The Sacrilege of the Priestly Message
2 “Now, you priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you do not listen and take seriously 1 the need to honor my name,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will send judgment 2 on you and turn your blessings into curses – indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart. 3 I am about to discipline your children 3 and will spread offal 4 on your faces, 5 the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it. 4 Then you will know that I sent this commandment to you so that my covenant 6 may continue to be with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. 5 “My covenant with him was designed to bring life and peace. I gave its statutes to him to fill him with awe, and he indeed revered me and stood in awe before me. 6 He taught what was true; 7 sinful words were not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity, and he turned many people away from sin. 7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him 8 because he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all. 8 You, however, have turned from the way. You have caused many to violate the law; 9 you have corrupted the covenant with Levi,” 10 says the Lord who rules over all. 9 “Therefore, I have caused you to be ignored and belittled before all people to the extent to which you are not following after me and are showing partiality in your 11 instruction.”
The Rebellion of the People
10 Do we not all have one father? 12 Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, in this way making light of the covenant of our ancestors? 11 Judah has become disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem. 13 For Judah has profaned 14 the holy things that the Lord loves and has turned to a foreign god! 15 12 May the Lord cut off from the community 16 of Jacob every last person who does this, 17 as well as the person who presents improper offerings to the Lord who rules over all!
13 You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears 18 as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. 14 Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, 19 to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. 20 15 No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. 21 What did our ancestor 22 do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth. 23 16 “I hate divorce,” 24 says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” 25 says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”
Resistance to the Lord through Self-deceit
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, 26 and he delights in them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”
3 “I am about to send my messenger, 1 who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord 2 you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger 3 of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all.
2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, 4 like a launderer’s soap. 3 He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. 4 The offerings 5 of Judah and Jerusalem 6 will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past.
5 “I 7 will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, 8 and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, 9 who refuse to help 10 the immigrant 11 and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Resistance to the Lord through Selfishness
6 “Since, I, the Lord, do not go back on my promises, 12 you, sons of Jacob, have not perished. 7 From the days of your ancestors you have ignored 13 my commandments 14 and have not kept them! Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all. “But you say, ‘How should we return?’ 8 Can a person rob 15 God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions! 16 9 You are bound for judgment 17 because you are robbing me – this whole nation is guilty. 18
10 “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse 19 so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all. 11 Then I will stop the plague 20 from ruining your crops, 21 and the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the Lord who rules over all. 12 “All nations will call you happy, for you indeed will live in 22 a delightful land,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Resistance to the Lord through Self-sufficiency
13 “You have criticized me sharply,” 23 says the Lord, “but you ask, ‘How have we criticized you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped 24 by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord who rules over all? 25 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful. 26 In fact, those who challenge 27 God escape!’”
16 Then those who respected 28 the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. 29 A scroll 30 was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name. 17 “They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property. 31 I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between 32 the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.
4 1 “For indeed the day 2 is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It 3 will not leave even a root or branch. 2 But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication 4 will rise with healing wings, 5 and you will skip about 6 like calves released from the stall. 3 You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Restoration through the Lord
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb 7 I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey. 8 5 Look, I will send you Elijah 9 the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. 6 He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, 10 so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.” 11