God Our Redeemer: Malachi 2:17-3:5

God Our Redeemer: Malachi 2:17-3:5
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday November 14, 2021

Notes, Not a Transcript

This is a prophecy of redemption

Of the God who saves

The God who just berated the priests for their marital practices.  For divorcing the wives of their youth for something different.  Priests (and a nation) who ran to foreign brides.  People who sullied the covenant of marriage.  Who in doing so disparaged God.  A God who can/who will lay the heavy hand on judgment upon those who violate His covenant.

But think for a moment if you will.  Consider the prophecy that is given through the messenger, Malachi.  What do we know about this prophecy?  It has been pretty accurate and pretty harsh.  The problems with the worship, the sacrifices, the marriages, their hearts!!!

But perhaps we miss something more important.  Something that is staring us right in our faces.  It was written approximately 450 or so years before Christ was born.  This prophecy is the last that the nation will hear from God for 450 years.  Silence follows this prophecy.

But still this may prevent us from seeing the important part.  

God is speaking to them.  Think about that again – God is speaking to the people of Israel through His prophet.

That means that the prophecy is not punitive in nature but something different.  It is a warning.  And it is also about a God who redeems.

You see, God would not be speaking through the prophet if He just sought to punish the nation.  And this portion of the prophecy is about the sovereign God who pursues, the God who keeps the covenants with unfaithful people.  It is about the God who seeks and will redeem.


17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”

Listen to these verses.  I know it doesn’t seem like the words of the God who seeks.  A God who Redeems.  But one can certainly see that it is the words of a Father.  The words that they speak have wearied the Lord.  They have tested His patience.  You could hear that there is frustration with the Father.  As a Father who is tired of the lies and the mistruths.

Before we move further into the passage, let’s try and think from the perspective of God.  He has rescued them.  Multiple times.  He has provided for them on countless occasions.  He has forgiven them as they have consistently violated the covenant.  How they have constantly been unfaithful to Him.  Yet He has always been there.  

So the weariness is understood.  God is expressing how His endurance with their behavior is being tested.  He has always been there and saved and still their hearts are turned away from Him.  He desires that they worship in truth, because it is best for them, and yet their hearts are turned towards the things of the world.  Not turned toward the things of God.

And the rhetorical question that they are imaginatively saying, “we can’t understand why the Lord feels this way.  We look around and everything looks off.  You know, with the insincere worship, the sacrifices of poor condition, and the divorces.  In our eyes it looks good.”

No wonder God is wearied.  To a degree the priests are failing to see the problem.  “I mean we showed up right?  That’s enough.”  There are so many problems with their actions which testifies to their hearts.  In this case the problem, building on all the things that have been pointed out before, the action is that they are saying that good is evil and in turn evil is good.  

We find this in Isaiah too,   in Isaiah 5:20-21 (NASB95) 

20Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes

And clever in their own sight!

Woe to those who do this.  This is a warning too.  Through the prophet Isaiah.  To say that what God says is good is evil is the epitome of disrespect to their creator.  Through their lack of control at the temple, or should we say that they refuse to act in the way that God says they should, they are, as the Lord’s representatives, telling lies about God.

And furthermore they deny that God is a God of justice.  Where are you and your justice?  Do you even exist?  Do you even care?  But speaking through the prophet, the word of the Lord has come.  YHWH has spoken from the throne about the issues in Israel.  

His grace is demonstrated by the fact that He is speaking to them.  That he is telling them about the precarious ledge upon which they stand.  How their behavior, if they are unrepentant, will lead to sure judgment and destruction.

But, YHWH is a God who redeems the unredeemable.

Look with me at Deuteronomy 7:7 (NASB95) 

7“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 

They were the least and God redeemed.

And now look at Deuteronomy 7:8 (NASB95) 

8but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 

YHWH kept the oath.  And will keep the oath.  YHWH will keep the covenant.  He is the God who redeems the unredeemable.

He is the God who saves the sinner.  He is the God who is proclaiming redemption.  And He is the one who will do it.


The Purifier

1 “Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of armies.

God has said what the problem(s) have been over the past two chapters.  He has spelled out the issues.  He has pointed out where they have failed.   Their actions were not from the heart but from some form of duty at best.  Going through the motions.  

But behold the Lord is sending a Malachi, a messenger.  There is one who will herald a new time.  A new age.  Something different.  Something sought after by the nation of Israel.  But this messenger will be so much bigger than they know or can comprehend.  

This messenger will come and prepare a way.  Isaiah 40:1-5 (NASB95) 

The Greatness of God

1 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.

2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem;

And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,

That her guilt has been removed,

That she has received of the Lord’s hand

Double for all her sins.”

3 The voice of one calling out,

“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;

Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Let every valley be lifted up,

And every mountain and hill be made low;

And let the uneven ground become a plain,

And the rugged terrain a broad valley;

5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,

And all flesh will see it together;

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This is the way being prepared.  A great king is coming.  The hills are cut down, the roads are made straight and smooth.  The king can see a long way off and the people can see Him coming.  This messenger is the one proclaiming the arrival of this one.  

John 2:13-22 (NASB)

First Passover—Cleansing the Temple

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

14 And within the temple grounds He found those who were selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables

15 And He made a whip of cords, and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 

16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away from here; stop making My Father’s house a place of business!” 

17 His disciples remembered that it was written: “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” 

18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 

20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and yet You will raise it up in three days?” 

21 But He was speaking about the temple of His body. 

22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

The allusions are clear to us, but not so to those who heard the message in 450 BC.  They would have been like the previous prophets.  The ones who looked to the coming messiah.  The anointed one.  When?  Where?  What is His name?  Is it now?

But the time is not yet.  The way must be prepared.  The pathway must be laid out.  The path that was laid before the foundations of the earth.  A path that was set in the immovable foundation of the promises of God.

The messenger will prepare the way for the people and then the One will come.  The anointed one will come.  The one they are seeking.  The one they desire.  These people who are failing in all the requirements of obedience to the Father desire the coming of this Messiah.  The one that will set the captives free.  The one who will reestablish Israel to its rightful place.  The chosen nation of God.

The one they long to see is coming.  He has always been on the way.  Always on this path.  The way has been made straight.

The preparations have been made.  And the temple is the destination.  The temple that they are profaning.  The temple that doesn’t have the ark.  The temple that represents the true temple in heaven.

And the curious statement, “the messenger of the covenant in whom you are taking pleasure.”  The covenant?  In whom you are taking pleasure?  What could that possibly mean?  Nothing so far has looked like pleasure.  Especially the way in which the priests are handling the covenant.  

We must recognize the images of the day of the Lord here to properly see what is happening.  Remember this, to them, the messenger, is a good thing.  However, Amos tells us the following:

Amos 5:18–20 (NASB95) 

18Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light; 

19As when a man flees from a lion And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him. 

20Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it? 

You see they expect that when the messenger comes that it will be a good thing for Israel.  There is a two fold problem that has arisen.  There is a disconnect between the people and God.  The priests have instructed the people to a degree that all things are permissible.  God, in his graciousness, has sought to clear up the problem.  To provide redemption through warning.  To show them how they have erred.  To point them to repentance.

Because God is a redeemer.

Seeking to redeem the lost. The enslaved.  The sinful.

And we clearly see John the Baptist in the image as the one who prepares the way.  The last old testament prophet.  The one who makes straight the way for the Lord.  The voice calling in the wilderness The one who points to Jesus.  He is the one who fulfills the covenant promises. For them


2 “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 launderer’s soap.

This is the Lord’s continued gracious warning.  Don’t count too much on your heritage.  Don’t think that because you are of the nation of Israel that you get a pass.  That you could do whatever you want and still get into heaven.  Think – the Lord has said that He is weary of the continued call to repentance and obedience.  It’s not hard.  Don’t be caught on the wrong side of the wall when the storm comes.  This is your warning. 

For us we should think about 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB95) 

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 

The same applies here.  The images here are stark and clear.  The heat of the fire.  The burn of the alkali.  The melting metal with the dross scraped off to reveal the pure metal underneath.  The cloth pounded by the fuller and washed to make it white and clean.  

All these images point to the purity that God desires.

Not only desires purity but demands it.  YHWH demands purity from His people.  Think about the picture that is being painted again.  Tremendous heat to purify the metal and the alkali to bleach the cloth.  

The warning is clear.  None can stand on their own on this day.  

Who can possibly be pure enough for the Lord.

But this is the God who redeems the faulty, the broken, the dirty, the sinful.  So there must be more.  


3 And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 

The line of Levi.  The priestly line. Those who have fallen away from obedience to the commands of the Lord will be purified.  They will be brought back. They need to be brought back.  Look at their role in Deuteronomy 33:9–10 (NASB95) 

9Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; And he did not acknowledge his brothers, Nor did he regard his own sons, For they observed Your word, And kept Your covenant. 

10“They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, And Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, And whole burnt offerings on Your altar. 

They were to keep the covenant.  They were to teach the people.  And as such they are the ones that are responsible when it came to the falling away of the nation of Israel.  And here, in Malachi, we see that they are utterly failing.  Yet the Lord is a redeemer.  The one who said way back in Genesis 3:15 that He would redeem.  

Genesis 3:15 (NASB)

15 And I will make enemies

Of you and the woman,

And of your offspring and her Descendant;

He shall bruise you on the head,

And you shall bruise Him on the heel.”

And here is the more.  YHWH the redeemer is the refiner.  He is the one who does it.  He is the one who will purify the Levites.  And then the offerings will be able to be presented.  Then they will be accepted.  The refuse from their faces, the result of improper offering and worship, will be cleansed.  The division, the separation from God, the reduction of worship to mere motions, will be removed.  Worship will be restored.  

This Father will sit at the furnace and refine the valuable metal, His righteous people.  Burning off the impurities,  scraping the dross that comes to the surface.  The dross of apostate hearts and improper worship.  Until they are pure.  Then they will be able to present offerings as they should.  The entirety of the nation.  And this purification will always start with the priests.  They are the ones that teach the nation.   That is why their responsibility is so great.  

It is the call to proper worship of the God of the Covenant.    

The call to worship the God who redeems.

The only Lord who is able to redeem.


4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old, and as in former years.

Because then the offering, the worship will be restored.  Like the first worship before the Lord who saved them.  The one who brought them out of bondage.  The relationships are restored.

The right relationship with the Lord.  The redemption of the people is shown through the right relationship with God.  The right heart demonstrating the true God.

The God who seeks to redeem His people.

Think for a moment about Hosea.  Called by the YHWH to marry a prostitute.  One who will continue to be unfaithful to him.  But called to do so that he would redeem her.  

God, our Father, here redeeming a nation.

God, our Father, prophesying the day He will come to the temple.

The day when Jesus comes to His temple

The one whom John prepared the way.

The Lord coming to His temple.  

The Great day of the Lord

When redemption comes for all who will believe in Him as Lord and Savior.


5 “Then I will come near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, those who oppress the wage earner in his wages or the widow or the orphan, and those who turn away the stranger from justice and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of armies.

But the judgment comes with the Lord.  And it is a warning.  Listen to the words of Ezekiel using similar images of the refining of metal.  But in a way that transposes the purification with the fire of the Lord’s wrath.

Ezekiel 22:18–22 (NASB95) 

18“Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver. 

19“Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 

20‘As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you. 

21‘I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you will be melted in the midst of it. 

22‘As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out My wrath on you.’ ” 

The Lord is the witness against all these.  Those who are unrepentant.  Jesus is that Judge when He comes for the second and last time.

Be warned the prophet is saying.  You will all be tried by the judge.  None will escape these legal proceedings. Those who unrepentantly find themselves here will find certain damnation.  Where the fire never ends, where the worm continues to turn. 


Written 450+ years before Christ.  But a passage that clearly points to the coming Messiah

Therefore, it speaks in a way to us.

We are like the priests with the improper offering

We are like the people who bring the lame and sick sacrifice

We are the ones with wicked hearts

We are the ones with refuse on our faces

We are the ones who say we love God but people would be hard to point to it in our lives

We are stuck in our sinful worldly ways.

But God.

But God said in these passages that He is sending one

Sending one to redeem a people

To redeem a people that will be His

That we will call Him Father and He will call us daughter/son

Think about the words of Exodus 4:21-22 (NASB95)

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 

22“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 

And now, how this prophecy of redemption is fulfilled through Christ

John 1:12–13 (NASB95) 

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God.

  were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 

No one can do it through their works.  There works without God are filthy rags.

This is why salvation comes from outside men.  The separation is so great.

The sin is so infectious.

The wickedness is so complete

That the only way to redeem man is for the salvation to come from outside men

This is why the incarnate Christ

But here, Malachi points to the true Savior.  The Christ who will come.  The second person of the Trinity.

To worship with our whole being the God who saves.  

Ephesians 1:5–8a (NASB95) 

5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 

6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 

7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 

8which He lavished on us.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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