Devotional Commentary on Maleachi 3


The Lord promised to send His messenger and this messenger will prepare the way before Him. Then when this work of preparation of the way is underway or completed or near completion, then the Lord will suddenly come to His temple “the Lord [hââdōn], whom ye seek, will suddenly come to His temple”. The remnant seek. The Lord comes not to earth to destroy the wicked in judgment. Maleachi 4:1 will deal with that later. The Lord will come unexpectedly at the Second Coming. Whether it is “suddenly” is another question or issue. The Heavenly Temple and the Most Holy in the Temple is where He went in 1844 and the Holy of Holies is where He went at His departure to Heaven in 31. The “suddenly” cannot be when He went in 31 CE because He stayed on a couple of days. In 34 CE Stephen saw Him in the Holies with His Father on the throne and thus this throne must have been mobile and not stationary in the Most Holy.

The angel of the covenant must be Christ. Christ is the Desire of the Ages. The desire for the Messiah to come. The desire for Christ to come again.

The first coming of the Lord was not really delayed since it was on time and in the fullness of time, as Paul said. Daniel explained it in a charted, scheduled manner in Daniel 9:24-27.

That left us with 1844 or the Second Coming.

The purpose of the Second Coming is to carry the harvest away not to burn the weed. The weed is burnt when He comes again after a thousand years.

Scholars who are not Adventists do not work with premillenialism and thus cannot understand Maleachi and Zechariah properly.

The Messenger is one who comes in the spirit of Elijah and John the Baptist was that one who came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way of Christ coming for His baptism for the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27.

This malâkh or messenger “is not a heavenly messenger, or spiritual being” as Rabbis Rashi and Kimchi thought. It is also not an angel of the Lord who is called later “Angel [malakh habberīth] of the covenant” (C. Keil 1871: 457). Keil continued: “He is an earthly messenger of the Lord, and indeed the same who is called the prophet Elijah in ver. 23, and therefore not ‘and ideal person, viz. the whole choir of divine messengers, who are to prepare the way of the coming of salvation, and open the door for the future grace’ [as Hengestenberg, the teacher of Keil before 1833 supposed], but a concrete personality – a messenger who was really sent to the nation in John the Baptist immediately before the coming of the Lord”.

The connection of the fulfilment in John at Christ’s first arrival for Baptism is recognized here by C. F. Keil. Although Keil wrote Old Testament commentaries and was a careful exegete, he was for over 20 years a New Testament professor.

It cannot be a priest, says Keil since this messenger was to fulfill a extraordinary task. Priests stand, they are not send, says Keil.

“Preparing the way” meant for Keil “the taking away of enmity to God and of ungodliness by the preaching of repentance and the conversion of sinners. The announcement of this messenger therefore implied, that the nation in its existing moral condition was not yet prepared for the reception of the Lord” (Keil idem).

Rabbi Redak in the 12th century said about the Angel/Messenger of the Convenant: “…as the King Messiah, who will come suddenly as no one knows when he will come”. But, he also suggested another option and that is that it may refer to the prophet Elijah. One can only say. Very close although not exactly.

Jerome in 389 CE translated “suddenly” with statim = immediately which is not correct, since Keil thinks it means unexpectedly. However, suddenly does not mean unexpectedly either. It means quickly as Revelation said a few times. Unexpectedly is like a thief in the night and that is for the Second Coming of Christ.

To John the Baptist Christ came expectedly “in the fullness of time”.

To His Father in the Temple Holies He went expectedly.

To the earth He will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night. Said Schmieder “The Lord of glory always comes as a thief in the night to those who sleep in their sins”.

This coming of the Lord, which Keil of course see as the Coming of Christ to John the Baptist in 27 CE is accompanied with a judgment but not of the wicked but the house of God “With the coming of the Lord the judgment will also begin; not the judgment upon the heathen, however, for which the ungodly nation was longing, but the judgment upon the godless members of the the covenant nation” (Keil 1872: 459).

My question is: “Keil, who told you this wisdom!”

A. V. Wallenkampf in his 1963 Sabbath School Quarterly page 46 cited Ellen White saying: “In this time of well-nigh universal apostasy, God calls upon His messengers to proclaim His law in the spirit and power of Elias. As John the Baptist, in preparing a people for Christ's first advent, called their attention to the Ten Commandments, so we are to give, with no uncertain sound, the message: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’ With the earnestness that characterized Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist, we are to strive to prepare the way for Christ's second advent.”Ellen G. White Comments, The S.D.A. Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1184.

Christ came in 1844 “suddenly” to His heavenly Temple to witness, not to destroy like in Maleachi 4:1 and Keil also said it is not to destroy. He came to judge the House of God and sift.

He went to His temple in heaven. However, asked Maleachi, when He come to earth, who will endure His presence since it is like a smelter’s fire (verse 2). This will be at His Second Coming for the sinners not the saints.

Then Maleachi returned to the work of Christ in the Heavenly Temple where He is witnessing for the faithful.

“And will sit smelting and purifying silver” (verse 3). Sit? He will come on the clouds at the Second Coming sitting or standing? Is His throne rolling in mobile fashion to earth?

Sitting was important in 1844 according to Daniel 7 when the thrones were set and the Son of Man was to appear before the Ancient of Days.

The ones that will be purified is “the children of Levi” and this means the “House of God” is judged in this purification process. Truly Daniel 8:14 called this event in 1844 (2300 years from 457 BCE) a heavenly ‘cleansing of the [Heavenly] Sanctuary.”

Why must the faithful be cleansed since 1844 in an Investigative Judgment? It is the sifting process between the sheep and goats, seed and the weed. “That they may be offering to Jehovah His sacrifice in righteousness” (verse 3).

What is implied in the purification process said Keil is that it means individuals who are displeasing to God will be cut off from among them [Köhler 1860], they will be cleansed from the sins and crimes adhering to them [Hitzig], but is an improving process so that who are corrigible are improved and the incorrigible cut off (Keil 1872: 460).

The “in rigtheousness” is not the nature of the sacrifices but the moral character of the faithful, according to Keil. This is exactly what Adventism said is important in Christ’s ministry in the Most Holy since 1844.

Ellen White said about his refining process in Maleachi: “I saw that God is purifying and proving His people. He will refine them as gold, until the dross is consumed and His image is reflected in them. All have not that spirit of self-denial and that willingness to endure hardness and to suffer for the truth's sake, which God requires. Their wills are not subdued; they have not consecrated themselves wholly to God, seeking no greater pleasure than to do His will. Ministers and people lack spirituality and true godliness. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken. God's people will be brought into most trying positions, and all must be settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth, or their steps will surely slide. If God comforts and nourishes the soul with His inspiring presence, they can endure, though the way may be dark and thorny. For the darkness will soon pass away, and the true light shine forever.” Ellen White inTestimonies, vol. 1, p. 355.

“And I will draw near to you to judgment” (verse 5) is a statement of the Investigative Judgement of the Lord. Why? He will draw near His people meaning that He will start with the House of God to sift the right from the wrong in them in Heaven. It is the heavenly Temple that Christ would come earlier in this chapter. Not the earthly one as so many scholars have indicated.

It is the cleansing of the Sanctuary message of Daniel 8:14 an action when the Son of Man would come to the Ancient of Days and the thrones were set for judgment in Daniel 7. It is the same scenario.

It is not punishment that the Lord bring in this judgment, it is witnesses “and will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers and against those who swear false and those who press down the wages of the hireling, the widow and the orphan and bow down the foreigner and fear no me says Jehovah of Hosts” (verse 5).

As Christ is a swift witness for the faithful He will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, adulterers and the rest of the list. The wayward in the Remnant is in mind in this verse (verse 5).

‘Fear of God’ is the key aspect expected from those who will pass the final verdict in this heavenly court session.

Rabbi Redak said abou this verse: “If they have not received their punishment in this world, they will receive it in the World to come”.

Maleachi finished this section until verse 6 on the Investigative Judgment in Heaven and the process of separating the sheep and goats.

In verse 7 Maleachi from God calls on the people to convert since their fathers did also rebel.

“Return to Me, and I will return to you”. What beautiful words of opportunity. Rabbi Mezudath David said in the 18th century: “To keep My commandments”.

They question everything the Word of God speaks: Return? To what?

Defraud? Evidence please!

And God gave them evidence. “In the tithes and the heave-offering” (verse 8). The terūmâh or heave-offering is difined by Keil as “the portion of his income lifted off from the rest, for the purpose of divine worship” (Keil, 1872: 463).

Rabbi Rashi said in the 12th century: “that you steal from the priests is tantomount to robbing Me”.

Their sin was as Rabbi Redak in the 12th century indicated: “all were guilty of the sin of withholding the tithes” (on verse 9).

Then the beautiful challenge promise of God is given regarding tithes and offerings: they bring it and see if God will not double and triple it by opening money and health and insight and spiritual happiness from heaven to them (verse 10).

Ellen White said about tithe: “The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which is as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time.” Ellen White in Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 404, 405.

The Rabbis said that although it is not permissible to test God [Deuteronomy 6:16] in this one case God permitted it to prove that He rewards for the performance of the commandments.

He said He will rebuke those who want to destroy the faithful tithe payer, and He will help them with harvests (farmers) (verse 11).

All nations will call them blessed because of spiritual depth, tithe-paying and God keeping His promise as He said He would. But you need spiritual eyes to see it. Worldliness blinds people not to see anything.

Secularistic minded people cannot perceive God’s blessings in any form. The do not know how to count their blessings since they cannot witness it properly or at all. There are dictators in the world who’s heart is in His hand (Proverbs 20) and they do not even know it.

Keil said that the emphasis lies in verse 10a in kol = whole. The “whole” of the tithe is to be brought and not just a portion of it “and so defraud the Lord; for the tithe was paid to Jehovah for His servants the Levites (Num. xviii. 24)” (Keil 1872: 463).

Their words do violence to God. They say: What conversations? (verse 13).

They say that it may harm their image among their friends since it is vain to serve God “and what gain is it” (verse 14). Strapping ourselves in, getting choked by “Last-day Events Messages and Prophecies”, guarding what we eat, drink, do on the Sabbath or not do. “That we have kept His guard” (verse 14). “All these years as evangelist for God, what did all my ‘narrow preaching’ help me? Nothing. So now I will try to overtrow everything I taught others to keep and the Adventism I promoted I will systematically try to break down.” What a foolish retiree of our ministerial work.  

Did these wayward workers for God in His vineyard experience death in their families or illnesses? “And have gone about in deep mourning before Jehovah of hosts” (verse 14).

Some even praised the evil ones: “And now we praise the bold transgressors. Also those who work evil are prosperous. Also they tempt God and they have, nevertheless escaped” (verse 15).

Maleachi warns that there is a danger to get so drawn in by secularism that the faithful cross the border to sympathize or emphathize with the wicked and rebellious words of the unfaithful remnant. Until Maleachi’s day writing, some have escaped personal peril.

Maleachi wanted to show what happen if people do pay attention to God’s words.

Some of the faithful through the ages since Maleachi until the Second Coming of Christ heard what he said and converted: “Then those who feared Jehovah conversed with one another, and Jehovah attended and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who fear Jehovah and reverence His name” (verse 16).

Why are there Books in Heaven? Sure. In 1844 when the Son of Man came to the Ancient of Days when the thrones were set and the Investigative Judgment started, Books were opened in Daniel 7:10. The deeds of the faithful remnant are recorded. We are saved by faith but judged by deeds recorded in Books. Said C. F. Keil about the record books in heaven: “…but it rests upon the much older idea, that the names and actions of the righteous are written in a book before God [cf. Ps. lvi. 9, Dan. Vii. 10]” (Keil 1872: 466).

Rabbi Redak in the 12th century was shocked to think that God need a book. So he said it is an anthropomorphism or metaphor and added “It is obvious that God does not forget and needs no reminder”. That is true but angels and unfallen worlds in heaven are also creatures and limited to record written.

Contrary to the Wayward Remnant above who cannot understand God and His questions or requirements any longer, the faithful have Sabbatschool lessons and classes “conversing with each other”.

Faithful ones, faithful returnees also, “will be to Me as a possession, says Yahweh of hosts, for the day that I create, and I will spare them as a man spares his son that serves him” (verse 17). Creation means possession. “As a possession” = “the day I create”.

The Sabbath day is Creator’s day, thus the Lord’s possession’s day. We return of our possessions to the ministers of God to say thankful to the Creator possessing us and provides all our earthly possessions on loan to us from Him.

When Rabbi Redak in the 12th century came to this verse at the phrase “they shall be Mine” he said “The God-fearing of this generation, i.e. the generation of the prophet, who will be resurrected along with the God-fearing of the generation of the resurrection”.

Spiritual insight will grow for those who fear God, keep His Sabbath, His commandments, return to Him, be His possession, pay tithe of their possessions supplied by the Provider as Owner of all possessions on loan to them (verse 18).


Dear God

Maleachi told us that a day would come, and that is now, that the sheep and goats, the faithful and rebellious in the remnat will have to be sifted. Melt us properly to be refined in faith to Your glorious standard, fit for heaven. In Jesus Name, Amen.