"Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.Malachi 3:4(NASB)
Malachi probably proclaimed his message at the time when the third company of Jewish exiles returned with Nehemiah to rebuild the broken city-wall of Jerusalem. He confronted the returning community with their sin and unbelief, both individually and nationally.
He reminded the nation that the Lord their God was sovereign over the whole earth. He urged priests and people alike to consider their ways and do what is right. He gave a number of exhortations to them to renounce evil and choose the good, to repent of their apostasy and pursue holiness.
In each of his six oracles, Malachi speaks of God's long-suffering mercy while addressing issues of Israel's sinfulness, unfaithfulness, and failure. He contrasted the righteous with the wicked and the obedient with those that broke their covenant with God and disobeyed His righteous Law.
While condemning areas such as marital infidelity, a profane priesthood, and the peoples' reluctance to give God the offerings and honour He deserves, Malachi also spoke to his kinsmen of the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, in all his six discourses.
In his fourth debate, the prophet scolded his countrymen who wearied the Lord by proclaiming, "Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord's sight!, and He is pleased with them," or they asked the question, "Where is the God of justice?" Their foolish words remind us of Peter's warning to us - that in the last days there will be mockers who ridicule those who wait expectantly for Christ's return... and others who call good-evil and evil-good.
While proclaiming Israel's need to cleanse their heart, mend their ways, and obey the Law given through Moses, Malachi assured them of the never-failing love God had towards them, and that His promised blessings would start to flow to those who trust in Him and obey His Word. He also spoke of the arrival of the messenger who would prepare the way of the Lord and informed them that their Messiah, "would suddenly come to His Temple."
As with all his oracles, Malachi counterbalanced his chastening words with promises of restoration, and in this verse he tells them that when their Messiah comes, "Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years."
Although John the Baptist heralded the Incarnate Word and proclaimed God's kingdom was near - they missed their Messiah the first time. Even though the Son of God suddenly came to His Temple, cleansed His Father's House, and overturned the tables of the money changers - they failed to repent of their sins, cleanse their ways, and recognise their Lord. As a result, God's promise that the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, was put on hold.
In former years, it was the shed blood of animals that was offered by the Aaronic priesthood to atone for the sin of Israel, but for most of their history, they did not pursue righteousness by faith in God's unchanging Word. Instead, they trusted in works of the Law for their salvation, which prevented them from recognising the true and Living Bread Who came down from heaven, 2000 years ago.
The Saviour for Whom they were waiting and the truth He taught, became a stumbling block to Israel. It became a rock of offense because they placed their faith in works of the flesh for salvation... instead of trusting in God.
BUT the day is coming when the offering made by Israel will be pleasing to the Lord. A time is coming when they will recognise their Messiah and trust in the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ Jesus their Saviour and our Saviour - for He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. THEN the offering of Judah and Jerusalem WILL be pleasing to the LORD, just as in the days of old and in former years.
Heavenly Father, thank You that despite their wanton way and attempts to be justified by works of the Law instead of by faith in Christ, the day is coming when all-Israel will be pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for Your long-suffering mercy and great goodness to all Your people. I praise You that Israel will one day be pleasing to You and the joy of their salvation will be restored. Thank You for the full and final work of Christ on the Cross for my salvation and that through His death and Resurrection the full and final Sacrifice has been made for my sin, for their sin, and for the sin of the whole world. Thank You that the day is coming when the priests and people of Israel will return to You, their hearts will be purified, and their offerings will become a sweet-smelling savour to You. Help me to renounce evil and choose the good and live by faith and not by sight. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.