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 the Lord's people will bring proper offerings. 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 judge you. 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 crush widows. 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.
Do Not Steal 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 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 man dare to steal from me? But you rob me!
"You ask, 'How do we rob 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 it. That is because you are robbing me.
10"Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Put me to the test," 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 for 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 of the nations will call you blessed. Your land will be delightful," says the Lord who rules over all.
13"You have spoken bad things 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 did we gain by obeying his laws? And what did 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 argue with him.' "
16Those who had respect for the Lord talked with one another. They cheered each other up. And the Lord heard them. A list of people and what they did was written on a scroll in front of him. It included the names of those who respected the Lord and honored him.
17"They will belong to me," says the Lord who rules over all. "They will be my special treasure. I will spare them just as a loving father 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.