More than ten years ago, our physician had the unpleasant task of informing us that I had cancer. After the treatment, the oncologist informed us that I could not be cured. It was a shock, but small in comparison what Malachi must have felt when he was sent to tell the nation of Israel that it was dying. He, Malachi would be the way between God and the people, and if they would accept his direction, then they would be cured and live. It would become more than that. It would be beautiful again. What were the leaders and people doing wrong and what had they to do to set things right? (Mal.3).
Malachi was instructed to say, “You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me” (3; 9). Why were they robbing God? They no longer feared God and became evil. The list included sorcery, adultery, perjury, defrauding workers, oppressing widows and orphans and depriving aliens of their rights (3: 5). All these evil deeds resulted when the nation abandoned God’s decrees (3: 7). And who was at fault? Malachi pointed the finger at the Levites (3: 3). They were singled out as the moral and spiritual guides and they too became corrupt and the people followed them blindly. It was an unpleasant chore to tell a nation, and still is, that the moral and religious leaders have let things slide. It is even worse when we hide behind love and grace without demanding that we change and the nation with us. Like the Levites, Christian leaders stand between God and the nation.
Malachi was ordered to demand two things from the leaders and the nation. First, the Levites or leaders must be refined and purified like one refines and purifies gold and silver (3: 3). It is when they have been totally cleansed of their transgressions that they then can offer themselves to God and serve Him (3: 3-4; Ro.12: 1-2). Second, to return to God means to return to His decrees or to His Laws that were delivered by Moses (3: 7; 4: 4). The Law is the will of God and the foundation of a nation. Jesus reinforced that concept (Mt.5: 17-20; 7: 21-23). A nation built on sand cannot stand in our defunct world (Mt.7: 24-27). For other nations of the world to call us blessed and envy us for living in a delightful land (Mal.3: 12), it is not enough to confess our sins without returning to the purpose for which God put us in this world (Eph.2: 10). People that wanted to follow Jesus were asked whether they kept the Law (Mk.10: 19). It is an unpleasant chore to be told that when we step outside God’s Law, then we have stepped outside His blessings and protection.