I can imagine the Israelites as they heard the words of Malachi, their heads nodding to the first two questions. Have we not all one Father? Of course. Has not one God created us? Absolutely. But I would imagine their nodding came to an abrupt halt as the third question was uttered. Then why don’t we keep our word to one another or to the Lord? Malachi records no immediate response to his questions. After all, how could they respond when they had no defense before the Lord?
Malachi then anticipates their response, which probably sounds familiar. What do you do when you find yourself accused of wrongdoing and have no defense? You do what the Israelites did. You point the finger at someone else, preferably the one who is accusing you. Yes, you know you’re in the wrong, but why accept responsibility when you can divert attention to someone else’s failure? In this case, the people want God to answer for the injustices they have perpetrated against Him and one another. It’s a bold strategy. I’ll give them that. But it’s also a really bad one.
The Lord tells them to watch for a messenger who will prepare the way for the coming of the Lord and then asks them, “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” The answer to the Lord’s question doesn’t even need to be stated. It’s simply assumed that no one is prepared to stand before the presence of our holy God…unless the Lord disciplines, refines, and purifies. “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” In this single verse, God both requires the purification of sinners and offers to carry it out–a work Jesus has accomplished for those who turn to him (Hebrews 1:3). How has God refined and purified your heart and your life? Give Him praise today for the work He has done and continues to do to make us more faithful to Him and to one another.