The special person comes as a judge
1 ‘See, I will send someone with my message. He will prepare the way before me. And so the Lord that you are looking for will return to his temple. He will come quickly. And you do not know when he will come. It is he that you want so much. The man who brings the message about the promise will come’, says the LORD Almighty.
2 ‘But nobody will be able to stand when the LORD appears. It will be impossible for anyone to remain the same on the day that he comes. That is because he will be like a refiner's fire. He will be like the soap that people use to make cloths white.’
3:2The purpose of the refiner is not to destroy but to make the metal clean. So on this difficult day the LORD will remove from people all that is not good. He will clean what he does not remove.
3 ‘He will sit as a refiner of silver. The refiner works until the silver shines. He will make the priests clean as a refiner works with gold and silver. Then the LORD will have righteous people who will bring proper offerings. 4 The LORD will accept all the gifts of Judah and Jerusalem that people give in a right way. It will be as it was earlier. It will be as it was a long time ago.’
5 The LORD Almighty says, ‘So I will come near to you as your judge. And I will decide how to punish those who have done wrong things. I will immediately speak against magicians, adulterers and perjurers. I will speak against those who do not pay their workers.
Some women's husbands have died. I will speak against anyone who does cruel things to these wives and to their children. And some of you are deciding things about foreign people in ways that are not fair.
All these people are doing wrong things. They do not think that I am being serious. They are not afraid of me and they do not respect me.’
3:5The refiner's fire destroys everything that he does not want. So, God will kill those in the group of people who have nothing good in them.
The Israelites are robbing God
6 ‘I am the LORD and I do not change. So I have not killed you who are descendants of Jacob. 7 I have told you what I want you to do. But you do not listen to me any longer. You have not obeyed me. All Jacob's descendants have done the same. Return to me and I will return to you’, says the LORD Almighty. ‘But you ask, “How do we return?” 8 A man should not rob God. But you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” You rob tithes and offerings from me. 9 You, and everyone who is an Israelite, are robbing me. So you are all receiving the results of a curse. 10 Give me all that is mine. Store it so that there will be food in my house. Do this. And find out what I will do’, says the LORD Almighty. ‘You will receive so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it. It will be like rain that I pour out of the sky. It will be like rain that covers the ground with a lot of water. 11 I will not let insects eat your crops. The grapes will not fall from the vines before they are ready to eat. 12 You will enjoy your land’, says the LORD Almighty. ‘So all the people on earth will say that God has blessed you.’
3:12The house that the writer is talking about here is the temple. The temple is where the Israelites worshipped. The Israelites had to give something to keep it beautiful. They also had to give something to the priests, because the priests worked there. They gave a tithe from what a person paid them for their work. They could give more if they wanted to. These gifts were the offerings.
13 ‘You have said cruel words against me’, says the LORD. ‘But you ask, “What have we said about you?” 14 You have said, “We work for God. But nothing good happens because of this. We do what he asks us to do. We are sorry when we do wrong things. And we show him that we are sorry. There are no good results from this.
15 Some people think that they are better than other people. We now think that those people have blessings from God. Surely, those who do wrong things enjoy a good life. Even those who fight against God do not have trouble.” ’
The great day of the LORD
16 Then those people who respected the LORD talked to each other. The LORD listened and he heard. Someone, who was with the LORD, wrote on a scroll. The LORD watched while this person wrote. He wrote about all the people who worshipped the LORD. These are the people who respected the LORD's name. Now everyone would remember these people.
17 ‘These people will be mine’, says the LORD Almighty. ‘One day I will bring together all my own people. They are worth a lot to me and I really want them. A man is merciful to his son who works for him. I will be merciful to my people like that. 18 Then you will again see how the good people are different from the very bad people. Also, some people are God's servants and some people are not God's servants. And you will again see that difference too.’