Mal 3.1-18 gives the answer to the question on Mal 2.17, “Where is the God of Justice?” But, before he comes, he will send his messenger of the covenant. This was actually fulfilled (given meaning) when Yochanon ha Matvil (John the immerser) came and preceded Yeshua. After, he has told them that he will suddenly draw near to judge the wicked. He goes on to explain why he has withheld his blessing. There will also be a contrast between those who fear Yehovah and the wicked.
v 1…”Behold (here is the answer to the question in 2.17), I am going to send my messenger (“malaki” in Hebrew is a word play on the name of the prophet), and he (“Elijah” or the “voice”, Yochanon) will clear the way before me (as the “poretz” or breachmaker-Isa 40.3; Isa 62.10-12; Mic 2.12-13-the “highway.” This “malak” is not heavenly or an angel, but an earthly agent who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah-Mal 4.5; this points to Yochanon because no earthly prophet arose in Israel after Malachi and the coming of Yochanon). And the Lord (Adon) whom you seek will suddenly (like a thief) come to his temple (Hebrew “heichal” or the literal Temple or large building) and the messenger (malak) of the covenant (covenant is the Torah at Sinai with Israel, where Yehovah dwells among his people and blesses the righteous and judges the wicked-Exo 25.8; Lev 25.11; Deut 4.24; Isa 33.14-this was fulfilled, or given meaning, when Yeshua came, having his way prepared by Yochanon, in whom you delight (speaking to those who still desire the orah and want it to be fulfilled), behold (see), he is coming,” says the Lord of hosts (armies).
v 2…”But who can endure the day of his coming (he is speaking to the wicked, and the answer is, “no one endures it”-Joel 2.11)? And who can stand when he appears (a parallelism)? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap (where the fire burns out impurities and the soap cleanses the Levites).
v 3…And he will sit as a smelter (now Yehovah is not the fire, but the smelter) and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings (minchah) in righteousness (their moral character will be in line with a proper condition of the heart).
v 4…Then the offerings (minchah) of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in the former years (during the time of Moses, or David and the first years of Solomon).
v 5…Then I will draw near (“karavti” and this word is related to the word “korban” meaning to “draw near” and it is the word used for the offerings) to you for judgment (the wicked who do not fear him) and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely (Lev 19.12), and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages (didn’t pay them), the widow and the orphan (devouring widow’s houses and causing affliction to the fatherless), and those who turn aside the alien (“ger”-do not do him justice), and do not fear me (the root of these sins),” says the Lord of hosts.
v 6…”For I, the Lord (Yehovah), do not change before you (if you think I have because I have not executed judgment yet). Therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
v 7…From the days of your fathers you have departed from my ordinances (chukim) and have not kept them. return (shuv/repent) to me and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
v 8…Will a man rob God (defraud him)? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and contributions (the maaser and the terumot by either not paying them or not bringing them to the Temple or storehouse; these were agricultural produce and animals, not money from trade or commerce).
v 9…You are cursed with a curse (failure of the harvest, barren crops for not paying off them), for you are robbing (defrauding) me, the whole nation!
v 10…Bring the whole tithe into the storehouses (in the Levitical cities and in the Temple; the tithe went like this. There was a seven-year cycle called the Shemitah. In the first year of the Shemitah, the first tithe is called the Maaser Rishon, and it went to the Levitical city storehouses nearest to the farmer at Shavuot. The second tithe, the Maaser Sheni, went to the Temple storehouses at Sukkot-Deut 14.12-29. In the second year, the Maaser Rishon went to the Levitical city storehouses at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni went to the Temple storehouses at Sukkot. In the third year, the Maaser Rishon went to the Levitical city storehouses at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni went to the Levitical city storehouses at Sukkot for the widows, orphans, and the poor-Deut 26.12-15. In the fourth year, the Maaser Rishon went to the Levitical city storehouses at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni went to the Temple storehouses at Sukkot. In the fifth year, the Maaser Rishon went to the Levitical city storehouses at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni went to the Temple storehouses at Sukkot. In the sixth year, the Maaser Rishon went to the Levitical city storehouses at Shavuot, and the Maaser Sheni went to the Levitical city storehouses at Sukkot for the widows, orphans, and the poor. In the seventh year, there were no crops, so no tithing)so that there may be food in my house, and test me now with this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I do not open for you the windows of heaven (rain for the crops) and pour out for you a blessing until there is a superabundance.
v 11…Then I will rebuke the devourer for you (anything that could injure the produce) so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts (tithing only applied while the Temple stood, only in the lnad of Israel, andn it was given to the Levites who distributed a tenth to the priests and the rest to the nnedy. What is called (tithing” today is not biblical and it didn’t start till about 800 years ago when funds were needed to build a cathedral. Tithing as seen today was not in practice during the biblical period).
v 12…And the nations will call you blessed; for you shall be a delightful land (an object of pleasure),” says the Lord of hosts.
v 13…”Your words have been arrogant against me (after he shows them why they have not succeeded, he further tells them their murmuring against him is unjust),” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against you?’
v 14…You have said, ‘It is vain (useless) to serve God; and what gain is it that we have kept his charge (they don’t walk outwardly out of love, but in selfish gain), and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts (because the righteous have no advantage over the unrighteous)?
v 15…So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up (in apparent joy and happiness), but they also test God and escape (nothing seems to happen to them).”
v 16…Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another (in faith that Yehovah will judge in due time and repay the rashim and the tzadikim), and the Lord gave attention and heard, and a book of remembrance (Sefer Zikron) was written before him for those who fear the Lord and esteem his name (that they can be rewarded in the future; this concept is taught at Rosh Ha Shanah, which is also called “Yom Ha Zikaron” or the day of remembrance; this is the day that the Nazal will happen when the Lord “remembers” the believers and there is a resurrection before the birth-pains begin).
v 17…”And they will be mine (a possession),” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day (the day of judgment that goes along with his coming) that I prepare (ceate), and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
v 18…So you will again distinguish between the righteous (tzadik) and the wicked (rasha), between the one who serves God (by following the Torah in love of God) and one who does not serve him (Matt 7.21-23; 1 John 2.1-4; the difference had been seen before in previous judgments, and it will reveal itself again).”