See where I am sending an angel of mine, to make the way ready for my coming! All at once the Lord will visit his temple; that Lord, so longed for, welcome herald of a divine covenant. Ay, says the Lord of hosts, he is coming;
but who can bear the thought of that advent? Who will stand with head erect at his appearing? He will put men to a test fierce as the crucible, searching as the lye that fullers use.
From his judgement-seat, he will refine that silver of his and cleanse it from dross; like silver or gold, the sons of Levi must be refined in the crucible, ere they can offer the Lord sacrifice duly performed.
Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings of Juda and Jerusalem, as he did long since, in the forgotten years.
Come I to hold assize, not slow to arraign the sorcerer, the adulterer, the forsworn, all of you that deny hired man his wages, widow and orphan redress, the alien his right, fearing no vengeance from the Lord of hosts.
In me, the Eternal, there is no change, and you, sons of Jacob, are a people still.
What though you have refused my claims, left them unhonoured, as your fathers did before you? Nay, says the Lord of hosts, you have but to relent towards me, and I, in my turn, will relent. Would you know the manner of it,
bethink you that it is not for man to wrong God, as you wrong me; out of all question you wrong me, over your tithes and first-fruits.
Ay, here is sworn conspiracy;✻ it is myself you wrong, the whole brood of you!
Do but carry your tithe into the tithe-barn, for my temple’s needs, and see if I do not open the windows of heaven for you, rain down blessing to your hearts’ content!
Ban of mine shall fall on the locust,✻ and to your crops he shall do no harm; nowhere in all your country-side, I promise you, shall vine cast its fruits;
the envy of all nations you shall be, says the Lord of hosts, a land of content.
And now, says the Lord of hosts, your complaints have had their way with me.
Complain you did: Who serves God serves him for nothing; what reward is ours for keeping command of his, attending with sad mien the Lord of hosts?
Here are proud folk more to be envied than we, ill-doers that yet thrive, abusers of his patience that escape all harm!
So they used to talk among themselves, his true worshippers, till at last the Lord gave them heed and hearing; and now he would have a record kept in his presence of all that so worshipped him, all that prized his renown.
Dear they shall be to me, says the Lord of hosts, when I declare myself at last; never to loyal son was father more gracious;
then you shall think better of it, and know them apart, the just that serve God and the sinners that are none of his.
The Holy Bible