1 The Eternal One burdened His messenger, Malachi, with these words to deliver to Israel.
Eternal One: 2 I have loved you as someone loves his dear family.
Israelites: How have You loved us?
Eternal One: Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Even still I loved Jacob, 3 but I hated Esau.[a] I chose you, and I rejected him. I have made his highlands desolate and his inheritance for scavenging jackals in the wilderness.
Edom (vowing): 4 We are defeated now, but we will be back. We will return and rebuild out of the destruction.
Eternal One: They can build again, but I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will tear Esau’s descendants down again and again and brand them as a land of wickedness and as a people whom the Eternal will despise forever. 5 You will see what I’ve done for you with your own eyes, Jacob’s children, and you will say, “May the Eternal One be magnified beyond the border of Israel.”
6 (to the priests who despise the name of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies) A son respects his father, and a servant fears[b] his master. If I am your Father, then where is My respect from you? And if I am your glorious Master, then where is your fear of Me? From your self-centered oblivion you ask, “How have we despised Your name?” 7 As you put polluted grain offerings on My clean altar, you ask, “In what way have we polluted You?” Your actions tell your fellow priests and the people whose sacrifices you offer that you all may despise the Eternal One’s table. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, isn’t that evil? And when you present sick and lame animals, isn’t that evil? Try bringing these useless animals to your foreign governor when you need his favor; will he grant your request and lift up your face to his to dignify you? Of course not.
So said the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
9 And now beg before the face of God and try to please Him so He might show you favor. With these offerings you present, will He lift up your face to His to show His approval?
God demands that they close the temple door; it is better to have no sacrifice than to offer service without full devotion. He wants devoted followers giving their best.
Eternal One: 10 Who among you would shut the doors that would keep Me from smelling your sacrifice and you from wasting time kindling the fire on My altar? I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, don’t delight in you. I will not accept any grain offering you present, 11 for from the rising of the sun to its descent, My name is great among the nations and in every place smoke of a pure offering rises up to Me. Even those nations whom I haven’t chosen as My own recognize My name is great—those who don’t recognize Me as the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
12 But you, My chosen ones, are soiling My name when you say, “The table of the Lord is dirty, and the food on it is despised,” 13 and when you sigh contemptuously and say, “Don’t you see how boring all these required rituals are?” You bring stolen or dirty gifts—your own lame and sick animals or animals you found torn apart by beasts in the wilderness—to the offering. Should I accept what you present? 14 I say, cursed is the deceiver who promises to sacrifice the finest male in his flock if I grant his request but who sacrifices the imperfect one to the Lord instead. I tell you, I am a great King. My name is feared among the nations who aren’t even My own.
So says the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
2 And now this command is for your benefit, O priests who despise the One you serve.
God’s message to Judah through Malachi is a double entendre. On one level, God is rebuking people who commit adultery and abandon their spouses. God hates divorce because of its disastrous consequences on lives, families, and communities. The effects of broken marriages can last a lifetime, even if people fool themselves into thinking otherwise. God stands as the first and most important witness to every marriage contract, and He desires for His people to take those vows seriously. On another level, however, God is rebuking all of Israel—His bride—who has committed adultery against the Eternal One by abandoning Him to worship other gods. As chronic adulterers, God’s people don’t realize their illicit relationships with pagan goddesses and foreign governments have broken their covenant with Him and are causing them to stray from God’s requirements. They mix cultic rituals with God’s prescribed rituals, and they genuinely don’t understand why God won’t respond to their prayers, blessings, and sacrifices. Israel demonstrates how people can become insensitive to frequent sin and how that sin can affect their contemporaries and future generations. According to the prophet, naiveté is no excuse for breaking His commands.
Eternal One: 2 If you will not listen and if you will not devote yourselves to giving glory to My name, then I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will send the curse on you and will curse those blessings you give to Me on behalf of yourselves and your laypeople. In fact, I have cursed those blessings since you are refusing to dedicate yourselves to Me. 3 Look, I am rebuking your children—your seed whom you offer. I will spread dung on your faces, the dung of your festival offerings, and someone will take you away with it.[c] 4 Then you will know I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, sent this command to you as a reminder of My covenant with Levi and your responsibilities regarding it.[d] 5 My covenant with Levi was filled with life and peace, and I gave those gifts to him out of respect. He feared Me, and he was in awe of My name and all I was purported to be. 6 He spoke the law of truth, and falsehood was not found on his lips. In peace and justice he walked with Me, and he turned many from iniquity by his words and example; 7 the lips of the priest should be a gateway to knowledge, and the laypeople should seek the law from his mouth because he is the messenger of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. 8-9 But you priests have turned from the straight and smooth way you should be guarding. You have caused many to stumble upon the law; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi! So I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, have made you hated and humiliated as you sit in that dung heap in front of all the people because you are not keeping My ways. Instead you are picking and choosing which of My laws to teach and follow.
10 Do we not all share one father? Has not one God created us all? Why do we all act deceitfully with our brothers and sisters and soil the covenant between God and our ancestors? 11 First of all, Judah has acted deceitfully, and an atrocity has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem because Judah has soiled the holy place of the Eternal One—His earthly throne which He loves—by marrying a daughter of a foreign god, by joining pagan families and worshiping pagan goddesses. 12 May the Eternal One cut off from His community among the tents of Jacob the man who does this—the one stirring, answering,[e] and presenting a grain offering to the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. 13 And this is a second thing you do: you cover the altar of the Eternal One not with the blood of perfect sacrifices but with your own tears, weeping and groaning as if you were worshiping other gods because He does not accept the grain offering you present or receive it with delight. 14 Yet you ask, “Why won’t He accept our offerings?” It is because the Eternal One has been a witness to the way you have dealt deceitfully with the wife of your youth, although she is your companion and covenant wife, by going off with that foreign woman! 15 Has He not made you and your wife one? You belong to Him, body and spirit. And what does He seek from such a union? Godly children.[f] So guard yourselves; be true to the wife of your youth, and stop being unfaithful.
Eternal One: 16 For I, the God of Israel, hate divorce! I, the Commander of heavenly armies, despise it when people wrap themselves in violence like a garment. So guard yourselves; be true to your wife and not unfaithful.
17 Your constant blathering has exhausted the Eternal One. Yet you ask, “How have we wearied Him with our prayers?” It is because you say, “All evildoers are good in the eyes of the Eternal One, and He delights in them,” or you ask, “Where is the God of justice?”
21 I looked again and could hardly believe my eyes. Everything above me was new. Everything below me was new. Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only. 3 And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne.
A Voice: See, the home of God is with His people.
He will live among them;
They will be His people,
And God Himself will be with them.
4 The prophecies are fulfilled:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.[a]
Death will be no more;
Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more,
For the first things have gone away.
5 And the One who sat on the throne announced to His creation,
The One: See, I am making all things new. (turning to me) Write what you hear and see, for these words are faithful and true. 6 It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will see to it that the thirsty drink freely from the fountain of the water of life. 7 To the victors will go this inheritance: I will be their God, and they will be My children. 8 It will not be so for the cowards, the faithless, the sacrilegious, the murderers, the sexually immoral, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all those who deal in deception. They will inherit an eternity in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
John sees an amazing sight. It is something no one had ever seen nor will ever see until that day arrives. Scene by blessed scene passes before the prophet. Finally he is transported to the end of history only to discover it is no end at all; it is a new beginning. The prophecies—every last one of them—are coming true. God’s plan will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven when the new Jerusalem comes down and He lives among His people. All things will become new.
9 And then one of the seven messengers in charge of the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came over to me.
Heavenly Messenger: Come with me, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
10 He took me away in the Spirit and set me on top of a great, high mountain. As I waited for what I thought was a bride, he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. 11 It gleamed and shined with the glory of God; its radiance was like the most precious of jewels, like jasper, and it was as clear as crystal. 12 It was surrounded with a wall, great and high. There were twelve gates. Assigned to each gate was a messenger, twelve in all. And on the gates were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel’s sons. 13 On the east wall were three gates. On the north wall were three gates. On the south wall were three gates. On the west wall were three gates. 14 And the city wall sat perfectly on twelve foundation stones, and on them were inscribed the names of the twelve emissaries[b] of the Lamb.
15 My guide held a golden measuring rod. With it he measured the city and the gates and the walls. 16 And the city is laid out with four corners in a perfect square, the length the same as its width. He measured the city with his measuring rod, and the result was that its length and width and height are equal: 1,444 miles, a perfect cube. 17 And my guide measured the wall; it was nearly 72 yards high, in human measurements, which was the instrument the guide was using. 18 The wall was made of jasper, while the city itself was made of pure gold, yet it was as clear as glass. 19 The foundation stones of the wall of the city were decorated with every kind of jewel: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate expertly crafted from a single beautiful pearl. And the city street was pure gold, yet it was as transparent as glass.
22 And in the city, I found no temple because the Lord God, the All Powerful, and the Lamb are the temple. 23 And in the city, there is no need for the sun to light the day or moon the night because the resplendent glory of the Lord provides the city with warm, beautiful light and the Lamb illumines every corner of the new Jerusalem. 24 And all peoples of all the nations will walk by its unfailing light, and the rulers of the earth will stream into the city bringing with them the symbols of their grandeur and power. 25 During the day, its gates will not be closed; the darkness of night will never settle in. 26 The glory and grandeur of the nations will be on display there, carried to the holy city by people from every corner of the world. 27 Nothing that defiles or is defiled can enter into its glorious gates. Those who practice sacrilege or deception will never walk its streets. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life can enter.
1 Praise the Eternal!
Write new songs; sing them to Him with all your might!
Gather with His faithful followers in joyful praise;
2 Let all of Israel celebrate their Maker, their God, their friend;
let the children of Zion find great joy in their true King.
3 So let the music begin; praise His name—dance and sing
to the rhythm of the tambourine, and to the tune of the harp.
4 For the Eternal is listening, and nothing pleases Him more than His people;
He raises up the poor and endows them with His salvation.
5 Let His faithful followers erupt in praise,
singing triumphantly wherever they are, even as they lie down for sleep in the evening.
6 With the name of God and praise in their mouths,
with a two-edged sword in their hands,
7 Let them take revenge on all nations who deny God.
Let them punish the peoples.
8 Kings and nobles will be locked up,
and their freedom will be bound in iron shackles.
9 This judgment against them, decreed by a holy God, will be carried out.
It’s an honor for all His faithful followers to serve Him.
Praise the Eternal!
King Lemuel’s mother warns him of the dangers of women and wine. In different ways, both have brought down great leaders. Both are certainly distractions to a king’s true work—defending the poor.
10 Who can find a truly excellent woman? One who is superior in all that she is and all that she does?
Her worth far exceeds that of rubies and expensive jewelry.
11 She inspires trust, and her husband’s heart is safe with her,
and because of her, he has every good thing.
12 Every day of her life she does what is best for him,
never anything harmful or hurtful.
13 Delight attends her work and guides her fingers
as she selects the finest wool and flax for spinning.
14 She moves through the market like merchant ships
that dock here and there in distant ports,
finally arriving home with food she’s carried from afar.
15 She rises from bed early, in the still of night,
carefully preparing food for her family
and providing a portion to her servants.
16 She has a plan. She considers some land and buys it;
then with her earnings, she plants a vineyard.
17 She wraps herself in strength, carries herself with confidence,
and works hard, strengthening her arms for the task at hand.
18 She tastes success and knows it is good,
and under lamplight she works deep into the night.
19 Her hands skillfully place the unspun flax and wool on the distaff,
and her fingers twist the spindle until thread forms.
20 She reaches out to the poor
and extends mercy to those in need.
21 She is not worried about the cold or snow for her family,
for she has clothed them all in warm, crimson coats.
22 She makes her own bed linens
and clothes herself in purple and fine cloth.
23 Everyone recognizes her husband in the public square,
and no one fails to respect him as he takes his place of leadership in the community.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them in the market,
and she supplies belts for tradesmen to carry across the sea.