Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me
"Malachi 3 begins, 'Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me' (Mal. 3:1). This prophecy has dual application. The Lord said it first had reference to John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Savior's first appearance (see Matt. 11:10) and who also was the first angelic messenger to bestow priesthood keys and authority in our dispensation, preparing the way for the Savior's Second Coming (see D&C 13).
"The second part of Malachi's prophecy has reference to, among other things, another forerunner, a latter-day messenger who was called to prepare the way so that 'the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple' (Mal. 3:1). The Prophet Joseph Smith is the latter-day forerunner who prepared the way for the building of temples and the restoration of temple ordinances. The first building the Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated cornerstones for was the temple in Independence, Missouri, on 3 August 1831. He later dedicated the Kirtland Temple on 27 March 1836. The messengers Malachi foresaw have been sent, and the Lord's work is under way. The ordinances performed today in temples throughout the world are preparing families, both on this side of the veil and in the spirit world, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (W. Jeffrey Marsh, "Training from the Old Testament: Moroni's Lessons for a Prophet," Ensign, Aug. 1998, 12)
"Joseph prepared the way for the Lord's second coming by receiving the keys and powers of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods and the 'fulness of the gospel,' found in the Book of Mormon. (See D&C 20:9.) Through him the holy temple blessings and the saving ordinances of the gospel were restored. Through him, the kingdom of God was restored to the earth, with all the keys, rights, powers, and authority necessary for the salvation of men-never to be taken from the earth again. (See Dan. 2:44.)" (George A. Horton Jr., "Prophecies in the Bible about Joseph Smith," Ensign, Jan. 1989, 23)
Malachi 3:1 the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple
Malachi is speaking of the Lord's Second Coming, when he shall come to his temples in Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. This will be a public appearance, an event for all those worthy to attend the temple. His appearance to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple doesn't count because that is not a public appearance.
[Speaking of Malachi 3:1] Now I don't think that was referring to his first coming. He didn't come swiftly to his temple, and all men were able to abide the day of his first coming; and he didn't come cleansing and purifying as refiner's fire and fullers' soap, but we are told that when he comes in the latter days that the wicked shall cry out to the mountains, and rocks 'fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.' (Rev. 6:16.)" ("Prophecy," Ensign, May 1974, 116)
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)
Many of you will be living in Jackson County and there you will be assisting in building the Temple; and if you will not have seen the Lord Jesus at that time you may expect Him very soon, to see Him, to eat and drink with Him, to shake hands with Him and to invite Him to your houses as He was invited when He was here before. I am saying things to you now, which I know something of the truth of them. (Gerald N. Lund, The Coming of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], 138-139)
George Albert Smith
I pray that His Spirit may be poured out upon all the world, wherever men and women desire to know His will and keep His commandments; and that it may find its way to those who are not disposed to keep the laws of God, that the spirit of repentance may come upon them; that all may be prepared for the time which we are assured is not far distant, when the Lord will suddenly come to His temple; that His children may rejoice in His presence and receive eternal life at His hands. (Conference Report, April 1907, Afternoon Session, 22)
Malachi 3:2 he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap
"Joseph Smith said of the glory of God, that 'all corruption is devoured by the fire.' In manifesting His glory and power unto man, Christ is therefore like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. By receiving the Holy Spirit, man may be purified and cleansed-purged of the effects of sin and transgression. Malachi's statement that the Lord will sit as a refiner and purifier of the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver has reference to the sanctifying powers of the Gospel. Only by being purified thereby can the sons of Levi to whom Malachi refers offer an acceptable offering in righteousness, for the soul of man must be sanctified in order for his gifts to be acceptable to God. The unregenerated soul is an enemy to God; and should such a one make an offering to the Lord, the motive of that heart clouded with the effects of sin would make the offering unacceptable." (Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrinal Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 457 - 458)
"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; 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 [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 196)
Malachi 3:3 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)
Malachi 3:3 he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver
Joseph Fielding Smith
Now we understand, and the whole world could understand, that the offering of Judah in the days of Christ's ministry, was not pleasant. Levi was not at that time cleansed, but Judah and Levi turned away from the Lord. It is in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times that these things are to be fulfilled. (Conference Report, April 1948, Third Day-Morning Meeting 131.)
John A. Widstoe
The "offering in righteousness" (D&C 128:24) is here identified with temple work for the salvation of the dead, which encompasses all the principles of the plan of salvation.
When, therefore, the sons of Levi accept Christ and His gospel, subject themselves to the ordinances of the Church, and become active in gospel requirements, they will offer the offering in righteousness of which has been spoken. (Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 247)
Malachi 3:7 ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them
Apostasy is one of the main themes of Malachi. Like the prophet Ether, or the prophet Mormon, Malachi is preaching to a people who are progressively becoming more and more wicked. They have had religion for a long time. They are tired of it, wearied by the requirements of their religion with no real relationship with God.
The things that Satan wants destroyed first are the priesthood, ordinances, and covenants. We can see in Malachi that the priesthood is perverted, the ordinances have been abandoned, and the covenants corrupted. Satan has done his job well. "by 400 B.C. the Assyrians and the Babylonians had scattered most of the Israelites, and the last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi, had finished his time of service. A new period of apostasy and spiritual darkness fell upon Israel." (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 507)
Those of you who are familiar with the Scriptures will remember the conditions that obtained in the days of Malachi, the spirit of apostasy that was rife among God's chosen people, and how Malachi verbally chastised them because of their unbelief, and because of their turning away from the truth, and predicted what would befall them as a result of departing from the truth and ignoring the message that the prophets had brought them; and this was the condition when the Son of God came. This was the condition when John the Baptist made his appearance. Hence he and the doctrine he preached were not popular. (Conference Report, April 1912, Outdoor Meeting. 111)
The Lord's plea to an apostate people, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you." The Lord's plea to an apostate individual is the same, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you." As the Lord plead with the Nephites, "will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (3 Ne. 9:13)
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God?... But ye say wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings
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, April 1964, Afternoon Meeting 34)
Spencer W. Kimball
I stopped on the highway to buy some fruit. The little vending shop was in the edge of the orchard. And I asked the seller, "Are these trees yours?"
He said, "From the highway to the hill-all these are mine, and all the fruit we pick and sell. All this is mine."
And I asked, "Do you have, no partner who contributes capital?"
"I earned the funds with which to buy. It is mine."
I said: "You bought the land? You bought the seedlings? But who put chemicals into the soil to make them grow? Who sent the living sap a-climbing all the limbs? Who made them bloom and scent the air with sweet perfume? Did you make rain? Can you command the sun? Do you put intelligence in trees to produce buds and blossoms, fruit in ripeness, taste and food value? He who made the land, the trees, the elements has land-lien on it all. Have you settled your lease payment?
"I know you pay to Caesar his full portion, never failing. But do you calculate and pay the part to God?
Are these trees yours and yours alone? There is no partner's claim upon the fruit?" He winced.
"Have you integrity? Would you rob God, your partner? Remembering that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof?"
When God had created man and woman he placed them upon the earth to "dress it and to keep it and subdue it." (See Gen. 2:15.) It seems this landlord-tenant relationship is fair-the Lord, the owner, furnishes the land, the air, the water, the sunshine, and all the elements to make it fruitful. The tenant gives his labor. (Conference Report, April 1968, Afternoon Meeting 75)
Ezra Taft Benson
There are those whose names are on the records of the Church who have forgotten Malachi's question and answer: "Will a man rob God? . . . But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." (Malachi 3:8.) Some may protest: "But we cannot afford to tithe." To them, perhaps the gentle but forceful reminder from President Spencer W. Kimball is needed: "What? Cannot afford integrity? Cannot afford to return to the Great Provider's program that which was already His? . . . 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 will compensate with blessings little dreamed of." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 472)
Henry D. Taylor
Frequently we hear the expression "I can't afford to pay tithing." Persons who make such statements have not yet learned that they can't afford not to pay tithing. There are many members who from experience can and do testify that nine-tenths carefully planned, budgeted, and spent wisely, with the blessings of the Lord, will go much farther than ten-tenths spent haphazardly without planning and without the Lord's blessings.
The payment of tithing is a test of our faithfulness and loyalty. President Joseph F. Smith, many years ago, counseled: "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." ("I Will ... Pour You Out a Blessing," Ensign, May 1974, 107)
Bruce R. McConkie
That tenth is the Lord's tenth. It no longer belongs to the steward in whose hands it rests for the moment. It is the Lord's. To misappropriate the Lord's property is dishonest. In his sight it is robbery. Hence he says: "Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." (Mal. 3:1-9.) (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 545)
Malachi 3:10 prove me now herewith... I will... pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it
"We are told that science is superior to religion because in science, we can experiment to learn its data. Every sophomore has the scientific method explained to him until he can practically repeat it in his sleep. The essence of this explanation is to forget one's prejudices and make decisions only in terms of the available data. That is the scientific method.
"If that is science and experimentation, the gospel is susceptible to the scientific method. The Lord gives us several examples. Concerning tithing, he said: 'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, ... and prove me now herewith ... if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it' (Mal. 3:10). That is just an experiment. Many people have testified that they've tried the experiment and it works. That is the process of science. It is not an intellectually different kind of a thing." (Don Lind, "Things Not Seen," New Era, Sept. 1986, 48-49)
Thomas S. Monson
All of us can afford to pay tithing. In reality, none of us can afford not to pay tithing. The Lord will strengthen our resolve. He will open a way to comply.
May I share with you a letter I received some months ago which provides such an example? The letter begins:
"We live on the edge of a small town, and our neighbor uses our pasture for his cattle and as payment provides us with all the beef we want. Each time we get new meat, we have some of the present supply left over; and since we live in a student ward, we take meat to some students we feel might have use for some good beef.
"During the time my wife was serving in a Relief Society presidency, her secretary was a student's wife-the mother of eight children. Her husband, Jack, had recently been called as ward clerk.
"My wife had always prayed to know which students might need our help with our excess meat. When she told me she felt we should give some meat to Jack and his family, I was very concerned that we might offend them. So was she. We both were worried because they were a very independent family.
"A few days later, my wife said she still felt we should take the meat to them, and I reluctantly agreed to go along. When we delivered the meat, my wife's hands were actually shaking, and I was very nervous. The children opened the door, and when they heard why we were there, they began dancing around. The parents were reserved but pleasant. When we drove away, my wife and I both were so relieved and happy that they had accepted our gift.
"A few months later our friend Jack got up in testimony meeting and related the following. He said that all his life he had had a hard time paying tithing. With such a large family, they used all the money he made just to get by. When he became ward clerk, he saw all the other people paying tithing and felt he needed to also. He did so for a couple of months, and all was well. Then one month he had a problem. In his job, he completed work and was paid a few months later. He could see that the family was going to be far short of money. He and his wife decided to share the problem with their children. If they paid their tithing, they would run out of food on about the 20th of the month. If they didn't pay their tithing, they could buy enough food to last until the next paycheck. Jack said he wanted to buy [the] food, but the children said they wanted to pay tithing-so Jack paid the tithing, and they all prayed.
"A few days after paying their tithing, we had shown up with our package of meat for them. With the meat, added to what they had, there was no problem having enough food until the next paycheck.
"There are so many lessons here for me-for instance, always listen to my wife-but for me the most important is that the prayers of people are almost always answered by the actions of others." ("Be Thou an Example," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 44-45)
For more examples of saints who have put the Law of Tithing to the test, see the "Tithing Stories" page beneath Malachi 3 in the navigation menu to the left.
Malachi 3:11 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes
When the Lord rebukes the devourer, He rebukes the power of Satan on our behalf. The financial benefit may be unseen. Our car may run longer than it would have if we had not paid our tithing. The appliances in our home may last longer, or when they break, a neighbor might come by at the right time to fix them at little cost. We may be blessed with ideas that keep costs down with utilities and food. Our gardens may be more fruitful and useful.
Those who expect their employer to give them a raise because they began to pay their tithing may be disappointed if they can't see all the other ways in which the Lord has rebuked the devourer for their sakes.
If ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them... the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy father:
And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and they wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
Thou shalt be blessed above all people. (Deut. 7:12-14)
Joseph B. Wirthlin
President Hinckley has declared that the blessings from paying tithing "may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit." He explained that "there are many ways in which the Lord can bless us beyond the riches of the world. There is the great boon of health. The Lord has promised that he will rebuke the devourer for our sakes. Malachi speaks of the fruits of our ground. May not that rebuke of the devourer apply to various of our personal efforts and concerns?" (Windows of Light and Truth," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 76)
Malachi 3:14 ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it... that we have walked mournfully before the Lord
"We must take care not to judge the future by the appearance of the present. Sometimes the efforts of the righteous that appear to have no effect now will bear fruit years or decades hence. Sometimes the fruit will not be what the righteous had hoped to harvest, but they will find it sweet to the taste nevertheless.
"When the saints in Malachi's day charged that it was vain to serve God, they were being deceived. The Lord told them to keep a record, not to make immediate judgment, and to wait until the Lord gathered his jewels. Then they would "discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (See Mal. 3:13-18.) Many things which seem unjust and unfair to us now, with our limited vision and understanding, will become clear if we will be patient, suspend judgment for a while, and have faith in our Heavenly Father. We need to realize that when our vision is blurred, patience and time are essential elements in restoring our perceptions." (A. LaVar Thornock, "Do the Wicked Prosper While the Righteous Suffer?" Ensign, Oct. 1990, 14)
Hartman Rector Jr.
Did you ever look at the boat in the driveway of the nonmember next door and think: "He doesn't pay tithing, or perhaps attend church on Sunday. He gets to watch the Super Bowl and the World Series and so forth on Sunday. He doesn't seem to do any of the things I have to do, and yet he seems to be getting along as well as I am, maybe even better than I am." Did you ever have any such thoughts? Well, if so, I would imagine that is what the Lord is referring to in these passages. Then the Lord drops the bombshell:
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." (Like we are doing now. Did you ever notice that those who love the Lord are always talking to each other? One meeting after another.) "And the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." (Mal. 3:16 and 3 Ne. 24:16.)
Ah! the light breaks. There is a record kept-and surely there is one. One group is receiving its reward now; the other is laying it up in heaven; and out of the books which are written and shall be written shall the dead be judged. (See Rev. 20:12.) Then the Lord gives his word, which he cannot break, for surely "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say." (D&C 82:10; italics added.) And here is the Lord's promise: "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Mal. 3:17.) ("That Ye May Have Roots and Branches," Ensign, May 1983, 26-27)
Melvin J. Ballard
SOME of us have said: "It is vain to pay my tithing, I do not prosper. Behold the rich, they do not pay their tithing, how they flourish like a green bay tree;" and some of us have fallen victims to that delusion and snare. But a record is kept of every man's deeds, whether he has paid his rental and established a credit. When the Lord shall return and sit in judgment, when the books are opened, and men are judged out of the things that are written in them, when he makes up his jewels, and an inheritance is given, then shall we know whether or not it was profitable to serve the Lord and pay our tithes and offerings. We cannot decide it just now, for while the Lord has promised that the man and woman who pay their honest tithing shall be provided for, he doesn't promise to make them rich, not in material things. The greatest blessings of the Lord are spiritual, after all, and not material. (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin J. Ballard [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949], 159 - 160)
Malachi 3:16 a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord
"While living in Germany, I found myself confused about my feelings concerning the gospel. I had been raised in a part-member family and had married out of the Church. Finally, during World War II, I decided to find out if I had a testimony. I started reading the scriptures, and in answer to my prayers and fasting, I received a burning desire to be with the Church.
"But I was always very confused about tithing. I did not earn a living after my marriage and was satisfied with just giving a fast offering. While my husband was serving under Hitler's regime, I received money from the government-and once more the question of tithing came up. For over three weeks I was confused. I turned to no one for guidance. Instead, I turned to the scriptures:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Mal. 3:10.)
"I prayed about the matter, wanting to know how to apply the Lord's promise. My answer came in a wonderful way.
"One morning I awoke at dawn, only to drop off into sleep again. I dreamed that the branch president had called all the Mormons in town and said the Saints were going to the promised land. He told us to gather at the meetinghouse. I assumed myself worthy and packed all the necessary items to go to the meeting, including my two children.
"In my dream, in addition to many active members, many inactive members were holding their baptismal certificates, giving proof of their membership. The branch president soon arrived, carrying a large book on which was lettered "The Book of Life." In this book were listed those worthy to go to Zion. The names were few, and those who were called gathered into another room. When he closed the book, the rest of us murmured in dissatisfaction. We wondered what we had done to deserve such a fate. I was perplexed and sad. I then looked back on all the commandments I had broken.
"I decided to take my two children and ask the president if I had not always been a faithful member. He replied that I had been and that I had always done more than my part to help others. 'Perhaps I just overlooked your name.' Three times he went through the list of names. Mine was not listed. He then looked into my eyes and asked, 'Sister Stoecker, have you paid your tithing?'
"At that moment I awoke. Numbed by the experience, I felt a burning in my breast. I knelt and thanked the Lord for answering my prayers. From that time forth I decided that I would take my 'tithes into the storehouse' of the Lord.
"I soon began to see the promise fulfilled that the Lord had pronounced: 'and prove me now herewith ... if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.' At that time I had been getting most of my food supplies from my mother-in-law, who charged a large sum of money for them. It was wartime and food was expensive. After paying my tithing to the branch president, I visited my mother-in-law, my face shining with happiness. To my surprise, she packed a basket twice as full as usual and told me that I would never have to pay her for food again.
"The whole experience was a turning point in my life." (Elizabeth Stoecker, "Sister, Have You Paid Your Tithing?" Ensign, Apr. 1973, 46)
Theodore M. Burton
The compilation of an individual family record is a duty of such sacred importance that it cannot be wholly entrusted to others to do for us. We cannot just hope that an aunt or an uncle or a cousin will do this work for the whole family. Relatives and friends can help and assist us. All members of the family should help one another in assembling this information and passing it on to others. The responsibility for compiling a record for our own family, however, rests with each one of us in our individual families. We each must have a record to show that this holy work has been done as completely as we and our loved ones have power to complete it. As I understand the scripture, this is an individual family responsibility given to the priesthood to administer and to complete. (Conference Report, April 1966, Afternoon Meeting 34)