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Malachi 1:1 . The word of the Lord by Malachi, my angel, my messenger, or the messenger of the Lord. Malachi flourished after the second temple was built, and about four hundred and twenty years before the christian era. He succeeded Zechariah in the higher walks of inspiration. His style is more uncouth than that of Isaiah, who flourished in the Augustinian age of Hebrew poësy.
Malachi 1:2-4 . Yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau. A father was said to hate his eldest son, when he gave the better inheritance to a younger brother. In like manner, when Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, he gave the greater blessing to Ephraim, whose tribe nearly equalled Judah in strength. This was done by a prophetic spirit, as future ages proved. The prophet therefore charges the jews with base ingratitude to God, in profaning his worship, seeing he had restored their temple and city, while the mountains of Edom, or of Esau, lay waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Edom said, we will return and build too, like Jerusalem; but the Lord answered I will pull down. The wars made by the kings of Syria, as foretold in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, prevented Edom from rising to his former power. An apostle cites this passage in its true sense, showing that God had exalted believing gentiles to sit in heavenly places, while he had cast off the carnal jews in their state of unbelief, yet not without hope; for God was able to graft them in again, if they remained not in unbelief. Romans 9:0. How intoxicated then must those be with their system, who wrest such passages of scripture to personal and eternal election and reprobation! Hear St. Paul speak for himself: “Behold the goodness and severity of God. On them which fell, severity, but towards thee, oh christian, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Romans 11:22.
Malachi 1:6 . A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. But by offering polluted beasts on the altar, they in fact accounted the altar polluted. A man who dishonours God in his worship, does a double wrong to his own soul. He loses the great reward, which is the gift of grace, and entails upon himself a curse.
Malachi 1:7 . Ye offer polluted bread upon my altar. Hebrews לחם Lechem signifies the bread of God, meat of all kinds, the mincha or meat-offerings. This worldly wise people thought that the damaged part would do very well to be burnt on the altar, while they retained the choice parts for their own feasts. Christians also are often cruel towards their ministers. The situation of the clergy would be deplorable, if they were left to the mercy of the farmers; others of us also, who have served our people for half a century, have but a bare subsistence in hoary age. The remark of our prophet in the tenth verse is just, that the doorkeepers had a right to bread for their labour. The faithful minister who works night and day for his people, is often not appreciated till after his death. Then money is made of his remains, and his writings praise him in the gate.
Malachi 1:11 . From the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the gentiles. A pure offering of sweet incense, defined in Revelation 8:3 to be the prayers of the saints, shall be presented on the golden altar by the angel of the covenant. Then the legal sacrifice of beasts should cease, when Christ assumes his mediatorial glory.
God, to convince the jews that he had loved them in a very particular manner, tells them at the beginning of this prophecy, that he had loved Jacob, and hated Esau. The meaning of this is, that he had chosen Jacob in preference to Esau his brother, to be admitted into covenant with him; and that he had not restored the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, after their destruction, as he had restored the jews, the posterity of Jacob, by bringing them again to Jerusalem. Paul quotes this passage of Malachi in Romans 9:0. to show that God may choose whom he pleases, and grant them extraordinary favours, which he vouchsafes not to others; and that if we are so happy as to be the people of God, we owe it wholly to the free and gracious choice he has been pleased to make of us.
The remainder of this chapter gives a melancholy view of the corrupt and degenerate state of the jewish church in the days of this prophet. There had been a considerable revival under the ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah, but now the scene was changed, and there was a great declension in the life and power of religion. Those who ministered at the altar were become mere secular characters, were sordid and corrupt in their principles, making a trade of religion, and performing all its services with a view to worldly gain. The Lord therefore would no longer accept an offering at their hands.
Nor was this the worst of the case: the priests themselves were become despisers of religion, and set the example of pouring contempt upon the ordinances of public worship. They found it a weariness to wait upon the Lord, were glad when the service was over, and presumed to offer to the Lord what they dared not to have offered to a civil governor. No wonder, when such corruption was found among the ministers of the sanctuary, that it descended to all ranks of society, until the Lord was ready to disown his ancient people, and to “make his name great among the heathen.” Men who corrupt the true religion are more odious in the sight of God than its open enemies, and bring greater calamities upon their country.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Malachi 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany