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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Malachi 3

Verses 1-18


Cheating God (2:17-3:18)

When the Jews saw surrounding nations prosper while they suffered hardship, they complained that God was not just. Other nations made no effort to keep God’s law, whereas Israel was his people (17). Malachi replies that if justice is what the Jews want, then justice is what they will have; but they must realize that such justice will apply to them as well as to their heathen neighbours. They have asked for the God of justice; now he will come and do his work of justice among them (3:1).

God will intervene in human affairs and bless his people as they wish, but first he will have to cleanse them of all uncleanness, rebellion and social injustice - and this will be a very painful process. Those who resist his cleansing and continue in their sin will be punished with swift destruction (2-5). (The intervention of God spoken of here was the coming of Jesus Christ. The messenger who came before him was John the Baptist; see Matthew 3:10-12; Matthew 11:10; John 3:27-28.)

If the people want to escape hardship, they should be asking for mercy, not justice; for their hardship, though a punishment, is a merciful punishment. As always, God has been extremely patient with them. If God always acted according to strict justice (as they are claiming he should) they would all have been destroyed long ago (6-7).
Because of drought, locust plagues and plant diseases, they have had poor crops, but all these disasters have been sent by God. They are his punishment upon them because they have kept for themselves what rightly belongs to him. In their selfishness they have failed to give him their tithes and offerings (8-9). They must change their ways and be honest with God. Then he will bless them with good rains and good crops. The result of their generosity will be that they become more contented and their land becomes a better place in which to live (10-12).
Many of the people continue to murmur against God. They complain that it is useless to try to live to please him, as they still suffer hardships. By contrast, those who openly defy him seem to prosper (13-15). Others, however, will not allow themselves to be influenced by such talk. They encourage one another to remain faithful to God, believing that he will never forsake them. The difference between these two classes - those who truly serve God and those who do not - will be clearly seen in the day of judgment (16-18).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Malachi 3". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/malachi-3.html. 2005.