1The Lord who rules over all says, “I will send my messenger. He will prepare my way for me. Then suddenly the Lord you are looking for will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant will come. He is the one you long for.”
2But who can live through the day when he comes? Who will be left standing when he appears? He will be like a fire that makes things pure. He will be like soap that makes things clean. 3He will act like one who makes silver pure. And he will purify the Levites, just as gold and silver are purified with fire. Then these men will bring proper offerings to the Lord. 4And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to him. It will be as it was in days and years gone by.
5“So I will come and put you on trial. I will be quick to bring charges against all of you,” says the Lord who rules over all. “I will bring charges against you sinful people who do not have any respect for me. That includes those who practice evil magic. It includes those who commit adultery and those who tell lies in court. It includes those who cheat workers out of their pay. It includes those who treat widows badly. It also includes those who mistreat children whose fathers have died. And it includes those who take away the rights of outsiders in the courts.
Breaking the Covenant by Stealing From God
6“I am the Lord. I do not change. That is why I have not destroyed you members of Jacob’s family. 7You have turned away from my rules. You have not obeyed them. You have lived that way ever since the days of your people of long ago. Return to me. Then I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all.
“But you ask, ‘How can we return?’
8“Will a mere human being dare to steal from God? But you rob me!
“You ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“By holding back your offerings. You also steal from me when you do not bring me a tenth of everything you produce. 9So you are under my curse. In fact, your whole nation is under my curse. That is because you are robbing me. 10Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Test me this way,” says the Lord. “Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room to store them. 11I will keep bugs from eating up your crops. And your grapes will not drop from the vines before they are ripe,” says the Lord. 12“Then all the nations will call you blessed. Your land will be delightful,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Israel Speaks With Pride Against the Lord
13“You have spoken with pride against me,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘What have we spoken against you?’
14“You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. What do we gain by obeying his laws? And what do we get by pretending to be sad in front of the Lord? 15But now we call proud people blessed. Things go well with those who do what is evil. And God doesn’t even punish those who test him.’ ”
Those Who Respect the Lord
16Those who had respect for the Lord talked with one another. And the Lord heard them. A list of people and what they did was written in a book in front of him. It included the names of those who respected the Lord and honored him.
17“The day is coming when I will judge,” says the Lord who rules over all. “On that day they will be my special treasure. I will spare them just as a father loves and spares his son who serves him. 18Then once again you will see the difference between godly people and sinful people. And you will see the difference between those who serve me and those who do not.