Malachi 3:7 could serve as a commentary on the entirety of the Old Testament.
“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you” says the Lord Almighty.
In his book, For the Glory of God, Daniel Block reminds us that no one in the Bible ever says to God “I love you.” Nor does God ever ask or expect people to say this to Him. God does command us to love Him, but the way we show that we love is not by what we say, but rather, what we do.
Through Malachi, God brings charges against Israel: They have shown him contempt with their offerings, wearied Him with words, and robbed Him in sacrifices. Israel has objected to His characterization of them, but the truth lies not in their protestations, but in their actions. Throughout their history, they have been wholly unresponsive to the love of God.
God has, of course, responded with discipline, but as Malachi comes to an end, God has apparently had enough and is about to go silent – for about the same period as he went silent when Israel was captive in Egypt. When He breaks his silence, it will not be with just words, but with His personal presence and an offer of a new covenant (3:1) and a refining fire that will destroy the unfaithful and make the faithful even more so. He is, of course, speaking of Jesus.
At the close of this chapter, there is an assurance that God knows not only the wicked, but the holy. In His presence, their names have been inscribed on a scroll – not so that God won’t forget them, but so they will know they are not forgotten. That little point reminds us of our often wavering faith, and also that God knows how weak we are and speaks to assure us in terms we can understand.