Today is the feast day of John the Baptist. One of the appointed readings is Malachi 3:1-5; here is verse 5
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
I always find verses like this troubling, not for what they say, but for how we tend to divide them. Many will pick up the banner to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely. I have heard it used to condemn the Harry Potter because of sorcery; which I believe is off base because sorcery in scripture is always in relation to other gods, and in Harry Potter it is very much like science class. I am dismayed because we almost never hear any one quote: against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien in any of the political debates about fair wage laws, treatment of the marginalized, especially the poor, or the debate on immigration reform, and yes ‘alien’ in this verse refers to foreign guest and it makes no distinction as to status. To be fair I’m also concerned because yārēʾ of the Lord seems to be sorely lacking. Yārēʾ is the Hebrew translated fear, which can mean ‘fear’; however it’s conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence. (Easton) The concern is that if we don’t have respect for God, how we can have respect for anyone else? And without respect how can we have honest debate about issues on which we honestly disagree. In far too many realms it seems we cannot, and it is causing harm to us, and to generations to come. Perhaps it’s time to spend time in the refiner’s fire (3:2b).
Easton, Matthew George. Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. WORDsearch Corp, 2008. ebook.