This is a prophecy. It is the Lord’s message to Israel through Malachi.
“Israel, I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord. “But I chose Jacob instead of Esau. I have turned Esau’s hill country into a dry and empty land. I left that land of Edom to the wild dogs in the desert.”
Edom might say, “We have been crushed. But we’ll rebuild our cities.”
The Lord who rules over all says, “They might rebuild their cities. But I will destroy them. They will be called the Evil Land. My anger will always remain on them. You will see it with your own eyes. You will say, ‘The Lord is great! He rules even beyond the borders of Israel!’
“A son honors his father. A slave honors his master. If I am a father, where is the honor I should have? If I am a master, where is the respect you should give me?” says the Lord who rules over all.
“You priests look down on me.
“But you ask, ‘How have we looked down on you?’
“You sacrifice ‘unclean’ food on my altar.
“But you ask, ‘How have we made you “unclean”?’
“You do it by looking down on my altar. You sacrifice blind animals to me. Isn’t that wrong? You sacrifice disabled or sick animals. Isn’t that wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord who rules over all.
“Now plead with God to be gracious to us! But as long as you give offerings like those, how can he accept you?” says the Lord.
“You might as well shut the temple doors! Then you would not light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord. “I will not accept any of the offerings you bring. My name will be great among the nations. They will worship me from where the sun rises in the east to where it sets in the west. In every place, incense and pure offerings will be brought to me. That’s because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord.
“But you treat my name as if it were not holy. You say the Lord’s altar is ‘unclean.’ And you look down on its food. You say, ‘What a heavy load our work is!’ And you turn up your nose. You act as if you hate working for me,” says the Lord who rules over all.
“You bring animals that have been hurt. Or you bring disabled or sick animals. Then you dare to offer them to me as sacrifices! Should I accept them from you?” says the Lord. “Suppose you have a male sheep or goat that does not have any flaws. And you promise to offer it to me. But then you sacrifice an animal that has flaws. When you do that, you cheat me. And anyone who cheats me is under my curse. After all, I am a great king,” says the Lord who rules over all. “The other nations have respect for my name. So why don’t you respect it?
“Now I am giving this warning to you priests. Listen to it. Honor me with all your heart,” says the Lord who rules over all. “If you do not, I will send a curse on you. I will turn your blessings into curses. In fact, I have already done that because you have not honored me with all your heart.
“Because of what you have done, I will punish your children. I will smear the waste from your sacrifices on your faces. And you will be carried off to the dump along with it. You will know that I have given you this warning. I have warned you so that my covenant with Levi will continue,” says the Lord who rules over all. “My covenant promised Levi life and peace. So I gave them to him. I required him to respect me. And he had great respect for my name. True teaching came from his mouth. Nothing but the truth came from his lips. He walked with me in peace. He did what was right. He turned many people away from their sins.
“The lips of a priest should guard knowledge. After all, he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all. And people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned away from the right path. Your teaching has caused many people to trip and fall. You have broken my covenant with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. “So I have caused all the people to hate you. They have lost respect for you. You have not done what I told you to do. Instead, you have favored one person over another in matters of the law.”
People of Judah, all of us have one Father. One God created us. So why do we break the covenant the Lord made with our people of long ago? We do this by being unfaithful to one another.
And Judah has been unfaithful. A hateful thing has been done in Israel and Jerusalem. The Lord loves his temple. But Judah has made it impure. Their men have married women who worship other gods. May the Lord punish the man who marries a woman like this. It doesn’t matter who that man is. May the Lord who rules over all remove him from the tents of Jacob’s people. May the Lord remove him even if he brings an offering to him.
Here’s something else you do. You flood the Lord’s altar with your tears. You weep and cry because your offerings don’t please him anymore. He doesn’t accept them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It’s because the Lord is holding you responsible. He watches how you treat the wife you married when you were young. You have been unfaithful to her. You did it even though she’s your partner. You promised to stay married to her. And the Lord was a witness to it.
Hasn’t the one God made the two of you one also? Both of you belong to him in body and spirit. And why has the one God made you one? Because he wants his children to be like him. So be careful. Don’t be unfaithful to the wife you married when you were young.
“Suppose a man hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord God of Israel. “Then he is harming the one he should protect,” says the Lord who rules over all.
So be careful. And don’t be unfaithful.
You have worn out the Lord by what you keep saying.
“How have we worn him out?” you ask.
You have done it by saying, “All those who do evil things are good in the Lord’s sight. And he is pleased with them.” Or you ask, “Is God really fair?”