Malachi | 1 | 2 | 3:1-7 | 3:8-15 | 3:16-4:6 | PDF |


These small group studies of Malachi 3:1-7 contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Malachi 3 Bible Study With Discussion Questions – Refining His People

Outline

I. John the Baptist’s coming predicted (1-7)
II. Robbing God (8-11)
III. What is the benefit of serving God? (13-15)

I. John the Baptist’s coming predicted (1-7)

Discussion Questions

• Who does “My messenger” refer to?
• What was he going to do?
• Who is the Lord? What does this tell us about the Messiah?
• Who is the messenger of the covenant? What is the covenant He would be a messenger of?
• What would the Messiah do when He appears? Do you think this refers to the first or second coming or both?
• What is a refiner’s fire?
• What did the Messiah desire to do with His people and His leaders?
• How can we let Him refine us?
• What kind of offering may be pleasing to Him?
• What does verse 6 mean? How can this verse be comforting or reassuring to us?
• Who left who? God left the people, or the people left God?
• What does verse 7 teach us about God’s character?

Cross-References

John 3:17 – For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

John 1:23 – John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

Zechariah 13:9 – This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Isaiah 48:10 – See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

Job 23:10 – But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

Psalm 66:10 – For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

1 Peter 1:7 – These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. My messenger – This most likely refers to John the Baptist. John even recites a similar Old Testament passage and claims to have fulfilled it.

Recited from Isaiah 40:3 in John 1:23 – He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

John was a little bit older than Jesus and started his ministry several years before Jesus did. The main thrust of his ministry was to encourage people to repent and prepare themselves for the coming Messiah.

John 1:29 Bible Verse

John, as God’s messenger, declares that Jesus is that Savior who will take away the sins of the world. Finally, John laid down his life as a martyr.

The lesson from John’s life is the same as that taught in Malachi. We have been learning in the first two chapters that we should give God the honor He deserves. He is worthy of glory and honor. Our offerings and our very lives should reflect that truth. John lived this out. He said that Jesus’ ministry must increase while his own must decrease (John 3:30). He wasn’t seeking glory for himself but freely pointed people to Christ. While we are not “the” messenger coming before the Messiah, we are still His messengers to the world. And our job is ultimately the same as John’s, to point people to Christ.

Application: Are you pointing people to Christ or to yourself? Are you willing to decrease so that He can increase?

2. The Lord will suddenly come to His temple – The Messiah is who they had been waiting for. It was believed that He would make everything better. They believed He would bring prosperity and save them from whatever troubles they faced. In verse 2, we will see that His coming is not all as rosy as they thought. It would be sudden, which shows that it would be somewhat unexpected. These verses (especially verse 2) seem to refer to Jesus’ second coming rather than His first coming. But when He came the first time, He fulfilled the part about being a “messenger of the covenant” already. Jesus was a messenger of the New Covenant.

Matthew 26:28 Bible Verse

3. Who can endure the day of His coming? – Malachi makes it clear that the Messiah was coming as a judge. It was a warning to the Jews to get their act together. Of course, we know that by our own merit no one can stand before Him. But thanks to Christ’s sacrifice for us, we can stand. It is because of what He has done for us, not because of our own merit.

4. He is like a refiner’s soap – Ever heard of the song “Refiner’s Fire?”

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy

This song is based on passages like this. In the time of Malachi, the Levites were corrupt. Their hearts were not sincere. They were selfish and dishonored God. God wanted to purify them. Even here in the Old Testament, we see that we must rely on God’s grace to purify us and not on our own abilities. Many believe that the seven-year tribulation period will be a time when the Jews’ hearts are purified through intense persecution and affliction and, as a nation, finally turn to and accept Jesus as their Messiah.

Though being refined by fire would not be comfortable, they should take this promise as a comfort. God did not abandon them. When they rejected Him, He didn’t reject them. Instead, He keeps working with them. He uses events and persecution to clean them until their hearts return to Him once again. Throughout this process, He shows His patience, compassion, and grace. After all, He had made a covenant with them. Even though they didn’t fulfill their part of it, He would still fulfill His part. When they were faithless, He remained faithful.

Application: One application from this passage can be applied to marriage, which is also a covenant relationship. Even if our spouse is not faithful to the promises they have made, we should continue to be faithful. We should not use their faithlessness to go back on our word. Instead, we should be patient, merciful, and gracious to do everything we can to restore the relationship.

In this passage, we see that God will purify the sons of Levi.

How about you? Think of a time when God used “fire” to refine you. Can you give any examples?

We also need refining. The good news for us is that just like God didn’t abandon the Jews when they sinned, He will not abandon us either. He wants to purify us. He w