You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 2:17-3:5 (ESV)
James Montgomery Boice writes:
Verse 5 declares, “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but who do not fear Me.” But even here, although God says that He is coming in judgment, it is only to testify against sinners. And the verses that come before this speak, not of a final judgment that results in men and women being sent to hell, but of a purification process in which the priests and Levites will be refined like gold and silver and the LORD “will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
According to this image, God will be like a refiner of silver. Workers of silver can still be seen today in oriental bazaars. They melt the ore in small, portable furnaces. As the ore melts, the dross rises to the top and is then scraped off by the refiner. The workman keeps peering into the crucible, removing dross until he can see his face in the molten metal as in a mirror and knows that the work is done. In such a manner, God will apply the heat of affliction and discipline until He can see His image in His people.
In spite of the people’s demand for justice, when God should come to His people in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, it would not be for an immediate judgment on sin – however much they deserve it – but for God’s own gracious work of redemption. He would come to seek and to save the lost, to bring healing, and to purify His elect people. Only after that gracious work would the judgment come.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 46
Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.