3 These are the words of the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies:
Eternal One: Pay attention! I am sending My messenger,
and he will clear the road ahead for Me.[a]
The Lord you seek will suddenly arrive at His temple.
And the Messenger of God’s covenant, your soul’s delight,
Watch, because He, too, is coming.
God declares His Anointed One will come, and the way will be prepared. Notice has been given: be ready.
2 Can anyone live through the day when He arrives?
Will anyone be left standing when He appears?
He is a purifying fire;
He is like lye soap.
3 Like a refiner of silver,
He will purify the descendants of Levi—
Until they are pure, unalloyed gold and silver.
Then they will draw near to the Eternal One,
Presenting offerings with righteous, clean hands.
4 Then the Eternal One will unequivocally accept the sweet offering of Judah and Jerusalem as He did in the days of old, as in the former years when the covenant was new.
Eternal One: 5 Then I will approach you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the constant sorcerers; the chronic adulterers; the habitual liars; those who continue cheating wages from their hired laborer, a widow, or an orphan; and those who always reject the immigrant, not fearing Me, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. 6 Because I am the Eternal One, I never change; as a result, you children of Jacob have not been destroyed though your blessing may have been delayed.
7 From the days when your ancestors served Me, you have turned from and ignored My statutes. Return to Me and I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will return to you. But you shameless people ask, “How will we return? 8 Will someone steal from God?” Yet you are always stealing from Me! But you self-centered people still ask, “How have we stolen from You?” In the tithes and the offerings you have not given Me as the law requires! 9 You are cursed with a curse, for as an entire nation you are stealing from Me. 10 To rectify this situation, you must bring the entire tithe into the storage house in the temple so that there may be food for Me and for the Levites in My house. Feel free to test Me now in this. See whether or not I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will open the windows of heaven to you and pour a blessing down upon you until all needs are satisfied. 11 I will rebuke the swarm of locusts devouring your crops, and the devourer will not cause the produce you have grown in the earth to decay or the vines in the field to drop their grapes. 12 And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise you this.
13 Your words of rebellion against Me have been strong. Yet you ask, “What have we said against You?” 14 You have said, “Serving God is a waste of time,” and, “What benefits have we received by following Him as we mourned on our journey before the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies? 15 Now we believe the bluster of the arrogant and agree they are blessed; we encourage the wicked who also test God and escape.”
16 Then those who fear the Eternal One consulted each other about God’s charges, each one to his neighbor, and the Eternal One paid attention and heard. A book of remembrance was written before Him for those who honored the Eternal One and valued His name and the good reputation.
Eternal One: 17 And they will be Mine on that day when I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, make My unique treasure—which is the kingdom of Israel. I will have pity on them as a man has pity on his son who serves him.
18 And you will return and notice the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those serving God and those not serving Him.
4 Eternal One: For behold the day of burning will come, smoldering like a furnace. The arrogant and the evil will be set ablaze like the worthless chaff of grain. Neither roots nor branch will remain. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this. 2 But for you, the ones who tremble at the sound of My name, a warm sun of righteousness will come forth with healing in its rays, and you will go out, springing from the stalls like calves in open pasture. 3 Then you will trample the criminal; your feet will make them ash on the day I am preparing. I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promise this.
4 Remember the instructions which Moses, My faithful servant, received from Me at Mount Horeb and gave to all Israel. Remember its statutes and judgments.
5 Keep watch. I am sending Elijah the prophet to you before the arrival of the great and terrible day of the Eternal One, 6 and he will return parents’ hearts to their children and children’s hearts to their parents, or else I will come and strike the land of promise with a curse of annihilation.
These verses simultaneously display retrospective and prospective dimensions of Malachi’s conversation with the people, especially the temple priests, of Jerusalem. Malachi calls his contemporaries to remember the life and message of Moses and future generations to look forward to the life and message of the Elijah who is to come. As Ezra in the fifth century b.c. is like Elijah, reflecting these expectations, so John the Baptist is the messenger par excellence 400 years later when he prepares the world for Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Anointed One.
John had never seen a city without a temple. In fact, every city John ever entered had many temples dedicated to many gods—all, of course, except Jerusalem, which only had one temple. But now in his vision, he sees a different kind of city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem. As he looks around its streets of gold and magnificent buildings, he sees no temple reaching into the sky. No temple is needed in this city because God and the Lamb live with them, constantly in view. Their throne sits prominently in the city. Their light forever illumines its streets and citizens.
22 My heavenly guide brought me to the river of pure living waters, shimmering as brilliantly as crystal. It flowed out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 flowing down the middle and dividing the street of the holy city. On each bank of the river stood the tree of life, firmly planted, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and producing its sweet crop every month throughout the year. And the soothing leaves that grew on the tree of life provided precious healing for the nations.
Fed by a crystal clear river is the tree of life. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were prevented from eating from the tree once they were expelled from the garden of Eden. Divine creatures and a flaming sword then stood guard at the entrance to the garden (Genesis 3:24). Now the tree of life returns to the story, a single tree situated on both sides of the river. No one is denied access to its luscious fruit and healing leaves.
3 No one or nothing will labor under any curse any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will sit prominently in the city. God’s servants will continually serve and worship Him. 4 They will be able to look upon His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. 5 Darkness will never again fall on this city. They will not require the light of a lamp or of the sun because the Lord God will be their illumination. By His light, they will reign throughout the ages.
Guide (speaking to me): 6 These words are faithful and true.
And the Lord, the God who inspired the prophets, has sent His heavenly messenger to show to His servants what must soon take place.
The Anointed One: 7 Look now, I am coming soon! The one who remains true to the prophetic words contained in this book will truly be blessed.
8 I, John, am the one who heard and witnessed these visions. And when I heard and witnessed them, I fell prostrate at the feet of the heavenly guide who showed them to me. 9 But he refused.
Guide: You must not do that! I am a servant with you, with your brothers and sisters the prophets, and with those who keep the words contained in this book. Worship God instead!
10 (continuing) Do not seal up the prophetic words contained in this book for another day, for the finale is near. 11 Let the one given to evil continue down evil’s path and the one addicted to filth continue to be its servant. But let the one who is righteous journey along the righteous road, and let the holy continue in holy ways.
The Anointed One: 12 See, I am coming soon, and I will bring My reward with Me. I will pay back every person according to the deeds he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and Omega, the First One and the Last One, the beginning and the end.
14 Blessed are those who wash their garments. In the end, they have rightful access to the tree of life and will enter the city through its gates. 15 The dogs, the sorcerers, those who commit immoral acts, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and practice deception must remain outside the gates for all eternity.
Jesus: 16 I, Jesus, have sent My messenger to show you and guide you so that you in turn would share this testimony with the churches. I am the Root and the Descendant of David, the Bright Morning Star.
The Spirit and the Bride: 17 Come.
And let everyone who hears these words say, “Come.”
And let those who thirst come.
All who desire to drink, let them take and drink freely from the water of life.
John closes his book with a warning to safeguard the integrity of his prophecy.
18 Beware, everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book. Know this for certain: if anyone adds to these words, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone subtracts from the prophetic words of this book, God will remove that person’s access to the tree of life and to the holy city which are described in this book.
20 The One who testifies to these realities makes this promise:
The Anointed One: Yes. I am coming soon.
To which we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
If Psalm 150 is any indication, then the worship of the one True God ought to be full of life and energy. Consider what it must have looked and sounded like in those days: voices lifted, shouting for joy, trumpets blaring, stringed instruments playing, people dancing, pipes humming, tambourines keeping rhythm, cymbals crashing. There are times when worship ought to break out in joy. Is it possible that our worship is too quiet, too reserved, too structured?
1 Praise the Eternal!
Praise the True God inside His temple.
Praise Him beneath massive skies, under moonlit stars and rising sun.
2 Praise Him for His powerful acts, redeeming His people.
Praise Him for His greatness that surpasses our time and understanding.
3-4 Praise Him with the blast of trumpets high into the heavens,
and praise Him with harps and lyres
and the rhythm of the tambourines skillfully played by those who love and fear the Eternal.
Praise Him with singing and dancing;
praise Him with flutes and strings of all kinds!
5 Praise Him with crashing cymbals,
loud clashing cymbals!
6 No one should be left out;
Let every man and every beast—
every creature that has the breath of the Lord—praise the Eternal!
Praise the Eternal!
This doxology not only closes Book Five, but it also closes the entire Book of Psalms. Up until now, the songs in this book have reminded us of all the reasons we should praise God. Some songs have even commanded us to praise Him. But this closing remark takes the command to praise one step further: everything alive—humans, animals, and heaven’s creatures—must praise Him. Praise is what God created us to do; it is one of our highest purposes in life. So it is no wonder that the longest book of the Bible is purely devoted to helping us do just that.
25 Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear,
she smiles when she thinks about the future.
26 She conducts her conversations with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is ever her concern.
27 She directs the activities of her household,
and never does she indulge in laziness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her.
Her husband, too, joins in the praise, saying:
29 “There are some—indeed many—women who do well in every way,
but of all of them only you are truly excellent.”
30 Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last,
but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others.
31 Celebrate all she has achieved.
Let all her accomplishments publicly praise her.[a]
Marrying the right person is one of the most important decisions most people ever make, so they must choose wisely and carefully. The Book of Proverbs ends with a tribute to a wise choice in a wife. She is strong, independent, capable, and cares for her husband, her family, and the poor. She runs the whole household. In ancient Israel, this would mean a large extended family—including servants with all of their activities—and the family business. Her husband would sing her praises publicly before the community leaders. Those who know her would admire her for her skills, her industry, and her character.
- 31:10-31 A Hebrew acrostic poem