"Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming," says the LORD Almighty.
"But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes.
He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.
Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in former times.
At that time I will put you on trial. I will be a ready witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
"I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already completely destroyed.
Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my laws and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How can we return when we have never gone away?'"
"Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!" But you ask, 'What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?'" You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.
You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!
Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. a Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe," says the LORD Almighty.
"Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD Almighty.
"You have said terrible things about me," says the LORD. "But you say, 'What do you mean? How have we spoken against you?'"
"You have said, 'What's the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD Almighty that we are sorry for our sins?"
From now on we will say, "Blessed are the arrogant." For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them go free of harm.'"
Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.
"They will be my people," says the LORD Almighty. "On the day when I act, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient and dutiful child.
Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)