“Look. I’m sending advance notice by courier, to make it clear:
You’ve been looking for God, and suddenly God will arrive in the Temple.
You’re going to love this new deal my messenger will bring you,” says God.
Not! You won’t be able to stand it when God comes! God is like a smelter. God is like astringent. God will be a smelt operator, a silver smelter, and God will purify the priestly caste like gold and silver, until they have something good to offer God again. Then God will receive gifts from the people again, like it used to be.
“Then I’ll come to your sentencing,” God says. “I’ll be the witness against those who practice slight of hand, the cheaters, the liars, the people who refuse to pay fair wages, who force women and children into slave labor, who turn away foreigners, and who have no regard for me. I don’t change. I’m God. So you’re not too far gone, my children.
Ever since your parents turned away from what I said, you’ve been asking, “How do we get back?” Coming back is for the asking, and I’ll be there.
In Malachi’s day and ours, the people who cry “God” the loudest seem to be the most in violation of God’s commandments. They cry for a “return to the good old days when people went to church,” but if God were to show up and witness the lies, the cheats, the slight of hand, the refusal to pay fair wages, the 16 million women and children enslaved around the globe – well, it wouldn’t be pretty. Because it’s not pretty.
The return to “the way it used to be” isn’t so much about a return to tradition, or to nostalgic “good old days.” It’s about a return to justice, which is at the heart of the commandments. How do we get back? By starting with our own lives. Living justly. Doing what is right. Not doing the lying, cheating, withholding, and enslaving. By welcoming those who are different. That’s how, if we really believe in God, we might show the world (and God) that we do.