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The Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts] says, “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way for me [Is. 40:3; Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27]. Suddenly, the Lord you are ·looking for [seeking] will come to his Temple; the messenger of the ·agreement [covenant; treaty], ·whom you want [in whom you delight], will come.” ·No one can live through [L Who can endure…?] ·that time [the day of his coming]; ·no one can survive [who can stand…?] when he ·comes [appears]. He will be like a ·purifying [refiner’s] fire and like ·laundry [launderer’s] soap. Like someone who ·heats [refines] and purifies silver, he will purify the ·Levites [L sons/descendants of Levi] and ·make them pure [refine them] like gold and silver. Then they will bring offerings to the Lord in ·the right way [righteousness]. And the Lord will ·accept [be pleased with] the offerings from Judah and Jerusalem, as it was in ·the past [L days of antiquity and former years]. The Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts] says, “Then I will come to you and judge you. I will be quick to testify against those who take part in ·evil magic [sorcery], adultery, and ·lying under oath [perjury], those who cheat workers of their pay and who cheat widows and orphans, those who ·are unfair to [turn away; deprive of justice] ·foreigners [aliens; immigrants], and those who do not ·respect [fear] me [Prov. 1:7].

Stealing from God

“I the Lord do not change. So you descendants of Jacob have not been ·destroyed [consumed]. ·Since the time [L From the days] of your ·ancestors [fathers], you have ·disobeyed [turned away from; spurned] my ·rules [decrees; commands] and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts].

“But you ask, ‘How can we return?’

“·Should [or Can] a person rob God? But you are robbing me.

“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’

“You have robbed me in your offerings and ·the tenth of your crops [tithes]. So a curse is on you, because the whole nation has robbed me. 10 Bring to the storehouse a full ·tenth of what you earn [tithe] so there will be food in my house [C the temple; Deut. 14:22–28]. Test me in this,” says the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts]. “I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need. 11 I will stop the ·insects [pests; or plague; L the devourer] so they won’t ·eat [destroy] your crops. The grapes won’t ·fall from your vines before they are ready to pick [or fail to produce a crop],” says the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts]. 12 “All the nations will call you blessed, because you will have a ·pleasant country [delightful land],” says the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts].

The Lord’s Promise of Mercy

13 The Lord says, “You have said ·terrible things about [L hard things against] me.

“But you ask, ‘What have we said about you?’

14 “You have said, ‘It is ·useless [futile] to serve God. ·It did no good to obey [L What profit is there to keep] his laws and to ·show that we were sorry [L walk about in mourning] for what we did before the Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts]. 15 So we say that proud people are ·happy [blessed]. Evil people ·succeed [prosper]. They ·challenge [test] God and ·get away with it [escape harm].’”

16 Then those who ·honored [feared] the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened and heard them. The names of those who ·respected [feared] the Lord and honored ·him [L his name] were written in his presence in a ·book to be remembered [scroll of remembrance].

17 The Lord ·All-Powerful [Almighty; of Heaven’s Armies; T of hosts] says, “They ·belong to me [shall be mine]; on that day they will be my ·very own [treasured possession; special treasure]. As a ·parent [father] ·shows mercy to [spares] his ·child [son] who serves him, I will ·show mercy to [spare] my people. 18 You will again see the difference between ·good [the righteous] and ·evil people [the wicked], between those who serve God and those who don’t.