3 Ne 24:1 I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me
Hereby, Malachi introduces the doctrine of Elias. Joseph Smith taught, "The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world. John's mission was limited to preaching and baptizing; but what he did was legal; and when Jesus Christ came to any of John's disciples, He baptized them with fire and the Holy Ghost." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 335-6)
Mark also clearly taught that this messenger was John the Baptist, As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:2-4).
One may fairly ask, "If John was the Elias of Christ's First Coming, then who was the Elias of Christ's Second Coming? Was it John the Baptist? Was it Joseph Smith?" The answer is found in the D&C, I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world...and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me (DC 45:9). This is according to the restorative functions of the doctrine of Elias, for there were many angels who brought their keys back to the earth to establish the everlasting covenant in preparation for the Lord's Second Coming. Bruce R. McConkie said, "Who is the promised Elias who was to come and restore all things?...Was it one man? Certainly not. Many angelic ministrants have been sent from the courts of glory to confer keys and powers, to commit their dispensations and glories again to men on earth...it is apparent that no one messenger has carried the whole burden of the restoration." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 221)
3 Ne 24:1 the Lord...shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant
The "messenger of the covenant" is Jesus Christ. He is the last Elias to come with restorative power (see JST Jn 1:20-28). He is also the messenger of the temple covenants. Accordingly, his second advent will be heralded by a sudden appearance at the temple.
"The spirit of Elias is first, Ellijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all." (Teachings, p. 340)
Matthias F. Cowley
"When He comes in verification of Malachi's prophecy, He will come suddenly and in power and great glory. He will find a temple to come to. To do this, there must be a people called of God, instructed by revelation...in order to know where, when and how to erect, in keeping with divine approval, such a sacred edifice...Nothing short of a new Gospel dispensation, ushered in and perpetuated by direct revelation from the Lord, can fulfill the provisions of Malachi's prediction." (Cowley's Talks on Doctrine, p. 29)
Jeffrey R. Holland
"Christ, who is the great 'messenger of the covenant,' did come to the first temple in this dispensation, in Kirtland, Ohio, on April 3, 1836. He has, of course, come to other temples and will yet do so-particularly in Jerusalem and Jackson County, Missouri-as part of the culmination of his majestic second coming." (Christ And The New Covenant, p. 294)
3 Ne 24:2 who may abide the day of his coming?
Joseph Fielding Smith
"In quoting the words of Malachi to Joseph Smith the Angel Moroni also said that these words were shortly to be fulfilled: (quotes Malachi 3:2-5).
"In believing that this has reference to the second coming of Christ the Latter-day Saints stand in a peculiar position among all people, for it is the general belief that this had fulfilment in the first coming of Christ. If we investigate the matter, however, it is made very clear that in the days of the ministry of the Redeemer of the world, he did not come in judgment and to purify in the crucible so that all dross should be destroyed. In that day he was abused and persecuted and denied by men. The widow and the fatherless were not given justice against those who oppressed them. Sorcerers and adulterers were not punished, and all men were able to abide that day,
"But, when Christ comes the second time it will be in the clouds of heaven, and it shall be the day of vengeance against the ungodly, when those who have loved wickedness and have been guilty of transgression and rebellion against the laws of God will be destroyed. All during the ministry of Christ wickedness ruled and seemed to prevail, but when he comes in the clouds of glory as it is declared in this message of Malachi to the world, and which was said by Moroni to be near at hand, then Christ will appear as the refiner and purifier of both man and beast and all that pertains to this earth, for the earth itself shall undergo a change and receive its former paradisiacal glory." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:10-11)
3 Ne 24:2 he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap
"Anciently, a fuller was one who cleansed and whitened garments. 'The process of fulling or cleansing clothes consisted in treading or stamping on the garments with the feet or with bats in tubs of water, in which some alkaline substance answering the purpose of soap had been dissolved' (Peloubet, 203-4).
"Christ's blood is the only 'fuller's soap' strong enough to remove all stains of sin from those who repent and fully accept his atoning sacrifice (1 Ne. 12:11; Mosiah 3:11-18; Alma 5:27; 13:11). 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,' declared the Lord (Isa. 1:18). However, the blood of Christ will have no cleansing effect upon the wicked, for the stain of sin shall remain on their garments (D&C 29:17)." (Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr., Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia, p. 195-6)
"'...he shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.' That same fire will rest upon the abodes of those that come into that temple, and they will be filled with fire and the Holy Ghost. They will be purged of all iniquity, and every ordinance that will be administered in that temple will be administered by holy hands, and you will understand and know the meaning thereof...The Lord will reveal these things in their day; he will reveal everything that is needful, so that the knowledge of God may rest upon you, and that there may be no darkness with you. Amen." (Journal of Discourses, 21:331)
3 Ne 24:3 he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver
"Some time ago, a few ladies met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: 'And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver' (Mal 3:3)
"One lady decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, 'Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?' 'Oh, yes ma'am,' replied the silversmith; 'I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.'
"The lady at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression. 'He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.' God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and his wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure. Before she left, the lady asked one final question, 'How do you know when the process is complete?' 'That's quite simple,' replied the silversmith. 'When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.'" (Author unknown)
3 Ne 24:3 the sons of Levi...they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness
"...who were the sons of Levi mentioned in Malachi 3:3 who were to be purged as gold and silver that they might offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness?...In Doctrine and Covenants 128:24 we apparently have the answer...
'Behold, the great day of the Lord is at hand; and who can abide the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap; and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.' (D&C 128:24)
"The Latter-day Saints as a Church and a people seem to be the ones who are to offer up an offering in righteousness in the temple in the form of a book containing the records of our dead. They are, therefore, the sons of Levi who are to be purged as gold and silver. When John the Baptist did come at a later time (15 May 1829) to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and conferred upon them the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, he made special mention of the fact that, 'This [the Aaronic Priesthood] shall never again be taken from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness' (D&C 13:1). John seems to have been especially concerned with the sons of Levi. Again in Doctrine and Covenants 84:31-34, we find material pertinent to Malachi's prophecy:
'Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses-for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed-
And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord's house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.
For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
They become the sons of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.' (D&C 84:31-34)
"In these verses it is again to be noted that the sons of Moses and of Aaron are to offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord. Those who hold the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods are indeed the sons of Levi and are the ones whom Malachi apparently had in mind when he gave his great prophecy. In making this statement, we do not wish to exclude any of the literal descendants of Levi who may later come in the Church and perform temple work. It is apparent then that Moroni began his explanation of temple work and of salvation for the dead in connection with Malachi 3, rather than with Malachi 4, as so many in the Church commonly suppose." (FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, Spring-1995, pp. 273-4)
The above quotation is helpful, but we should not conclude that Malachi was only referring to Melchizedek priesthood ordinances. The ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood will also be restored as part of the restitution of all things. Therefore, when the New Jerusalem Temple is built, ordinances of the Aaronic priesthood will be performed by "the sons of Levi," and this includes the ordinances of animal sacrifice.
"These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.
"It may be asked by some, what necessity for sacrifice, since the Great Sacrifice was offered? In answer to which, if repentance, baptism, and faith existed prior to the days of Christ, what necessity for them since that time? The Priesthood has descended in a regular line from father to son, through their succeeding generations." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 173)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"It should be remembered that the great temple, which is yet to be built in the City Zion, will not be one edifice, but twelve. Some of these temples will be for the lesser priesthood.
"When these temples are built, it is very likely that provision will be made for some ceremonies and ordinances which may be performed by the Aaronic Priesthood and a place provided where the sons of Levi may offer their offering in righteousness. This will have to be the case because all things are to be restored...The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fulness of the restoration in this dispensation. Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:93-4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 451)
3 Ne 24:4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord
What will be the offering of Judah and Jerusalem? It will be that offering which they have not offered for so many generations-the offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This is the sacrifice of righteousness for which the Lord has long awaited:
'For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.' (Ps 51:16-19)
The Psalmist refers to the latter-day Zion and Jerusalem, explaining, as we saw in the last verse, that the offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, or the sacrifices of righteousness, will be accompanied by the restitution of animal sacrifice, for then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
3 Ne 24:5 I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers
This is essentially the same warning to the wicked which the Savior previously mentioned in 3 Ne 16:10 and 3 Ne 21:14-19.
Jeffrey R. Holland
"The Lord declares his anger not only against sorcerers, adulterers, and those who are untrue in any way, but also against those who are ungenerous to the hireling, the stranger, the widow, and the fatherless. In calling those to return who have strayed, he speaks of the good that could be done to such needy if there were 'meat in my house.' If such tithes and offerings are not returned to the Lord, inasmuch as they are rightfully his, then the people and the land are 'cursed with a curse'." (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 296)
3 Ne 24:7 Return unto me and I will return unto you
"It is our conviction that one who accepts the Lord's invitation to return unto him makes no greater sacrifice when he pays his tithing than the farmer does when he sows his seed in the ground. Both require faith, and both bring their reward." (A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, p. 379)
3 Ne 24:8 Will a man rob God?
Howard W. Hunter
"The words of Malachi in which he accused the people of robbing God bring back to my mind the memories of my class in crimes in law school. Larceny is the unlawful taking and carrying away of things personal with intent to deprive the owner of the same. Embezzlement is defined as the fraudulent appropriation of another's personal property by one to whom it has been entrusted. The distinction between larceny and embezzlement lies in the character of acquiring the possession of the property or money. In larceny there is an unlawful acquisition of the property, while in embezzlement the property which belongs to another is acquired lawfully and then fraudulently converted to the possessor's use.
"In order to memorize these distinctions, I pictured in my mind, to represent larceny, a masked burglar, sneaking about under the cover of darkness, taking that which was not his. To represent the theory of embezzlement I thought of a non-tithepayer. The Lord's share came into his hands lawfully, but he misappropriated it to his own use. This seems to be the accusation of Malachi." (Conference Report, Apr. 1965, p. 34)
Spencer W. Kimball
"'the earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is.'
"I asked another man if he paid tithes. He answered with a blush, 'We cannot afford to tithe.' 'What? Cannot afford integrity? Cannot afford to return to the Great Provider's program that which was already his?'
"He said, 'My schooling was expensive. Our little ones have cost us much, and there is still another one to come. The doctor and the hospital will take their toll. Our car was wrecked and cost us that much more. Vacation, illness, living costs go up and leave us none to give the Church.'
'Do you believe in God?'
'Of course,' he said.
"'You do?' I asked, 'Would God make promises he would not fulfill? You have no confidence in God, else why do you doubt his glorious promises? Your faith is in yourself. God promised he would open heaven's windows and pour you out rich gifts beyond your comprehension, premised on your faithfulness. Do you not need those blessings? For that one-tenth, he'll compensate with blessings little dreamed of. He said: 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath Prepared for them that love him.' (1 Corinthians 2:9.)" (Faith Precedes The Miracle, p. 286)
3 Ne 24:9 ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me
"In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, September 11, 1831, the Lord made very plain the importance of observing the law of tithing:
'Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.' (D&C 64:23.)
"How could one's conscience not burn within him upon the coming of the Son of Man, if he realized that he had made no contribution to the expense of establishing God's kingdom in the earth. Especially would this be so when one realizes that all that he has, he obtained from the Lord, who created the earth and the fulness thereof, and who gave us our lives and our being upon this earth, with a promise that we might inherit the earth eternally, if we are faithful. Should we, then, not be willing to pay something for such an inheritance? It is not uncommon for a man in this life to pay money for ten to twenty-five years to purchase a small plot of ground for his use while he lives upon the earth. Should he be less interested in acquiring an eternal inheritance?" (A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, p. 368-9)
3 Ne 24:10 prove me now herewith...if I will not open you the windows of heaven
Gordon B. Hinckley
"That is a wonderful promise. There is no other promise in all the world like that one in terms of the temporal salvation of the people of this Church, my brethren and sisters. I did not make it. The Lord made it and He has the power to keep His promises. It is my testimony to you that He does so. Let us live honestly with the Lord for the remainder of our lives and I do not hesitate to say that we will so be blessed." (Church News, 01/03/98)
Robert L. Simpson
"No business proposition in all this wide world can begin to match this offer. Here is the only real answer to today's cost of living. We can't make the family budget stretch far enough on our own, so we had better form a partnership with the Lord by giving ten percent to him. 'I the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say'; and then he concludes, 'but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.' (D&C 82:10.) Now, it is just that simple. And when we decide to accept his terms, we'll be amazed to learn that we can do far better on $9.00 with the help of the Lord than we can with $10.00 on our own." (Conference Report, Apr. 1966, p. 52)
"What a promise! How could any person or people with faith in God refuse or neglect to respond to such an invitation!
"The Latter-day Saints, among the descendants of Jacob, have responded to this invitation. The Lord has kept his promise and has caused the wilderness and the dry places to become fruitful and to blossom as a rose. And because of the blessings of the Lord thus received, they have been able to contribute liberally of their means and talents in carrying on the great work of the Church, and in sending missionaries to the nations of the earth to proclaim the glad tidings of the restoration of the gospel to those of our Father's children who have not been privileged to hear it." (A Marvelous Work And A Wonder, p. 376)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"I do not say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii. The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed. If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on the Lord's work. The blessing to the giver is an ancillary return, and that blessing may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit." (Ensign, Dec. 1989, p. 4.)
3 Ne 24:11-12 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes
Gordon B. Hinckley
"The Lord has promised that he will rebuke the devourer for our sakes...May not that rebuke of the devourer apply to various of our personal efforts and concerns? There is the great blessing of wisdom, of knowledge, even hidden treasures of knowledge. We are promised that ours shall be a delightsome land if we will walk in obedience to this law. I can interpret the word land as people, that those who walk in obedience shall be a delightsome people. What a marvelous condition to be a delightsome people whom others would describe as blessed!" (Ensign, May 1982, p. 40 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 453)
3 Ne 24:14-15 Ye have said: it is vain to serve God
Spencer W. Kimball
"The Prophet Jeremiah asked a similar question:
'Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein...' (Jer. 12:1, 4.)
"...For those who are concerned with this problem and there are many the Lord has given his answer in the parable of the wheat and tares: (quotes Matt. 13:24-30.)
"The interpretation of the parable given by the Lord himself makes clear that the books are not balanced daily, but rather at the harvest time-in the day of judgment. Malachi records more on this subject: (quotes Mal. 3:16-18, Mal. 4:1-2.)
"...People who are concerned about the prosperity of the wicked are sometimes blinded to their own weaknesses yet magnify greatly the errors of others. If other men make errors or deliberately break laws and commandments, we may be sure that they will pay the 'uttermost farthing.' They will not escape the wrath of God, and they will pay the full price for their folly. There will be a wise and just God to sit in judgment on all men. There could be a delay in judgment. The wicked may prosper for a time, the rebellious may seem to profit by their transgressions, but the time is coming when, at the bar of justice, all men will be judged, 'every man according to their works.' (Rev. 20:13.) No one will 'get by' with anything." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.303-304)
Neal A. Maxwell
"The fact that the wicked often seem to profit and do very well in this life may fill us with questions: 'Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?' (Malachi 3:14.)
"Yet is it not true that 'the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?' (Job 20:5.) The Lord Himself confirmed that those who follow the ways of man have 'joy in their works [but] for a season' (3 Nephi 27:11)." (Men and Women of Christ, p. 117)
3 Ne 24:16 a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord
Joseph Fielding Smith
"By these words of Malachi we are instructed and shown the importance of assembling often to hear of the Lord and to worship him. The ancient saints 'spake often, one to another' and they 'thought upon his name.' For this righteousness they were not to be forsaken, and were to be spared as a 'man spareth his own son that serveth him. (v. 17)' What a lesson is here for us to learn! Are we not trying to make our meetings easy for the people because they do not like to assemble 'often,' to speak one to another and to be instructed and to think upon the name of the Lord? Let us take warning, lest our names be not found in the Lamb's 'Book of Life,' which is the book of remembrance. It is 'he that overcometh' who shall be found worthy (Rev 3:5). Moreover, the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
'And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth.'-D.C. 85:9.
"Joseph Smith kept a book of remembrance, called the 'Book of the Law of the Lord,' in which he recorded the names of those who had proved valiant in the testimony of Jesus. It is a most important thing for us, as members of the Church, to have our names enrolled in the Lamb's 'Book of Life,' or the book of remembrance, as being worthy of honor, glory and eternal life. Out of the books we are to be judged. 'Write the works of this people, which shall be, even as hath been written, of that which hath been,' said the Savior to the Nephites, 'For behold, out of the books which have been written, and which shall be written, shall this people be judged, for by them shall their works be known unto men. And behold, all things are written by the Father; therefore out of the books which shall be written shall the world be judged.' (3 Nephi 27:24-26.) How necessary it is that the records kept on earth shall correspond to the records kept in heaven! I pray you, let each of us see to it that our names are found in the Father's Book of Remembrance among those who shall be found worthy at the day of the coming of Christ." (The Way to Perfection, p. 82-3)
3 Ne 24:17 they shall be mine...in that day when I make up my jewels
"I would like to see every friend of mine in this Church have his name recorded in that book of remembrance, and I am sure that when he comes to claim his jewels, he will realize that no sacrifice that has ever been required at his hands could compensate for the lack of that very thing, for they will be numbered among his jewels. That is what I think being partners with him means." (Conference Report, Oct. 1948, p. 44)
3 Ne 24:18 Then shall ye...discern between the righteous and the wicked
Joseph F. Smith
"By this principle (tithing) the loyalty of the people of this Church shall be put to the test. By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. By this principle it shall be seen whose hearts are set on doing the will of God and keeping His commandments, thereby sanctifying the land of Zion unto God, and who are opposed to this principle and have cut themselves off from the blessings of Zion. There is a great deal of importance connected with this principle, for by it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful. In this respect it is as essential as faith in God, as repentance of sin, as baptism for the remission of sin, or as the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Conference Report, Apr. 1900, p. 47 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 452)