1 And it came to pass that he commanded them that they should write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them. [The words of Malachi came after Lehi left Jerusalem, and the Lord gave the Nephites these important scriptures to study.] And it came to pass that after they were written he expounded them. And these are the words which he did tell unto them, saying: Thus said the Father unto Malachi—Behold, I will send my messenger [a Servant who shall prepare the way], and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant [Jesus Christ], whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming, [When is His coming for you? For these people in Bountiful it was that very day.] and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire [burn out the dross], and like fuller’s soap. [to make white and clean]
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi [those coming to the Lord], and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. [be found worth to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.]
The Levites symbolize a class of people who are seeking the Lord in holiness. Today, many who are desperately seeking God have a priesthood distinction called Levite (though it is referred to as a “seeker of light and knowledge”). When they stand in the presence of God and are anointed a servant they have a higher relationship with God, which is referred to as Melchizedek. These are only word distinctions, for to the Lord they represent different levels of relationship with Him.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. [The Jews will be reclaimed to the covenant and be made holy.]
5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts. [The Lord will separate them from the world, as they are received unto Him.]
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob [those under My Covenant] are not consumed.
7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But ye say: Wherein shall we return? [How do they return to the Lord of the Covenant?]
The following scriptures are often used to make a strong case for giving tithing to the church. This was not the point of these verses as they were given. The entire recorded book of Malachi is the Lord’s rebuke to the wicked Israelites, especially the priests and leaders who had made a mockery of the temple and all that was holy. They had used the tithes and offerings for their personal enrichment.
Under the Mosaic Law, one/tenth of what was gained was to be given to support the Levites who did not own land or work for a living. They were to be used to serve God and Israel, and help with priestly duties. The Levites lived meager lives of worship to the Lord and honored by the people for their sacrifice. Those who wished to self-select from other tribes to offer their lives to God were called Nazarites.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say: Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. [You priests of the temple have taken the sacrifices of the people and used them for your own benefit.]
9 Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. [Your priesthood is gone, for you have taken what is not yours.]
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house [Bring all the donations which are the great sacrifices of this people and apply them as has been commanded.]; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. [A spiritual blessing, which is greater than any worldly wealth.]
11 And I will rebuke the devourer [the Adversary] for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. [The Lord will pour His spirit open them and their posterity unto a higher resurrection.]
12 And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts. [The land of your fathers shall become a mighty nation.]
13 Your words have been stout [belligerent and proud] against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say: What have we spoken against thee? [What did we do wrong?]
14 Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts? [We have seen no benefit for ourselves by following the laws with exactness. What’s in it for us?]
15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. [Now, we are living well, blessed with abundance because of the tithes and offerings of the people.]
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another [The righteous knew better and found the Lord.], and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. [The names of the righteous were recorded, even if they were not noticed amongst the priests of the temple.]
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels [anointed servants, calling and election made sure]; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. [shall be rewarded for their obedience]
18 Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
Why did the Lord feel it important to share the words of Malachi? He wanted to impress upon these people in Bountiful the importance of not abusing priestly power, to seek Him and to be the means to bring many souls to Him. According to the Mosaic Law it was commanded to bring sacrifice and to make offerings so that there would be meat and other needed items to further the building of the kingdom.
It is a good thing to pay tithes and offerings to help in building the kingdom of God. This is to be done between you and the Lord, not by constraint. The purpose of this chapter is not to warn those who give tithes, but to warn those who are the stewards of the Lord’s Storehouse.
When Zion is established there will not be a law of consecration of property and wealth by constraint. It will not be “enforced communism.” There will be unequal diversity of lands, houses, and possessions, as citizens seek to produce what is necessary to help the community. People will pay tithes and offerings according to what they can without hoarding their possessions. The difference in this community is that the Spirit of the Lord shall dwell amongst them without constraint. A pillar of light by day and a pillar of fire by night, as the glory of God surrounds them.
Those who cannot dwell amongst them will live around the city limits as they prepare themselves to also receive the fullness, benefitting from the protection of the city. A true Zion society is simply those who are one in their love for God and each other as they dwell in peace. For these, the Heavens open and revelations are poured out to the degree that eventually the city is prepared to be lifted up and taken unto God.