“Unit 32: Day 4, Malachi 3–4,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 32: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide
The Lord spoke through His prophet Malachi about His Second Coming, and He asked the people to return to Him by paying their tithes and offerings. The Lord further indicated the fate that awaited the wicked at His Second Coming and promised to send Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Have you ever been in a situation in which you needed to be prepared for something important but were not prepared? Write a few words or phrases that describe the feelings you had:
Malachi 3 teaches of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and some ways we can prepare ourselves for it. Read Malachi 3:1–2, looking for phrases that describe the Second Coming. (In verse 1 the phrase “messenger of the covenant” refers to Jesus Christ.)
The scriptures are clear that John the Baptist was the messenger who was to prepare the way for the Messiah’s first coming. John the Baptist’s birth and mission were announced to his father by the angel Gabriel (see Luke 1:5–25) and prophesied of by Isaiah (see Isaiah 40:3) and Malachi (see Malachi 3:1). His whole mission was to prepare the Jews to receive the Savior, Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of this prophecy (see Matthew 3:1–3; Mark 1:2–3; Luke 1:5–25; John 1:25–32). John the Baptist acting as a forerunner is also called an Elias (see Luke 1:17). Elias is a title for a forerunner—one who goes before or prepares the way for someone or something greater.
According to Malachi 3:2, why do we need to be ready for the Second Coming?
Notice the phrase “refiner’s fire” in verse 2. A refiner uses fire to heat a metal like silver or gold until it reaches a liquid state. The heating process allows dross, or impurities, to rise to the surface of the liquid metal, where the refiner can remove them, thus purging the metal of its impurities. To understand this imagery, read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The fierce flames, the fervent heat, the burning fires of the Second Coming that destroy the wicked shall also cleanse the righteous. …
“… Evil and sin and dross will be burned out of their souls because they qualify to abide the day” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 543–44).
Also notice the phrase “fullers’ soap” in Malachi 3:2. A fuller is someone who cleans or whitens fabrics by using soap.
What are some ways Jesus Christ is like a refiner’s fire and like a fuller’s soap?
Elder McConkie also taught the following about Malachi’s prophecy: “It is with reference to the Second Coming that the ancient word promises: ‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.’ (Malachi 3:1.) John the Baptist did this very thing in the meridian of time [Jesus’s day], but it remained for Joseph Smith to perform the glorious work in our day. He is the latter-day messenger who was sent to restore the gospel, which itself prepares a people for the return of the Lord” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 629; see also D&C 45:9).
From Malachi 3:1 and from what Elder McConkie taught, we learn that Heavenly Father sent Joseph Smith to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- Ponder the following question, and then record your answer in your scripture study journal: What did the Prophet Joseph Smith do to prepare us for the return of Jesus Christ?
The Prophet Joseph Smith restored and taught the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be refined, purified, and prepared for the Second Coming. Ponder how well you are living the gospel of Jesus Christ and preparing for the Second Coming. What can you do to better prepare for the Lord’s return in glory?
In Malachi 3:3–6, Malachi described how the Savior will, like a refiner’s fire, purify the sons of Levi, as well as destroy the wicked at His Second Coming. The “sons of Levi” were priesthood holders in ancient Israel. Today the phrase can refer to modern-day priesthood holders (see D&C 84:33–34).
Imagine that your have a close friend or family member who stopped keeping the commandments and left the Church a while ago. However, this person has recently expressed a desire to return to Church but does not feel worthy to do so.
What would you say to try to help this person?
Read Malachi 3:7, looking for the Lord’s promise to the Israelites who had broken their covenants and turned from Him.
What principle did the Lord teach to those who were not keeping their covenants?
From verse 7 we learn that if we will return to the Lord, He will return to us.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think it means to return to the Lord?
What does the principle about returning to the Lord teach you about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
Also from Malachi 3:7, what question did the Lord say the people asked?
In Malachi 3:8–12 we learn of one way the Lord said the people could return to Him.
Read Malachi 3:8–9, looking for the questions asked and the Lord’s answer. (Malachi 3:8–10 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark this passage in a distinctive way so that you will be able to locate it easily.)
How had the Israelites robbed the Lord?
Consider marking the phrase “tithes and offerings” in verse 8. The way tithes and offerings have been paid has changed throughout the years. For example, Abraham gave one-tenth of all he possessed to the high priest Melchizedek as tithing, and offerings were animals or crops that were offered as sacrifices to Jehovah. Today we give one-tenth of our increase (income) as tithing and contribute the cost of two meals or more as fast offerings (see D&C 119:4; True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 67–68, 181).
In Malachi 3:10–12, the Lord invited the Israelites to return to Him by paying tithing. Read these verses, looking for what the Lord said He would do and what they would be if they would pay tithes and offerings. (It may be helpful to know that anciently the “devourer” was often something like locusts that destroyed a person’s crops. How might this promise be fulfilled in our day?)
Based on what you learned in Malachi 3:10–12, complete the following principle: If we return to God and pay our tithes and offerings, then the Lord will .
Read the following statement from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for the types of blessings he said may come from paying tithing:
“Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). …
“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.
“I promise that as you and I observe and keep the law of tithing, indeed the windows of heaven will be opened and spiritual and temporal blessings will be poured out such that there shall not be room enough to receive them (see Malachi 3:10)” (“The Windows of Heaven,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 17–18).
- Ponder how you or your family may have been blessed in significant but subtle ways because of paying tithing. Record your thoughts in your scripture study journal.
Ponder how you are doing at paying tithes and offerings. Make a goal to faithfully pay or continue to pay your tithing so that the windows of heaven will be opened on your behalf.
- To help you master this passage, read Malachi 3:8–10 several times, and ponder how you would explain the law of tithing to someone who has never heard of it before. Consider analogies and personal experiences you could use to help someone better understand this commandment and how keeping it shows our love for God. Write a paragraph in your scripture study journal explaining how you would do this.
In Malachi 3:13–18, the Lord addressed two groups of people. The first were those in Israel who questioned the need to keep the ordinances of the gospel. They complained that the proud and the wicked seemed to prosper despite their unrighteousness.
Read Malachi 3:16–17, looking for how the second group of people felt toward God. (In this context the word fear means reverence or respect.)
The word stubble refers to the short stalks that remain after grain has been harvested from a field. Farmers often burn the stubble in preparation for plowing and planting the field again.
Read Malachi 4:1, looking for whom Malachi likened to stubble.
What will happen to the proud and the wicked at the Second Coming?
What does the Lord promise those who fear (respect and revere) His name?
The last verses of the Old Testament contain Malachi’s prophecy of the return of the prophet Elijah before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Read Malachi 4:5–6, looking for what Malachi said Elijah would do when he returned. (Malachi 4:5–6 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark this passage in a distinctive way so that you will be able to locate it easily.)
These verses in Malachi are inviting you to participate in family history and temple work. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught the following about Malachi 4:6:
“Who are the fathers spoken of by Malachi, and who are the children? The fathers are our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them. The children are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples.
“The turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers is placing or planting in the hearts of the children that feeling and desire which will inspire them to search out the records of the dead. Moreover the planting of the desire and inspiration in their hearts is necessary. This they must have in order that they might go into the house of the Lord and perform the necessary labor for their fathers, who died without a knowledge of the gospel, or without the privilege of receiving the fulness of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:127–28).
The Prophet Joseph Smith pointed out that “the word turn [in Malachi 4:6] should be translated bind, or seal” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 472). On April 3, 1836, the prophet Elijah appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple and restored the sealing keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 110:13–16). These priesthood keys bind families together throughout eternity, thus helping to fulfil Malachi’s prophecy.
- To help you memorize this scripture mastery passage, read Malachi 4:5–6 several times. When you are fairly confident you know these two verses, attempt to write them word for word without looking at your scriptures. If you miss any words, read the passage a few more times and try to write the verses perfectly from memory.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Malachi 3–4 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: