God does allow the wicked to prosper and sin to go unpunished for a time. (2:17) It should not shock us when this occurs. He rarely judges quickly. For this we should be grateful because it gives men time to repent. But we also must not forget that God will not be patient forever. Men who flaunt their evil will be judged by God either in history or at the final judgment.
God comes to his people with two purposes: purification and judgment. (3:3 & 5)These two things go hand in hand. Today God does not come visibly to his temple as he did when Christ appeared, but he still comes to us, especially in worship. Therefore two purposes of worship are to purify us of our sins and to judge those who refuse to repent.
The phrase “who can stand” in 3:2 is a military term meaning that no one and nothing will be able to stand against God’s advance. We should find great comfort in this. We see the number of people set in battle against God. We see the money they have at their disposal. We see them sitting in places of power and we are tempted to think that God’s hand will be stopped, his purposes thwarted. But Malachi reminds us this is not the case. The hand of God cannot be stopped by the rank, wealth, or the strength of men and nations.
Only a pure people can offer a pleasing sacrifice to God. (3:2-5) Those who worship God must be clothed in the shed blood of Christ and must live a life of confession and repentance. This is why we confess our sins in worship and throughout the week. We cannot offer to God an acceptable sacrifice if we are not clean. Those who continue in sin, but still want to worship God, will find that he will come and be “against them.” They will be judged.