(3:13-20b, or 3:13-18; 4 1-2).
“You have said harsh things against me”, says the LORD. Various translations render the original word as “cruel”, “hard”, or “unkind”. The message is clear: these people find the LORD’s will difficult to accept. And yet they ask, “What have we ever said against you?” What they have said is this: “It is futile to serve God. What good has it done us to obey his commandments, and go about like mourners before the LORD of Hosts?” What they were disturbed about is this: “Evildoers prosper, and those who challenge God are not punished.”
Then, those who truly respected the LORD got together, and spoke to God directly: and He listened attentively. In the presence of the LORD, a scroll of remembrance was prepared as a record, listing the names of all those who honor the LORD and place their trust in Him.
The LORD answered their plea. “They will be mine, on the day I take action. They will be my special possession. I will spare them, just as a man is compassionate toward the son who serves him. Then you will once more see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God, and those who do not.
“For behold, the day is coming”, says the LORD of Hosts, "a day blazing like an oven, when the arrogant and the evildoers shall be reduced to stubble. That day is coming when I shall set them afire when they will be bereft of both roots and branches.” And then the LORD says, “But to you who respect my name, the sun of justice shall arise, with healing in its wings.”
From the earliest days of the Christian church, this prophesy of Malachi has been seen as a description of the coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is likely that you may have sung it at Christmas time, if you have gone past the first two verses of the poem of Charles Wesley set to music by Felix Mendelssohn: