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DRAFT: A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Malachi

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 8 February 2022 *




Malachi Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Malachi as a cryptochiasmus in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text ( see definition of cryptochiasmus in [1] ). If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Section 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

Malachi details some of the sins of the Judahites of the Second Temple Period. The book predicts a purge of the Israelites in 70AD and at the start of the Millennial Reign. It also has significant prophecies - some of which are quoted in the New Testament - about John the Baptist, Christ and the Messiah of the Millennial Reign.



Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Malachi on the assumption that it refers to 3 Periods:

  1. The Sins of the Corrupt Second Temple Judahites (c.444BC - c.26AD). We presume that this Period begins after the repopulation of Jerusalem under Nehemiah and ends when Christ began teaching his gospel of the New Covenant.
  2. The Judahites are Purged through Christ's Ministry (26AD-30AD) and The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD). The Judahites who did not believe in Christ were killed in the war.
  3. The Wicked are Punished and the Righteous Blessed at the Start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2027AD).

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the time of Second Temple Judaism Period 1, Christ's Ministry and The First Jewish–Roman War Period 2 and The Start of Christ's Millennial Reign Period 3.


Categorizing Malachi

Ch 1 Vs 2-5 belong to Period 3. Satan's kingdom "Babylon" (called "Edom" here) is defeated at the Start of the Millennial Reign.

Ch 1 Vs 6 - Ch 2 Vs 16 belong to Period 1. The Judahite priests dishonour God and do not follow His Law. The Judahites are unfaithful in marriage.

Ch 2 Vs 17 - Ch 3 Vs 7 belong to Period 2. Jesus refines the Judahites - those who do not heed his gospel of the New Covenant are killed in the First Jewish-Roman War.

Ch 3 Vs 8-12 belongs to Period 1. The Judahites do not pay tithes according to the Law.

Ch 3 Vs 13 - Ch 4 Vs 6 belong to Period 3. The righteous are vindicated and the wicked punished at the start of the Millennial Reign. The coming Messiah reforms the Israelites.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Malachi 1 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have laid waste his mountains [a] and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a People with whom the Lord is Angry Forever [b]. 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

6 “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.
“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.
“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’
7 “By offering defiled food on my altar.
“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’
“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.
9 “Now plead with God, "Be gracious to us." [c] With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.
10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.
12 “And [d] you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is polluted [e],’ and, ‘Its product [f] is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.
“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.


Retranslation notes for Malachi 1
[a] vs 3 "laid waste his mountains" instead of "turned his hill country into a wasteland".
[b] vs 4 "a People with whom the Lord is Angry Forever" instead of "a people always under the wrath of the LORD".
[c] vs 9 'God, "Be gracious to us."' instead of "God to be gracious to us".
[d] vs 12 "And" instead of "But".
[e] vs 12 "polluted" instead of "defiled".
[f] vs 12 "product" instead of "food".


Malachi 2 1 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.
3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence. He [a] revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I will cause [b] you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”
10 Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. Judah [c] has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Did not God make one human? Why then did He make another with a portion of his spirit? He seeks Godly offspring. [d] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words.
“How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”


Retranslation notes for Malachi 2
[a] vs 5 "reverence. He " instead of "reverence and he".
[b] vs 9 "will cause" instead of "have caused".
[c] vs 11 Changed the punctuation. "Jerusalem. Judah" instead of "Jerusalem: Judah".
[d] vs 15 "Did not God make one human? Why then did He make another with a portion of his spirit? He seeks Godly offspring." instead of "Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring."


Malachi 3 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then immediately [a] the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘In what way shall we return?’[b]
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me. The whole nation of you, 10 bring [c] the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.
12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
13 “You have spoken harshly [d] against me,” says the Lord.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
16 Thus spoke those who feared the Lord one to another [e], and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written before Him [f] concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.


Retranslation notes for Malachi 3
[a] vs 1 "immediately" instead of "suddenly".
[b] vs 7 "In what way shall we return?" instead of "How are we to return?".
[c] vs 9-10 "You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me. The whole nation of you, 10 bring" instead of "You are cursed with a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing Me. 10 Bring".
[d] vs 13 "harshly" instead of "arrogantly".
[e] vs 16 "Thus spoke those who feared the Lord one to another" instead of "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other" - based on the LXX.
[f] vs 16 "before Him" instead of "in his presence".


Malachi 4 1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and judgements [a] I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents with [b] their children, and the hearts of the children with [c] their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”


Retranslation notes for Malachi 4
[a] vs 4 "judgements" instead of "laws".
[b,c] vs 6 "with" instead of "to".


3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Malachi 1-4 forms a cryptochiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 1 Vs 2-5 Period 3. "Babylon" is defeated
  B1   Ch 1 Vs 6 - Ch 2 Vs 16 Period 1. The sins of the Judahites
    X   Ch 2 Vs 17 - Ch 3 Vs 7 Period 2. Jesus refines the Judahites
  B2   Ch 3 Vs 8-12 Period 1. The Judahites do not pay adequate tithes
A2   Ch 3 Vs 13 - Ch 4 Vs 6 Period 3. The coming Messiah reforms the Israelites


We now reconstruct the passages in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a cryptochiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

Translating (1) into verse numbers, we get:

Ch 2 Vs 17 - Ch 3 Vs 7   [Ch 1 Vs 2-5, Ch 3 Vs 13 - Ch 4 Vs 6]   [Ch 1 Vs 6 - Ch 2 Vs 16, Ch 3 Vs 8-12]        (2)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (2).



4. Malachi Reconfigured

The Judahites are Purged through Christ's Ministry (26AD-30AD) and The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (Ch 2 Vs 17 - Ch 3 Vs 7)
Chapter 2 17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

Chapter 3 1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then immediately the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘In what way shall we return?’


The Wicked are Punished and the Righteous Blessed at the Start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2027AD) (Ch 1 Vs 2-5, Ch 3 Vs 13 - Ch 4 Vs 6)
Chapter 1 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have laid waste his mountains and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a People with whom the Lord is Angry Forever.
5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’


Chapter 3 13 “You have spoken harshly against me,” says the Lord.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”
16 Thus spoke those who feared the Lord one to another, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written before Him concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.


Chapter 4 1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and judgements I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents with their children, and the hearts of the children with their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”



The Sins of the Corrupt Second Temple Judahites (c.444BC - c.26AD) (Ch 1 Vs 6 - Ch 2 Vs 16, Ch 3 Vs 8-12)
Chapter 1 6 “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.
“It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “By offering defiled food on my altar.
“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.
9 “Now plead with God, "Be gracious to us." With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.
10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.
12 “And you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is polluted,’ and, ‘Its product is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.
“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord.
For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.


Chapter 2 1 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.
3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence. He revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I will cause you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”
10 Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Did not God make one human? Why then did He make another with a portion of his spirit? He seeks Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.


Chapter 3 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me.
The whole nation of you, 10 bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.
12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.



5. A Commentary on the Reconfigured Text

5.0 Introductory Statement (Ch 1 vs 1)

Chapter 1 1 A prophecy: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, forms a connecting link between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, both in terms of its location in the Bible and its content. The word Malachi means "My messenger". We speculate that the book was written around the start of the Second Temple period.



5.1 The Judahites are Purged through Christ's Ministry (26AD-30AD) and The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (Ch 2 Vs 17 - Ch 3 Vs 7)

This Period is arranged in the form of a two-unit chiasmus:

A1 2:17 The state of Judahites before Christ: Injustice
  B1 3:1-2 Christ brings justice and a New Covenant
    X 3:3-4 Christ reforms the priesthood
  B2 3:5-6 Christ brings justice and a New Covenant
A2 3:7 The state of Judahites before Christ: Spiritual confusion

In the passages of this Period, God is the speaker, and He addresses the Judahites.


Subunit A1: The state of Judahites before Christ: Injustice (2:17)

Chapter 2 17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask.
By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”

In the time before Christ, the Judahites see that the wicked among them flourish, while the righteous are crushed (see Isaiah 3:13-15), and it almost appears to them that the Lord favours the wicked. They continually cry to their God for justice ("weary the Lord").

God's punishments and rewards may not come immediately, and the wicked may prosper for a while, according to His will; humans are in no position to judge or even understand his actions (cf. Psalm 73:2-20). But He is a God of justice and righteousness. So the problems that the Judahites faced in Unit A of this chiasmus are addressed through Christ's coming, as detailed in Unit B and in the Pivot X.



Subunit B1: Christ brings justice and a New Covenant (3:1-2)

Chapter 3 1a “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.

John the Baptist prepared the Judahites for Christ's message by preaching repentance for sins, some of these sins are detailed under Period 1 (see also Matt 3:1-8, Isaiah 40:3). Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 11:10 as predicting the arrival of John the Baptist (see also Mark 1:2). God is the speaker in this passage, and we take "before me" to mean "at my command".



Chapter 3 1b Then immediately the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Soon after John began his ministry, Christ came to his "temple", and we take the "temple" to refer to the faithful among the Judahite community who would soon come under his New Covenant (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16–17).

Through his gospel and his death, Christ brings with him a New Covenant from God and forgiveness for sins (see John 3:16, cf. Jer. 31:31, Isaiah 42:6); Christ is the messenger that the Judahites "desire", and the New Covenant is the way back to God that the Judahites were seeking (this passage is in response to the question, ‘In what way shall we return?", in 3:7 of Subunit A2 below).



Chapter 3 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

The answer to the two rhetorical questions in this verse would be, "a minority", for Christ's message was only accepted by a third of the Judahites (see Zech. 3:8,9). His truth remained obscured to the wicked (those who commit the sins detailed in 3:5 below) and to those who wilfully followed the evil doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees (see Isaiah 28:13, Isaiah 8:14-15, Matt 3:7-10, Mark 4:10-12).

Christ was like a "refiner's fire" or a "launderer's soap" that purified the Judahites of the wicked among them (cf. Isaiah 8:14,15), because those who believed Christ's message, took his advice to flee when the Romans arrived at Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15-18, Daniel 12:1), and the rest were brutally punished and killed during the First Jewish-Roman War. This war was one of the three great "Days of the Lord" of Joel [7] ("day of his coming" in this verse).



Pivot X: Christ reforms the priesthood (3:3-4)

Chapter 3 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

The Levites, the priestly class who led the Judahites astray, were particularly punished during the Jewish-Roman War (see details on this war in [2]), because they abused their privileged position as shepherds of the Judahites (see Isaiah 3:12-15). Under the New Covenant from Christ, the Levitical priesthood was no longer required, because all Christians are priests who have direct access to God (Matt. 27:50-51, 1 Peter 2:5,9). The early church, which replaced the Levitical priesthood, was purified through Christ's message and through the persecution and tribulations it faced.

In Period 1 of this prophecy, God despises the meaningless, worthless offerings of the Judahite priesthood (see Mal. 1:10), but the sincere contributions of the righteous Judahite Christians of this Period are once again acceptable to God (Romans 12:1), just as they were during the early days of the nation, under righteous leaders like David.



Subunit B2: Christ brings justice and a New Covenant (3:5-6)

Chapter 3 5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.

Many Judahites, while outwardly pious, behaved in a manner that evidenced a lack of love for God (sorcery and idol-worship) and for their fellow man (defrauders, perjurers...) (see Matt. 23:23, 25-28) - these Judahites were purged by God through the Romans (see Matt 3:12). However the entire nation of Israel was not destroyed, because it was God's chosen nation (Exo. 29:45) and He is faithful to His people (“I the Lord do not change") - those who heeded Christ's gospel took Jesus' advice to flee to the mountains and were spared a cruel death (Matthew 24:15–16 ).



Subunit A2: The state of Judahites before Christ: Spiritual confusion (3:7)

Chapter 3 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘In what way shall we return?’

The Israelites had frequently been unfaithful to their God and disobeyed His Law in the past, and they continue to sin against God. God tells the Judahites of this Period to return to Him, but this confuses them, because they laboured under the delusion that they were living according to God's Law. Their leaders had taught them false doctrines and led them astray, so that many of them followed the letter of the Law while ignoring its spirit (see Matt. 23:23).

Christ's New Covenant answers their question as to how they are to return (see subunit B1 [3:1-2] above). With its focus on Love, and on the other Fruits of the Spirit, the Gospel of the New Covenant is designed to turn the Judahites once again into a people that are worthy of being called God's chosen (John 14:5, Galatians 5:14-26).



5.2 The Wicked are Punished and the Righteous Blessed at the Start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2027AD) (Ch 1 Vs 2-5, Ch 3 Vs 13 - Ch 4 Vs 6)

This Period is structured as a series of 3 chiasmi. All of them contrast the fate of the righteous with that of the wicked, when Satan's reign ends and Christ's begins.


The passage below in 1:2-5 forms a chiasmus. The pivot, X [1:2b-4], is regarding the destruction of Satan's kingdom "Babylon"/"Esau"/"Edom" at the start of the Millennial Reign. The subunits, A1 [1:2a] and A2 [1:5], are about God's love for his nation. This chiasmus is in the form of an imagined dialogue between God and the Israelites of this time.


Subunit A1: God loves His nation Israel (1:2a)

Chapter 1 2a “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

Before this Period, God had punished the Northern Tribes and hidden His face from them for millennia (Deuteronomy 31:17-18); also, they faced a time of tribulation during the Reign of the Beast (Rev. 13), particularly at the time of Jacob's trouble (see Jer. 30:7). So it appears to the Israelites that their God has abandoned them (cf. Isaiah 17:4,5), and they ask for evidence of His love for them.



Pivot X: Satan's kingdom "Esau"/"Babylon" is destroyed (1:2b-4)

Chapter 1 2b “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have laid waste his mountains and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

God loves His nation Israel ("Jacob") and will raise her up, but He has eternally defeated and destroyed "Babylon", Satan's empire ("mountains" represent large nations) (see Rev 18). Since "Babylon" is a global organization of Satan worshippers and not a literal nation, the phrase "left his inheritance to the desert jackals", figuratively indicates eternal destruction.

At this time before the Millennial Reign, "Esau"/"Edom" represents Satan's kingdom "Babylon" as seen in our parse of Obadiah [4] and elsewhere. The people of these two nations of "Jacob" and "Esau", are "brothers" in the sense that they are both God's children, but just as Esau sold his birthright for a meal (Genesis 25:29-34), the people of "Babylon" have sold their souls and their eternal inheritance as children of God to Satan for relatively trifling temporal benefits (see 1 Tim. 6:10, Heb. 12:16,17). Though the people of Israel/Jacob, have sinned in the past, God will open most of their hearts to Himself, as they are the chosen of God, while He will harden the hearts of most of those in 'Babylon', as they are people God hates (see Romans 9:13).



Chapter 1 4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a People with whom the Lord is Angry Forever.

The "Babylonians" defiantly say they will rebuild, but they will remain crushed throughout the Millennial Reign (cf. Rev 18:21-23).



Subunit A2: God loves His nation Israel (1:5)

Chapter 1 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

When the Israelites see that God has raised them up to reign over the whole world, they will understand that their God loves them (answering the question in the corresponding subunit A1 [1:2a] ). Through the New Israel, God, Christ and the Messiah will reign over the world as Kings of kings (Rev 3:21), just as Satan had ruled over the earth through "Babylon".



The passage below in 3:13-18 forms a chiasmus. The pivot, [3:16], is regarding the Scroll of Remembrance. The subunits, [3:13-15] and [3:17-18], indicate that the injustice of this Period will be corrected during the time of God's Judgement at the start of the Millennial Reign. This chiasmus is in the form of an imagined conversation between God and the righteous of the world (the other two chiasmi of this Period focus on Israel).


Chapter 3 13 “You have spoken harshly against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

Many of the righteous of the earth question God's justice (as in Malachi 2:17), complaining that those who obey God do not get their just rewards and that the wicked prosper (cf. Rev 13:7-10). They speak harshly against a righteous God, for they do not understand His ways and do not sufficiently trust His infinitely superior wisdom (see Isaiah 55:8-9).



Chapter 3 16 Thus spoke those who feared the Lord one to another, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written before Him concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

God sees that it is the righteous that say these things. So He reassures them by indicating that the names and good works of those who fear Him are noted in heaven and recorded in a Scroll of Remembrance (we take "before Him" to mean "at His order") (cf. Luke 10:20, Hebrews 12:22-23, and the "Book of Life" in Rev 20:12).



Chapter 3 17 “On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

At the time of judgement at the Start of the Millennial Reign, one of the three Days of the Lord of Joel [7] (the "day when I act" in this passage), the wicked, who enjoyed power and privileges during the reign of the Beast, will be punished and destroyed (Rev. 14:9-11). The righteous, those in the Scroll, will live in a world of justice, peace and prosperity during the golden age of Christ and his Messiah (Isaiah 9:6-7).



The passage below in 4:1-6 forms a chiasmus. The pivot, X [4:2-4], is regarding the flourishing of the righteous Israelites during the Millennial Reign. The subunits, A1 [4:1] and A2 [4:5-6], predict that the wicked Israelites will be destroyed and the righteous reformed before the start of the Millennial Reign.


Subunit A1: Wicked Israelites are destroyed before the start of the Millennial Reign (4:1)

Chapter 4 1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

The wicked of Israel will be destroyed along with their families ("Not a root or a branch will be left to them") during the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) before the start of the Millennial Reign (see Rev. 6:7-8), so that, during the Millennial Reign, Israel will be a nation of the righteous.



Pivot X: Righteous Israelites will flourish in the blessed New Israel (4:2-4)

Chapter 4 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3 Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.

This Period will see the dawn of a golden age for the righteous (the "sun of righteousness will rise"), when Christ and his Messiah begin to rule over the New Israel (cf. Isaiah 11:4). Their reign will heal the wounds inflicted on the righteous during Satan's rule. The faithful will rejoice in their blessings ("well fed"), after their wicked oppressors are destroyed and the evil empire of "Babylon" is turned to ashes (cf. Isaiah 30:23-33).



Chapter 4 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and judgements I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

The Laws of Moses had promises of blessings if Israel remains faithful to its God, and now the eternally faithful New Israel will enjoy those blessings during the Millennial Reign (see Deut. 28:1-13, Lev. 26:1-12, Deut. 7:12-14, cf. Isaiah 29:22-24). ( This verse expands on the promised blessings of the previous passage, vs 2-3. )



Subunit A2: Righteous Israelites are reformed before the start of the Millennial Reign (4:5-6)

Chapter 4 5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.

The coming Messiah ("Elijah") will begin his ministry well before the "Day of the Lord" of this Period - in this "Day of the Lord", Satan's Empires of "Babylon" and the Beast are destroyed (Rev 18,19), and Christ's reign begins. ( This passage in 4:5-6 continues from 4:1 in the corresponding subunit A1 above.)

The Messiah is not literally Elijah, but he is an antitype of Elijah (an antitype is the fulfilment of a non-verbal, symbolic prophecy). There are several parallels between the two, for example: Elijah reforms the Israelites of his time (see 1 Kings 18:39), and the Messiah turns the Northern Tribes back to their God; also, Elijah miraculously defeats the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40) and the Messiah supernaturally defeats the Beast army (Rev 19:11-21). John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy in part through his ministry of reforming the Southern Tribes for Jesus (see Luke 1:17, Matt. 11:14, 17:12,13), but Jesus made it clear that another Elijah will come to "restore all things" (Matthew 17:11).



Chapter 4 6a He will turn the hearts of the parents with their children, and the hearts of the children with their parents; 6b or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

The Messiah will, with God's help, turn as many of the Israelites as possible away from idol-worship and to their God, so that they are not all punished with death at the time of Jacob's trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). The Israelites of this time must turn to God and Christ as a family unit - parents and children together - so that all of the New Israel is Godly (note that with the translation we have adopted, 4:6a forms a parallelism).

As indicated in the corresponding subunit, A1 [4:1], a wicked person dooms all his dependants to destruction at the time of Jacob's trouble ("not a root or a branch will be left to them"). We propose that there is a practical reason for this death-by-family, as otherwise the New Israel will end up with an unsupportably large number of widows, orphans, and aged parents (see also Rev. 6:8, where both Thanatos/"Death" and Hades are given power to kill, indicating that it is not only the wicked who will die).

( In Luke 1:17, 4:6a is applied to John the Baptist's mission. For even at the time of the First Jewish-Roman war, any father who did not turn to Christ doomed his entire family to death, even those members who were innocent of any sin - see Isaiah 13:16.)



5.3 The Sins of the Corrupt Second Temple Judahites (c.444BC - c.26AD) (Ch 1 Vs 6 - Ch 2 Vs 16, Ch 3 Vs 8-12)

This Period is structured as a series of 4 chiasmi that are all regarding aspects of the Mosaic Law. Malachi presents the prophecy of this Period in the form of an imagined dialogue between God and the Judahites of the Second Temple period. It is necessary to point out that the passages of this Period are prophetic - Malachi, who was active at around the start of this Period, predicts the behaviour of the Judahites over the next five centuries.


The passage below in 1:6-14 is arranged in the form of a two-unit chiasmus:

A1 1:6a The almighty God is to be revered
  B1 1:6b-8 Judahite priests dishonour God with flawed sacrifices
    X 1:9-11 Flawed sacrifices will be replaced by a flawless sacrifice
  B2 1:12-14a Judahite priests dishonour God with flawed sacrifices
A2 1:14b The almighty God is to be revered


Subunit A1: The almighty God is to be revered (1:6a)

Chapter 1 6a “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

The Judahites honour their human superiors, but do not respect the almighty God, their creator.



Subunit B1: Judahite priests dishonour God with flawed sacrifices (1:6b-8)

Chapter 1 6b “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’7a “By offering defiled food on my altar.
7b “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?
8 When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

The Lord accuses the priests of showing contempt for His name by offering defiled food on the altar. The priests ask which of their sacrifices He considers defiled. God replies that sacrifices of blemished food, those that violate the Law (for ex. see Deut. 15:21, Lev. 22:22), exhibit contempt for God and His Law; the priests would not offer up blemished food to their human masters, yet they do not hesitate to offer it to their God.



Pivot X: Flawed sacrifices will be replaced by a flawless sacrifice (1:9-11 )

Chapter 1 9 “Now plead with God, "Be gracious to us." With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty. 10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.

The priests are sarcastically told to make supplications to God, and then then asked, rhetorically, "Will God answer your prayers after your contemptuous offerings?" God wishes that the priests would stop performing their priestly duties of the Old Covenant - He is weary with their worship and He ignores their meaningless offerings (cf. Isaiah 1:12-15).



Chapter 1 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

Though His people, who come under the Old Covenant, consider Him with contempt, God will be honoured around the world after Christ introduces the New Covenant in Period 2, and particularly during Christ's Millennial Reign in Period 3 (see Zech. 14:16-19). After Christ, the defiled offerings of the Judahite priests of the Old Covenant will be replaced with the pure offering of the New Covenant - Christ's death on the cross.



Subunit B2: Judahite priests dishonour God with flawed sacrifices (1:12-14a)

Chapter 1 12 “And you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is polluted,’ and, ‘Its product is contemptible.’ 13a And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

This subunit continues the conversation of the corresponding subunit B1 (1:6b-8), listing ways in which the priests profane God's name (God's name is the "it" of vs 12). The priests did not like the butchery that was a part of their duties ("what a burden"), and they did not want to handle raw meat and the by-products of animal sacrifices ("its product is contemptible"). They felt the altar and its surroundings were filthy with blood, offal and refuse ("polluted") and smelly (they literally "sniff at it") from the continuous sacrifices offered on it.( We assume a parallel design in 12 and 13a.)



Chapter 1 13b “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14a “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord.

Another example of their contempt is that the Judahites offered flawed sacrifices even when they promised and could afford acceptable offerings under the Law - note that the poor had the option of offering alternative inexpensive sacrifices (for ex., see Leviticus 5:7). These Judahites wanted to maintain a facade of generosity and piety to the world while cheating and disrespecting their God (as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira - Acts 5:1-11). All of the issues brought up in unit B were obviated through Christ's sacrifice under the New Covenant.



Subunit A2: The almighty God is to be revered (1:14b)

Chapter 1 14b For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

The Judahites fear their masters; they are to revere the Almighty God far more. ( This subunit concludes the thought in the corresponding subunit A1 in 1:6a.)



The passage below in 2:1-9 forms a chiasmus. The pivot, X [2:4-6], is regarding the covenant between God and the Levites. The subunits, A1 [2:1-3] and A2 [2:7-9], indicate that the priesthood will be punished for violating this Levitical covenant.


Subunit A1: The Levite priesthood will be punished for violating its covenant (2:1-3)

Chapter 2 1 “And now, you priests, this warning is for you. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me. 3a “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants;

The Levite/Aaronic priesthood is warned that the power, prestige and privileges it enjoys will be taken away ("curse your blessings") if it continues to show contempt for God. The Lord has already decided to punish the contemptuous priesthood at the termination of the Old Covenant in 70AD ("I will rebuke your descendants"); He will not change His mind unless the priesthood reforms.



Chapter 2 3b I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.

During the war of 70AD, the Levitical priesthood was singled out for humiliation for the disrespect it had shown God (cf. Micah 5:1) - the priesthood was figuratively smeared on its face with the dung from its contemptuous sacrifices. With Jerusalem and its temple destroyed and the Old Covenant terminated, this priesthood, that had ruled the nation, ended ignominiously, and it was treated like the dung from its sacrifices - taken away and destroyed.



Pivot X: The Covenant between God and the Levites (2:4-6)

Chapter 2 4 And you will know that I have sent you this warning so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord Almighty. 5a “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence. 5b He revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.

God reminds the Levites of the covenant between Him and Levi: the Levites would have life and peace in its fullest sense, and in return they are to revere God and do all that it entails (cf. Numbers 25:12-13).

Levi himself was in awe of God and showed it in his actions: he only taught the Truth from God (cf. Leviticus 10:11), without mixing in wicked ideas from Satan; he behaved righteously and corrected those who erred. But the Levites of this Period have strayed from his ways. They are exhorted to return to revering the Lord, so that God could continue to honour His covenant with their forefather.



Subunit A2: The Levite priesthood will be punished for violating its covenant (2:7-9)

Chapter 2 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I will cause you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

The wicked Levite priests, supposedly messengers of God, had not remained faithful to the teachings of the Law. Instead they taught the Judahites Satanic false doctrines from Babylon that led people astray, so violating their covenant with God. The priesthood will be humiliated because it has not followed God's ways and because it was corrupt in its teachings (cf. Acts 23:2-3).



The passage below in 2:10-16 is arranged in the form of a two-unit chiasmus:

A1 2:10-11a Marital infidelity harms God's children
  B1 2:11b-12 Maintain Godliness through good marriages
    X 2:13-14 God ignores the prayers of unfaithful husbands
  B2 2:15 Maintain Godliness through good marriages
A2 2:16 Marital unfaithfulness harms God's children


Subunit A1: Marital infidelity harms God's children (2:10-11a)

Chapter 2 10 Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another? 11a Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem.

Many Judahites have been unfaithful to their wives, even divorcing them for no good cause. God points out that unfaithfulness harms the wives, who are also God's chosen, and violates the laws of the Old Covenant (Exodus 20:14).



Subunit B1: Maintain Godliness through good marriages (2:11b-12)

Chapter 2 11b Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.

Many Judahites have married idol-worshipping women from outside the community. something that began soon after their return from Babylon (see also Nehemiah 13:23-30, Ezra 9:1-4). This is an unforgivable sin, punishable with excommunication, primarily because pagan wives will influence the Judahite community, the Lord's chosen ("the sanctuary the Lord loves"), into the worship of demon gods (Exodus 34:16).



Pivot X: God ignores the prayers of unfaithful husbands (2:13-14 )

Chapter 2 13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.

The next thing the Judahites do, after being unfaithful to their wives, is wail before the altar, because God no longer blesses them. But God ignores their supplications, for they have violated the sacred covenant of marriage (cf. Matt 19:3-9, Genesis 2:24).



Subunit B2: Maintain Godliness through good marriages (2:15)

Chapter 2 15 Did not God make one human? Why then did He make another with a portion of his spirit? He seeks Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

After God made Adam, He created Eve using a portion of Adam's body (Gen, 2:18-23), and, according to this verse, with a portion of Adam's soul (see also Gen. 1:26,27). He did this so that Adam may have a companion, and so that they might multiply and raise children for God (Gen. 1:27,28). The Judahites are to remain faithful to their wives, so as to respect the sacred institution of marriage that was founded at creation, and so that they can better raise Godly children.



Subunit A2: Marital unfaithfulness harms God's children (2:16 )

Chapter 2 16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

This subunit concludes the argument of the corresponding subunit A1 [2:10-11a]. Judahites who are unfaithful or divorce their wives wrong the one they should be protecting (cf. Matt 19:3-9)



The passage below in 3:8-12 is bracketed. The pivot, [3:9b-11], promises prosperity if the nation tithes according to the Law. The brackets, [3:8-9a] and [3:12], indicate that the nation that is cursed would become blessed if it stopped robbing God.


Chapter 3 8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9a You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me.

9b The whole nation of you, 10 bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

The Judahites, in their foolish greed and contempt for God, stole from the Lord by withholding tithes and offerings, and for this they are cursed with meagreness. If only they had offered tithes as prescribed by the Covenant Law (see for ex. Leviticus 27:30), they would have been abundantly blessed.




Conclusion

With this chiastic reconstruction of the text, we have shown that the book of Malachi contains prophecies on three Periods. In Period 1, some of the sins of the Judahites under the Old Covenant are detailed, presumably to explain the necessity of a New Covenant from Christ. In Period 2, the Southern Tribes are purged after John and Christ preach the New Covenant to them. In Period 3, the Northern Tribes are purged after the Messiah leads them back to their God.



References

[1] A Definition of Cryptochiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22 Part 2
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Obadiah
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24
[6] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22 Part 3
[7] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Joel






* Updated 15 Aug 2023 with modified parse.