1. Who are the readers?

  2. What did the priests do that displeased the Lord?

  3. What does the Lord require the priests to do?

  4. What warning messages does the Lord give to them?

  5. What messages are concerned with the final judgment?

1.      Who are the readers?

The recipient of the book – the priests

  • The wording: 1:6 already mentions the priests and it is the Lord who directly speaks to the priests: “O priests”. The other places where priests are mentioned include 2:1 (“O ye priests”) and 2:7. 3:3 mentions “the sons of Levi” which refers to the priests as well.
  • The content: the message speaks about things concerned with the priesthood, such as sacrifice and tithe offerings. 

2.      What did the priests do that displeased the Lord?

The book uses dialogue between the Lord and the priests or the people of Israel with the Lord’s complaints followed by the priests’ argument. “(Yet/and/but) ye say” is the phrase that begins the argument or question raised by the priests or the people of Israel (1:2,6,7; 2:14,17; 3:7,13). The Lord’s complaints are about two main issues: their priestly duties (offerings and teaching of the law) and behavior (breaking the law). 

(charges against the priests)

When the people of Israel doubt if the Lord loves them (1:2), the Lord refutes that they do not love Him by doing the following:

  • The priests despise His name. The priests question how they despise His name. The Lord answers by saying that they offer polluted bread and crippled animals (1:7-8,13).
  • The priests even say that the table of the Lord is contemptible (可藐視) (1:7) and the food offered on the table is contemptible. (1:12)
  • The priests even have the feeling that offering sacrifice is a burdensome matter (1:13 “Behold, what a weariness is it!”).
  • The priests ignore His commandment (2:2 “ye do not lay it to heart”). He charges that they have broken the law and the covenant of Levi (2:8-9).
  • The priests say misleading words that distort the truth such as “every one that do evil is good in the sight of the Lord and He delights in them” (2:17). They even challenge the judgment of God by saying “where is the God of judgment?” (2:17).
  • The priests mislead people again by saying that it is not profitable to keep God’s commandment. On the contrary, the proud and the wicked are happier (3:14-15).

(charges against the people)

  • The people of Israel have dealt treacherously against the wife of their youths, who is “the wife of thy covenant” (2:14).
  • The Lord charges the people of Israel on the matter of tithe offering. By not offering exact tithe, they are actually robbing God. (3:8)


3.      What does the Lord require the priests to do?

  • Don’t despise the Lord’s name by offering polluted sacrifice. (1:6-8) Give pure offering instead. (1:11)
  • Hear and obey the Lord’s commandment. (2:1-2; 4:4)
  • The priest’s lips should keep knowledge and seek the law, for he is the Lord’s messenger. (2:7)
  • Don’t profane the Lord’s holiness by marrying the daughter of a strange god
          (娶事奉外邦神的女子為妻). (2:11)
  • Don’t profane the covenant made with their wives by dealing treacherously against them. (2:14)
  • Don’t pervert the truth. (2:17; 3:14-15)
  • Give an offering in righteousness. (3:3)
  • Return to the Lord and do not rob Him in tithe offering. (3:7-8)

What warning messages does the Lord give to them?

  • The deceiver who offers corrupt (有殘疾的) flock to the Lord will be cursed. (1:14)
  • Those who disobey the Lord’s commandment will be cursed. (2:2) Their seed (種子) will be corrupted. (2:3)
  • The Lord will cut off the man who profanes His holiness by marrying the daughter of a strange god. (2:11-12)
  • The Lord’s messenger will come to His temple suddenly and purify the sons of Levi. (3:1-3)
  • The Lord will come to bring judgment upon the wicked. (3:5)
  • The Lord will rebuke the devourer. (3:11)
  • The Lord shall spare those who fear Him but burn up those who do wickedly. (3:17-4:2)
  • The Lord will come on the great and dreadful day of the Lord to smite the earth with a curse. (4:5-6)


5.      What messages are concerned with the final judgment?

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me (我要差遣我的使者在我前面預備道路), and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. Behold, he shall come,” saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming (他來的日子,誰能當得起呢) ? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap (漂布之人的鹼). And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (3:1-3)  

“I will come near to you to judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, adulterers, false swearers and those that oppose the hireling (NRSV, 'the hired workers') in his wages (虧負人之工價的), the widow, the fatherless, and those that turn aside the stranger from his right (屈枉寄居的) and fear not me,” (3:5)

"Then they that feared the Lord spoke one to another (「敬畏耶和華的彼此談論」). The Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance (紀念冊) was written before him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name. The Lord said, 'They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels (「在我所定的日子,他們必屬我,特特歸我」) (NRSV, ‘my special possession on the day when I act’). I will spare them, as a man spare his own son that serve him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteousness and the wicked, between him that serve God and him that serve Him not.' ” (3:16-18)

“Behold, the day come that shall burn as an oven. All the proud and all that do wickedly shall be stubble (碎稭). The day that come shall burn them up that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness (公義的日頭) arise with healing in his wings. Ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall (出來跳躍如圈裡的肥犢). Ye shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this.” (4:1-3)