1 The Lord Almighty answers, “I will send my messenger to prepare the way for me. Then the Lord you are looking for will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger you long to see will come and proclaim my covenant.”
2 But who will be able to endure the day when he comes? Who will be able to survive when he appears? He will be like strong soap, like a fire that refines metal. 3He will come to judge like one who refines and purifies silver. As a metalworker refines silver and gold, so the Lord's messenger will purify the priests, so that they will bring to the Lord the right kind of offerings. 4Then the offerings which the people of Judah and Jerusalem bring to the Lord will be pleasing to him, as they used to be in the past.
5The Lord Almighty says, “I will appear among you to judge, and I will testify at once against those who practice magic, against adulterers, against those who give false testimony, those who cheat employees out of their wages, and those who take advantage of widows, orphans, and foreigners—against all who do not respect me.
The Payment of Tithes
6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. And so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not yet completely lost. 7You, like your ancestors before you, have turned away from my laws and have not kept them. Turn back to me, and I will turn to you. But you ask, ‘What must we do to turn back to you?’ 8I ask you, is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings. 9A curse is on all of you because the whole nation is cheating me. 10 Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things. 11I will not let insects destroy your crops, and your grapevines will be loaded with grapes. 12Then the people of all nations will call you happy, because your land will be a good place to live.
God's Promise of Mercy
13“You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘What have we said about you?’ 14You have said, ‘It's useless to serve God. What's the use of doing what he says or of trying to show the Lord Almighty that we are sorry for what we have done? 15As we see it, proud people are the ones who are happy. Evil people not only prosper, but they test God's patience with their evil deeds and get away with it.’”
16Then the people who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard what they said. In his presence, there was written down in a book a record of those who feared the Lord and respected him. 17“They will be my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “On the day when I act, they will be my very own. I will be merciful to them as parents are merciful to the children who serve them. 18Once again my people will see the difference between what happens to the righteous and to the wicked, to the person who serves me and the one who does not.”