Malachi 3:6 I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Israel was not destroyed because God doesn’t change. The reason he doesn’t change is because he is perfect, and any change would make him less than perfect. And because God is perfect, he will always keep his word. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 3:8), says Hebrews. Whatever he has promised will certainly be fulfilled.
Malachi 3:7 Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.
This is a wonderful promise to all who have wandered from Christ. No matter how far we have strayed, or how badly we have sinned, we can always be sure that God will take us back if we are willing to return. [W]hoever comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37), said Jesus. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8), wrote James.
This is like a marriage where the husband and wife have drifted apart. If neither wants a closer relationship, it will never happen. If one wants a closer relationship, it might happen. But if both want a closer relationship, they could become closer than ever. God wants to be closer to us, and he wants us to be closer to him. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:8 Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, How are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings.
God’s people were suffering financially, and were giving less to the temple, so they could support themselves. But this was a violation of God’s law which said, A tithe of everything . . . belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30). The word tithe means tenth, and ten percent of a person’s income was the standard for giving. Malachi warned the people that anyone who gave less than ten percent was actually robbing God.
After receiving the offering, a particular usher always went to the restroom, before taking the offering to the church office. The treasurer noticed that whenever this usher was in charge of the offering, there was an absence of twenty dollar bills. The usher was put under surveillance, and was caught in the act of robbing God. Few would ever think of taking money out of an offering, but some were robbing God by putting little in.
Malachi 3:10 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 there will not be room enough to store it.
God’s people withheld their money because they did not seem to have enough. So God promised that if they would be generous toward him, he would be generous toward them.
The Apostle Paul said something similar to believers in Corinth. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give . . . for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7), he wrote.
Giving to God is in our best interest because God likes to give back. But giving ten percent was never taught by Jesus or the apostles. They emphasized generosity and sacrifice.
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. Truly I tell you, he said, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on (Luke 21:1-4).
Those who can give more than ten percent should certainly do so. But those who give less than ten percent are not under God’s frown, as long as they give sacrificially. God proved his love through sacrifice, and we should do the same.
Malachi 4:5-6 See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.
These verses are remarkable for at least two reasons. First, they are the last words in the Old Testament, and show the story is not over. The New Testament ends with paradise restored (Revelation 21-22), which is a perfect conclusion to the whole Bible. The Old Testament is an unfinished book, which is finished perfectly by the New Testament.
Second, these verses are remarkable because they predict the coming of Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), and Jesus recognized him as the one predicted by Malachi (Matthew 11:10, Malachi 3:1). For the Bible to predict the coming of Messiah is amazing, but to also predict his forerunner is even more amazing.
It is also amazing that the Old Testament ends by looking ahead to Messiah’s forerunner, and the New Testament begins with the arrival of Messiah’s forerunner (Matthew 3, Luke 1). For Jesus and John the Baptist to arrive at the same time and place is a remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. This is just another way of God signing his book (2 Timothy 3:16).
Reflection and Review
Why is it impossible for God to change?
What is the standard of giving in the New Testament?
Why doesn’t the Old Testament have a proper ending?