The priests teach wrong things
1‘And now, priests, I am talking to you. So be careful. 2If you do not listen’, says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will curse you. If you do not decide to respect my name, I will curse your blessings. You have not yet decided to respect my name. So I have already cursed your blessings.’ #2:2 The blessings here may mean the gifts that the people gave to the priests. They may also mean the words, ‘I pray that God will bless you.’ The priests said those words to the people when the priests prayed. Already God had started to curse the priests' blessings. This was a very serious thing. Perhaps they could not change things now.
3‘I will tell your descendants that they have done wrong things. This is because you have done wrong things. I will tell them that I am not happy with them. I will tell them that they must not do wrong things again. I will cover your faces with the offal from your festival sacrifices. Someone will carry you away with it.’ #2:3 After someone had given an animal, a priest killed it. And he cut out the offal. He then took the offal outside God's house and he burnt it. Then he had to clean himself so that God would accept him. He could then go into God's house again. #2:3 Some priests gave animals that were not clean. God was not happy with those priests. The priests took the offal outside. In the same way, God would send them away from him. Everyone would see by their faces that they had done wrong things. God does not say here, ‘The priests can wash. They can come back to me.’ He would remember that they had done wrong things. Even after they died, he would remember that. God would think of their descendants as the people who had done wrong things. So the descendants would have a difficult time.
4‘I have told you that you must be careful. This is so that my promises with Levi can continue’, says the Lord Almighty. #2:4 God wanted the people to stop doing wrong things. That is why God spoke about all these bad things. #2:4 Levi was one of Jacob's sons. From him, God chose the first priest. God promised blessings to the priest if he agreed to obey God. Then the good life that he had with God would continue.
5‘I promised to Levi a good life and many blessings. He received what I promised him. So, he did what I asked him to do. He worshipped me, and he respected me. He knew that my name is very great. He was afraid of me. So, he was careful when he was with me. 6He taught what was right. He told people only facts. He often talked to me. And he enjoyed the times when he was with me. He did what was right. And we agreed about how he should live. He caused many people to stop doing wrong things.
7 Priests are men that the Lord Almighty has chosen. They must speak his messages for him. The priests should tell people what they know about God. They should tell people about what God has asked them all to do. If they did that, everyone would remember these important facts. People should ask the priests what they need to know. 8People who love me want to do certain things. But you have stopped doing those things. What you teach causes many people to make mistakes. What I agreed with Levi does not happen any longer’, says the Lord Almighty. #2:8 The priests were those who loved God. So, they usually lived a good life. But now they were not living a good life. This meant that the priests also taught in a wrong way. People could see that they were doing wrong things. And when people listened to them, the priests told the people some false things. So, the people started to do wrong things in their lives.
9‘So people have scorned you. They have then shown other people what you have done. Everyone now thinks that you are fools. I have caused this to happen. You have not done what I asked you to do. In your jobs as priests you have not used the same rules for everyone.’ #2:9 The priests tried to show to other people that they, the priests, were good. But that was not what they were really like. They did not do everything that God wanted them to do. They only did the things that they wanted to do. They may have been nicer to rich people than they were to poor people.
Judah's people do not obey God
10We all have one Father. One God made us from nothing. We have agreed to do things for each other. But we do not do them. So we scorn what God agreed with our fathers. We ought not to do this. #2:10 Malachi was talking to the Israelites. By ‘fathers’, he means the men who lived a long time ago. All Israelites are their descendants. He was talking about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham was Jacob's grandfather. Isaac was Jacob's father.
11Judah's people no longer do the things that God teaches. A very bad thing has happened in Israel and in Jerusalem. God certainly does not like it. Judah's people have married women who worship a foreign god. Then they meet with the Lord in a place that he loves. And so they have made that place dirty. 12I pray that the Lord will send all people like that away from the Israelites and from that place. And I do not want them to come back into this group of people. I pray that the Lord will not let them. Even send away someone like that who is bringing gifts to the Lord Almighty. #2:12 People were making another mistake. Men were marrying wives from families that worshipped other gods. This would cause a problem. Sometimes the man or wife would not be free to do what he or she wanted. Maybe they would both worship a false god together. Then they would come to worship God. So, the place where people came to find God would not be clean. That is, it would be no better than any other place. This is because these two people had done something wrong. #2:12 Israel is the country where the Israelites lived. Judah was one of Jacob's sons. Judah was also a part of the country called Israel. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah. Malachi wanted the people to remember the promises of a long time ago. That is why he used these places and these names.
13Also, you cry. You cry so much that the water covers the Lord's altar! The Lord no longer looks at your gifts. He does not accept them with pleasure from your hands. So, you weep and you shout out in pain. 14You ask ‘Why?’ The Lord was there when you were a young man. He was there when you agreed to marry your wife. He heard what you said. You promised to be with her until the end of your life. He sees that you no longer live together as man and wife. That is why the Lord no longer accepts your gifts.
15The Lord has made a man and his wife to be as one person. He has made them with a body and a spirit and they are his. Why should a man and his wife be as one person? It is because God wants their children to be good. And he wants them to respect him. So, think carefully about your spirit. Do not forget the promise that you said to your wife. Do not leave her. #2:15 Men and women have a body and they have a spirit. When a man marries, the man's spirit and his wife's spirit come together. God thinks of them as one person. He wants them always to stay together. If they do stay together, their children will feel safe. The children will know that their parents love them. They will be strong and happy. The children will then be good and they will love God.
16Sometimes a man and his wife completely leave each other. They decide this with a judge and with other people there. ‘I strongly do not like it when a man and his wife decide never to live together again’, says the Lord God of Israel. ‘If a man leaves his wife like this, the result will be very bad for her. He has done a cruel thing to her. I strongly do not like that’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘So watch over your spirit and do not forget your promise.’
17The Lord is tired from your words. ‘Why is he tired? How have we caused that?’ you ask. He is tired because of the things that you have said. You say, ‘The Lord sees all who do very bad things. He thinks that they are good. He is happy with them.’ Or you say, ‘The God who is a fair judge is not doing anything here.’