World Wide Study Bible
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3. The Day of Judgment
1Lo, I am sending My messenger, And he hath prepared a way before Me, And suddenly come in unto his temple Doth the Lord whom ye are seeking, Even the messenger of the covenant, Whom ye are desiring, Lo, he is coming, said Jehovah of Hosts. 2And who is bearing the day of his coming? And who is standing in his appearing? For he [is] as fire of a refiner, And as soap of a fuller. 3And he hath sat, a refiner and purifier of silver, And he hath purified the sons of Levi, And hath refined them as gold and as silver, And they have been to Jehovah bringing nigh a present in righteousness. 4And sweet to Jehovah hath been the present of Judah and Jerusalem, As in days of old, and as in former years. 5And I have drawn near to you for judgment, And I have been a witness, Making haste against sorcerers, And against adulterers, And against swearers to a falsehood, And against oppressors of the hire of an hireling, Of a widow, and of a fatherless one, And those turning aside a sojourner, And who fear Me not, said Jehovah of Hosts. 6For I [am] Jehovah, I have not changed, And ye, the sons of Jacob, Ye have not been consumed. 7Even from the days of your fathers Ye have turned aside from My statutes, And ye have not taken heed. Turn back unto Me, and I turn back to you, Said Jehovah of Hosts. And ye have said, `In what do we turn back?` 8Doth man deceive God? but ye are deceiving Me, And ye have said: `In what have we deceived Thee?` The tithe and the heave-offering! 9With a curse ye are cursed! And Me ye are deceiving -- this nation -- all of it. 10Bring in all the tithe unto the treasure-house, And there is food in My house; When ye have tried Me, now, with this, Said Jehovah of Hosts, Do not I open to you the windows of heaven? Yea, I have emptied on you a blessing till there is no space. 11And I have pushed for you against the consumer, And He doth not destroy to you the fruit of the ground, Nor miscarry to you doth the vine in the field, Said Jehovah of Hosts. 12And declared you happy have all the nations, For ye are a delightful land, said Jehovah of Hosts. 13Hard against Me have been your words, Said Jehovah, and ye have said: `What have we spoken against Thee?` 14Ye have said, `A vain thing to serve God! And what gain when we kept His charge? And when we have gone in black, Because of Jehovah of Hosts? 15And now, we are declaring the proud happy, Yea, built up have been those doing wickedness, Yea they have tempted God, and escape.` 16Then have those fearing Jehovah spoken one to another, And Jehovah doth attend and hear, And written is a book of memorial before Him Of those fearing Jehovah, And of those esteeming His name. 17And they have been to Me, said Jehovah of Hosts, In the day that I am appointing -- a peculiar treasure, And I have had pity on them, As one hath pity on his son who is serving him. 18And ye have turned back and considered, Between the righteous and the wicked, Between the servant of God and him who is not His servant.
The first words of this chapter seem an answer to the scoffers of those days. Here is a prophecy of the appearing of John the Baptist. He is Christ's harbinger. He shall prepare the way before him, by calling men to repentance. The Messiah had been long called, “He that should come,” and now shortly he will come. He is the Messenger of the covenant. Those who seek Jesus, shall find pleasure in him, often when not looked for. The Lord Jesus, prepares the sinner's heart to be his temple, by the ministry of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, and he enters it as the Messenger of peace and consolation. No hypocrite or formalist can endure his doctrine, or stand before his tribunal. Christ came to distinguish men, to separate between the precious and the vile. 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 souls. He will take away the dross found in them. He will separate their corruptions, which render their faculties worthless and useless. The believer needs not fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Saviour refines his gold. He will take care it is not more intense or longer than is needful for his good; and this trial will end far otherwise than that of the wicked. Christ will, by interceding for them, make them accepted. Where no fear of God is, no good is to be expected. Evil pursues sinners. God is unchangeable. And though the sentence against evil works be not executed speedily, yet it will be executed; the Lord is as much an enemy to sin as ever. We may all apply this to ourselves. Because we have to do with a God that changes not, therefore it is that we are not consumed; because his compassions fail not.
The men of that generation turned away from God, they had not kept his ordinances. God gives them a gracious call. But they said, Wherein shall we return? God notices what returns our hearts make to the calls of his word. It shows great perverseness in sin, when men make afflictions excuses for sin, which are sent to part between them and their sins. Here is an earnest exhortation to reform. God must be served in the first place; and the interest of our souls ought to be preferred before that of our bodies. Let them trust God to provide for their comfort. God has blessings ready for us, but through the weakness of our faith and the narrowness of our desires, we have not room to receive them. He who makes trial will find nothing is lost by honouring the Lord with his substance.
Among the Jews at this time, some plainly discovered themselves to be children of the wicked one. The yoke of Christ is easy. But those who work wickedness, tempt God by presumptuous sins. Judge of things as they will appear when the doom of these proud sinners comes to be executed. Those that feared the Lord, spake kindly, for preserving and promoting mutual love, when sin thus abounded. They spake one to another, in the language of those that fear the Lord, and think on his name. As evil communications corrupt good minds and manners, so good communications confirm them. A book of remembrance was written before God. He will take care that his children perish not with those that believe not. They shall be vessels of mercy and honour, when the rest are made vessels of wrath and dishonour. The saints are God's jewels; they are dear to him. He will preserve them as his jewels, when the earth is burned up like dross. Those who now own God for theirs, he will then own for his. It is our duty to serve God with the disposition of children; and he will not have his children trained up in idleness; they must do him service from a principle of love. Even God's children stand in need of sparing mercy. All are righteous or wicked, such as serve God, or such as serve him not: all are going to heaven or to hell. We are often deceived in our opinions concerning both the one and the other; but at the bar of Christ, every man's character will be known. As to ourselves, we have need to think among which we shall have our lot; and, as to others, we must judge nothing before the time. But in the end all the world will confess that those alone were wise and happy, who served the Lord and trusted in Him.