the omniscient God, before whom all things are manifest. The Targum is, "my Word shall be among you for a swift witness.''

7B. Gill continues, "Mention is made of "sorcerers", because there were many that used the magic art, enchantments, and sorceries, in the age of Christ and his apostles, and before the destruction of Jerusalem, even many of their doctors and members of the sanhedrim; and against the adulterers; with whom that age also abounded; hence our Lord calls it an adulterous generation, Mat_12:39, and against false swearers; who were guilty of perjury, and of vain oaths; who swore by the creatures, and not by the Lord, and to things not true; see Mat_5:33, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless; defrauding of servants of their wages, devouring widows' houses, and distressing the fatherless, were sins the Jews were addicted to in those times, as appears from Jam_1:27 who wrote to the twelve tribes; and from what our Lord charges them with, Mat_23:14, and that turn aside the stranger from his right; and so Kimchi supplies it, "that turn aside the judgment of the stranger;'' that do not do him justice in civil things; yea, persecuted those that became proselytes to the Christian religion: and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts; which was the root and cause of all their sins; irreverence of Christ, disbelief of him, and contempt of his Gospel."

8. We do not get a very pleasant picture of Judaism at the time of Christ, for it was just as corrupt as what we see here in Malachi, and it was time to put an end to such a mockery of religion. Clarke wrote, "I will come near to you to judgment - And what fearful cases does he get to judge! Sorcerers, adulterers, false swearers, defrauders of the wages of the hireling, oppressors of widows and orphans, and perverters of the stranger and such as do not fear the Lord: a horrible crew; and the land at that time was full of them. Several were converted under the preaching of Christ and his apostles, and the rest the Romans destroyed or carried into captivity."

9. Henry, "Let us see here, Who the sinners are that must appear to be judged by the gospel of Christ. They are the sorcerers, who died in spiritual wickedness, that forsake the oracles of the God of truth to consult the father of lies; and the adulterers, who wallow in the lusts of the flesh, those adulterers who were charged with dealing treacherously (Mal_2:15); and the false swearers, who profane God's name and affront his justice, by calling him to witness to a lie; and the oppressors, who barbarously injure and trample upon those who lie at their mercy, and are not

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able to help themselves: they defraud the hireling in his wages and will not give him what he agreed for; they crush the widow and fatherless, and will not pay them their just debts, because they cannot prove them, or have not wherewithal to sue for them; the poor stranger too, who has no friend to stand by him and is ignorant of the laws of the country, they turn aside from his right, so that he cannot keep or cannot recover his own. That which is at the bottom of all this is, They fear not me,

saith the Lord of hosts. The transgression of the wicked plainly declares that there is

no fear of God before his eyes. Where no fear of God is no good is to be expected."

10. Henry goes on, "Who will appear against them: I will come near, says God, and

will be a swift witness against them. They justify themselves, and, their sins having been artfully concealed, hope to escape punishment for want of proof; but God, who sees and knows all things, will himself be witness against them, and his omniscience is instead of a thousand witnesses, for to it the sinner's own conscience shall be made to subscribe, and so every mouth shall be stopped. He will be a swift witness; though they reflect upon him as slow and dilatory, and ask, Where is the God of judgment,

and where the promise of his coming? they will find that he is not slack concerning his threatenings any more than he is concerning his promises. Judgment against those sinners shall not be put off for want of evidence, for he will be a swift witness. His judgment shall overtake them, and it shall be impossible for them to outrun it."

11. Grace Dotes, "Before the list of apostate 'social sins' is examined, it is indispensable to notice that which they 'do not': they do "not fear God." And the word for "fear" is xry, yr', which means "reverence not merely standing in awe of God but also obeying his commandments." [131] And Robert Thieme defines the word as "occupation with Christ." [132] In other words, the term designates spiritual apostasy, an apostasy which is the direct result of failure to reverence God and His word. And the product of this apostasy? The list of 'social sins' about to be examined. Thus, failure to know and understand God's word results not only in personal apostasy and personal sin, but also in civil degeneration.

11B. Grace Dotes continues, "The sorcerers, that is, "those who seek to delude and pervert the mind" through demonism. The adulterers; and the term refers not only to physical fornication by a married man with a woman other than his legal wife, but to spiritual adultery, i.e., spiritual fornication with false gods or idols. fbw, which means "to seven," i.e., to swear an oath on the perfect name of God. And these apostates were guilty of doing this deliberately and falsely. This was a " distortion of common law." [133] Those who are "oppressors" of "widows and orphans," i.e., the helpless in any society. And the word connotes treatment "with violence and injustice; it seems to include both senses of oppression and fraud." These foreigners were being dispossessed of civil rights by the apostates. And this was particularly reprehensible on the part of the Jews, as Israel was not to oppress the ger, the foreigners, because they themselves had been oppressed, as in Egypt, and as an ethnic group knew the anguish of the oppressed soul. Indeed, Israel was commanded to love the ger (Leviticus 19:34). Additionally, and primarily, Israel was to evangelize these foreigners, not subject them to injustice and persecution."

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12. Here is a message to shock you, for it may lead you to see a sin in your life that is very hateful to God. "A CHURCHGOIDG businessman and his attorney wife, respectable and wealthy people, asked me to recommend a household employee who could work from eight to five every day caring for two children, cleaning the house, and preparing the evening meal. They told me the amount they would be willing to pay—and it wasn't very much. I said simply that I didn't know anyone who could fill that role. Inwardly I seethed at their blatant desire to exploit a needy person. They each earned more in thirty minutes than they were willing to pay for a full day's work.

God is just as concerned about financial injustices as He is about abortion, adultery, deceit, and dishonesty. He is grieved when He sees the rich and powerful take advantage of the poor and helpless. While relatively few of us are in positions to change the conditions of society at large, all of us can change a small part of it—the part that we encounter every day. We can treat fairly those with whom we deal—babysitters, delivery people, clerks and cashiers, salespeople, parking attendants, waiters and waitresses. In God's eyes, financial immorality is just as despicable as sexual immorality."—H V Lugt (Our Daily Bread I have to comment on this last sentence, however, for I have a hard time believing that if someone fails to tip the waitress an adequate amount, it is just as bad as if they wait for her to get off work and rape her. It is stating the case so strong that it becomes a fallacy. The point is valid, however, that it is out of God's will to cheat people of what is rightfully theirs, but lets keep the balance and recognize that not all things out of his will are equally dispicable.

6. "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

1. God's unchangeableness is a given, for change implies going ahead to something better, or going back to something less, and a perfect being cannot do either. Getting better would mean he was not already perfect, and getting worse, would imply that he was not perfect, and so a perfect person does not, and cannot change, without losing that perfection. God is love, and so he cannot be non-love, and the result is that he does not destroy the Jews even though they are worthy of destruction many times over. He made a promise to Abraham, and he will not break that promise no matter how corrupt his people become. This, or course, does not mean he will not judge them severely, which he has done many times, but it does mean he will not eliminate them.

2. Barnes, "And ye sons of Jacob are not consumed - Man would often have become

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weary of man’s wickedness and waywardness. We are impatient at one another, readily despair of one another. God might justly have cast off them and us; but He changes not. He abides by the covenant which He made with their fathers; He consumed them not; but with His own unchangeable love awaited their repentance. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God."

3. Keil, "This threat of judgment is explained in Mal_3:6 in the double clause: that Jehovah does not change, and the sons of Israel do not perish. Because Jehovah is unchangeable in His purposes, and Israel as the people of God is not to perish, therefore will God exterminate the wicked out of Israel by means of judgment, in order to refine it and shape it according to its true calling."

4. Henry, "Is God a just revenger of those that rebel against him? Is he the bountiful rewarder of those that diligently seek him? In both these he is unchangeable. Though the sentence passed against evil works (Mal_3:5) be not executed speedily, yet it will be executed, for he is the Lord; he changes not; he is as much an enemy to sin as ever he was, and impenitent sinners will find him so. There needs no scire

facias - a writ calling one to show cause, to revive God's judgment, for it is never antiquated, or out of date, but against those that go on still in their trespasses the curse of his law still remains in full force, power, and virtue. 2. A particular proof of it, from the comfortable experience which the people of Israel had had of it. They had reason to say that he was an unchangeable God, for he had been faithful to his covenant with them and their fathers; if he had not adhered to that, they would have been consumed long ago and cut off from being a people; they had been false and fickle in their conduct to him, and he might justly have abandoned them, and then they would soon have been consumed and ruined; but because he remembered

his covenant, and would not violate that, nor alter the thing that had gone forth out of his lips, they were preserved from ruin and recovered from the brink of it. It was purely because he would be as good as his word, Deu_7:8; Lev_26:42. Dow as God had kept them from ruin, while the covenant of peculiarity remained in force, purely because he would be faithful to that covenant, and would show that he is not

a man that he should lie (Dum_23:19), so, when that covenant should be superseded and set aside by the Dew Testament, and they, by rejecting the blessings of it, lay themselves open to the curses, he will show that in the determinations of his wrath, as well as in those of his mercy, he is not a man, that he should repent, but will then be as true to his threatenings as hitherto he had been to his promises; see 1Sa_15:29. We may all apply this very sensibly to ourselves; because we have to do with a God that changes not, therefore it is that we are not consumed, even because his

compassions fail not; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness, Lam_3:22, Lam_3:23."

5. Calvin sees God still holding the threat of destruction over their heads. He wrote, “Think not that you have escaped, though I have long spared you and your sins: though then ye are not yet consumed, as I have borne with you in your great wickedness, I yet continue to be Jehovah, nor do I change my nature, and ye shall at length find that I am a just Judge; though I shall not soon execute my vengeance, punishment being held suspended, or as it were buried, yet the end will show that I

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am not changed."

5B. Calvin continues,"But the Prophet seems rather to accuse the Jews of ingratitude in charging God with cruelty or with negligence, because he did not immediately assist them; and at the same time they did not consider within themselves that they remained alive because God had a reason derived from his own nature for sparing them, and for not rendering to them what they had deserved. The meaning then is this, “I am God, and I change not; and ought ye not to have acknowledged that wonderful forbearance through which I have spared you? for how has it been that you have not perished, and that innumerable deaths have not swallowed you up? How is it that you are yet alive? Is it because you have dealt faithfully faith me, so that it behaved me to exercise care over you? Day, it is indeed a wonder that I had not fulminated against you so as to destroy you long ago.” We hence see that he upbraids them with ingratitude for accusing him, because he did not immediately come forth in their defense: For he answers them and says, that had he been rigid and vehement in his displeasure, they could not have continued, for they had not ceased for many successive ages to seek their own ruin..."

6. Clarke, "I am the Lord, I change not - The new dispensation of grace and goodness, which is now about to be introduced, is not the effect of any change in my counsels; it is, on the contrary, the fulfillment of my everlasting purposes; as is also the throwing aside of the Mosaic ritual, which was only intended to introduce the great and glorious Gospel of my Son. And because of this ancient covenant, ye Jews are not totally consumed; but ye are now, and shall be still, preserved as a distinct people - monuments both of my justice and mercy."

7. Jamison, "Ye yourselves being “not consumed,” as ye have long ago deserved, are a signal proof of My unchangeableness. Rom_11:29 : compare the whole chapter, in which God’s mercy in store for Israel is made wholly to flow from God’s unchanging faithfulness to His own covenant of love. So here, as is implied by the phrase “sons of Jacob” (Gen_28:13; Gen_35:12). They are spared because I am Jehovah, and they sons of Jacob; while I spare them, I will also punish them; and while I punish them, I will not wholly consume them."

8. John D. McArthur Jr. When Harry Truman became president of the United States after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, Sam Rayburn, the speaker of the House of Representatives called on him. He told the new president, "From here on out, you're going to have lots of people around you. They'll try to put up a wall around you and cut you off from any ideas but theirs. They'll tell you what a great man you are, Harry. But you and I both know you ain't."The whole message of Malachi has been, "you think you are pretty good, but you ain't."

9. Maclaren on the unchangeable God, "It is the assurance that the mighty stream of love from the heart of God is not contingent on the variations of our character and the fluctuations of our poor hearts, but rises from His deep well, and flows on for ever, ‘the river of God’ which ‘is full of water.’ It is the assurance that round all

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the majesty and the mercy which He has revealed for our adoration and our trust there is the consecration of permanence, that we might have a rock on which to build and never be confounded. Is there anywhere in the past an act of His power, a word of His lip, a revelation of His heart which has been a strength or a joy or a light to any man? It is valid for me, and is intended for my use. ‘He fainteth not, nor is weary.’ The bush burns and is not consumed. ‘I will not alter the thing that has gone out of my lips.’ ‘By two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we have strong consolation.’

9B. Maclaren goes on, "God’s purposes and promises change not, therefore our faith may rest on Him, notwithstanding our own sins and fluctuations. It is this aspect of the divine immutability which is the thought of our text. God does not turn from His love, nor cancel His promises, nor alter His purposes of mercy because of our sins. If God could have changed, the godless forgetfulness of, and departure from, Him of ‘the Sons of Jacob’ would have driven Him to abandon His purposes; but they still live—living evidences of His long-suffering. And in that preservation of them God would have them see the basis of hope for the future. So this is the confidence with which we should cheer ourselves when we look upon the past, and when we anticipate the future. The sins that have been in our past have deserved that we should have been swept away, but we are here still. Why are we? Why do we yet live? Because we have to do with an unchanging love, with a faithfulness that never departs from its word, with a purpose of blessing that will not be turned aside. So let us look back with this thought and be thankful; let us look forward with it and be of good cheer. Trust yourself, weak and sinful as you are, to that unchanging love.

10. Spurgeon, "It is well for us that, amidst all the variableness of life, there is One whom change cannot affect; One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow mutability can make no furrows. All things else have changed--all things are changing. The sun itself grows dim with age; the world is waxing old; the folding up of the worn-out vesture has commenced; the heavens and earth must soon pass away; they shall perish, they shall wax old as doth a garment; but there is One who only hath immortality, of whose years there is no end, and in whose person there is no change. The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth--"I am the Lord, I change not."

The stability which the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a hold-fast, is like that which the Christian's hope affords him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth. With God "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." What ever His attributes were of old, they are now; His power, His wisdom, His justice, His truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever been the refuge of His people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and He is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in His love. He has loved His people with "an everlasting love"; He loves them now as much as ever He did, and when all earthly things shall have melted in the last

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conflagration, His love will still wear the dew of its youth. Precious is the assurance that He changes not! The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.

"Death and change are busy ever, Man decays, and ages move; But His mercy waneth never; God is wisdom, God is love."

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day,Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;Change and decay in all around I see—O Thou who changest not, abide with me! —Lyte

7. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, `How are we to return?'

1. What an infinitely patient God, for he declares that they were a hundred percent unfaithful to his decrees, and yet he still offers them a chance to return. The second chance is a joke to God, for he gives people dozens and possibly hundreds of chances for the sinner to return to his favor. Dobody has this kind of love and patience, except maybe a mother. It is incredible what God will put up with in terms of people paying no attention to what he reveals as his will for them.

2. God and the Jews have one thing in common, and that is that neither of them change. God just said he changes not in his love for them, and here he says they never change in their disrespect for him. God is always the Savior, and man is always the sinner. Whoever invented the statement that opposites attract probably was not thinking of God and sinners, but it is a very true example. God is attracted to sinners because they need desperately for someone to save them. Sinners are attracted to God because they know that nobody else could keep loving them when they are so unworthy of love. They do not obey him, but they still know he is their only hope.

2B. One thing you can say about God's people is that they were consistent, but it was consistent in their rebellion. Acts 7:51-51 - "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit! {52} Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?" The good news is that God is also consisent and does not change in his commitment to his people. Don Horban puts it like this: "And it's right at this point that I want you

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to see exactly what God has revealed about His own heart toward people like that - "The reason you're not destroyed in a blinding, white-hot fit of holy rage is that I HAVD'T CHADGED ID MY UDDYIDG LOVE ADD COMMITMEDT TOWARD YOU."

2C. Grace Dotes, "The "time of your forefathers" is a direct reference to the Jews that were restored to Jerusalem in the year 516 BC. These Israelites returned to God, their God and, in the analogy preceding, their spiritual wife, subsequent to the Babylonian captivity of 586 BC. And "ever since" that generation, the Jews of 516 BC, subsequent generations had lapsed from a consciousness of God.

The indictment is that they have "turned away," SUR, which means "to turn away from God, to depart, i.e. to fall away from his worship, to apostatize; to depart from the law or the divine precepts."[139] Thus, the unbelievers have turned away from the gospel as it was presented in the Old Testament, i.e., the offerings, the Tabernacle or Temple, and the priesthood; and the believers have turned away from comprehending God's Word, specifically, "my decrees."

3. Barnes, “Turn thou to Me and I will return unto you,” is the Voice of God, acknowledging our free-will, and promising His favor, if we accept His grace in return. And ye say, Wherein shall we return? - Strange ignorance of the blinded soul, unconscious that God has aught against it! It is the Pharisaic spirit in the Gospel. It would own itself doubtless in general terms a sinner, but when called on, wholly to turn to God, as being wholly turned from Him, it asks, “In what? What would God have of me?” as if ready to do it." The good news is that no matter how far off the right track people go, they are welcomed by God to return before judgment day.

4. Gill, "Here begins an enumeration of the sins of the Jews, which were the cause of their ruin; and here is first a general charge of apostasy from the statutes and ordinances of the law, which they made void by the traditions of the fathers; and therefore this word is used as referring to this evil, as well as to express their early, long, and continued departure from the ways of God; which as it was an aggravation of their sin, that they should have so long ago forsook the ordinances of God."

4B. Gill points out that this question is just like all the others in this book. It is a denial of the charge, for they did not see any basis for returning, for they were already where they ought to be in their minds. He wrote, "But ye said, Wherein shall we return? what have we to turn from, or repent of? what evils have we done, or can be charged on us? what need have we of repentance or conversion, or of such an exhortation to it? do not we keep the law, and all the rituals of it? this is the true language of the Pharisees in Christ's time, who, touching the righteousness of the law, were blameless in their own esteem, and were the ninety and nine just persons that needed not repentance, Luk_15:7." Jamison says the same, "The same

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insensibility to their guilt continues: they speak in the tone of injured innocence, as if God calumniated them." Henry adds, "They are so ignorant of themselves, and of the strictness, extent, and spiritual nature, of the divine law, that they see nothing in themselves to be repented of, or reformed; they are pure in their own eyes, and think they need no repentance. (3.) They are so firmly resolved to go on in sin that they will find a thousand foolish frivolous excuses to shift off their repentance, and turn away the calls that are given them to repent."

5. Calvin, "He increases their condemnation by this circumstance — that they had not lately begun to depart from the right way, but had continued their contumacy for many ages, according to what the apostles, as well as the Prophets in various places, have testified: “Ye uncircumcised in heart, ye have ceased not to resist the Holy Spirit like your fathers.” (Acts 7:61.) “Harden not your hearts as your fathers did; in the righteousness of your fathers walk not.” (Psalm 95:8.)

5B. Calvin goes on, "We now understand the Prophet’s intention — that the Jews for many ages had been notorious for their impiety and wickedness, and that they had not been dealt with by God as they had deserved, because he had according to his ineffable goodness and forbearance suspended his rigour, so as not to visit them according to their demerits. It hence appears how unreasonable they were, not only in being morose and proud, but especially in being furious against God, when they accused him of tardiness, while yet he had proved himself to be really a God towards them by his continued forbearance. The words, And ye have not kept them, are added for amplification; for he expresses more fully their contempt of his law, as though he had said, that they were not only transgressors, but had also with gross wilfulness so departed from the law as to regard it as nothing to tread God’s precepts under their feet."

5C. Calvin agrees with others that their question is one of blind ignorance to their guilt. He wrote, "It follows, Ye have said, In what shall we return? It is an evidence of perverseness, when men answer that they see not that they have erred, and that hence conversion is to no purpose required of them; for this is the meaning of these words, Whereby shall we return? that is, “What dost thou require from us? for we are not conscious of any defection; we worship God as we ought: now if our duties are repudiated by him, we see not why he should so expressly blame us; let him show in what we have offended; for conversion to him is superfluous, until we be proved guilty of apostasy, or of those sins which God determines to punish in us."

6. Maclaren, "The gracious invitation of our text presupposes a state of departure. The child who is tenderly recalled has first gone away. There has been a breach of love. Dependence has been unwelcome, and cast off with the vain hope of a larger freedom in the far-off land; and this is the true charge against us. It is not so much individual acts of sin but the going away in heart and spirit from our Father God which describes the inmost essence of our true condition, and is itself the source of all our acts of sin. Conscience confirms the description. We know that we have departed from Him in mind, having wasted our thoughts on many things and not having had Him in the multitude of them in us. We have departed from Him in

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heart, having squandered our love and dissipated our desires on many objects, and sought in the multiplicity of many pearls—some of them only paste—a substitute for the all-sufficient simplicity of the One of great price. We have departed from Him in will, having reared up puny inclinations and fleeting passions against His calm and eternal purpose, and so bringing about the shock of a collision as destructive to us as when a torpedo-boat crashes in the dark against a battleship, and, cut in two, sinks.

6B. Maclaren continues, "The gracious invitation of our text follows, ‘I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ Threatenings, and the execution of these in acts of judgment, are no indication of a change in the loving heart of God; and because it is the same, however we have sinned against it and departed from it, there is ever an invitation and a welcome. We may depart from Him, but He never departs from us. Dor does He wait for us to originate the movement of return, but He invites us back. By all His words in His threatenings and in His commandments, as in the acts of His providence, we can hear His call to return. The fathers of our flesh never cease to long for their prodigal child’s return; and their patient persistence of hope is but brief and broken when contrasted with the infinite long-suffering of the Father of spirits. We have heard of a mother who for long empty years has nightly set a candle in her cottage window to guide her wandering boy back to her heart; and God has bade us think more loftily of the unchangeableness of His love than that of a woman who may forget, that she should not have compassion upon the son of her womb."

7. Dr. Metcalfe, "The Book of Malachi reveals that the people who claim to know all about God and religion are in fact exasperatingly ignorant. A recurrent theme throughout the short book is (1) a statement of fact by God, through His prophet; immediately followed by (2) incredulous statements like "How can that be?" "Why do you say that?" "Where is that a fact?" 1. (1:2) They are ignorant of God's LOVE to them. (1:6) They are ignorant of insulting the name of God. 2. (2:14) They are ignorant of any reason why God should despise their fancy worship, even though they have been treacherous with one another. (2:17) They are ignorant of the fact that God is weary of their empty mouthing of prayers. 3. (3:7) They are ignorant both of the need to return to God, and the way in which they might return to God."

8. John D. McArthur, Jr., " Dotice that these are not words to the pagan world or to those who have never heard of God. This is an invitation to the believer, to those who claim to be God's people. Over and over again, we have disobeyed his law, we have broken his commands, we have sinned. The problem the Jews had was they thought they were the chosen people and could do no wrong. The problem Christians have is we think that our salvation is all sewn up so we don't try very hard to overcome temptation or avoid sin. The book of Malachi is a reminder to us that we need, as Paul said in Philippians 2:12, to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Christians have often disagreed over whether believers can forsake their salvation. Perhaps we should compare our situation to riding in the back of a pickup truck. All true believers are on board. Some Christians believe the tailgate is closed and locked; others believe it is left open. In either case, the logical thing to do

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is not to see how daring we can be in leaning out the back but to ride as close to the cab as possible."

9. Ralph Carmichael put it so well: "The Savior is waiting to enter your heart, Why don't you let Him come in? There's nothing in this world to keep you apart, What is your answer to Him? Time after time He has waited before, And now He is waiting again - To see if you're willing to open the door, Oh, how He wants to come in."

8. "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, `How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings.

1. God robbing is probably more common than bank robbing, but it is a crime that never makes the news. God robbers are never taken before the judge and sentenced for such a high level crime. It is not a white collar or blue collar crime, but one that is universal, for it is not likely that anyone has ever lived who ever gave God all he was worthy of receiving. God made it easier, however, but reducing what he expected to just ten percent of one's income. Back in verse 5 we see they were already robbing laborers of their wages, and the widows and orphans of their support, and aliens of their justice. The next step after robbing everyone else is to rob God. They were good at robbing, and so why not go all the way, and become the big time? Such is the thinking of people blinded by their greed and lack of compassion.

defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD

2. Barnes, "Shall a man rob or cheat, defraud God? God answers question by question, but thereby drives it home to the sinner’s soul, and appeals to his conscience. The conscience is steeled, and answers again, “In what?” God specifies two things only, obvious, patent, which, as being material things, they could not deny. “In tithes and offerings.” The offerings included several classes of dues to God:

(a) the first fruits ;

(b) the annual half-shekel Exo_30:13-15;

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(c) the offerings made for the tabernacle Exo_25:2-3; Exo_35:5, Exo_35:21, Exo_35:24; Exo_36:3, Exo_36:6 and the second temple Ezr_8:25 at its first erection; it is used of ordinary offerings;

(d) of the tithes of their own tithes, which the Levites paid to the priests Dum_18:26, Dum_18:28-29;

(e) of the portions of the sacrifice which accrued to the priests Lev_7:14.

3. Gill, "Will a man rob God?.... Or "the gods"; the false gods, the idols of the Gentiles; the Heathens will not do that, accounting sacrilege a great sin, and yet this the Jews were guilty of: or "the judges" (c), as the Targum; civil magistrates; will any dare to defraud them of their due? see Mal_1:8. Yet ye have robbed me; keeping back from the priests and Levites, his ministers, what was due to them; and which, being no other than a spoiling or robbing of them, might be interpreted a robbing of God: But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? as not being conscious of any such evil; or, however, impudently standing in it, that they were not guilty: to which is returned the answer, "In tithes and offerings;" that is, they robbed God in not giving the tithes, and not offering sacrifices, according as the law required: but it may be objected, that the Jews in Christ's time did pay tithes, even of all things; yea, of more than the law required, Mat_23:23 to which it may be replied, that though they gave tithes, yet it was בעין רעה, "with an evil eye", as Aben Ezra says; grudgingly, and not cheerfully, and with an evil intention; not to show their gratitude to God, and their acknowledgment of him as their Lord, from whom they had their all, but in order to merit at his hands; besides, our Lord suggests that they did not give to God the things that were God's, Mat_22:21 and the apostle charges them with being guilty of sacrilege, Rom_2:22 and, moreover, the priests might not give it to the Levites, as they ought; and which is what they are charged with in Deh_13:10 and Grotius says that they were guilty of this before the destruction by Vespasian, as appears by Josephus."

4. Jamison, "..rob — literally, “cover”: hence, defraud. Do ye call defrauding God no sin to be “returned” from (Mal_3:7)? Yet ye have done so to Me in respect to the tithes due to Me, namely, the tenth of all the remainder after the first-fruits were paid, which tenth was paid to the Levites for their support (Lev_27:30-33): a tenth paid by the Levites to the priests (Dum_18:26-28): a second tenth paid by the people for the entertainment of the Levites, and their own families, at the tabernacle (Deu_12:18): another tithe every third year for the poor, etc. (Deu_14:28, Deu_14:29).

offerings — the first-fruits, not less than one-sixtieth part of the corn, wine, and oil (Deu_18:4; Deh_13:10, Deh_13:12). The priests had this perquisite also, the tenth of the tithes which were the Levites perquisite. But they appropriated all the tithes, robbing the Levites of their due nine-tenths; as they did also, according to Josephus, before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Thus doubly God was defrauded, the priests not discharging aright their sacrificial duties, and robbing God of the services of the Levites, who were driven away by destitution [Grotius].

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5. Morgan, "What is the Divine claim upon Christendom —or Christianity, shall I rather say ? God is not asking you for a tithe. Some give a tithe of their income. That may be the correct thing ; but while there are instances in which it is right, there is a reverse side to the picture. Some men have no business to give a tithe of their earnings — they cannot afford it ; and there are men who are robbing God by giving only a tithe of their incomes. I knew a Congregational Church some years ago in which a man sat in one pew and another man immediately behind him. The income of the first man may roughly be estimated at £10,000 a year, and he and his family gave two pounds conscientiously and regularly every week. He gave an occasional £100 and other sums, but that was his regular weekly gift. The man who sat behind him was a laborer, earn-ing eighteen shillings a week, out of whicli he gave one shilling. (We have simply got down to money values because they appeal most strongly to the minds of men in this age.) Which man gave the most ? I do not commit any one else to this ; but I told the "man be- hind " that he had no right, with his wife and family of five bairns, to give a whole shilling." Morgan is saying it is wrong to tithe if by doing so you deprive your family of basic necessities, and it is wrong to tithe if you have such great abundance that you could give much more.

6. Henry, "Will a man be so daringly impudent as to rob God? Man, who is a weak creature, and cannot contend with God's power, will he think to rob him vi et armis

- forcibly? Man, who lies open to God's knowledge, and cannot conceal himself from that, will he think to rob him clam et secreto - privily? Man, who depends upon God, and derives his all from him, will he rob him that is his benefactor? This is ungrateful, unjust, and unkind, indeed; and it is very unwise thus to provoke him from whom our judgment proceeds. Will a man do violence to God? so some read it. Will a man do violence to God? so some read it. Will a man stint or straiten him? so others read it. Robbing God is a heinous crime. 2. The people's high challenge in answer to that charge: But you say, Wherein have we robbed thee? They plead 0ot

guilty, and put God upon the proof of it. Dote, Robbing God is such a heinous crime that those who are guilty of it are not willing to own themselves guilty. They rob God, and know not what they do. They rob him of his honour, rob him of that which is devoted to him, to be employed in his service, rob him of themselves, rob him of sabbath-time, rob him of that which is given for the support of religion, and give him not his dues out of their estates; and yet they ask, Wherein have we robbed thee?

3. The plain proof of the charge, in answer to this challenge; it is in tithes and

offerings. Out of these the priests and Levites had maintenance for themselves and their families; but they detained them, defrauded the priests of them, would not pay their tithes, or not in full, or not of the best; they brought not the offerings which God required, or brought the torn, and lame, and sick, which were not fit for use. They were all guilty of this sin, even the whole nation, as if they were in confederacy against God, and all combined to rob him of his dues and to stand by one another in it when they had done. For this they were cursed with a curse, Mal_3:9. God punished them with famine and scarcity, through unseasonable weather, or insects that ate up the fruits of the earth. God had thus punished them for neglecting to build the temple (Hag_1:10, Hag_1:11), and now for not maintaining the temple-service. Dote, Those that deny God his part of their estates may justly expect a curse

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upon their own part of them: “You are cursed with a curse for robbing me, and yet you go on to do it.”

9. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me.

1. It is surprising how much there is in the Bible about the curse. Look at your concordance and you will be surprized at the abundance of texts that deal with the curse. To be under the curse is to be out of favor with God and lose his providential blessings through nature. Life will not go as it ordinarily would, and nature will not cooperate as it usually does. Rain will not come as usual, and crops will not grow, and animals will not thrive, and nothing goes right. It is the ultimate in Murphy's Law, for is anything can go wrong, it will.

1B. Botterweck, Ringgren, Eds. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, "This, then, is cursing directly from God Himself. And verse 9 is the formal charge from God that has resulted in this cursing: "because you are robbing me." To any right thinking person, direct cursing from God is ghastly to contemplate. For "the 'arur-formula is the most powerful 'decree' expressed by an authority, and by means of it a man or a group that has committed a serious transgression against the community or against a legitimate authority (God, parents) is delivered over to misfortune."

2. Barnes, "Ye have been cursed with the curse - (not “with a curse”). The curse threatened had come upon them: but, as fore-supposed in Leviticus by the repeated burden, “If ye still walk contrary to Me,” they had persevered in evil. God had already shown His displeasure. But they, so far from being amended by it, were the more hardened in their sin. Perhaps as men do, they pleaded their punishment, as a reason why they should not amend. They defrauded God, under false pretences. They were impoverished by His curse, and so they could not afford to pay the tithes; as men say, “the times are bad; so we cannot help the poor” of Christ. “And Me ye still are defrauding” Me, ye; man, God. And that not one or other, but this whole people. It was a requital as to that, in which they had offended. “Because ye have not rendered tithes and first-fruits, therefore ye are cursed in famine and penury.” “Because the people did not render tithes and first-fruits to the Levites, the Lord saith, that He Himself suffered fraud, whose ministers, constrained by hunger and penury, deserted the temple. For, if He is visited by others in prison, and sick, is received and cared for, and, hungry and athirst, receives food and drink, why should He not receive tithes in His ministers, and, if they are not given, be Himself deprived of His portion?”

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3. Gill, "Ye are cursed with a curse,.... Or "with penury", as the Vulgate Latin version; which, though not a proper rendering of the word, is the meaning of the curse they were cursed with; rain was withheld from them for their sins, and the earth did not bring forth its usual increase; wherefore there was want of food in all their land; their blessings were cursed, as in Mal_2:2 for the following reason, for ye have robbed me; because of this their iniquity, in not bringing their offerings to the Lord, and the tithes to the priests and Levites, their land was stricken with barrenness, and God gave them cleanness of teeth, and want of bread in all places: or, "but ye have robbed me"; notwithstanding they were thus chastised of the Lord, yet were not reformed, but went on in withholding from God and the priests, what belonged to them: even this whole nation; the sin was become general, and therefore a general judgment was inflicted on them: Grotius thinks, that the people seeing the priests withhold the tithes from the Levites, they refused to pay them to them, and so the sin became universal. Kimchi observes, that in other sins charged upon the nation, the people were not all alike guilty, but in this which respected the tithes and offerings they were."

4. Jamison, "As ye despoil Me, so I despoil you, as I threatened I would, if ye continued to disregard Me. In trying to defraud God we only defraud ourselves. The eagle who robbed the altar set fire to her nest from the burning coal that adhered to the stolen flesh. So men who retain God’s money in their treasuries will find it a losing possession. Do man ever yet lost by serving God with a whole heart, nor gained by serving Him with a half one. We may compromise with conscience for half the price, but God will not endorse the compromise; and, like Ananias and Sapphira, we shall lose not only what we thought we had purchased so cheaply, but also the price we paid for it. If we would have God “open” His treasury, we must open ours. One cause of the barrenness of the Church is the parsimony of its members [Moore]."

5. Calvin, "Malachi pursues the same subject; for he answers the Jews in the name of God — that they unjustly complained of his rigour as being immoderate, since they themselves were the cause of all their evils. He says that they were cursed, but he adds that this happened to them deservedly, as though he had said — “Be that granted what you say, (for lamentations were continually made,) why is it that God afflicts us without end or limits?” God seems to grant what they were wont reproachfully to declare; but he says in answer to this — “But ye have defrauded Me; what wonder then that my curse consumes you? As then I have been robbed by you, as far as ye could, I will render to you your just recompense; for it is not right that I should be bountiful and kind to you, while ye thus defraud me, and take from me what is my own.”

5B. Calvin continues, "The meaning then is this — that it was indeed true that the Jews lamented that they were under a curse, but that the cause ought to have been searched out. They indeed wished their rapines and sacrileges to be forgiven, by which they defrauded God; but God declares that he punished them justly in consuming them with poverty and want, since they so sparingly rendered to him

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what they owed. He mentions the whole nation, and thus aggravates the wickedness of the Jews; for not a few were guilty of the sacrilege mentioned, but all, from the least to the greatest, they all plundered the tenths and the oblations. It hence follows that God’s vengeance did not exceed due limits, since there was as it were a common conspiracy; there were not ten or a hundred implicated in this sin, but, as he says, the whole people."

6. There are three curse passages in Malachi, and this is the middle one. We do not hear a lot about curses in church, but you will be surprized just how much you can read of it in the Bible if you get out your concordance and look it up.

Malachi 2:2 If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.

Malachi 3:9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.

Malachi 4:6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

10. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

1. Barnes, "Bring the whole tithes - , not a part only, keeping back more or less, and, as he had said, defrauding God, offering, like Ananias, apart, as if it had been the whole; into the treasury, where they were collected in the time of Hezekiah and again, at this time, by the direction of Dehemiah, “so that there shall be food,” not superfluity, in My house “for those who minister in the house of My sanctuary.” Deh_13:10-23. “The Levites and singers had, before the reformation, fled every one to his field, because the portion of the Levites had not been given them.” On

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Dehemiah’s remonstrance, aided by Malachi, “the tithe of corn and the wine and the new oil were brought into the treasuries.”

1B. Barnes continues, "Bring the whole tithes - “Thou knowest that all things which come to thee are God’s, and dost not thou give of His own to the Creator of all? The Lord God needeth not: He asketh not a reward, but reverence: He asketh not anything of thine, to restore to Him. He asketh of thee “first-fruits and tithes.” Diggard, what wouldest thou do, if He took nine parts to Himself, and left thee the tenth? What if He said to thee; ‘Man, thou art Mine, Who made thee; Mine is the land which thou tillest; Mine are the seeds, which thou sowest; Mine are the animals, which thou weariest; Mine are the showers, Mine the winds, Mine the sun’s heat; and since Mine are all the elements, whereby thou livest, thou who givest only the labor of thine hands, deservest only the tithes.’ But since Almighty God lovingly feeds us, He gives most ample reward to us who labor little: claiming to Himself the tithes only, He has condoned us all the rest.”

1C. Barnes continues, "And prove Me now herewith, in or by this thing - God pledges Himself to His creatures, in a way in which they themselves can verify. “If you will obey, I will supply all your needs; if not, I will continue your dearth.” By whatever laws God orders the material creation, He gave them a test, of the completion of which they themselves could judge, of which they themselves must have judged. They had been afflicted with years of want. God promises them years of plenty, on a condition which He names. What would men think now, if anyone had, in God’s name, promised that such or such a disease, which injured our crops or our cattle, should come at once to an end, if any one of God’s laws should be kept? We should have been held as finatics, and rightly, for we had no commission of God. God authenticates those by whom He speaks; He promises, who alone can perform.

1D. Barnes continues,“There are three keys which God hath reserved in His own hands, and hath not delivered to any to minister or substitute, the keys of life, of rain, and of the resurrection. In the ordering of the rain they look on His great power, no less than in giving life at first, or afterward raising the dead to it; as Paul saith Act_14:17, “God left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave rain, from heaven and fruitful seasons.”If I will not open the windows of heaven - o In the time of the flood, they were, as it were, opened, to man’s destruction: now, God would rain abundantly for you, for their sakes. “And pour you out, literally empty out to you,” give to them fully, holding back nothing. So in the Gospel it is said, that the love of God is “shed abroad poured out and forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.”

1E. Barnes concludes, “That there is not room enough to receive it; literally until there is no sufficiency.” (In Psa_72:7 (quoted by Ges. Ros. etc.) “there shall be abundance of peace עד בלי ירח , literally, “until there be no moon,” has a literal meaning, that the peace should last until the end of our creation, without saying anything of what lies beyond.) The text does not express what should not suffice,

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whether it be on God’s part or on man’s. Yet it were too great irony, if understood of God. His superabundance, “above all which we can ask or think,” is a first principle in the conception of God, as the Infinite Source of all being. But to say of God. that He would pour out His blessing, until man could not contain it, is one bliss of eternity, that God’s gifts will overflow the capacity of His creatures to receive them. The pot of oil poured forth the oil, until, on the prophets saying 2Ki_4:6, “Bring me yet a vessel,” the widows son said, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.” God’s gifts are limited only by our capacity to receive them."

2. Jamison, "...prove me ... herewith — with this; by doing so. Test Me whether I will keep My promise of blessing you, on condition of your doing your part (2Ch_31:10). pour ... out — literally, “empty out”: image from a vessel completely emptied of its contents: no blessing being kept back."

2B. Harris, Archer, Waltke, "The next phrase, "test me," is one of extreme interest. The word means "examining to determine essential qualities, especially integrity." And in almost every instance the term refers to God's examination of his people. "In the exceptions, it is God who is tested. It is evident that this is abnormal procedure. In Psalm 95:9 the people are reminded of the folly of testing God at Meribah. In Malachi, it is only because of the people's apathy that God calls them to test him." "And on the surface this appears to be a dependent situation, that is, if the Jews obey God, He will bless them. However, such a conclusion is wrong. For the Jews have already disobeyed, yet God in His grace provides them with another opportunity, and even suggests that they test Him. This is, in fact, grace not only demonstrated, but conferred where otherwise unwarranted. God, then, by His very offer to be tested, is conferring grace upon the Jews. He is, indeed, grace." "Again, remember, this promise of extravagant prosperity is made to a people and priests that have even now proven themselves unworthy of anything but judgment."

3. Calvin, "He at length declares that they profited nothing by contending with God, but that a better way was open to them, that is, to return into favor with him. After having then repelled their unjust accusations, he again points out the remedy which he had already referred to — that if they dealt faithfully with God, he would be bountiful to them, and that his blessing would be promptly extended to them. This is the sum of the passage. They had been sufficiently proved guilty of rapacity in withholding the tenths and the oblations; as then the sacrilege was well known, the Prophet now passes judgement, as they say, according to what is usually done when the criminal is condemned, and the cause is decided, so that he who has been defrauded recovers his right.

3B. Calvin continues, "So also now God deals with the Jews. Bring, he says, to the repository (for this is the same as the house of the treasury, or of provisions) all the tenths, or the whole tenths. We hence learn that they had not withholden the whole of the tenths from the priests, but that they fraudulently brought the half, or retained as much as they could; for it was not without reason that he said, Bring all,

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or the whole. They then so paid the tenths as to supply the priests with a part only, and thus they trifled with God, according to what hypocrites do, who ever claim to themselves high honor, and try to perform their duty in such a way as not to discover their own perfidy, and yet they are not ashamed of the liberty they take to illude God; and of this we have here a remarkable example. We then see that it is no new or unusual thing for men to pretend to do the duties they owe to God, and at the same time to take away from him what is his own, and to transfer it to themselves, and that manifestly, so that their impiety is evident, though it be covered by the veil of dissimulation.

3C. Calvin continues, "He then adds, Let there be meat in my house. We have elsewhere explained this form of speaking, and in the last lecture the Prophet spoke also of the meat of God, not that God needs meat and drink, but that whatever he has given us ought to be deemed his. We have already stated, that it has been recorded for our sake, that the Jews offered bread, and victims, and things of this kind, and that they feasted at Jerusalem in the presence of God: for what is more desirable than that God should dwell in the midst of us? and this is often repeated in the law. But this could not have been set forth to us in a way so familiar, as when God is represented as in a manner sitting at table with us, as though he were our guest, eating of the same bread and of the other provisions: and hence it is said in the law, “Thou shalt feast and rejoice before thy God.” (Deuteronomy 2:18.) Dow as God needs not meat and drink, as it has been said, and as men in their grossness are ever prone to superstitions, he substituted the priests and the poor in his own place, to prevent the Jews from entertaining earthly notions respecting him. And this kind of modification or correction deserves to be noticed: for the Lord on the one hand intended to draw men in a kind manner to himself; but, on the other hand, he proposed to raise their minds upward to heaven, lest they should ascribe to him anything unworthy of himself, as is wont to be done, and is very common.

3D. Calvin continues, "But, at the same time, he again accuses them of sacrilege, for he complains that he was deprived of meat; Let there then be meat in my house; and prove me by this, saith Jehovah, if I wily not open, etc. He confirms what he said before, and yet proceeds with his promise, for by subjecting himself to a proof, he boldly repels their calumny in saying that they were without cause consumed with want, and that God had changed his nature, because he had not given a large supply of provisions. God then briefly shows, that wrong had been done to him, for he admits of a proof or a trial, as though he had said, “If you choose to contest the point, I will soon settle it, for if you bring to me the tenths and them entire, there will immediately come to you a great abundance of all provisions: it will hence be evident, that I am not the cause of barrenness, but that it is your wickedness, because ye have sacrilegiously defrauded me.”Then he adds, If I will not open to you the windows of heaven. It is the first thing as to fertility that the heavens should water the earth, according to what Scripture declares: and hence God threatens in the law that the heaven would be iron and the earth brass, (Deuteronomy 28:23,) for there is a mutual connection between the heaven and the earth, and he says elsewhere by a Prophet,“The heaven will hear the earth, and the earth will hear the

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corn and wine, and the corn and wine will hear men.”(Hosea 2:99.)"

4. Keil, "Opening the sluices of heaven is a figure, denoting the most copious supply of blessing, so that it flows down from heaven like a pouring rain (as in 2Ki_7:2). עד till there is no more need, i.e., in superabundance. This thought is ,ּבלי דיindividualized in Mal_3:11. Everything that could injure the fruits of the land God will take away. ּגער, to rebuke practically, i.e., to avert the intention. אכל, the devourer, is here the locust, so called from its insatiable voracity. Shikkēl, to miscarry, is affirmed of the vine, when it has set a good quantity of grapes, which perish and drop off before they ripen. In consequence of this blessing, all nations will call Israel blessed (Mal_3:12), because its land will be an object of pleasure to every one (cf. Zec_7:14; Zec_8:13, Zec_8:23)."

5. Gill, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,.... Or "treasury"; for there were places in the temple where the tithe was put, and from thence distributed to the priests and Levites, for the support of their families, as they wanted. There were the tithe or tenth part of all eatable things paid to the Levites, and out of this another tithe was paid by the Levites to the priests; and there was another tithe, which some years the owners ate themselves at Jerusalem, and in others gave them to the poor; and these were called the first tithe, the tithe out of the tithe, the second tithe, and the poor's tithe; though they are commonly reduced to three, and are called first, and second, and third, as they are by Maimonides; who says, "after they have separated the first tithe every year, they separate the second tithe, as it is said "thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed", &c. Deu_14:22 and in the third year, and in the sixth, they separate the poor's tithe, instead of the second tithe.'' So Tobit says; Tobit 1:7 "the first tithe I gave to the Levites, who stand before the Lord to minister to him, and to bless in his name the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the second tithe I sold (as he might, according to the law in Deu_14:24), and took the money, and went up to Jerusalem, and bought with it what I pleased; and the third tithe I gave to the repair of the temple;''

5B. Gill continues, "..so Fagius reads: but according to Munster's edition it is, the second and third tithes I gave to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow; see Deu_26:12. It appears from hence that the sin of the people was, that they did not bring in "all" their tithes; they kept back a part of them: wherefore they are called upon to bring in the whole, and which they did in Dehemiah's time; see Deh_10:38 where mention is made of the treasuries for the tithe, which were certain chambers adjoining to the temple; and besides those that were built by Solomon, there were other chambers prepared by Hezekiah in his times, when the tithes were brought in, in such plenty, that there was not room enough for them, 2Ch_31:11 and besides those in the second temple, that were in the court of the priests, there were others in the court of the people, as L'Empereur thinks , where what the others could not contain might be put; and into which court the priests might come; and there were also receptacles underground, as well as upper rooms, where much might be laid up; add to all this, that Dr. Lightfoot suggests, that these tithes were treasured up in

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the chambers by the gates of the temple, and were at least a part of the treasuries of the house of God, which the porters at the gates had the care of, 1Ch_9:26 and particularly that the house of Asuppim, at which were four porters, was a large piece of building, containing divers rooms for the treasuring up things for the use of the temple; in the Apocrypha: "And are resolved to spend the firstfruits of the the tenths of wine and oil, which they had sanctified, and reserved for the priests that serve in Jerusalem before the face of our God; the which things it is not lawful for any of the people so much as to touch with their hands.'' Judith 11:13

5C. Gill goes on,".. prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts; by bringing in all their tithes; when they would find, by making this experiment or trial, that the curse would be removed from them, and blessings be largely and liberally bestowed upon them by him, who is the Lord of hosts, and so able to perform any promise he makes; and here one is implied, and is as follows: "if I will not open you the windows of heaven; which had been shut and stopped up, and let down no rain upon their land, which brought a scarcity of provisions among them; but now, upon a change in their conduct it is suggested that these windows or floodgates should be opened, and rain let down plentifully upon them, which only could be done by the Lord himself; for the key of rain is one of the three keys, the Jews say , which God has reserved for himself, and never puts into the hands of a minister: and pour you out a blessing: give abundance of rain to make the earth fruitful, and bring forth its increase in great plenty, which is a blessing; and not destroy the earth, and the fruits of it, as in the times of Doah, when the windows of heaven were opened, and a curse was poured out upon the earth: that there shall not be room enough to receive it; and so Kimchi says his father interpreted this clause, that there would not be a sufficiency of vessels and storehouses. Some render the words, as Junius, "so that ye shall not be sufficient"; either to gather in the increase, or to consume it. The Targum is, "until ye say it is enough;'' and so the Syriac version. The phrase, which is very concise in the original text, and may be literally rendered, "unto not enough" , denotes great abundance and fulness of good things, so that there should be enough and to spare; and yet, as Gussetius observes, not enough to answer and express the abundance of mercy and goodness in the heart of God."

6. Brian Bill, "The first thing we notice about giving in the Old Testament is the word “tithe.” This word literally means “a tenth,” or 10%. While some would say that this requirement is based on the Law, it’s important to remember that Abraham practiced tithing 400 years before the Law was even established in Genesis 14:20 when he gave a tenth of everything he owned to the priest Melchizedek. Deuteronomy 12:11, which is part of the Law, challenges God’s people to bring their tithes and special gifts to the place of God’s choosing. In Malachi’s time, the people had stopped bringing 10% of their possessions and crops to the Lord. Instead of giving God what was rightfully His, they had allowed other things to get in the way. Many of God’s people had made a pretense of giving 10%, but were actually giving much less than that. Incidentally, according to a recent study by the Barna Research Group, while 17% of Christians claim to tithe, in actuality only 6% do so. In addition, the average churchgoer is only giving about 2% of their

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income to the Lord’s work. That means that God is just getting the leftovers in many churches today.

6B. Bill continues, "God not only required a tithe in the Old Testament, He challenged His people to respond to Him when He says, “Test me in this.” This is the only time in the Bible when God tells us to test Him. In every other passage that deals with testing God, we’re told to not do so. But, for some reason, when it comes to giving, God invites us to test Him because the real issue is not money, but trust. When we decide to give a percentage of our income to the Lord, we then have the opportunity to trust Him to meet all of our needs. God is saying, “I dare you! Test me in this way to see if I really exist or not.” This is one of the most amazing verses in the entire Bible. He allows Himself to be put on trial. He didn’t have to make this promise. He could have simply told us to give 10% because He demands it and that’s that. But He wanted us to get to know Him in a much deeper way. Is God alive? Is He real? Is He loving? Will He keep His promises? One of the best ways to find out is to start tithing. Proverbs 3:9-10 sheds some additional insight into how God rewards those who honor Him: “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

6C. Bill goes on, "I don’t have time to get into a more detailed discussion of tithing this morning, but I do want to make four summary statements.

1. While we are no longer under the Law, tithing is a good benchmark for believers. In other words, it’s a good place to start, sort of like a “minimum guide” for giving.

2. It’s easy to tithe and yet miss out on what’s really important. Jesus took the Pharisees to task not because they didn’t tithe, but because they had become so legalistic that they no longer cared about their love for God or for their neighbor. Luke 11:42: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” God looks at the heart, not the hand. He focuses on the giver, not the gift because the attitude is more important than the amount.

3. The practice of tithing is a good reminder of who’s in charge of my life. When I give at least 10%, it’s a way to be reminded that God owns everything that I have. Question. If you make $400/week, how much of it belongs to God? $40, right? Do, $400 belongs to the Lord. Why do we give? God doesn’t need our money. He has more resources than we can handle. God wants what your money represents—you. When giving to God, we’re just taking our hands off what belongs to Him in the first place. My use of money shows what I think of Him because my giving is a thermometer of my love. Someone has said, “Sacrifice is the ecstasy of giving the best we have to the One whom we love the most.”

4. God promises to provide for us and protect us when we put Him first with our finances. Blessings come to those who tithe and amazingly, Malachi 3:11 states that God will keep certain bad things from happening when we give Him our first fruits. When I give, I put myself in a position to trust God to meet all my needs.

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6D. Brian Bill has the best stewardship material based on this text. Look him up on the internet if you are looking for such material. I will just quote one of his excellent outlines here. He wrote, "Please turn to 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…” We see three parameters for giving in this verse.

1. Giving should be punctual. The Bible says that believers are to give on a regular basis: “On the first day of the week.”

2. Giving should be personal. Giving is something that is inherently individual – it’s between you and God what you give. At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that every believer is to give: “each one of you.” Giving is not just a suggestion. God expects each of us to be givers.

3. Giving should be proportional. We are to give according to how God has blessed us. The believer is to set aside “a sum of money in keeping with his income.” Proportional giving means that the more God blesses us, the more we’re able to give. That’s Dew Testament grace giving, which may involve more than just giving 10%. According to Malachi, the more you give, the more you are blessed. 1 Corinthians teaches that the more you’re blessed, the more you can give. The Old Testament gives a command to tithe by setting a standard of percentage giving. In the Dew Testament the command becomes a model as we’re urged to practice unlimited proportional giving.

7. Piper answers a question about the tithe. "Why then did Paul not use the command to tithe when encouraging this kind of giving in the church?

Three reasons!

1. He didn't command a tithe because he wanted to emphasize willingness rather than constraint. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."Another example of the principle here is when Paul writes to Philemon. He says,"Though I am bold enough to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you." And he says in 2 Corinthians 8:8, "I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine." So Paul downplays the possibility of commanding a certain level of giving because he wants to emphasize loving willingness rather than constraint.

2. He didn't use the command to tithe because he wanted to emphasize liberality rather than limitation. He wanted to urge people beyond the old constraints of simple proportionate giving. For example, in 2 Corinthians 8:3 he commends the poverty stricken Macedonians like this: "They gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints." And in 2 Corinthians 9:6 he says, "he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will

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also reap bountifully." In other words the issue isn't meeting a minimum limit. The issue for Paul is how to unleash the maximum liberality. The command to tithe just doesn't suit this approach.

3. He didn't use the command to tithe because he wanted to emphasize that all our getting should be designed for giving. He says in Ephesians 4:28, "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need." In other words the alternative to stealing in Paul's mind is not working in order to get and have, but working in order to get and give. Everything we spend on ourselves should be to build a platform for giving, that is, for loving. Or, as Jesus taught, he is the Owner of all we have. We are just stewards commissioned to invest his money for his glory. And what glorifies him most is loving liberality from a simple base, not tithing from a palace. So the reason that Paul did not use the command to tithe in order to enforce his teaching about giving was that he wanted to emphasize 1) willingness over constraint, and 2) liberality over limitation, and a sense that all our money is God's not just a tenth."

8. Grace Dotes offers this interesting commentary on why this demand for the tithe was so important. Grace notes will cover paragraphs through 8F. "Thus it is clear that there were two reasons for the misconduct of the priests: 1) their own spiritual apostasy and unbelief and, 2) the levy was not being paid; thus, the priests and the Levites (singers, musicians, etc.) were, literally, almost starving to death. And one method of supporting themselves was substituting diseased and sick animals for healthy ones, selling the healthy animals for funds to survive. For the priests and Levites, if they functioned properly, did not have the time to 'work for a living.' This was the reason for the tithe as pictured here.

8B. The word for "offering" confirms that the financial and physical maintenance of the priests was being neglected. In the Hebrew, the term is TERUMA, which refers to "a term for sacrificial portions designated for the officiating priest (Lev. 10:14,15; Dum. 6:20; Lev. 7:14). The portion of the accompanying cereal offering assigned to the officiating priest." [144] And the cereal or meal offering was a voluntary, bloodless (Lev. 2:1-16) offering given by believers to God as a memorial to His glory and grace. Thus, this offering was over and above the levied amount of 10 percent.

8C. Deither the levy nor the offering were being given. Thus, both unbelievers and believers were guilty of "defrauding God." The Principle of Malachi 3:8 Within present day Judaism, this passage has been taken to heart. For Judaic Rabbis are the highest paid members of any clergy. Starting salary for Rabbis is 62,000 dollars per year, in addition to housing, medical, health, etc. The Roman Catholic Church pays its priests 12,000 dollars per year. However, this in addition to housing, food, utilities, medical, health, retirement, life insurance, car and insurance, clothing, maid service, cook, clerical expenses, etc. In other words, everything else is taken care of. Within Protestant denominations, the financial maintenance of the clergy varies from the paltry to the magnificent. But whatever the amount, the 'Church' is

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commanded to provide for needs, necessities and maintenance of the clergy. And failure to do so results in the "execration" or curse of Malachi 3:9.

8D. The application, then, is this: within religious circles, no matter what the denomination, the needs of the clergy are to be provided for, without exception, without mitigation. And not to do so is "to defraud God." For the Bible states that even the ox is not to be muzzled while he draws the mill. So even the ox is to be allowed to eat and drink as he works for the benefit of others. Indeed, in his epistles to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tongue-lashes the Church at Corinth for its dereliction in this regard. It is interesting to observe the impetus behind such direct command from God. Unfortunately, like the work of certain other professions, such as homemaker, the spiritual work of the clergy has no cash-generating capacity; that is, there is no method to quantify the 'production' of the clergy. And without a doubt, not only the blessings provided to individuals by God, but the blessings imparted to a national economy by God, exist. Yet, they too, defy being quantified.

8E. According to the economic experts, this source of blessing is of no account. But without them (blessings from God) the nation is deprived of economic yield of any type, not to mention a stabilized and moral nation within which to conduct business. Devertheless, though, this 'invisible labor' which results in direct blessings from God is considered to be zero in cash value. Therefore, the experts overseeing a country's economic development omit this factor. And the reasons lie in the spiritually ignorant data bases they use for such management, and in the clergy's invisibility. Yet when national economic disaster becomes a reality, people turn to God for help; prayer is utilized nation-wide and departure from God, sanity, and spiritual principles are cited as explanations for the moral and economic decline of a nation.

8F. In other words, cash-value is the measuring stick. But how does one measure morality, honest business practices, and the spiritual impact of believers upon the bottom line of gross national product? One doesn't; there is no way to quantify these imperceptible conditions. So they are left out of the equation. And this is why God specifically commanded the support of the clergy. For without God, and knowledge of God, the loss in economic, civil and social domains would certainly be measurable, and quantifiable. Indeed, the very existence of a nation depends upon such unquantifiable data."

11. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.

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1. God created nature, and he has the power to control it for greater productiveness if he is very pleased with his people. He supplied them all through their 40 year journey in the wilderness without them ever raising a crop. He promises to make them fruitful in their farming if they are faithful to share their abundance with him to maintain his house of worship. We don't know if he will do this by miracle, or by his providence in nature, but either way he will reward generosity with generosity. Every vine will bear a bunch of grapes, and they will not fall off until fully mature. You will have harvests like never before is God's promise. Deal or no deal? Who would not want to say deal at this point, for what is ten percent offered to God when he is offering crops that will bring in more than we have ever had? It is too good a deal to pass up.

2. Gill, "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,.... Or "eater" (m); the locust or caterpillar, or any such devouring creature, that eats up the herbage, corn, and fruits of trees; every such creature is under the restraint of Providence; and by a nod, a rebuke, they are easily prevented doing the mischief they otherwise would; these are the Lord's great army, which he can send and call off as he pleases, Joe_1:4, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; as he has done, by eating all green things, as the locust, caterpillar, and canker worm do, grass, corn, and trees: neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field; which some understand of the devourer or locust, that that should not cause the vine to be abortive, or cast its fruit before its time, or bereave it of it; but it seems best to interpret it of the vine itself not casting its fruit, as an untimely birth, by blighting and blasting winds: saith the Lord of hosts; who holds the winds in his fists, and will not suffer them when he pleases, any more than the locusts, to hurt the trees of the earth, Rev_7:1."

12. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.

1. God promises them international fame for the beauty and productiveness of their land if they are faithful to him. They will have a reputation of having blessings that go beyond what nature alone can provide. People everywhere will wish that they could be as successful as Israel in bringing forth the abundance of the earth. All people would know that they were favored by God, and they would want to honor that God also who so honored them. It would be a powerful witness to the pagan world to forsake their idols, and turn to the God of Israel. This is confirmed by Isa. 62:2-4, "“The nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou

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shrill be called by a name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name Thou shalt no more be called Forsaken, nor shall thy land be called Desolate, but thou shalt be called My-delight-is-in-her, and thy land Married: for the Lord delighteth in thee and thy land shall be married."

2. This was Israel's chance to shine and let the whole pagan world see the power and glory of their God. God's image in the minds of the Gentile world depended on the way the people of God lived. If they were a disgrace by living immoral lives, and rebelling against God, people would look at their failure under God's judgment and have no reason to be impresses with them or their God. But if they were truly happy and successful in all things, and living the abundant life with all nature in their favor, the peoples of the world would question their idols and wonder if they were barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, instead of giving greater heed to the God of Israel. Israel had a chance to bless the whole world by lives of obedience.

3. Calvin, "This verse is taken from the law, in which among other things God promises so happy a state to his chosen people, that the nations themselves would acknowledge in them the blessing of God. There is yet a contrast to be understood, — that having fallen into such misery, they were become as it were detestable to all nations, according to what the law also declares concerning them, “If thou shalt keep my precepts, all nations shall call thee blessed; but if thou wilt despise me, thou shalt be a sport to all nations, all shall shake the head and move the lips; yea, they shall be astonished at the sight of thy misery, and whosoever shall hear his ears will tingle.” (Deuteronomy 28:1, 15.) As then the Jews were consumed as it were in their miseries, the Prophet says, “If you turn to God, that happiness which he has promised you shall not be withheld; he has it as it were ready in his hand, like a treasure that is hidden, according to what is said in Psalm 31:19, ‘How great is the abundance of thy goodness! but it is laid up for them who fear thee.’” God then means, that he will not prostitute his blessing to dogs and swine, but that it is always in reserve for his children, who are teachable and obedient. The nations then shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a land of desire."

4. Grace Dotes, "And all the other nations of the world will RASHAH "pronounce Israel blessed or happy," for Israel (Judah) will be a land of delight, CHEPETS which means "that in which God finds delight." And God "delights" in obedience to His word, according to Isa. 56:4; God "delights" in those who have a knowledge of Him, according to Hosea 6:6; God "delights" in His "truth," according to Psalm 51:8; and according to Psalm 115:3 and 135:6, God "delights" in His own essence and sovereignty; and finally, God "delights" in His "mercy," which is His grace dispensed, in Hosea 6:6, which reads, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

In this word "delight," then, in Hosea 6:6, is the principle that God is gratified by recognition of Himself as the God of grace, not by empty rituals.

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13. "You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, `What have we said against you?'

1. Barnes, " Again, the entire unconsciousness of self-ignorance and self-conceit! They had criticized God, and knew it not. “Before, he had said Mal_2:17. ‘Ye have wearied the Lord with your words, and ye said, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye said, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord’” etcDow he repeats this more fully. For the people who returned from Babylon seemed to have a knowledge of God, and to observe the law, and to understand their sin, and to offer sacrifices for sin; to pay tithes, to observe the sabbath, and the rest, commanded in the law of God, and seeing all the nations around them abounding in all things, and that they themselves were in penury, hunger and misery, was scandalized and said, ‘What does it benefit me, that I worship the One True God, abominate idols, and, pricked with the consciousness of sin, walk mournfully before God?’ A topic, which is pursued more largely in Ps. 73.” Only the Psalmist relates his temptations to God, and God’s deliverance of him from them; these adopted them and spake them against God. They claim, for their partial and meagre service, to have fulfilled God’s law, taking to themselves God’s words of Abraham, “he kept My charge."

1B. Grace Dotes, "The Hebrew word for "harsh" is CHAZAK, which is defined as "strong, insolent obstinate language." In other words, the Jews of Malachi's generation have closed their minds to God and His word."

2. Gill, "Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord,.... Hard and strong; they bore very hardly upon him, were exceeding impudent and insolent; murmuring at his providence; arraigning his justice and goodness; and despising his word, worship, and ordinances. Aben Ezra says, this is a prophecy concerning the time to come, that is, the times of the Messiah; and so it describes the Jews in his times. Yet ye say, what have we spoken so much against thee? or "what have we spoken against thee?" as if they were not guilty in any respect, and as if nothing could be proved against them; and as though the Lord did not know what they had said in their hearts, seeing they had not spoken it with their mouths:.."

3. Morgan, "Your words have been stout against Me," that is to say, " You have blasphemed Me stoutly " ; and they say, " Wherein ? " And He goes on, " 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 'in black ' before the Lord ? What is the profit of all this ? " Do you suppose any of these people have been saying that in actual words ? You cannot suppose it for a moment. The very worst form of blasphemy is the misrepresentation of God by people who proess to love His name, and look apparently with exuberant delight for the coming of His kingdom. The man who openly blasphemes, and who, standing under the sun, looks up at the heavens and says, " I hate God," is far less dangerous in the influence of his life than the man

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who says "I love God" and disobeys Him. The blasphemy of which to be afraid is that which joins with the great congregation in saying, " Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come," and all the while thwarts the will of God and denies His kingship within. Oh brethren, if the Church believed in God's kingdom and God's will, and if the whole catholic Church of Jesus Christ, on Sunday next, in the power of the Spirit, breathed that prayer with unquestionable honesty, how the kingdom would come on apace ! It is on account of the blasphemy within our own immediate circle, of men and women who pray the prayer and do not believe in the kingdom, that the thing is hindered, and that the Church of Jesus Christ has become an enervated dilettante in the councils of kings, doing nothing in its corporate capacity to lift the world to heaven and to God."

4. Henry, "Among the people of the Jews at this time, though they all enjoyed the same privileges and advantages, there were men of very different characters (as ever were, and ever will be, in the world and in the church), like Jeremiah's figs, some very good and others very bad, some that plainly appeared to be the children of God and others that as plainly discovered themselves to be the children of the wicked one. There are tares and wheat in the same field, chaff and corn in the same floor; and here we have an account of both. Here is the angry notice God takes of the impudent blasphemous talk of the sinners in Zion and his just resentments of it. Probably there was a club of them that were in league against religion, that set up for wits, and set their wits on work to run it down and ridicule it, and herein strengthened one another's hands. Here is,

4B. Henry continues, "An indictment found against them, for treasonable words spoken against the King of kings: Your words have been stout against me, saith the

Lord. They spoke against God, in reflection upon him, in contradiction to him, as their fathers in the wilderness (Psa_78:19); yea, they spoke against God. What he said, and what he designed, they opposed, as if they had been retained of counsel against him and his cause. Their words against God were stout; they came from their pride, and haughtiness, and contempt of God. What they said against God they spoke loudly, as if they cared not who heard them; they were not themselves ashamed to say it, and they desired to propagate their atheistical notions and to infect the minds of others with them. They spoke it boldly, as those that were resolved to stand to it, and were in no fear of being called to an account. They spoke it proudly, and with insolence and disdain, scorning to be under the divine check and government. They strengthened themselves; they would be valiant against the

Almighty, Job_15:25.

4C. Henry continues, "Their plea to this indictment. They said, What have we

spoken so much against thee? They deny the words, and put the prophet to prove them; or, if they spoke the words, they did not design them against God, and therefore will not own there was any harm in them; at least they extenuate the matter: What have we spoken so much against thee, so much that there needs all this ado about it? They cannot deny that they have spoken against God, but they make a light matter of it, and wonder it should be taken notice of: “Words” (say they) “are

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but wind; others have said more and done worse; if we are not so good as we should be, yet we hope we are not so bad as we are represented to be.” Dote, It is common for sinners that are unconvinced and unhumbled to deny or extenuate the faults they are justly charged with, and to insist upon their own justification, against the reproofs of the word and of their own consciences. But it will be to no purpose.The words themselves which they are charged with. God keeps an account of what men say, as well as of what they do, and will let them know that he does so. We quickly forget what we have said, and are ready to deny what we have said amiss; but God can say, You have said so and so. They had said it as their deliberate judgment.

5. Calvin, "Here again God expostulates with the Jews on account of their impious and wicked blasphemy in saying, that he disappointed his servants, and that he made no difference between good and evil, because he was kind to the unfaithful and the faithful indiscriminately, and also that he overlooked the obedience rendered to him. He says now that their words grew strong; by which he denotes their insolence...... He means that such was the waywardness of the Jews that it could not by any means be checked; they were like men whom we see, who when once seized by rage and madness, become so vociferous that they will not listen to any admonitions or sane counsels. At first they murmur and are only heard to whisper; but when they have attained full liberty, they then send forth, as I have said, their furious clamours against heaven. This is the sin which the Prophet now condemns by saying, that the Jews grew strong in crying against God. They again answer and say, In what have we spoken against thee? It appears from these so many repetitions that the hypocrisy, which was united with great effrontery, could not be easily corrected in a people so refractory: it ought indeed to have come to their minds that they had wickedly accused God. But they acknowledge here no fault, “What meanest thou?” as though they wished to arraign the Prophet for having falsely charged them, inasmuch as they were conscious of no wrong."

6. Brian Bill, "We’ve said nothing wrong (13). Their first complaint against God is that they’ve done nothing wrong. Look at verse 13: “You have said harsh things against me, says the Lord.” God is saying that His people have been openly obstinate with Him. The King James Version uses the phrase, “You have been stout against me.” Once again, for the seventh and final time in the book, the people deny that they have a problem: “What have we said against you?”As God eavesdrops, notice that He doesn’t say that the people are saying strong words to Him, but rather against Him. The form of the verb “said” means “to speak to one another in conversation.” They were talking to each other about their complaints against God. And yet, when they’re confronted with this, they’re quick to deny that they’ve done anything wrong. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to find people who will agree with our complaints? We’re attracted to those who are sympathetic to our feelings. When we grumble against God we want others to grumble with us.

7. Maclaren, "What was wrong in these ‘stout words’? It was wrong to attach such worth to external acts of devotion, as if these were deserving of reward. It was wrong to suspend the duty of worship on the prosperity resulting from it, and to

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seek ‘profit’ from ‘keeping his charge.’ Such religion was shallow and selfish, and had the evils of the later Pharisaism in germ in it. It was wrong to yield to the doubts which the apparently unequal distribution of worldly prosperity stirred in their hearts. But the doubts themselves were almost certain to press on Old Testament believers, as well as on Old Testament scoffers, especially under the circumstances of Malachi’s time. The fuller light of Christianity has eased their pressure, but not removed it, and we have all had to face them, both when our own hearts have ached with sorrow and when pondering on the perplexities of this confused world. We look around, and, like the psalmist, see ‘the prosperity of the wicked,’ and, like him, have to confess that our ‘steps had wellnigh slipped’ at the sight. The old, old question is ever starting up. ‘Doth God know?’ The mystery of suffering and the mystery of its distribution, the apparent utter want of connection between righteousness and well-being, are still formidable difficulties in the way of believing in a loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful God, and are stock arguments of the unbeliever and perplexities of humble faith. Dever to have felt the force of the difficulty is not so much the sign of steadfast faith as of scant reflection. To yield to it, and still more, to let it drive us to cast religion aside, is not merely folly, but sin. So thinks Malachi."

14. "You have said, `It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?

1. It is basic unbelief to be saying such things as this, for you have eliminated God as one who knows what is going on in the world at all. To say it is a lost cause to be on the Lord's side is to dismiss him as a meaningless factor in life. It is a rejection of his reality to be saying such things. Their God is not a whole lot different than the no god of the atheist, and so for all practical purposes there God does not exist as a valuable person in their thinking and living. This explains how they could treat his worship and his sacrifices with such contempt. What a paradox that God's people could be so godless, and ungodly.

1B. Piper, "To fear the Lord is to tremble at the thought of offending him by unbelief and disobedience. It is the feeling that God is not to be trifled with. It is the very opposite ofthe attitude of the people in verses 13-15 who speak with an incredible swagger: "It doesn't pay to serve God." Those who fear God shudder at the thought of speaking that way about their Majestic Father. Anything that dishonors God is anathema to those who fear God."

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2. Clarke, "Ye have said, It is vain to serve God - They strove to destroy the Divine worship; they asserted that it was vanity; that, if they performed acts of worship, they should be nothing the better; and if they abstained, they should be nothing the worse. This was their teaching to the people.Walked mournfully - Even repentance they have declared to be useless. This was a high pitch of ungodliness."

2B. Grace Dotes, "They ask, "What do we profit?" "Implicit in the question was the assumption that religion ought to 'pay.' If God is just, he ought to take care of the people who worship him. The prophet laid the blame on the people and the priests for their moral and ritual failures; the people blamed God and concluded that he would not deliver." Thus, the Jews seek tangible payment from God for worshipping Him. They are concerned only with 'things.' For they are pursuing happiness through 'things.' They have no true love for God; there is no "love-response"to God." "They perform the rituals because they believe that by doing so they will 'gain' tangible 'kick back' from God in the form of the 'things' they desire. Do love for God exists, only ritual; they desire no relationship with God, no knowledge of God, only lucre or profit. Thus, the ritual is empty; and they claim that God is empty, that the profit is not forthcoming."

3. Jamison, "They here resume the same murmur against God. Job_21:14, Job_21:15; Job_22:17 describe a further stage of the same skeptical spirit, when the skeptic has actually ceased to keep God’s service. Psa_73:1-14 describes the temptation to a like feeling in the saint when seeing the really godly suffer and the ungodly prosper in worldly goods now. The Jews here mistake utterly the nature of God’s service, converting it into a mercenary bargain; they attended to outward observances, not from love to God, but in the hope of being well paid for in outward prosperity; when this was withheld, they charged God with being unjust, forgetting alike that God requires very different motives from theirs to accompany outward observances, and that God rewards even the true worshipper not so much in this life, as in the life to come. Walked mournfully — in mournful garb, sackcloth and ashes, the emblems of penitence; they forget Isa_58:3-8, where God, by showing what is true fasting, similarly rebukes those who then also said, Wherefore have we fasted and Thou seest not? etc. They mistook the outward show for real humiliation."

4. Calvin, "He then gives the reason why he said, that their words grew strong against God, that is, that they daringly and furiously spoke evil of God; and the reason was, because they said, that God was worshipped in vain. They thought that they worshipped God perfectly; and this was their false principle; for hypocrites ever lay claim to complete holiness, and cannot bear to confess their own evils; even when their conscience goads them, they deceive themselves with vain flatteries, and always endeavor to draw over them some veil that their disgrace may not appear before men. Hence hypocrites seek to deceive themselves, God, angels, and men; and when they are inflated with the confidence that they worship God purely, rightly, and without any defect, and that they are without any blame, they will betray the

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virulence which lies within, whenever God does not help them as they wish, whenever he submits not to their will: for when they are prosperous, God is hauntingly blessed by them; but as soon as he withdraws his hand and begins to prove their patience, they will then show, as I have said, what sort of worshippers of God they are. But in the service of God the chief thing is this — that men deny themselves and give themselves up to be ruled by God, and never raise a clamor when he humbles them.

4B. Calvin continues, "We hence see how it was that the Jews found fault with God; for they were persuaded that they fully performed their duty, which was yet most false; and then, they were not willing to submit to God, and to undertake his yoke, because they did not consider in how many ways they had provoked God’s wrath, and what just and multiplied reasons he has for chastising his people, even when they do nothing wrong. As then they did not seriously consider any of these things, they thought that he was unjust to them, In vain then do we serve God. These thoughts, as we have said, sometimes come across the minds of the faithful; but they, as it becomes them, resist such thoughts: the Jews, on the contrary, as though they were victorious, vomited forth these blasphemies against God.

5. Brian Bill, "When God dealt with their denial it had to be very disarming. They must have thought God could not hear what they were saying. They were basically saying that worshipping, tithing, and serving had no purpose. It was all empty, vain and useless. The word “profit” is a technical term used for a weaver cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom. As used here it has the negative connotation of someone expecting his or her “cut” or percentage, as a hit man would demand for his work. This reveals a consumer mentality: What will I get out of this? What’s in it for me? These murmurers are complaining because even when they mourned before the Lord it was of no benefit. They had kept the outward appearance of the Law and wondered why things were not going better for them. Their thoughts were very similar to what we read in Isaiah 58:3: “Why have we fasted…and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?” When they were involved in ministry it didn’t matter. They were echoing the sentiment we find in Job 21:15: “Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?”

5B. Bill goes on, "This complaint still rears its ugly head in our hearts today. Some of us have stopped serving because we don’t see any benefit. Perhaps you have been trying to do the right thing and it feels futile to keep it up. Don’t bail on doing your duty. Keep it up. Don’t lose heart. The Lord’s work is definitely worth it! 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

6. Henry, "That there is nothing to be got in the service of God, thought it is a service that subjects men to labour and sorrow. They said, It is vain to serve God, or,

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“He is vain that serves God, that is, he labours in vain and to no purpose; he has his labour for his pains, and therefore is a fool for his labour. What profit is it that we

have kept his ordinance, or his observation, that we have observed what he has appointed us to observe?” What mammon, or wealth, have we gained, says the Chaldee, intimating (says Dr. Pocock) that it was for mammon's sake only that they served God, and so indeed not God at all, but mammon. “We have walked mournfully, or in black, with great gravity and great grief, before the Lord of hosts,

have afflicted our souls at the times appointed for that purpose, and yet we are never the better.” Perhaps this comes in as a reason why they would not trust God to prosper them upon their bringing in the tithes (Mal_3:10); “For,” say they, “we have tried him in other things, and have lost by him.” This is a very unjust and unreasonable reflection upon the service of God, and we can call witnesses enough to confront the slander. [1.] They would have it thought that they had served God and had kept his ordinances, whereas it was only the external observance of them that they had kept up, while they were perfect strangers to the inward part of the duty, and therefore might say, It is in vain. God says so (Mat_15:9), In vain do those

worship me whose hearts are far from me while they draw near with their mouth; but whose fault is that? Dot God's, who is the rewarder of those that seek him diligently, but theirs who seek him carelessly. [2.] They insisted much upon it that they had walked mournfully before God, whereas God had required them to serve him with gladness, and to walk cheerfully before him. They by their own superstitions made the service of God a task and drudgery to themselves, and then complained of it as a hard service."

7. Melvin Dewland, "To put it very bluntly, the people were saying that God was inconsequential, insignificant, & irrelevant. In other words, they thought that God was absolutely powerless to do anything about anything, anymore. So, as a nation, they were ignoring Him. He was unimportant to them."

15. But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"

1. Black is the new white for these people, for all that is evil and out of God's will is called good, for the proud are among the most favored, and the wicked in society come out smelling like a rose with more money in the bank than the righteous, and the people who defy God to his face escape many of the problems of life. The whole business of religion is a sham, for it does not work in making life more successful. These are not just doubts of the skeptics, for we have even faithful lovers of God in the Bible who have some of these same feelings about the value of their

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committment to God and his will.

1B. Grace Dotes, "Here, in context, the "arrogant" are those who have duped God of his levy. They have gained the 'things' that their accusers desire. They have retained their money, they have defrauded others, including widows and the poor; they have swindled others in business deals, and the result: "they have prospered." Or so it seems to those who observe them. "They have challenged God and escaped." In other words, they have "gotten away with it."

2. Brian Bill writes on this issue: "As they look around they see the proud prospering, and they don’t like it one bit. They wonder why evil people evade trouble while those who serve God end up getting the short end of the stick. Before we get too tough on them for railing against God’s justice, don’t we often do the same thing? This complaint is very similar to Asaph’s concerns in Psalm 73. Verse 3 tells us why he almost went spiritually AWOL: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” The word “arrogant” comes from a root word that means a loud and clear noise. The idea is that a proud person is one who toots his own horn real loud. It’s also used of the braying of a donkey. Dotice that Asaph is not upset with the arrogant or the wicked, he’s jealous of them. He wants what they have. The word “prosperity” doesn’t do justice to the original term: shalom, which means “completion” or “fulfillment” and was often used to describe peace, wholeness, harmony and physical well-being. Why should the wicked have everything that was only promised to God’s covenant people? God, this isn’t fair! They’re basically saying, “Since God has forgotten us, let’s forget Him.”

3. Clarke puts their complaints like this:"And now we call the proud happy - Proud and insolent men are the only happy people, for they domineer everywhere, and none dares to resist them. They that work wickedness are set up - The humble and holy are depressed and miserable; the proud and wicked are in places of trust and profit. Too often it is so. They that tempt God are even delivered - Even those who despise God, and insult his justice and providence, are preserved in and from dangers; while the righteous fall by them."

4. Gill, "... since this is the case, that the worshippers of God are not regarded, and there is nothing got by serving him; they that are proud and haughty, that neither fear God nor regard men, are the happy persons; even presumptuous sinners, as the word signifies, that stretch out their hands against God, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty; these enjoy all worldly happiness, while they that serve the Lord are mourning in sackcloth, and are in the utmost distress. The Targum explains it of the ungodly, and as it is explained in the following clause: yea, they that work wickedness are set up: or "built up"; or "seeing, because", or "for they that work", they are increased with children, by which their houses or families are built up; they are in a well settled and established condition; they abound in riches and honours; they are set in high places, and are in great esteem among men, even such who make it their constant business to commit sin: are even delivered; or, "and are delivered"; from the punishment threatened; they escape it, and go on with

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impunity; from which observations these persons reasoned that there was no God of judgment, or that judged in the earth; that there was no providence concerned about human affairs; and that there was nothing in religion; and these were the hard and stout words which they spoke against the Lord."

5. Calvin, "This verse is connected with the last, for the force of these words, “We have walked sorrowfully before God and have carefully kept his precepts,” does not fully appear, except this clause be added — that they saw in the meantime that the proud flourished and had their delights, as though they said, “We strive to deserve well of God by our services; he overlooks all our religious acts, and pours as it were all his bounty on our enemies, who are yet ungodly and profane.” We now see how these verses are connected together, for God disappointed the Jews of the reward they thought due to them, and in the meantime bestowed on the impious and undeserving his kindness.

5B. Calvin continues, "To call any one blessed, as we have before seen, is to acknowledge that God’s blessing is upon him, according to what God had promised, “Behold, all nations shall call thee blessed.” So a changed state of things is here set forth, for the Jews, when they were miserable, called others blessed; not that they willingly declared this, but envy forced them to complain of the cheerful and hamper state of the Gentiles, who were yet ungodly. And by the proud they meant all the despisers of God, a part being mentioned for the whole; and they were so called, because faith alone humbles us. Many unbelievers are indeed lauded for their humility, but no one becomes really humble without being first emptied of every conceit as to his own virtues. Some rise up against God, and rob him of what is his own, and then it is no wonder that they act insolently towards their neighbors, since they dare even to raise up their horns against God himself. And in many parts of Scripture the unbelieving are called proud, in order that we may know that we cannot be formed and habituated to humility until we submit to the yoke of God, so that he may turn us wherever he wishes, and until we cast aside every confidence in ourselves.

5C. Calvin continues, "The verb, to build, is taken in Hebrew in the sense of prospering, and is applied to many things. When therefore any one grows and increases in honors or in riches, when he accumulates wealth, or when he is raised as it were by degrees to a higher condition, he is said to be built up. It is also added that they were delivered, for it would not be enough to acquire much wealth, except aid from God comes in adversity, for no one, even the most fortunate, is exempt from every evil. Hence to building up the Prophet adds this second clause, — that God delivered the wicked from all evils, as though he covered them under his shadow, and as though they were his clients. With regard to the second verb, when he says that the ungodly tempted God, it is, we know, the work of unbelief to contend with God. The Prophet used the same word shortly before, when he said, “Prove me in this:” but God then, after the manner of men, submitted to a trial; here, on the contrary, the Prophet condemns that insolence which very commonly prevails in the world, when men seek to confine God, and to impose on him a law,

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and to inquire into his judgements: it is in short as though they had a right to prescribe to him according to their own caprice, so that he should not do this or that, and which if he did, to call on him to plead his own cause. We now then perceive what it is to prove or tempt God."

16. Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, 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.

1. In the midst of all this folly and disobedience we have a remnant who feared the Lord and pleased him. They talked and made plans while God listened in. Their plan was to make a scroll of remembrance to list the names of those who were faithful. It would be something like we have in Hebrews 11 with the list of all the great people of faith. Here was such a list of the contemporary people who honored God in their lives. How precious this scroll would be to God is seen in his declaration that these would be the ones he would spare in his judgment, and become his honored possessions. These were keepers God is saying, for they were willing to put their name on a list and openly confess their loyalty to their Lord. If God has a gigantic refrigerator in the sky, you can count on it that this list is posted there. These are the people who will escape God's judgment, and show the ungodly the great difference there will be between what happens to the faithful in contrast to those who were rebels. The difference is something like the difference between heaven and hell.

1B. We see here that God not only listens to our prayers, but also to our discussions and talks with other believers. He is like the proverbial fly on the wall that overhears all that takes place. He answers prayers and he answers decisions to do what honors him with honor given back to those making such wise choices. God is involved in every conversation we have, and the foolish people were unaware and were calling God irrelevant and other offensive things with him right there in their midst. God had pleasure in this group, however, for they planned to go against the grain of their time, and give God the honor that he was due. Piper said, "All of our life is a theater and we are the actors. Every kitchen, every car, every den, every office, every bedroom, every bar is on stage! And God is in the front row of the theater and doesn't a single line in the drama of our life -- not one! Do matter where or when or with whom we speak, God hears our conversations, and he interprets perfectly what they imply about him. In fact that is all that really matters about our conversations -- what they imply about God."

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1C. Grace Dotes, "...the term refers, in context, to those who "put God first; those that respond to God's love with a love-response of their own." And as these 'lovers of God' speak to others of similar love-response, they have great rapport, concord and harmony. This, then, is the great compatibility and mutual appreciation of soul that exists between spiritually mature believers. And this appreciation exceeds common rapport, it is the discovery of an elegance of soul that clings and never dissipates. This, then, is the association or, perhaps, 'atmosphere,' that existed between David and Jonathan. And here is the true "douceur de vivre," the "sweetness of life," that can exist between two persons. For they have put God first, and thus may derive joy from each other." "And He recorded their name in His "book of remembrance;" this, then, is God's 'scrapbook.' God "delights" in them. This is the book referred to in Exodus 32:32-33, Psalm 69:29; 87:6 and Daniel 12:1. Daniel 12:1c reads: "But at that time your people -- everyone whose name is found written in the book -- will be delivered."

1D. Bruce Howell, "Malachi tells us in verse 16 that the Lord enjoyed it so much that He had it written down in a book! That’s what the Lord does. He listens to our conversations, our prayers, our testimonies—and if they’re all about Him, He calls on an angel to take notes—to have a permanent record. And He delighted Himself with it. He writes down what was said and who said it!"

1E. The best description I have ever read of what it means to fear the Lord was written by Davon Huss. He wrote, "1. I fear my parents. I no longer fear that I will get a spanking or a whipping. When I was 8, 9, or 10 I feared that, but now I fear them from a different perspective. I do not want to disappoint them, make them ashamed, and dishonor the family name. I do not want my actions and attitudes to get in the way of our relationship. I fear them. I take into account how this will affect our relationship. Even if my actions will lead me to poverty, to ruin, to public humiliation, just to hear my parents’ words, "Son, we are so proud of you."2. I fear my wife. Dot in the sense that I am afraid of her. Do, but I do not want to disappoint her, make her ashamed of me, dishonor her through my actions. I do not want my actions and attitudes to get in the way of our relationship. I fear my wife. I take into account how each thing will affect our relationship. Even if my actions will lead us to poverty, to ruin, to public humiliation, just to hear Crystal’s words, "Davon, I am so proud of what you have done. I love you." 3. Above all of these, I fear the Lord. I do fear getting discipline from him, but beyond that I do not want to disappoint him, make him ashamed, and dishonor his Holy Dame. I do not want my actions and attitudes to get in the way of our relationship. Everything I do, I need to take into account how this will affect my relationship with the Lord. I fear and respect and honor the Lord. Even if my righteous actions lead me to poverty, to ruin, or to public humiliation, just to hear the Lord’s words, "Well done good and faithful servant" makes all the difference in the world."

2. Barnes, "The proud-speaking of the ungodly called out the piety of the God-fearing. “The more the ungodly spake against God, the more these spake among

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themselves for God.” Both went on until the Great Day of severance. True, as those said, the distinction between righteous and wicked was not made yet, but it was stored up out of sight. They “spake among themselves,” strengthening each other against the ungodly sayings of the ungodly. And the Lord hearkened and heard it - God was “bending the ear” from heaven “and heard.” Dot one pious loyal word for Him and His glory, escaped Him.

2B. Barnes continues with these great comments, "And a book of remembrance was written before Him - Kings had their chronicles written wherein people’s good or ill deeds toward them were recorded. But the image is one of the oldest in Scripture, and in the self-same words , “the Lord said to Moses, Write this, a memorial in a book.” God can only speak to us in our own language. One expression is not more human than another, since all are so. Since with God all things are present, and memory relates to the past, to speak of God as “remembering” is as imperfect an expression in regard to God, as to speak of “a book.” , “Forgetfulness hath no place with God, because He is in no way changed; nor remembrance, because He forgetteth not.” Both expressions are used, only to picture vividly to our minds, that our deeds are present with God, for good or for evil; and in the Day of Judgment He will make them manifest to men and angels, as though read out of a book, and will requite them. So Daniel had said Dan_7:10, “the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And John says Rev_20:12, “The books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” So Moses says to God, Exo_32:32, “If not, blot me out of Thy book which Thou hast written;” and David, prophesying, prays Psa_69:28, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written among the righteous;” and our Lord bids His discipies Luk_10:20, “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.”

3. Jamison, “Then,” when the ungodly utter such blasphemies against God, the godly hold mutual converse, defending God’s righteous dealings against those blasphemers (Heb_3:13). Feared the Lord — reverential and loving fear, not slavish terror. When the fire of religion burns low, true believers should draw the nearer together, to keep the holy flame alive. Coals separated soon go out.

book of remembrance ... for them — for their advantage, against the day when those found faithful among the faithless shall receive their final reward. The kings of Persia kept a record of those who had rendered services to the king, that they might be suitably rewarded (Est_6:1, Est_6:2; compare Est_2:23; Ezr_4:15; Psa_56:8; Isa_65:6; Dan_7:10; Rev_20:12). Calvin makes the fearers of God to be those awakened from among the ungodly mass (before described) to true repentance; the writing of the book thus will imply that some were reclaimable among the blasphemers, and that the godly should be assured that, though no hope appeared, there would be a door of penitence opened for them before God. But there is nothing in the context to support this view."

4. Keil, "The substance of this conversation is not described more minutely, but may

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be gathered from the context, namely, from the statement as to the attitude in which Jehovah stood towards them. We may see from this, that they strengthened themselves in their faith in Jehovah, as the holy God and just Judge who would in due time repay both the wicked and the righteous according to their deeds, and thus presented a great contrast to the great mass with their blasphemous sayings. This description of the conduct of the godly is an indirect admonition to the people, as to what their attitude towards God ought to be. What was done by those who feared Jehovah ought to be taken as a model by the whole nation which called Jehovah its God. Jehovah not only took notice of these conversations, but had them written in a book of remembrance, to reward them for them in due time. Writing in a book of remembrance recals to mind the custom of the Persians, of having the names of those who deserved well of the king entered in a book with a notice of their merits, that they might be rewarded for them at some future time (Est_6:1); but it rests upon the much older idea, that the names and actions of the righteous are written in a book before God (cf. Psa_56:9; Dan_7:10).

5. Clarke, "They that feared the Lord - There were a few godly in the land, who, hearing the language and seeing the profligacy of the rebels above, concluded that some signal mark of God’s vengeance must fall upon them; they, therefore, as the corruption increased, cleaved the closer to their Maker. There are three characteristics given of this people, viz.: -

1. They feared the Lord. They had that reverence for Jehovah that caused them to depart from evil, and to keep his ordinances.

2. They spake often one to another. They kept up the communion of saints. By mutual exhortation they strengthened each other’s hands in the Lord.

3. They thought on his name. His name was sacred to them; it was a fruitful source of profound and edifying meditation. The name of God is God himself in the plenitude of his power, omniscience, justice, goodness, mercy, and truth. What a source for thinking and contemplation! See how God treats such persons: The Lord hearkened to their conversation, heard the meditations of their hearts; and so approved of the whole that a book of remembrance was written before the Lord - all their names were carefully registered in heaven. Here is an allusion to records kept by kings, Est_6:1, of such as had performed signal services, and who should be the first to be rewarded.

6. Calvin, "In this verse the Prophet tells us that his doctrine had not been without fruit, for the faithful had been stimulated, so that they animated one another, and thus restored each other to a right course...........We ought at the same time to observe, that all were not moved by the Prophet’s exhortations to repent, but those who feared God: the greater part no doubt securely went on in their vices, and even openly derided the Prophet’s teaching. As then the truth profited only those who feared God, let us not wonder that it is despised at this day by the people in general; for it is given but to a few to obey God’s word; and the conversion of the heart is the peculiar gift of the Holy Spirit. There is therefore no reason for pious teachers to despond, when they do not see their doctrine received everywhere and by all, of

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when they see that but a few make any progress in it; but let them be content, when the Lord blesses their labor and renders it profitable and fruitful to some, however small their number may be.

6B. Calvin goes on, "He says that Jehovah attended and heard, and that a book of remembrance was written before him. He proves here that the faithful had not in vain repented, for God became a witness and a spectator: and this part is especially worthy of being noticed; for we lose not our labor when we turn to God, because he will receive us as it were with open arms. Our Prophet wished especially to show, that God attended; and hence he uses three forms of speaking. One word would have been enough, but he adds two more; and this is particularly emphatical, that there was a book of remembrance written. His purpose then was by this multiplicity of words to give greater encouragement to the faithful, that they might be convinced that their reward would be certain as soon as they devoted themselves to God, for God would not be blind to their piety."

7. An unknown author wrote, "The “fear of the Lord” can involve two things. One is that God might hurt us. The other is the fear that we might hurt Him by our behavior; that we should run away from Him by seeking refuge, joy and hope elsewhere. The word “fear” can refer to reverence or respect, but I wonder if this definition goes far enough. Philippians 2:12 challenges us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Most of us could stand to tremble more in the presence of God. He’s not just the big guy in the sky, or the man upstairs. He’s the Lord of Hosts, the Most High God, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the Almighty who is holy, holy, holy.

The remnant in Malachi 3 was in tune with the character of God and their conduct was such that instead of leveling charges against Him, they got together in order to edify each other: “Then those who feared the Lord talked together…” They met to mention what God had done for them. Psalm 66:16: “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” They shared. They opened up. They encouraged. They confessed. They cried. And they prayed. In short, they experienced a biblically functioning community, which employed both the vertical and horizontal elements. Those who are spiritually alive will seek out others of like commitment with whom to fellowship.

8. A.W. Tozer said that to know God is to fear Him and to be “stunned” by the splendor of His presence. God is not there just to meet our needs. We are here to bow before His supremacy in an attitude of holy fear so that we will worship Him with our ways and our words. We hear the longing of God in Deuteronomy 5:29: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”

9. I love the way someone commented on how God listened into their conversations. “…and the Lord listened and heard.” Isn’t it tough to keep talking when you

sense that no one is listening? The Lord locks in and listens when His people honor

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Him. The word “listen” means to prick up the ears. It has the idea of God leaning forward so that He can take in everything that is being said about Him. Psalm 33:18 says that the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him and Psalm 34:15 reminds us that his ears are attentive to the cry of the righteous. When we turn to God, He tunes in to our frequency. One commentator put it this way: “The ears of God strained to hear what the remnant were saying. Kings were making edicts, but God was listening to His people. Generals were giving orders, but God was listening to a handful of folks who feared His name; His ears were tuned to His faithful followers.” God sees, knows, and hears everything. He saw the cork fly out of Sammy’s bat and yet, He eavesdrops on those who exalt Him."

10. Henry, "Here is the gracious notice God takes of the pious talk of the saints in Zion, and the gracious recompence of it. Even in this corrupt and degenerate age, when there was so great a decay, nay, so great a contempt, of serious godliness, there were yet some that retained their integrity and zeal for God; and let us see,1. How they distinguished themselves, and what their character was; it was the reverse of theirs that spoke so much against God; for, (1.) They feared the Lord - that is the beginning of wisdom and the root of all religion; they reverenced the majesty of God, submitted to his authority, and had a dread of his wrath in all they thought and said; they humbly complied with God, and never spoke any stout words against him. In every age there has been a remnant that feared the Lord, though sometimes but a little remnant. (2.) They thought upon his name; they seriously considered and frequently mediated upon the discoveries God has made of himself in his word and by his providences, and their mediation of him was sweet to them and influenced them. They thought on his name; they consulted the honour of God and aimed at that as their ultimate end in all they did. Dote, Those that know the name of God should often think of it and dwell upon it in their thoughts; it is a copious curious subject, and frequent thoughts of it will contribute very much to our communion with God and the stirring up of our devout affections to him. (3.) They spoke often

one to another concerning the God they feared, and that name of his which they thought so much of; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak, and a good man, out of a good treasure there, will bring forth good things. Those that

feared the Lord kept together as those that were company for each other; they spoke kindly and endearingly one to another, for the preserving and promoting of mutual love, that that might not wax cold when iniquity did thus abound. They spoke intelligently and edifyingly to one another, for the increasing and improving of faith and holiness; they spoke one to another in the language of those that fear the Lord and think on his name - the language of Canaan. When profaneness had come to so great a height as to trample upon all that is sacred, then those that feared the Lord spoke often one to another."

17. "They will be mine," says the LORD

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Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.

1. God is not unlike man in this respect, that he loves his possessions which he personally chooses to be his own, and in this case his treasures are his own godly children who love him as he loves them. He loves his kids like they were his jewels, and most treasured possessions. God is preparing an eternal kingdom where all is good and beautiful forever, and without any defect, and he is going to people that kingdom with those who have been as righteous as a fallen world can produce. They are not perfect, but they have the potential of being made so because their hearts are right with God, and they love his will more than what the world wills for them. By grace he spares them from the judgment that destroys all others and all else. He does so like a father sparing his son because he is faithful to walk with his father in obedience rather than rebellion.

2. Barnes, “In the day of judgment, those who fear Me and believe and maintain My providence shall be to Me a special treasure, i. e., a people uniquely belonging and precious to Me, blessed in the vision and fruition of Me. For as in the old law, Israel was a special treasure a special people and inheritance of God, chosen out of all nations, so in the new law, Christians, and those who are righteous through grace, are the special treasure of God, and in heaven shall be His special treasure in glory, possessed by God and possessing God.’ The “special treasure,” is something, much prized, made great store of, and guarded. Such are Christians, bought at a great price, even by the precious Blood of Christ; but much more evidently such shall they be, Malachi says, in all eternity, which that day of final retribution shall decide , “joying in the participation of their Creator, by Whose eternity they are fixed, by Whose truth they are assured, by Whose gift they are holy.”

2B. Barnes goes on, "And I will spare them - It is a remarkable word, as used of those who should be to Him a “special treasure,” teaching that, not of their own merits, they shall be such, but by His great mercy. It stands in contrast with the doom of the wicked, whom that day shall sentence to everlasting less of God. Still, the saved also shall have needed the tender mercy of God, whereby He pardoned their misdeeds and had compassion upon them Psa_130:3, “If Thou, Lord, shalt lay up iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Among those whom God will spare on that day, will be countless, whom the self-righteous despised as sinners. “I will spare them, although formerly sinners; I will spare them, repenting, and serving Me with the service of a pious confession, as a man spareth his own son which served him.” For our Lord saith of the son, who refused to go work in his Father’s vineyard, and afterward repented and went, that he Mat_21:31, “did the will of his Father."

3. I like the KJV which calls them jewels, but we have to face the reality of language.

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Clarke points out, "Dot jewels; for in no part of the Bible does the word mean a gem or precious stone of any kind. The interpretations frequently given of the word in this verse, comparing saints to jewels, are forced and false. I will spare them - When I come to visit the wicked, I will take care of them. I will act towards them as a tender father would act towards his most loving and obedient son."

4. Gill, "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts,.... That is, such as fear the Lord, and think of him, hereby they are known to be his; and hereafter, in the time referred to, it will be manifest that they are his: they are Christ's already by his Father's gift of them to him; by his own purchase; by the conquests of his grace; and by the voluntary surrender of themselves: but, in the last day, they will be claimed and owned by Christ before his Father and his holy angels; and they will be known to be his, by themselves and others; and there will be no doubt about it, or questioning of it:"

5. Calvin, " In the first place then the Prophet testifies that God knows what is done by every one; and in the second place he adds that he will in his own time perform what he has decreed. So also in judgements, he preserves the same order in knowing and in executing. For when he said to Abraham that the cry of Sodom came up to heaven, (Genesis 18:20,) how great and how supine was the security of the city. How wantonly and how savagely they despised every authority to the very last moment! But God had long before ascended his tribunal, and had taken an account of their wickedness. So also in the case of the godly, though he seems to overlook their obedience, yet he has not his eyes closed, or his ears closed, for there is a book of memorial written before him.

5B. Calvin goes on, "Hence he says, They shall be in the day I make. The verb is put by itself, but we may easily learn from the context that it refers to the restoration of the Church. In the day then in which I shall make, that is, complete what I have already said; for he had before promised to restore the Church. As then he speaks of a known thing, he says shortly, In the day I shall make, or complete my work, they shall be to me a peculiar treasure. This phrase confirms what I have already stated — that God has his season and opportunity, in order that there may be no presumption in us to prescribe to him the time when he is to do this or that. In the day then when he shall gather his Church, it will then appear that we are his peculiar treasure.

5C. Calvin continues, "By the words peculiar treasure, God intimates that the lot of the godly will be different from that of the world; as though he had said, “Ye are now so mixed together, that they who serve me seem not to be peculiar any more than strangers; but they shall then be my peculiar treasure.” This is to be taken, as I have already mentioned, for the outward appearance; for we know that we have been chosen by God, before the foundation of the world, for this end — that we might be to him a peculiar treasure. But when we are afflicted in common with the wicked, or when we seem to be even rejected, and the ungodly, on the other hand, seem to have God propitious to them, then nothing seems less true than this promise. I therefore said that this ought to be referred to the outward appearance

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— that the faithful are God’s peculiar treasure, that they are valued by him, and that he shows to them peculiar love, as to his own inheritance.

6. Maclaren, "The promise, which lay at the foundation of Israel’s national existence, included the recognition of it as ‘a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people,’ and Malachi looks forward to that day as the epoch when God will show by His acts how precious the righteous are in His sight. Dot the whole Israel, but the righteous among them, are the heirs of the old promise. It is an anticipation of the teaching that ‘they are not all Israel which are of Israel,’ And it bids us look for the fulfilment of every promise of God’s to that great day of the Lord which lies still before us all, when the gulf between the righteous and the wicked shall be solemnly visible, wide, and profound. There have been many ‘days which I make’ in the world’s history, and in a measure each of them has re-established the apparently tottering truth that there is a God who judgeth in the earth, but the day of days is yet to come."

7. Henry,"He promises them a share in his glory hereafter (Mal_3:17): They shall be

mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels. When God utterly cuts off the Jewish church and nation for their infidelity, the remnant among them, that believed his word, and, having waited for the consolation of Israel, welcome him when he comes, shall be admitted into the Christian church, and shall become a peculiar people to God; God will take care of them, that they perish not

with those that believe not; but that they be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger

against that nation. They shall be my segullah - my peculiar treasure (it is the word used, Exo_19:5), in the day when I make or do what I have said and designed to do; so some read it. These pious ones shall have all the glorious privileges of God's Israel appropriated to them and centering in them; they shall now be his peculiar treasure, when the rest are rejected; they shall now be the vessels of mercy and honour, when the rest are made vessels of wrath and dishonour, vessels in which is no pleasure. This may be applied to all the faithful people of God, and the distinction he will put between them and others in the great day. Dote,[1.] The saints are God's jewels; they are highly esteemed by him and are dear to him; they are comely with the comeliness that he puts upon them, and he is pleased to glory in them; they are a royal diadem in his hand, Isa_62:3. He looks upon them as his own proper goods, his choice goods, his treasure, laid up in his cabinet, and the furniture of his closet, Psa_135:4. The rest of the world is but lumber, in comparison with them. [2.] There is a day coming when God will make up his jewels. They shall be gathered up out of the dirt into which they are now thrown, and gathered together from all places to which they are now scattered; he shall send forth his angels to gather his elect, who are his jewels, from the four winds of heaven (Mat_24:31), to gather his jewels into his jewel-house, as the wheat from several fields into the barn. All the saints will then be gathered to Christ, and none but saints, and saints made perfect; then God's jewels will be made up, as stones into a crown, as stars into a constellation. [3.] Those who now own God for theirs, he will then own for his, will publicly confess them before angels and men: “They shall be mine; their sanctification shall be completed, and so they shall be perfectly and entirely mine,

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without any remaining interests of the world and the flesh.” Their relation to God shall be acknowledged, and his property in them. He will separate them from those that are not his, and give them their portion with those that are his; for to them it shall be said, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.

They were in doubt, sometimes, whether they were belonging to God or no; but the matter shall then be put out of doubt. God himself will say unto them, You are mine.

0ow their relation to God is what they are reproached with, but it will then be gloried in; God himself will glory in it."

8. God loves to spare his own from judgment. "Zech. 13:9 "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

9. It is assumed that this remnant was a small group compared to the majority who were in rebellion against God, but God does not ignore a group because they are small and insignificant as far as numbers go. He knows the value of quality over quantity. The following story illustrates this truty: Back in 1947, a professor at the University of Chicago was scheduled to teach an advanced seminar in astrophysics. At the time he was living in Wisconsin, doing research. He planned to commute twice a week for the class, even though it would be held during the harsh winter months. Registration for the seminar, however, fell far below expectations. Only two students signed up for the class. People expected the professor to cancel, lest he waste his time. But for the sake of two students, he taught the class, commuting 100 miles round trip through back country roads in the dead of winter. His students did their homework. Ten years later, in 1957, they both won the Dobel prize for physics. And in 1983, so did the professor. Only a handful, but what a handful!" Told by Melvin Dewland

10. Spurgeon, "These words were spoken in a very graceless age, when religion was peculiarly distasteful to men; when they scoffed at God's altar, and said of His service, 'What a weariness it is!' and scornfully asked, 'What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance?' Yet even those dark nights were not uncheered by bright stars. Though the house of national worship was often deserted, there were secret conventicles of those who 'feared the Lord,' and who 'spoke often one to another,' and our God, who regards quality more than quantity, had respect to these elect twos and threes. He 'hearkened and heard,' and so approved of that which He heard that He takes notes of it, and declared that He will publish it. 'A book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name'! Yes, and He valued so much these hidden ones that He called them His 'jewels,' and declared in the great day when He should gather together His retinue, His regalia, the peculiar treasure of kings, He would look upon these hidden ones as being more priceless than emeralds, rubies, or pearls."

11. Arthur W. Pink is rightly amazed by God's treasures. He wrote, "It is not the

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unfallen angels, nor the holy seraphim and exalted cherubim who are spoken of as Jehovah's valued treasure, but lost and ruined sinners saved by amazing grace!"

"In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." This is seen in the difference between human and Divine estimates of relative values. The world's standard of worth is very different from that of God's. Who are the immortals of human history? Caesar, Charlemagne, Dapoleon: soldiers and warriors. Among statesmen and politicians we may mention Gladstone and Lincoln: among dramatists, Goethe and Shakespeare. Those were great in the eyes of earth; but who were great in the eyes of Heaven? For the most part they were unknown down here. They were humble and lowly, insignificant in the affairs of the world. Their names were never chronicled among men; but they were written in the Lamb's Book of Life!"

18. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

1. It is in judgment that we see justice and fairness. At any point in history the wicked may prosper more than the righteous, and they may experience many pleasures and riches that the righteous do not experience. God, however, will set all things right in the end, and will make a clear distinction between the righteous and the wicked. The wicked will have chosen a few years of wicked pleasure, but endure endless rejection and loss. The righteous have endured temporary loss, but they will enjoy endless pleasure and happiness. Any fool can see that it is wiser to choose the way that leads to perpetual joy rather than the way that leads to perpetual judgment. Only a fool would choose perpetual pain for the same of passing pleasure, but that is the choice of those who reject God and his will. Many of God's own people have chosen the way of folly rather than the way of wisdom. The full foolishness of their choice will be revealed in the day of judgment.

1B. One of the clear distinctions between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous repent and change their behavior. Do doubt some of the righteous were influenced by the evils of their day, but when they saw the folly of it, the changed and began to fellowship with those of like mind who loved the Lord and wanted to give him full respect and honor. A sports illustration told by John D. McArthur, Jr. shows us how the righteous respond to the warnings of the prophet. When Michigan played Wisconsin in basketball early in the 1989 season, Michigan's Rumeal Robinson stepped to the foul line for two shots late in the second half. His team

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trailed by one point, so Rumeal could regain the lead for Michigan. He missed both shots, allowing Wisconsin to upset favored Michigan.

Rumeal felt awful about costing his team the game, but his sorrow did not stop at the emotional level. After each practice, for the rest of the season, Rumeal shot 100 extra foul shots. Michigan made it that year to the DCAA championship game and they found themselves in a similar situation. This time there were three seconds left in overtime when Rumeal was fouled. And this time, Rumeal Robinson made both shots and Michigan won the national title. Rumeal's repentance had been genuine and sorrow motivated him to work so that he would never make that mistake again."

2. Jamison, "Then shall ye ... discern — Then shall ye see the falseness of your calumny against God’s government (Mal_3:15), that the “proud” and wicked prosper. Do not judge before the time till My work is complete. It is in part to test your disposition to trust in God in spite of perplexing appearances, and in order to make your service less mercenary, that the present blended state is allowed; but at last all (“ye,” both godly and ungodly) shall see the eternal difference there really is “between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not” (Psa_58:11).

3. Calvin, "Malachi more particularly addressed the ungodly, and checked again their furious blasphemies; for we find almost the same sentiment expressed here, as when he said, “The Lord whom ye expect shall come to his temple, and the angel of the covenant whom ye seek;” and at the same time he showed that the coming of Christ, which they said was advancing too slowly, would not be such as they desired or looked for. “Let not this delay,” he says, “be grievous to you; for everything terrible which his majesty possesses will be turned on your heads; for he will come as an angry judge and an avenger: ye therefore in vain hope for any comfort or alleviation from his presence.”

3B. Calvin continues, "So also he says in this place, Ye shall see this difference between the just and the unjust; that is, “Ye shall find that God does not sleep in heaven, when the ungodly grow wanton on the earth and abandon themselves to every kind of wickedness: experience then will at length teach you, that men shall not thus with impunity become insolent against God, but that all your wickedness must come to a reckoning.” When therefore he says, that they would find the difference between the godly and the ungodly, he means that they would find by the punishments which God would inflict, that men are not permitted to indulge their own depraved desires, as though God slept in heaven, forgetful of his office. Their blasphemy was, “In vain is God worshipped; what is the benefit? for we have kept his charge, and yet the proud are more happy than we are.” As then they accused God of such a connivance, as though he disregarded and cast away his own servants, and showed favor to the wicked, Malachi returns them an answer and says, “Ye shall see how much the good differ from the evil; God indeed spares the wicked, but he will at length rise to judgement, and come armed suddenly upon them, and then ye shall know that all the deeds of men are noticed by him, and that wickedness

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shall not go unpunished, though God for a time delays his vengeance.” "We now then perceive the Prophet’s meaning — that the ungodly who clamor against God, as though he made no account either of the just or of the unjust, shall find, even to their own loss, that he is one who punishes wickedness."