Malachi Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents


Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter Three of Malachi

Malachi 3:1-3

“‘Behold, I will send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launders’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.’”

Passages From The Writings


  • “The Lord will come into the world, and will teach the Word in its purity.”

AC 1925 [6]

  • “In Malachi…3:1…it is here plainly evident that the Lord is signified by the ‘Angel,’ since He is called ‘the Angel of the covenant’ on account of His advent.”

AC 3142 [2]

  • “In Malachi…3:1…to ‘sweep the way’ signifies to make themselves ready and prepare to receive truth. The subject treated therein is the advent of the Lord, for which they were to prepare themselves for receiving the truth of faith, and thereby the good of charity, and by this eternal salvation.”

AC 4973 [5]

  • “The Divine truth, which the Lord was when in the world, and which thereafter proceeds from Him, that is, from the Divine good, is called also ‘the angel of the covenant,’ in Malachi…3:1.”

AC 6804 [3]

  • “That the Divine Human is a ‘covenant,’ that is, conjunction itself, can be seen from many passages in the Word, as…Malachi…3:1…”

AC 9167 [2]

  • “In Malachi…3:1…speaking of the coming of the Lord, and He is called ‘Lord’ from Divine good and ‘Angel’ from Divine truth…”

AC 10528

  • “…that here ‘angel’ denotes the Divine of the Lord with him is plain in Malachi…3:1…that the Divine of the Lord is here meant by ‘angel’ is because John the Baptist represented the Lord in respect to the Word, even as Elijah did, and the Word is Divine truth which is from the Lord…And whereas in the supreme sense the Lord as to the Divine Human is the ‘Angel,’ therefore it is said, ‘the Lord shall come to His temple, even the Angel of the covenant;’ ‘the temple’ denotes His Divine Human…The reason why He is called both ‘Lord’ and ‘Angel,’ is that He is called ‘Lord’ from Divine good, and ‘Angel’ from Divine truth. As ‘Jehovah’ in the Word denotes the Lord Himself, therefore it is said, ‘I send Mine Angel, who shall prepare the way before Me.’ This is said by Jehovah.”

Doctrine of Life 60

  • “The reason why the Law was called the ‘covenant,’ is that ‘covenant’ signifies conjunction; and it is therefore said of the Lord that…He is called…‘The messenger of the covenant’ (Malachi 3:1)…”

AR 191

  • “By ‘temple,’ in the supreme sense, the Lord is signified as to the Divine Human, in particular as to Divine truth; but, in the representative sense, by ‘temple’ is signified the Lord’s church in heaven, and likewise the Lord’s church in the world. That ‘temple,’ in the supreme sense signifies the Lord as to the Divine Human, and in particular as to Divine truth, is evident from these passages…Malachi 3:1…”

AR 344

  • “That the Lord’s Divine Human is meant by ‘an angel,’ in the highest sense, is manifest from these passages…Malachi 3:1…”

AR 529

  • “By that law called ‘a covenant,’ conjunction is signified; the reason is, because covenants were entered into for the sake of love, of friendship, of consociation, and conjunction. Therefore…He is called…‘The angel of the covenant’ (Malachi 3:1).”

AR 882

  • “The reason why the tabernacle, in the highest sense, means the Lord’s Divine Human, is because this is signified by ‘the temple,’ as may appear from…Malachi 3:1…and elsewhere; the same is meant by ‘the tabernacle.’ With this difference, that by ‘the temple’ is meant the Lord’s Divine Human as to the Divine truth or the Divine wisdom, and by ‘the tabernacle’ is meant the Lord’s Divine Human as to the Divine good or the Divine love. Hence it follows, that by ‘behold the tabernacle of God is with men,’ is meant that the Lord will now be present with men in His Divine Human.”

TCR 92

  • “The Lord also called Himself ‘one sent by the Father,’ for the reason that sent and angel have the same meaning, angel meaning in the original one sent. For it is said…in Malachi 3:1…‘And the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in.’”

AE 220 [3]

  • “In Malachi…3:1…Here also ‘temple’ means the Lord’s Divine Human; for the Lord’s coming is here treated of, therefore ‘coming to His temple’ signifies to His Human.”

AE 701 [3]

  • “In Malachi…3:1…the Lord’s coming is proclaimed. The Lord is called ‘Lord’ from Divine good, and ‘the angel of the covenant’ from Divine truth…From this it can be seen that ‘covenant,’ in reference to the Lord, means either Himself or the union of His Divine with the Human in Him, and in reference to those who are in heaven and in the church it means conjunction with Him through the Divine that proceeds from Him.”

AC 666

  • “That a ‘covenant’ signifies nothing else than regeneration and the things pertaining to regeneration, is evident from various passages in the Word where the Lord Himself is called the ‘Covenant,’ because it is He alone who regenerates, and who is looked to by the regenerate man, and is the all in all of love and faith…” “In Malachi…3:1, 2…where the Lord is called the ‘Angel of the Covenant…The Sabbath is called a ‘perpetual covenant’…because it signifies the Lord Himself, and the celestial man regenerated by Him.”

AC 9303

  • “…in the original tongue ‘angel’ means one who is sent, which is the derivation of the word; and by ‘sent’ is signified proceeding, as can be seen from the…following passages…Malachi 3:1…”

TCR 285

  • “…‘covenant’ signifies conjunction…Malachi 3:1…”

TCR 688

  • “It is written in Malachi…3:1, 2…‘he shall prepare the way before Me’…it is clear that John was the prophet sent to make ready the way of Jehovah God, who should descend into the world and accomplish redemption; and that he made ready that way by baptism, and by announcing the coming of the Lord; and that without such preparation all on earth would have been smitten with a curse and would have perished.”

AE 242 [9]

  • “In Malachi…3:1-3…these things are said of the Lord’s coming. It is said that Jehovah is to send a messenger (an angel) who will prepare the way before Him; and the messenger (angel) meant is John the Baptist, as is known. ‘Before Me,’ or before Jehovah, means before the Lord’s Divine Itself; ‘the temple to which He is to come’ means His Divine Human; that is also called ‘the messenger (angel) of the covenant,’ because through it there is a conjunction of men and angels with the Divine Itself, for covenant means conjunction. ‘The silver that He shall sit refining and purifying’ means truth from good; ‘the sons of Levi’ mean all those who are in the good of charity and in the truths of faith therefrom; it is therefore said, ‘He shall purge them as gold and silver.’ This is because ‘gold’ signifies good, and ‘silver’ the truth therefrom. ‘Bringing to Jehovah an offering in righteousness’ means worship of the Lord from the good of charity…Therefore ‘to bring an offering in righteousness’ signifies worship from the good of love.”

AC 8159 [2]

  • “The temptations of those who were of the spiritual church, which they were to undergo after the Lord came into the world, and could then from the Divine Human fight for them against the hells, are meant by these words in Malachi…3:1-4…clearly speaking of the Lord’s coming; ‘the sons of Levi’ here denote those who are of the spiritual church, for by ‘Levi’ is signified charity or spiritual good…‘the refiner’s fire’ is temptation, whereby is effected purification, which is here meant by ‘purifying and refining them as gold and silver;’…”

AR 357

  • “That the tribe of Levi signifies the love of truth, which is the essential love from which the church is a church, and thence intelligence, may appear from these passages…Malachi 3:1, 3…”

AE 414

  • “‘And who is able to stand?’ signifies, who shall sustain and live?…the evil…come not only into tremors from fear, but also into torments from interior conflict, consequently unless they flee away and cast themselves down they cannot live, for from fear and torment death as it were befalls them, for the presence of the Divine brings death to the evil as it brings life to the good. From this their state it is then said, ‘Who is able to stand?’ As…in Malachi…3:2...”

AE 444 [8]

  • “In Malachi…3:1-4…‘the sons of Levi’ here mean all who are in the good of charity, and thence in the good of faith. This treats of the Lord who was to come; his Divine Human is what is meant by ‘His temple’ to which Jehovah the Lord was to come; that He will purify those who are in the good of charity, and thence in the good of faith, is meant by ‘He shall purify and purge the sons of Levi.’ Evidently the sons of Levi are not meant, for it is said that ‘He shall then purify and purge them’…”

AC 3875 [4]

  • “They who are in spiritual love are…called the ‘sons of Levi,’ as in Malachi…3:2, 3…”


Derived Doctrine

With more than twenty-five direct quotes, you would imagine that there would be no need for derived doctrine. This is true. We have a wonderful array of passages explaining the spiritual sense of Malachi 3:1-3. As I look over all of the passages, I find only one correspondence that needs to be expanded in our resources. That is the correspondence of “soap.”

  • “Soap” is described in AE 475 [11]: “…if one attempts to purify himself by his own efforts, although by means of truths and goods that are or that appear to be genuine, he will yet lead himself into falsities; ‘to wash oneself’ means to purify oneself; ‘waters of snow’ mean truths that are or that appear to be genuine; ‘soapmeans the good from which they come…”
  • Jeremiah 2:22 also refers to soap: “‘For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,’ says the Lord God.”
  • From these sources, we note that “soap” signifies spiritual washing that uses good from truth to remove falsities. But it is not a thorough washing process because it is done apart from the Lord.


Putting It All Together

Just imagine for the moment that you are living during the time of Malachi’s prophecy. You have survived a period of brutal captivity, and you are now trying to make a new life for yourself and your family in Israel. Your love for the Lord is sincere. You attend services regularly. But you feel weighted down with what is going on in the temple. The priests and elders have overlaid the Word of the Lord with so many traditions it’s hard to feel uplifted. It’s hard to comply with the confusing rituals, rites, and regulations of the priesthood. In fact, your feeling is that worship is more for the priests and their comfort than it is to preach the good and truth of the Lord. Things are going on in the temple that look and sound like idolatry. Divorce and marriage to foreign wives is occurring all around you, and few seem worried. You wonder, “What happened to the days when we were unified in our opposition to certain disorders?”

A messenger named Malachi appears and points to things you sensed and worried about. He talks of the demise of the church and its priesthood. He sounds a warning to change and foster a spirit of obedience. Then, half-way through his oracle, he mentions the coming of the Messiah. Oh, how you have longed for that day!

Certain of his words just burn within your heart. “I am sending My messenger to prepare the way. He will suddenly appear in the temple.” The messenger announces that there will be delight and joy at His arrival. He is coming. “Who will endure the day of His coming and who can stand when He appears?”

The messenger tells all that the Messiah will come and correct the errors of the temple. He will educate all in the truths of the Law. This will mean being washed. It will mean purification of the gold and silver and the sons of Levi. All of this will happen, he says, so that an offering of righteousness may be made to the Lord.

Now let’s bring ourselves to the present again. We, as members of the New Church, need to hold and celebrate our sense of joy at the Lord’s second coming. He has promised us a new conjunction. That conjunction is called a holy “perpetual covenant” of the Lord. The opening of the Word with its spiritual sense is a joy and a hope for our church. Evil will not be able to endure what is opened by the Lord. Hell trembles and quakes and falls down at the mention of the Lord’s name. “Who can endure the day of His coming and stand when He appears?” Not the evil. But His promise is that the good will be uplifted and encouraged. Why will the Lord enter into a covenant with His New Church? He does so for the sake of love, of friendship, of consolation and conjunction (AR 529).

Traditions have value. Habits have value. But if either of these overlay the Word of the Lord and make His Word of no importance, then we need to wash with the soap of good from truth. If issues of disorder are so blurred that we feel alone and out of step with the popular opinions of the world, we need to side with the truth of the Lord. Searching His Word is essential. Giving the Lord our obedience is a must. Nothing in this world will impede the coming of the Lord’s New Church. Can we be inspired with the words of the Messenger? Can we make the worship of our heart “an offering in righteousness”?


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:1-3.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Did the “Pulling It all Together” section “pump you up”? It did it for me. We often carry around with us a feeling of smallness. What impact can we have on the world? When will the New Church really come to fruition? On and on we go with a sense of our frailty. It’s time to think positively. Where are you in this message? To be small in the hands of the Lord is good. Look at some of the most momentous moments in the Word. The Lord selected a few to win over the larger evil. With God, all things are possible. He can save by many or by few.
  • Did you catch the “who can stand” message? Hell can’t stand. Those who follow the Lord will stand before Him with a loyalty and hope for eternity.
  • Spiritual washing is important. Our lesson reminds us that if we try to do it alone, we can use lye and lots of scrubbing, but it will be of no use unless the Lord is involved.
  • There are so many points to be discussed in this section. I will trust that you will have lots to talk about and discuss. Let your reflection carry you into the realm of the spiritual world where angels behold the face of our Father and where they love to share the spiritual sense of the Word.

Malachi 3:4

“Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old, as in former years.”


Passages From The Writings


  • “The church, doctrine and worship will then be as they had been among the ancients.”

AC 8159 [2]

  • In Malachi 3:4 “…‘the meat-offering which they shall bring to Jehovah’ is faith and charity; ‘the days of eternity’ and ‘the former years’ denote the ancient churches, and the states of worship of the Lord at that time.”

AC 2906 [6]

  • In Malachi 3:4 “…where the advent of the Lord is treated of…the ‘days of an age’ denote the Most Ancient Church; ‘ancient years,’ the Ancient Church; the ‘offering of Judah,’ worship from celestial love; and the ‘offering of Jerusalem,’ worship from spiritual love; that Judah is not meant here, nor Jerusalem, is plain.”

AC 3881 [8]

  • “In Malachi…3:4…where the subject treated of is manifestly the Lord’s advent. It is known that the meat-offering of Judah and Jerusalem was not then pleasant; but that worship from love was pleasant, which is the ‘meat-offering of Judah;’ and worship from faith derived from love, which is the ‘meat-offering of Jerusalem.’”

AC 6280 [7]

  • “In Malachi…3:4…the subject treated of is His coming; the ‘offering of Judah and Jerusalem being then sweet to Jehovah’ signifies that worship from love and faith in Him will then be sweet. That by ‘Judah’ here is not meant Judah, nor by ‘Jerusalem’ Jerusalem, is clearly evident; for neither then nor afterward was the offering of Judah and Jerusalem sweet. That the ‘days of eternity’ are the states of the Most Ancient Church, which was celestial; and that the ‘former years’ are the states of the Ancient Church, which was spiritual…”

AR 350

  • “That by ‘Judah’…is signified the celestial kingdom and its love, which is love to the Lord, is evident from these passages…” Malachi 3:1-4 is cited.

AE 433 [12]

  • “In Malachi…3:4…‘The offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be agreeable unto Jehovah’ signifies that then there will be acceptable worship from the good of love to the Lord; ‘the offering of Judah’ signifying such worship; it is evident that the worship of the Jewish nation and of Jerusalem was not acceptable, for they did not acknowledge the Lord, but utterly rejected Him; ‘according to the days of an age, and according to former years,’ signifies according to the worship in the ancient churches; the Most Ancient, that was before the flood, and was in love to the Lord, is signified by ‘the days of an age,’ or of eternity, and the Ancient Church, that was after the flood, and was a spiritual church, is signified by ‘former years.’”

AC 349 [2]

  • “That by ‘offerings’ in general is meant worship, is evident in the Prophets throughout, as in Malachi…3:2, 3, 4…An ‘offering in righteousness’ is an internal offering, which the ‘sons of Levi,’ that is holy worshipers, will offer. The ‘days of eternity,’ signify the Most Ancient Church, and the ‘ancient years,’ the Ancient Church.”

Doctrine of the Lord 64

  • This is a long number regarding the meaning of “Jerusalem.” This number cites Malachi 3:1, 4 as a representative example as to why “Jerusalem” means the church in respect to worship and as to doctrine. This number notes that “the Lord was present in Jerusalem, and taught in its temple, and afterwards glorified His Human there.”

AR 880

  • This number cites Malachi 3:2, 4 along with many other passages from the prophets regarding the meaning of “Jerusalem.” The number is long and does not give scriptural exposition of passages from Malachi, so it has not been quoted here.

Brief Exposition 100

  • This passage cites Malachi 3:1, 4 regarding the meaning of “Jerusalem.” The number is quite long and doesn’t give us the spiritual exposition of these verses from Malachi.

TCR 782

  • The meaning of “Jerusalem” is treated of in a lengthy series of sections. Malachi 3:1, 4 is cited in the context of verifying the meaning of “Jerusalem” as stated in the literal sense.

AC 9293 [6]

  • “In Malachi…3:3, 4…by ‘a gift offered to Jehovah’ is signified the good of love and of faith, therefore it is said that ‘they may bring to Jehovah a gift in righteousness,’ and that ‘then it will be sweet to Jehovah’…‘Judah’ denotes the good of celestial love, thus those who are in this good…”

AC 10248 [10]

  • “…‘according to the days of the generation of ages’ denotes according to the states of love and faith in the Ancient Church.” Malachi 3:4 is cited.

Derived Doctrine

There is no need for us to use derived doctrine. Our lessons from the Writings are quite full and clear.


Putting It All Together

Have you noticed we are no longer involved in a dialogue between the Lord and the priests? There is instead a positive message about the Lord’s advent and what positive spiritual things will come to His church. The Lord is speaking words of truth and certainty. Debate and insolence have no part in this discourse. Isn’t it much more fulfilling to listen to what the Lord’s advent will do for the church?

There will be a return to worship services filled with love and wisdom. They will be the culmination of the love and wisdom that filled the Most Ancient Church and the Ancient Church. What does that mean? The Most Ancient Church worshiped the Lord in the Divine Human. He walked among them, giving them inspiration drawn from His Celestial Love. He walked and talked with them. If they had any questions, He spoke to them directly. They saw the Lord in some angelic form. He was not invisible to them.

The Ancient Church saw the Lord in the Divine Representatives of the world. The trees, the mountains, the brooks, the streams, and the oceans—all of nature—opened their minds to see the wisdom of the Lord. And the Ancient Church loved that wisdom. The Lord was not invisible to them. He was visible through Divine Representatives.

The Ancient Churches, in their prime, did not have their worship of the Lord overlaid with self-serving rules. Profit and self-love were not a hindrance to worship. The offerings were meal-offerings of righteousness. Both churches saw the Lord. He was not invisible. The promise of the New Church carries with it the message that what was “invisible” will be made “visible” again. Like the Ancients, we will see the Lord as the Divine Human, and there will be an everlasting conjunction of life and peace with Him.

Can you feel the uplifting words of the messenger sent by the Lord? Probably, those who heard it in the days of Malachi were anxious. “When, O Lord, will this happen? We have waited many, many years. Why do You tarry? Come quickly with cleansing of the temple and our souls!”

The answer as given in the Word is: “Wait patiently for the Lord.” “Be thou strong and courageous.” It will happen in the fullness of times. We need to trust and rely on the Lord as to the fulfillment of the promise. In the meantime, we can read His Word and trust in the providential leading of His wisdom. Why? Because the words and promises, like those of Malachi and the Writings, tell us:

“The church, doctrine and worship will then be as they had been among the ancients.” (P&P)

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:4.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Does it feel good to be away from the negative debate between the people and the Lord?
  • There is a comfort when the Lord is in charge. He steadies the course. He gives a view from eternity. But for some reason, we, at times, resist giving in to His providence. Why? Is it just our proprium, or is it a fear of letting go? We do get comfortable with our ways. Change is not easy for us.
  • Have you ever had a celestial experience? What is meant by that is: have you ever “sensed” that something was right or wrong? You couldn’t speak words to explain why you felt this or that. It just was a powerful feeling. Not all of these experiences are celestial, but when we look back and see that one of these feelings was correct, we rejoice in the fact that we listened.
  • Have you ever looked at the magnificent sunset or a view from the mountain and felt the presence of the Lord? Do you, in the quietness of a walk through nature, think about the correspondence of things? If you do, what insights did you get? If you don’t, what keeps you from trying to do so?
  • Do you ask the Lord to hurry with His New Church? Do you find your heart aching for its arrival?
  • In the fullness of times, the Lord says, it will happen. Maybe we need to concentrate on the job of preparing the way of the Lord.
  • The passage from Malachi has a message we might reflect on: “Then the offering…will be pleasant to the Lord…” I like the wording. It doesn’t emphasize the offering being pleasant for us, or for other people. It will be “pleasant to the Lord.” 


Malachi 3:5-6

“‘And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien—because they do not fear Me,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.’”


Passages From The Writings


  • “The Lord will then execute judgment upon all who have adulterated and destroyed the truths of the church.”

AC 4844 [5-9]

  • “…by ‘widows’ in the good sense are signified those who are in truth without good, but still desire to be led by good…by the ‘sojourner’ are signified those who wish to be instructed in the truths of faith…by the ‘orphan’ are signified those who are in good without truth and desire to be led to good by means of truth…” Malachi 3:5 is cited.

AC 7297

  • “By ‘sorcerers’ and ‘enchantments,’ when mentioned in the Word, is signified the art of presenting falsities so that they appear as truths, and of presenting truths so they appear as falsities, which is especially done by means of fallacies…” Malachi 3:5 is cited.

AR 764

  • “By ‘a widow’ in the Word is meant one who is without protection, for by ‘a widow’ in the spiritual sense is signified one who is in good and not in truth. For by ‘a man’ is signified truth, and by ‘his wife,’ good; hence by ‘a widow,’ good without truth is signified, and good without truth is without protection; for truth protects good…” Malachi 3:5 is cited.

AE 608 [7]

  • “As the ancients were allowed to swear by Jehovah God, it follows that it was an enormous evil to swear falsely or to swear to a lie, as is evident from these passages. In Malachi…3:5…”

AE 695 [20]

  • “In Malachi…3:5…Hired servants were forbidden to eat of the Passover and of things sanctified because they represented those that are natural and not spiritual, and the spiritual are of the church, but not so the natural…Nevertheless, as those signified by ‘hired servants’ still do good, although not from a spiritual affection but from a natural affection, which is obedience, and then think of heaven as a reward, they are mentioned with the ‘poor,’ the ‘needy,’ the ‘sojourners,’ ‘the fatherless,’ and ‘the widows,’ because they are in spiritual poverty; for genuine truths are obscure to them, because light from heaven does not flow in through their spiritual man into the natural…”


Derived Doctrine

“And I will come near you for judgment…”

  • To come “near” signifies the perpetual conjunction” of love (AC 5911). Why would the Lord draw “near us” with His love when judgment takes place? AC 8159 [3] gives us a powerful answer: “the hells fight against man, and the Lord [fights] for man; to every falsity the hells inject, there is an answer from the Divine.” So judgment requires that the Lord be perpetually “near us” to keep all things balanced. The good and the evil will get a fair hearing in the time of judgment because love brings a fair resolution to each judgment.
  • AC 2335 describes “judgment” as twofold. “The faithful are judged from good, but the unfaithful from truth.” “The Lord never judges any one except from good…Mercy itself and good itself can never condemn any one; but it is the man who condemns himself, because he rejects good.”

“…I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers…”

  • “Swiftness” in the Word has reference “to intelligence, signifying the affection of truth.” (AE 281 [7])
  • “Swiftness,” in the negative sense, refers to “their avidity for reasoning against truths and destroying them, and pleasure in it…‘swiftness’ and ‘haste’ in the Word signify being stirred by affection and lust…” (AE 281 [10])
  • “Sorcerers” signify the abuse of divine order. They represent the perversion of law by practicing cunning and deceit (AC 7296).
  • “Adulterers” signify those who deny the Lord and profane the Word (Doctrine of Sacred Scriptures 67).
  • “Perjurers” (liars) signify those who “scrutinize those things which are called goods and truths…which nevertheless are evils and falsities.” (AR 79) In other words, liars give the impression that they seek good and truth, but their lives are otherwise—they love falsity and evil.

“Against those who exploit wage earners…”

  • We have no direct teaching on the meaning of these words. But a story in the Word comes to mind that might illustrate the issue. Was Laban’s deceit of Jacob an example of the misuse of a wage earner? Laban used Jacob’s love for Rachel to trick him into marrying Leah before winning the hand of Rachel. Do the hells trick people into believing they can win, or merit, heaven through “good works” apart from repentance and regeneration? What would you call using the “good intentions” of others for personal gain? Isn’t this a form of exploiting “wage earners”?
  • This now brings us to our consideration of the Lord as the swift “witness.” The Lord, in the Word, is called “the faithful and true witness.” “Witness” signifies the Lord in respect to the Divine truth and the church (AE 228). The Lord will not twist or misuse truth. He is able to see clearly intentions, motives, and affections. What might appear to us to be a paradox, an oxymoron, a black hole, an unexplainable mystery, is to the Lord clear, lucid, and knowable. He is the light of heaven. There is no darkness in His presence. He views the totality of the universe. Nothing escapes His notice. This true and faithful witness of heaven will show us, from beginning to end, the motives, intentions, and desires of our hearts. There is no misreading or projection in the Lord’s report to us of the core of our feelings and choices. Our “ruling loves” will unfold before Him with accuracy and impartiality. Is this a scary thought? Or is it a truth that brings a sense of comfort? Maybe we feel a sense of both fear and comfort.  

“…widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien—because they do not fear Me…”

  • “Widows and orphans” signify those who are in good and not truth and desire to be instructed in the truths of faith. What then is the meaning of turning away an alien, foreigner, or stranger? AC 10287 has sixteen sub-sections dedicated to explaining why the Lord warned Israel to keep strangers out of the church, their homes, their lives and marriages. Strangers (foreigners) signified the evils of falsity and profanations of all kinds. Why then would the Lord come swiftly in judgment against Israel for turning aliens away? Weren’t they doing what He had told them to do?
  • As a representative church of the Lord, what was to be Israel’s use in the world? Isolationism? Jonah believed he was not to preach repentance to Nineveh. What happened to him? When he finally did go to those strangers of Nineveh, what happened to them upon hearing the Word of the Lord? Repentance occurred in spite of Jonah’s dislike of his mission. The point here is that we need a goal of protection and profession to all who desire instruction. We need to protect against and shun the falsities of profanation from aliens, and we need to spread the Word of the Lord to areas of alien falsity and profanation. Israel wanted exclusivity of the Word. They had a nationalistic pride that they were the favored people of the Lord. Aliens, strangers, and foreigners were anathema to them. Love (fear) of the Lord goes beyond a favored nation. The New Church will be inclusive. It is to become the crown of all churches.

“…says the Lord of hosts.”

  • Please note the repetition of this phrase. Why? Because it signifies the Lord’s zeal to save all and to redeem His church.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change…”

  • Is there any question about the spiritual meaning of these words? The Lord is the same today as He was in the past and as He will be in the future. He does not have alternating states. His nature is not capricious. He doesn’t say one thing but mean another thing. As finite beings, this is hard for us to grasp in its totality because of our fickle nature. But here are the words of the Lord: “I am the Lord, I do not change…”

“…therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”

  • “Consumed” signifies the last time of the church when there is no longer any good left (AC 1857).
  • “Sons” signify truths as they were in the Ancient Church, which had genuine truths (AE 724 [11]).
  • “Jacob” signifies various things. In the beginning, Jacob represented the Lord’s natural as to truth, in the progress, the Lord’ natural as to the good of truth, and in the end the Lord as to good (AC 4538). Jacob represents the doctrine of the church (AR 137). In essence, the Lord is announcing that in spite of what had been done to the church by evil and falsity, the “remnant” of good and truth was still alive and present because of Him.


Putting It All Together

The Lord’s prophecy informed Israel of a coming judgment. What issues were significant enough to have the Lord send Malachi as His angel messenger?

Our text focuses the reader’s attention on sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, exploiters, those who ignored widows and orphans and extended harsh treatment to aliens (strangers). In reality, the Lord was exposing the lack of respect for His Word and the spiritual effects it was having on the minds and hearts of the people. Israel just wasn’t giving the Word serious attention. They were not zealously studying the Word and were not feeding the hungry souls with eternal truths.

How vital is the Word for us? Let’s look at two passages that answer the question with simplicity and directness:

  • AC 1361 states that the Word “was established…that heaven might be joined in some measure to the earth.”
  • AC 1775 states that “it has been necessary that of the Lord’s Divine Providence some revelation should come into existence, for a revelation or Word is the general recipient vessel of spiritual and celestial things, thus conjoining heaven and earth; and that without it they would have been disjoined, and the human race would have perished. And besides it is necessary that there should be heavenly truths somewhere, by which man may be instructed, because he was born for heavenly things, and, after the life of the body, ought to come among those who are heavenly; for the truths of faith are the laws of order in the kingdom in which he is to live forever.” (emphasis added)


How much of an idea do we have regarding the amazing power of the Word and what our lives would be like without the Word? The connection of heaven and earth, through the Word, is essential. Without the Word, “disjunction” would occur. Our spiritual life is vitally tied to the Word. We were born for heavenly things. That being a truth from the Lord is quite a powerful point. We must have the Word to survive spiritually. 

So let’s look at and reflect on the examples given by Malachi and question the ways we need to heed the words of the Lord and amend our lives. Here is the list:

  • Sorcery: the clever art of presenting falsities so they appear as truths.
  • Adultery: unfaithfulness to the good and truth of the Word. 
  • Perjury: giving lip service to the Word with the mouth but denying, within the heart, that the Word reigns.
  • Exploiting: using the Word for one’s own ends to justify falsity.
  • Widows: the affection longs to be instructed in the truths of faith. The affection of the widow lacks its helpmate—truth.
  • Orphans: innocence is unable to be cared for by father (truths) and mother (affections).
  • Strangers or aliens: carrying the Word to the external church (outsiders) for those who lack a spiritual conjunction but long for it.
  • Lack of fear of the Lord: Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Loving the Lord and not wishing to do anything that would harm Him is essential.


We need to reverently hold the Word in great esteem; searching it for the connections between heaven and earth; studying it because we know that this is what we will read to eternity; the Word has the laws of order that will make up our eternity. Ignoring the Word is serious. The rippled effect of spiritual ignorance is incalculable.

The love the Lord has for us will press to touch us. The Word is for the amendment of our mind and heart. The Word is for the building up of His Church. If we remain aloof and violate good and truth, these words indicate what will happen to those of a hard heart:

“The Lord will then execute judgment upon all who have adulterated and destroyed the truths of the church.” (P&P)


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:5-6.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Can you evaluate what your loyalty is to the Word?
  • Next, can you estimate how well you are dealing with sorcery?
  • How about the adulteration of the Word?
  • Have you experienced events in which perjury of the Word might have occurred?
  • Are you able to identify with the widow or orphan state?
  • Can you think of a time when you exploited the “wage earner” of the mind?
  • What is your view or feeling about the stranger in the external church?
  • The Word teaches that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear means love, in this context. Do you have a healthy fear of the Lord? An unhealthy fear is not what the Lord seeks. He wants us loving Him so much that we don’t want to do anything that would do harm to Him and His Word. Is your love healthy or unhealthy?
  • Use your imagination; what kind of reception do you think Malachi got from the people when he spoke these words of judgment? He was the last of the 12 Minor Prophets. The people had heard things like this from other prophets. Do you think they might have built up a feeling of immunity to the judgment warnings?
  • The feeling of spiritual immunity is a kind of “numbing out” state. We hear the words, we sing the words, we speak the words, but not much is going on in our affections. What is the best way to break out of the immunity state?

Malachi 3:7

“‘Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts. But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’”


Passages From The Writings


  • “They have done this from the beginning, and do not desist from it…”


Derived Doctrine

“Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them.”

  • Before we look at derived doctrine, let’s review some of the ways Israel went away from the Lord’s ordinances:
    1. The worship of the golden calf.
    2. Israel’s bitter complaining about the lack of water.
    3. Their complaints about the manna and quail.
    4. Their wish to go back to Egypt.
    5. The rebellious nature of their hearts, as reflected by the Lord calling Israel a stiff-necked people.
    6. The desire to have a king like all other nations, a desire that showed they had rejected the Lord as their King.
    7. Every man doing that which was right in his own eyes.
    8. The mistakes of Saul and David.
  • “Days” signify the successive state of regeneration (AC 6).
  • “Fathers” in this instance seem to reflect that which is negative. Therefore, it appears that the spiritual sense is drawing our attention to the rebellious nature of inherited tendencies toward evils and falsities.
  • “Ordinances” are all things of the Word in general such as precepts, statutes, and laws that provide a framework for order (AC 3382). Any departure from the commands and “ordinances” of the Word “turns the Word into a wilderness.” (AC 3900) 

“Return to Me, and I will return to you…”

  • Let’s consider the meaning of this verse in the context of an important universal law: There is a “universal law that influx adjusts itself according to efflux, and if efflux is checked influx is checked. Through the internal man there is an influx of good and truth from the Lord, and through the external there must be efflux, namely into the life…in the exercise of charity. When there is this efflux then there is continual influx from heaven…through heaven from the Lord; whereas if there is no efflux, but resistance in the external or natural man…it follows from the universal law…that the influx adjusts itself to the efflux, consequently [if] the influx of good draws back…influx is closed.” (AC 5828, emphasis added)

“…says the Lord of hosts.”

  • Is there a need to restate the meaning of this phrase? We have given the meaning often. Check your memory regarding the intent of the Lord.

“But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’”

  • We are back to the rebuttals of the people of Israel. Do the questions signal a return to the negative doubt state? What part of “Return to Me” do they not understand? It is almost as if they felt put off by the Lord’s audacity to question their loyalty to Him and their worship of Him.
  • Spiritual affirmativeness (sanity) would have inspired a different attitude; the people would have asked the Lord to show them how they needed to change.


Putting It All Together

The long tradition of being rebellious and stiff-necked had not worked well for Israel. Their ignoring of the Lord’s ordinances carried the Word into a wilderness state. Now it was time to change their ways. Israel needed to give up on their “traditions” and focus on the ways of the Lord.

To help Israel find a new direction, the Lord offered a “universal law” as the framework for spiritual reformation. “Return to Me and I will return to you.” AC 5828 gives us the words “influx” and “efflux.” Essentially, we are taught that influx is proportional to efflux. If the heart gives little to the Lord, then little comes into the heart. The Lord doesn’t limit our influx—we set the adjusting controls. “Return to Me and I will return to you” is an important spiritual “ordinance” to know and to love. Forget all of the other traditions we have followed from our “fathers.” Rebellious ways lead the Word into a wilderness state. Now it is time for new beginnings. Isaiah 35:1 offers a picture of what the Lord’s influx can do for our wilderness states:
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing.”


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:7.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • When we discuss “inherited tendencies toward evil,” we must also be ready to talk about “inherited tendencies toward good.” Both are passed on to us by our fathers. The presence of the good tendencies helps us pull out of rebellious states. Do we spend enough time thinking of both, or do you think we spend too much time focusing on the negative tendencies?
  • It seems prudent to have as a rule of thumb that we will not discuss the evil tendencies without also discussing the good tendencies. Do you think this might be a guideline the church could follow more often?
  • Did you notice the return of the negative questions from Israel? Any reaction to the presumptuous arrogance of the people? How might they have asked positive questions?
  • Please read AC 5828 again. How many insights are you able to pull forth from this number? There are many. This is a great universal law to commit to memory.
  • “Return to Me and I will return to you” is a positive message. We need to keep it positive because the hells will surely try to paint a negative picture of the process.
  • Israel didn’t listen to the invitation of the Lord, as we will see in the next verses. How can we learn from their resistance and adjust and change our directions?
  • P&P records for us a sad summary: “They have done this from the beginning, and do not desist from it…” We need to commit ourselves to the rewriting of this spiritual legacy: “They did this from the beginning, and now desist from it…”


Malachi 3:8-9

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.” 


Passages From The Writings


  • “…nor do they desist from adulteration, therefore this will bring about their ruin.”


Derived Doctrine

“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me!”

  • When we consider the meaning of the word “rob,” we must carry with our thoughts the words “plunder,” “steal,” and “theft.”
  • “Rob” signifies priests who teach but do not lead to the life of good (AC 10794). “Rob” signifies the profanation of the church and of worship (AE 325 [10]). “Rob” signifies the evil of life validated by the twisting of doctrine in the church (AE 410 [8]).
  • Is it right that “man” robs the Divine? We know the answer to this question.
  • “Yet you have robbed Me!” The priesthood and the church taught for doctrine the commandments of people and made the Word of no importance. This was a serious theft of spiritual goods. The blind were leading the blind, and both were falling into the pits of ignorance.

“But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’”

  • Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us of our limitations: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.’”
  • Given this as a truth, why couldn’t Israel humble itself to ask for forgiveness and the leadership to correct their failings? Apparently, their robberies were not a concern to them and they intended to follow their own prudence.

“In tithes and offerings.”

  • “Tithes” signify “the goods and truths which are stored up by the Lord in man’s interiors, and which goods are called ‘remains’…” (AC 3740)
  • “Offerings” signify worship grounded in charity (AC 350).

“You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.”

  • The Lord is not the one putting a curse on Israel. The curse occurs when the sensuous yearnings of this world avert themselves from the celestial (AC 245). To be “cursed with a curse” seems to signify what is presented in AC 378, where a curse is defined as referring to schisms. Being cursed with a curse seems to speak of a schism within a schism working to turn away from the order of the Lord.
  • “Even this whole nation” denotes the enormity of the spiritual problem. 


Putting It All Together

The meaning of this passage is clear. The church and its priesthood were not concerned about the good and truth of the Word. Nor were they concerned about the souls of the people. Status and man-made rules were of greater importance to them. The New Testament shows us that the Lord saw the same condition in the Scribes and Pharisees. He remarked how they loved to been seen. He noticed how they sought to take the higher seats in church and at public events. They made every effort to distance themselves from the laity. Learned in the laws, they used their knowledge to court and favor their own riches. They feigned piety with mourning, sackcloth, and ashes. But their hearts were not on repentance and obedience. Robbery, fraud, stealing, and plunder came from their ministrations in the sanctuary of the Lord.

When the Lord called these things to the attention of Israel, the people acted as if they did not know what He was referring to. The schisms of disunity brought curse upon curse to the people and the church. Is it any wonder that the collective conscience of the people saw no wrong in what they were doing? The words “How have we robbed You?” are symptomatic of the deeper problems within.  

The answer from the Lord was couched in the words of “tithes and offerings.” Tithes signify remains. These forms of innocence, guarded and protected by the Lord, were not being appreciated nor encouraged to come into worship and charity. Deceit and hatred abounded, filling the minds of the people so that there was no “room for the Lord” in the goods and truths of the offerings.

P&P sums up the results of their opposition with these words: They did not “desist from adulteration; therefore this will bring about their ruin.”


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:8-9.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Do we have customs and man-made rules in the church today that seem to supersede the Word?
  • Is there the influence of fame, fortune, and prestige present in the church?
  • If you are thinking of the church as a building, try expanding your idea to that which we carry around with us all the time. This internal church has a priest and values that influence our thinking and choices. Does this give us a different perspective on these questions?
  • Did the passage about being cursed with a curse (schism upon schism) bring any examples of real-life situations to mind?

Malachi 3:10-12

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the Lord of hosts; ‘and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord of hosts.” 


Passages From The Writings


  • “If they had lived according to the statutes, they would have been in the good of the church.”

AC 576 [3]

  • “Hence it appears also that ‘tenths’ represent remains. And so in Malachi…3:10…‘that there may be booty in My house,’ signifies remains in the internal man, which are compared to ‘booty,’ because they are insinuated as by stealth among so many evils and falsities; and it is by these remains that all blessing comes. That all man’s charity comes by the remains which are in the internal man, was also represented in the Jewish Church by this statue: that when they had made an end of tithing all the tithes, they should give to the Levite, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow…”

AC 680 [5]

  • “…in Malachi…3:10…‘tithes’ denote remains.”

AC 9408 [3]

  • Malachi 3:10 is cited with this explanation: ‘In these passages, and in many others, by ‘the heavens’ are signified the angelic heavens; and as the Lord’s heaven on earth is the church, by ‘heaven’ is also signified the church…”

AR 101

  • “As ‘ten’ signify what is full, they also signify much and many…for by this was signified that thus all they had was from Jehovah, and was sanctified (see Malachi 3:10).”

AE 675 [19]

  • “That the ‘tenth’ signified a blessing in all things, thus that every thing was holy and blessed, is evident in Malachi…3:10…‘To open the windows and pour out a blessing’ signifies the inflowing Divine from which is intelligence and life eternal; the like as is signified by ‘rain’…and this also is properly meant by the ‘blessings’ that would be given if the tithes were brought; so ‘tithes’ here signify that every thing was thus blest.”

AC 5113 [9]

  • “In Malachi…3:11…the ‘vine’ denotes the intellectual part; the vine is said ‘not to be bereaved’ when the intellectual part is not deprived of the truths and goods of faith; on the other hand, it is said to be ‘empty’ when there are falsities therein and consequent evils…”

AC 566 [4]

  • “In Malachi…3:11, 12…where ‘land’ denotes the containant, and therefore it plainly denotes man, who is called ‘land’ when ‘ground’ denotes the church, or doctrine.”

AC 9325 [5]

  • “In Malachi…3:11, 12…by ‘the vine in the field not miscarrying’ is signified that the truths and goods of faith with those who are in the church shall proceed in their order; for ‘the vine’ denotes the truth and good of the spiritual church…and ‘the field’ denotes the church…‘A well-pleasing land’ denotes a church that is pleasing to the Lord; for everyone within the church who has been regenerated through the truth and good is a church; which shows what is meant by ‘ye shall be a well-pleasing land.’”

AE 304 [39]

  • “In Malachi…3:11, 12…These things are said of those with whom is the church; and because ‘the fruit of the ground,’ and ‘the vine in the field,’ signify the goods and truths of the church (‘fruit’ goods, and ‘the vine’ its truths), therefore they are called ‘a land of good pleasure.’”

AC 1066 [2]

  • “That by ‘earth’ or ‘land’ is signified man, may be seen in Malachi…3:12…”

AC 9334

  • “A regenerate man is called ‘a land’…in Malachi…3:12…”

AR 285

  • “…by ‘earth’ here and elsewhere is meant the Lord’s church in the heavens and on earth…It is important that it be shown from the Word that the earth signifies the church…this may be seen from the following passages…Malachi 3:1…”


Derived Doctrine

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house…”

  • “Bring” signifies to be conjoined (AC 5543). “Bring” indicates some kind of introduction or offering (AC 5645).
  • A “storehouse” signifies “the first state of the man who is being regenerated, or in whom truth is being conjoined with good…and in its storehouse called the memory, there are amassed the doctrinal things…” (AC 3316 [2]) A storehouse signifies things stored up in the memory (AE 427 [4]). AE 790 [5] relates that the spiritual mind has a storehouse from which it draws supplies.
  • “Food” signifies spiritual and celestial nourishment, which is faith in the Lord (AC 680 [4]).
  • “My house” signifies the Lord’s house (kingdom) in the ultimate of order (AC 3739).

“‘…and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts…”

  • To “try” means to test or to make a trial. “Try” means to settle by a test so as to come to some conclusion. “Try Me now” seems to indicate that the Lord saw that the state of humanity was such that “now” (and not later) was the moment to take action.
  • “…says the Lord of hosts” signifies the zeal of the Lord to save all people and the church.

“…If I will not open for you the windows of heaven…”

  • “Windows” signifies the thorough investigation of truth (AE 282 [5]). AE 675 [19] teaches that “to open the windows of heaven” signifies the Divine inflowing from which comes intelligence and eternal life.

“…and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

  • So that we may understand what “pour out” represents, we need to note the various kinds of “pouring out” mentioned in the literal sense. The Lord says He will “pour out” His Spirit; He promised to “pour out” water upon the dry desert; He promised to “pour out” broth for the hungry; He said He would “pour out” indignation on the evil; He said that He would “pour out” the anger of His people; He promised to “pour out” whoredom; for those who lived the life of evil, He promised to “pour out” His wrath. Now our text says that the Lord will “pour out” “such blessing.” 
  • “Blessing” signifies a wish for happiness and success (AC 3185). A “blessing” signifies to enrich with spiritual and celestial good (AC 981). A “blessing” signifies fructification and multiplication (AC 43 and 273).
  • How much will the Lord “pour out” in His “blessing”? The literal sense gives us the answer: “There will not be room enough to receive it.” This same idea is present in the Twenty-Third Psalm, in the words “my cup runneth over…” The Lord’s wish for our happiness and success knows no limit.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground…”

  • The word “rebuke” carries with its meaning a sense of making right or vindicating wrongs.
  • A “devourer” signifies one who wants to destroy goods and truths (AC 9348 [4]). A “devourer” signifies the destruction of doctrine at its inception (Revelation 12:4; AR 542).
  • The Lord promises to do this “for [our] sakes.”
  • “…so that [the devourer] will not destroy the fruit of your ground…” “Fruit” signifies everything that has life from the Lord (AC 43). “Fruitful” signifies the increase of goods in the interior man (AC 1018). “Fruit of the ground” signifies the mind of each individual of the church—each one in the church is a church (AC 872).

“…nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field…”

  • A “vine” signifies the Lord. A “vine” signifies the spiritual church in charity in which the Lord is present, and the branches are the people of the church (AC 1069 [5]). The “harvest of fruit” signifies the church bringing forth truth and good (AE 374 [4]).
  • A “field” signifies the church as to good, for the church receives the seeds of good and truth (AC 3766). The “harvest of the field” signifies the church related to the reception and bringing forth of truth and good (AE 374 [4]).

“…says the Lord of hosts…”

  • This phrase occurs three times in the section under study. Question: is the occurrence of this phrase correspondential? The number three corresponds to love, wisdom, and use. Is the Lord calling our attention to His zeal to save all and especially the church?

“‘…all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

  • “Blessed” represents the state of being happy, peaceful, and enriched with celestial and spiritual good. “Delightful” represents the consequent joys that come to an orderly church. Thus, the Lord is indicating to the people that others shall see their works and how the fruit of the Lord is in all that they do.
  • Who says this? The Lord of hosts. He is the one who has the zeal to save the church and all who are within it.


Putting It All Together

The summary from P&P starts out with the word “If.” If Israel had lived according to the statutes of the Lord, they would have been in the good of the church. What good things would they enjoy “if” they complied with the Lord’s words?

  • The windows of heaven would open.
  • There would be a pouring out of blessings.
  • So many blessings would come to them there would be no room capable of holding them all.
  • The devourer, hell, would be rebuked. The church would be vindicated.
  • The fruit of the ground would not be destroyed.
  • The fruit of the vine in the field would yield a great crop. All nations would look at them as a blessed (happy) land. Other nations would notice their blessedness and delightfulness.

The Lord said to them, “Try Me. Give Me the opportunity to bless you. Let me show you the results of making a commitment to follow Me.” How would they get started on this blessing? By “bringing” all of their remains to the storehouse of the mind. They were to let the remains, or tithes, be food for the Lord’s House out of which the spiritual mind could draw its supplies (sustenance).

“If”: A conditional word that indicates Israel had a big decision to make. Would it be their way or the Lord’s way? Their way led to spiritual death. The Lord’s way led to eternal bliss.

We can’t leave this summary without applying the same “if” condition to our internal church. If we “try” the Lord “now,” the Lord will make us a blessing the likes of which no room can contain. Every day, in millions of ways, the Lord blesses us with manifold gifts. How can we know this is so? Because thus “says the Lord of hosts.” These oft-stated words serve as a reminder that the Lord has a Divine zeal to save His church and all who are in the church.


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:10-12.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • The opening portion of verse 10 starts out with the command to bring tithes into the storehouse. How do we bring “remains” into the mind? Isn’t this what the Lord does for us? He alone knows where remains are. Do we need to help Him bring them to mind?
  • “Try Me now” has a sense of urgency to it. Do we let the Lord show us His power? Or do we allow the hells to minimize His awesome power? Give Me a test trial and I will show you, says the Lord.
  • Opening the windows has wonderful correspondences. What thoughts or images come to mind with opening windows?
  • The “pouring out of blessings” is a Divine promise. Looking back over our lives, can we see any of these blessings? How about the “there will not be room enough to receive them” statement? Anything come to mind that testifies to this point?
  • How have you fought against the “devourer” of fruit of the ground?
  • Are you able to identify with the meaning of the vine and fruit correspondences?


Malachi 3:13-15

“‘Your words have been harsh against Me,’ says the Lord, ‘Yet you say, “What have we spoken against You?” You have said, “It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.”’”


Passages from the Writings


  • “They have confirmed themselves in this, that good is of no profit and that evil does no harm, because the good and the wicked are alike prosperous.”

AE 372 [6 & 7]

  • “Since in the churches before the Lord’s coming, which were representative churches, mourning represented spiritual grief of mind on account of the absence of truth and good, for they mourned when oppressed by an enemy, on the death of a father or mother, and for like things, and oppression by an enemy signified oppression by evils from hell, and father and mother signified the church in respect to good and in respect to truth, because with them these things were represented by mourning, they at such times went in black. As in…Malachi…3:14…That ‘to be made black’ signifies spiritual grief of mind…”


Derived Doctrine

“‘Your words have been harsh against Me,’ says the Lord…”

  • “In its origin…the good of love and of charity is most gentle, consequently it is so in its advance into heaven; but when it sinks down to the hells, it becomes harsh and severe, because it is turned into this by those who are there…” (AC 7679, emphasis added)
  • Falsities “…if applied to good…become mild, but if to evil, they become hard [harsh]…” (AC 8311, emphasis added)
  • These numbers are cited so that we can picture the gentleness of the Lord’s providence being turned into harshness by hearts that are opposed to Him. The “harshness” is not representative of the Lord but of the people speaking offensively about the Lord.

“Yet you say, what have we spoken against You?”

  • One would think that if the Lord, who knows all and sees all, said these things to anyone who had a sense of humility, the person would feel remorse for the misspoken words. You would think the people would want to put on a cloak of “black” to mourn the loss, or lack, of good and truth. Instead, the people of Israel took on a confrontational attitude. They questioned the Lord and doubted His assessment of their intentions. Their question “What have we spoken against You?” carries with it a sphere of hardness and disrespectful pride.

“You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance and that we have walked as mourners…”

  • What constitutes a life of usefulness? Let’s consider this quote from AC 503: “The life of love…is life while in the performance of use…in the good and truth of use: from use, by use, and according to use, is life given by the Lord; there can be no life in what is useless, for whatever is useless is cast away.” (emphasis added)
  • Consider also this teaching from AC 1100: “It is utterly useless for a man to know many things if he does not live according to what he knows. For knowing has no other end than that the man may thereby become good. When he has become good, he has much more than one who knows innumerable things and yet is not good; for what the latter seeks by much knowledge, the former already has.”
  • What then are we to glean from the above quoted passages? The people of Israel, because of their cold hearts, felt it was useless to serve God. They saw no end. They saw no rewards. Keeping the ordinances of the Lord was meaningless to them. Therefore, what had no meaning to them in life was being cast way as superfluous.
  • The question “What profit is it that we have kept His ordinances?” seems to indicate they felt no gain or enrichment coming to them from the Lord. “Profit” or gain has a signification of a love of the world that destroys a person’s soul (AE 750 [5]). Gain, in a negative sense, signifies falsity from evil perverting judgment (AC 8711).
  • To “walk” signifies to meditate on doctrine (AR 137). To “walk” signifies to live by enlightenment from the Lord (AR 75). Apparently, these things were not happening with Israel. The people walked in their own prudence and failed to seek the Lord, so their hearts grieved with the requirements of repentance and regeneration. Spiritual work wearied and stressed them to the point of “mourning” because the Lord did not validate their desire for power, ease, and profitability.

“So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up; they even tempt God and go free.”  

  • Their flimsy charges against the Lord are listed: the proud are happy (blessed); the wicked are heroes among the people; the wicked “try” the Lord and get away with it. Can’t we hear a “poor me” attitude? The people saw themselves wearing sackcloth with their faces darkened by ashes, and what did they get for their efforts? Nothing. So they asked, what’s the point of serving the Lord? They thought, He doesn’t care, nor does He punish the proud, the wicked, and their derision of His ordinances. Psalm 73 carries the same theme, except that in this Psalm, a resolution occurs in the case of arrogance: “It was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” (emphasis added)
  • Israel was into complaining but not going into the sanctuary, so they never saw “the end” of the proud, the wicked, and those who tempted the Lord.


Putting It All Together

We have an expression, “Try to convince a man against his will, and he will be of the same opinion still.” Israel’s will wanted to confirm the belief that being good was not advantageous. To Israel, good and evil seemed no different in terms of profitability. They believed the evil were not being checked or punished by the Lord. They saw arrogance flaunt itself before the Lord and get away with it. So, they asked, what benefits do we get for being “faithful” to the Lord? We follow the rules and mourn before the Lord, and we see no advantages coming out of our adherence to God’s laws. “It is useless to serve the Lord.”

Don’t we hear some of this in our day? When tragedy strikes, it plays no favorites. The Lord causes his sun and rain to fall equally upon the just and the unjust. A church will burn down just as easily as a den of iniquity. No special Divine intervention for the faithful. Why isn’t it different? Couldn’t the Lord spare the good and punish the wicked? That certainly would restore some order and get world-wide respect for the Lord. With the Lord’s Divine power, He could easily bring the arrogant and evil under His control. But He doesn’t move toward such ends for a good reason: Spiritual Freedom.

Harsh words are still spoken against the Lord. False perceptions get formed in the mind and heart of those who doubt His providence. The rigidity of falsity perverts judgment. What this lesson illustrates for us is the need to put aside extreme cases and poor examples and to read about the love of the Lord and how He seeks to protect our freedom. Forced belief, forced protection, and favoritism to the faithful would not preserve freedom. A forced love removes spontaneity from us. How many times have we melted when a child, on their own, told us they loved us? The thrill of their words comes from the open response that is free and genuine. This is also what pleases the Lord the most.

Let’s be done with the harsh words. Let’s be done with the thoughts of profit (what’s in it for me?). Instead, let’s be committed to walking in the way of the Lord, taking on whatever life brings our way. We need to overcome the “poor me” syndrome. We need to believe that whatever happens to us, the Lord will bring good out of it. Life needs less comparing of who gets the most or least. The Lord’s providence specifically has us in mind in all the incidents of life. Hell sends evil to us. It is not a gift from the Lord, but He can turn the experience of evil into a joy. How can we think about this happening?

Can you recall the words of Joseph to his brothers? “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good...” (Genesis 50:20) These words of truth are like one of David’s smooth stones that can slay the mocking giant of falsity that seeks to pervert and make our judgments harsh. 


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:13-15.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • A stubborn will can be hard to change. If our will wants to remain unchanged, how can we learn to soften its harsh stance?
  • The “poor me” attitude seems to hit us the hardest when we are tired and irritable. Do you have a policy of not making important decisions when tired?
  • Have you ever watched or noticed if others get more, or are blessed more, than you?
  • Does it seem that the evil get away with much, and do you wish the Lord would put them in their place?
  • Is the profit motive (what’s in it for me?) present in your spiritual value system?
  • If health, wealth, and happiness were granted to only the faithful, would that be a good thing for us? Might health, wealth, and happiness become a means to brag and finger point at the “evil” people? If so, then a danger would exist when a proud state took over within. Our health, wealth, and happiness would immediately be taken away. Would that be a good system?
  • The words “It is useless to serve the Lord” are harsh and devoid of any spiritual hope. Do we hear these words being expressed in our times? Is the assumption that the Lord is not there, not caring, and not responsive?


Malachi 3:16-18

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”


Passages From The Writings


  • “It is otherwise with those who trust in the Lord: they will be blessed of the Lord when He comes. Then the difference will be seen.”


Derived Doctrine

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another…”

  • The fear mentioned is a positive “fear.” It is a holy fear that good people experience because of longing for the Lord and also because they have a desire not to offend the Lord (AC 3718).
  • “Speaking” signifies influx and compliance from faith and love, or living as the Lord taught in the Word (AC 9312). Note, too, that their compliance was shared. They did not hide or hoard their faith and love.

“…the Lord listened and heard them…”

  • Listening and hearing when spoken of the Lord signify the Divine Providence bringing help. He brings help to the will of faith that inspires perception and obedience in the things of the Word. See AC 2691, 3869, and AR 87.

“…so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.”

  • The words “book of remembrance” are not explained in the Writings. However, we can use references to the “book of life” or “the little book” that was to be opened and eaten as a reference point. AE 306 explains that the “‘book’ signifies all things with man, spirit, and angel, or all the states of their life in respect to love and faith; therefore ‘to open the book’ signifies to know these things; ‘to read the book’ signifies to recognize them, and ‘to look upon the book’ signifies to explore them.”
  • To “meditate” means to think, to recall, and to reflect. The “name” of the Lord signifies the essence or qualities of the Lord. In other words, those who love the Lord will think, recall, and reflect on the sum of all by which the Lord is to be worshiped. See AC 2724.

“‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts…”

  • Do we need to search for the signification of these words? The Lord will draw near to Him those who love (fear) His name.
  • “…the Lord of Hosts” signifies the zeal the Lord has to save His church and the people within the church.

“…on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them…”

  • “The day of Jehovah” signifies the Lord’s vastation in the last time and state of the church (AC 488 [3] and 1839 [5]).
  • The meaning of “My jewels” might be best understood by reading TCR 618: “There are three means whereby man is regenerated, the Lord, faith, and charity. These three [are] like the most costly jewels…” 
  • “Sparing them” signifies the Lord’s intercession from love (AC 2253). “Sparing” signifies salvation (AC 2262). “Sparing signifies the destruction of falsities before they are confirmed (AE 573 [11]).

“…and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

  • To “serve” signifies an intention to subjugate (AC 6650 and 8169). What seems to be at issue in these passages is the difficulty that exists with a corrupted church in serving the Lord. The corrupted church seeks to obliterate the truth. But our verse talks about a remnant of “sons” who wanted to and intended to subjugate themselves to the (father) Lord. The Lord knew of and accepted their intentions and therefore was able to spare, and correct, the actions of their ignorance.

“Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”

  • Is there any doubt as to the spiritual sense here? AC 3428 notes the difference between those who debate with the Lord and the “simple people.” Anyone who is devoid of good is unable to have an intelligent discernment of truth and doesn’t even wish to know. Whereas simple people in whom good is present have a common-sense discernment of truth.
  • Discernment shows up the righteous and the wicked, the one who serves the Lord and the one who serves not. This discernment is a gift from the Lord.


Putting It All Together

Out of a long series of negative attitudes toward the Lord there comes a bright note of optimism for the church and the future. There are people who fear the Lord. They communicate their love for the Lord to each other. The Lord makes note of it, and He is going to make them His jewels. Even though it has been hard to meditate on the things of the Lord, this group has an intention to serve the Lord with gladness. To encourage them, the “messenger” of the Lord tells them that the Lord is going to spare them. In the day of the vastation of the church, the Lord will help this remnant. He is going to enhance their discernment. They will know the difference between the righteous and the wicked. They will know who wants to serve the Lord and who doesn’t want to serve the Lord.

We need this message, too. We live in a time where discernment of right and wrong is called narrow-mindedness. Speaking to a disorder is viewed as not being “charitable.” One writer described our times with the word “whatever.” Users of this word seem to mean that it is preferable to let everything pass by without any concern. “Whatever,” they say, and with that, they go on about their own agenda.

The “simple,” who trust in the Lord and fear breaking His laws, have the gift of discernment. Providence will lift them up and spare them from ignorance. Those who follow the good and truth of the Lord will become “His jewels, precious jewels.” The prophecy of the Lord announces the coming of the sparkling rays of hope for the New Church. The son that serves his father will be spared from the mistakes of ignorance. The book of remembrance will have all the names of the faithful, and they will meditate on the name of the Lord.


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 3:16-18.


Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Those who trust in the Lord will be blessed when He comes. How does trusting in the Lord carry more commitment then the “whatever” attitude?
  • Discernment is a necessary tool when doing battle against evil. Fearing the Lord is the beginning of a discerning influx. What kind of fear exists within your heart and mind? Is it a fear that freezes you up, or does it free you from the tyranny of hell?
  • Jewels are part of the prophecy of the New Church. How do you understand the meaning of their correspondence?
  • The Lord’s zeal is to save the church and all who are within the church. Can you share some of the ways you see this happening?
  • Being “spared” is a gift from the Lord’s Providence. Do we have a feeling of protection and specialness when we read these words?
  • How about the book of remembrance? Do you see it in a positive light? Is it an aid to reflection? It contains all of the good and truths we have loved in our life. If we intend to do the will of the Lord, will we be remembered by the Lord?

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