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MALACHI CHAPTER 1
God by Malachi complaineth of Israel's ingratitude, Malachi 1:1-5 and of the profane disrespect shown to God's worship, Malachi 1:6-13. The curse of corrupt offerings; Malachi 1:14.
The burden: see Zechariah 9:1; Nahum 1:1. Usually it imports sad threats against those concerned in it, though sometimes it may be no more than the message of God.
Of the word of the Lord: the authority was Divine on which this prophet spake.
Malachi: my messenger, (saith the Lord,) so the Hebrew sounds. My angel, as some, though they err who take him to be an angel conversing with Jews in the form of a man; but angel, taken in the grammatical sense, i.e. messenger, he was, and God's messenger, the last of the prophets sent to Israel before the great Prophet Messiah came. That he was Mordecai, or Ezra, as some conjecture without good ground, or who he was, of what tribe or family, the Scripture gives us no account, and we make no guess. His prophecy is of Divine authority, and so cited by three of the four evangelists, Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:16; and by St. Paul, Romans 9:13.
I have loved you: God asserts his ancient love, that which he had in many generations past showed: I have, time out of mind, yea, from before the birth of your father Jacob, and in truth before Abraham was, designed more kindness to you than to others, and from the time of Jacob I have undeniably showed it. And this deserved, what I have not found from you, a love corresponding somewhat to mine; but instead of such love, some are ready to say they saw no such thing, or to dispute perversely in what it appeared.
You; both personally considered and relatively, as you were in your fathers and progenitors.
Saith the Lord: their ingratitude extorts this solemn protestation, they should readily have owned, and not put God to avow the love he had shown them.
Yet ye say; or, and you do querulously and with ignorance enough object to me, and put me on it to vindicate my love, and expose your ingratitude.
Wherein? or, for what? is there not some cause? did not Abraham’s love deserve a love for us his posterity? Most perverse pride!
Wherein hast thou loved us? who have been captives and groaned under the miseries of it all our days till of late; is this love to us? Since they are supposed thus to object, by cutting questions, God will give them answer:
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? had they not one and the same grandfather? was not Abraham as near to one as to the other? did not one father beget them, and one mother bear them? did they not lie together in the same womb? was there not as much of Abraham and Isaac in Esau as in Jacob? Or what of nature, consanguinity, and outward privilege was there in one more than in the other, whatever that was, Esau might claim, for he was the eldest. In Esau’s person his progeny is included, as appears next verse.
Yet I loved Jacob; the younger brother, and your father, O unthankful Jews! I preferred him to the birthright, and this of free love, before any merit could be dreamed of; I did love his person, and have loved his posterity, with an unparalleled love, and showed it to all.
I hated; I loved not Esau or his posterity as I loved Jacob and his posterity: this not loving, comparatively, is a hating, God showed not the same kindness to the twin brothers; the one was more enriched with the fruits of God’s love, and had cause to be thankful; the other had no cause to complain, for God did him no wrong.
Esau; containing his posterity with him; for though the hatred or lesser love began towards Esau’s person, yet the effects of it appeared more manifestly in Esau’s posterity.
His mountains and his heritage; Mount Seir with the neighbouring mountains given to Esau Deuteronomy 2:5; Joshua 24:4 for inheritance, as here it is said, and which he and his posterity did enjoy about one thousand two hundred years.
Waste, by Nebuchadnezzar’s arms five years after the sacking of Jerusalem, as foretold by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 35:0. The people were slain or captivated, or forced to lice from the sword of the enemy, their cities taken, plundered, and burnt. It is possible that they might meet with worse usage than the Jews met with herein; however, their state seems equal, and here is no token of unequal hatred; but what follows doth manifestly discover it, for whereas Jacob’s captivity returned, and their cities were rebuilt, Esau’s never were.
For the dragons; or jackals, or owls, for the word is so used and explained by some; or all these with dragons doleful creatures, which delight in desolate places; by which the utter desolation, and the perpetuity of the desolation, of Esau is signified.
We are impoverished: here the prophet introduceth Edom reflecting on its present low condition, and taking up resolutions of bettering their condition: We are now, as the Jews were five years before, exceedingly spoiled by Nebuchadnezzar, who hath rifled our houses, burnt our cities, and captivated our citizens.
We will return; this speaks their insolence: or shall; this speaks their hopes of such a return as Jacob’s posterity had after seventy years.
Build the desolate places; repair their cities, as Jerusalem was repaired by the returned captivity. They may do so for a while, but, saith God, I will throw it down; as he did in the times of the Maccabees.
They shall call them, The border of wickedness; they will be by their flagitious lives, after they a little recover themselves, a most wicked people, and so notorious that all their neighbours shall brand them for it, and presage a curse will follow them.
The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever; they will so highly provoke God, that his indignation will be kindled against them, and will burn for ever.
You Jews who are now returned from captivity, and are blest with a rebuilt temple and city, who are settled in civil and sacred concerns,
your eyes shall see; some of you must needs, more will, and all might, observe what I have said, that my love is toward you, whom I plant, build up, and prosper, while I root up, pull down, and destroy your neighbouring kindred Edom.
Ye shall say; you should in point of duty, and some of you will take notice of it, and confess it.
The Lord will be magnified; or, Let the Lord be magnified, let his name be great and his praise great for his free love to Israel, for his great displeasure against the border of wickedness, for his truth in both.
From the border of Israel; let Israel from all his borders give God this praise.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: this is a practical principle engraven on the hearts of mankind, a law which all own, a truth written with a sunbeam, and which is violated by none but unnatural, brutish men.
If then I be a father: this if no way doubts, but it is made a supposition grounded on a confessed, ancient, and peculiar adoption and redemption, by virtue whereof the seed of Jacob had God to their Father and Master; and this undisputed relation,
If I be, & c., doth more piercingly affect the mind when it is demanded, Where is your performance of duty, where the honour you give me?.
Where is mine honour? the internal, in high apprehensions and esteem with answerable affections; the external, in dutiful behaviour and carriage; where the ready, ingenuous, and delightful obedience, &c.?
If I be a master, where is my fear? servants do fear their masters, and this fear, though servile, yet is due to a master, it is a quality suiting the relation; and now where is either of them?
Unto you, O priests: had undutifulness and irreverence been found among the ignorant people who knew not the law, nor were in capacity of knowing me as yon, it might have been a little excusable, yet a great sin; but you, O priests, nearest of any to me, whose business is to know me, who live upon my sacrifices, have me in a most peculiar manner your portion, you have, like Eli’s sons, despised me yourselves, and made others do so too; thought and spoke contemptibly of what is most venerable.
My name; God, his sacrifices and oblations, his law and worship.
And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? proud and hardened, they dispute it with God and his prophets.
Ye offer polluted bread; you through covetousness take any the people bring, whether such as the law requires or no. If it answer not the perfection of the law, yet you first make it serve me, through your contempt of me, and then to serve your turn to feed you and yours.
Polluted; either by ill-managing it, and misordering what is good and allowable, or accepting what is disallowed and forbidden, because of its blemishes.
Bread; either the shew-bread, of which Exodus 25:30; or meat-offerings, Exodus 29:41; Leviticus 2:0; Numbers 28:5; or, in a more large sense, all that was to be offered unto God, sacrifices and oblations.
Upon mine altar: by this it appears bread is to be expounded here of sacrifices, and not to be confined to the narrow bounds of this one kind.
And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? they stand upon their own justification, and proudly contend with God, either implying they did not offer such polluted things, or if they were defective, and in law sense polluted, yet that this did redound to God, or affect him no more than the perfection of them could add to him.
In that ye say; perhaps in words, however by your deeds you speak your thoughts and judgment; you think so, and then act so.
The table; before it was altar, now it is table, not to be opposed each to other, but comprehending both, and all that was offered unto God on both.
Is contemptible; as if they measured sacrifice and oblation by the splendour and riches of the temple and altar; the first were more pompous than the second, and these priests probably thought they might abate in the qualities of the offerings, as this temple abated in its splendour; they contemned this, and then contemn those offerings.
If ye offer the blind: this if implies they had done so, it chargeth them with somewhat in matter of practice among them; the lame and sick also they had offered.
Is it not evil? is it not against the express command of God, Leviticus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 15:21? The living God should have living sacrifices, and God who is perfect should have perfect sacrifices. But the people bringing such, the priests accepting such, do in effect tell the world they thought such sacrifices good enough for that God they were offered to: so great profaneness runs through this whole carriage.
Offer it now unto thy governor; not their king, for they had none; but governors they had, and these the Jews reverenced, and would not dare do that to them they do boldly with God daily.
Will he be pleased with thee? your governor would not thank you, he would be angry with you, and account it an affront; and shall not the Lord of hosts much more account it an indignity offered unto him? People in bringing, priests in accepting, these blemished oblations, which were not good enough for a man, did sin greatly, and spake their apprehensions of God to be contemptible and slight.
And now I, Malachi,
pray you, O priests, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us; intercede with God for this sinful people, among which (with the modesty that is usual among God’s saints) he rangeth himself; entreat they may find grace with God, and be pardoned.
This detestable contempt of God, his altar, and worship,
hath been by your means; you, O priests, have been great occasions of this, it is more your sin, though too much theirs; beg, then, that it may be forgiven, repent and pray, or you will not be regarded. Some think the whole verse to be an irony against those priests and their sacrifices.
Some make this verse to be a kind of wish that there were some among them that would shut up the doors of the temple, and keep out such sacrifices and sacrificers; it would be less displeasing to God, it were better not done at all that so ill done, and so long as it is so ill done God can have no pleasure in it or them. Others make it a reproof of the priests upbraided for their profane contempt of God, and for their inexcusable negligence, while they are so well paid for all their service, be it ever so little and inconsiderable, as the lighting a fire on the altar, or shutting the doors of the temple: Inexcusable dishonesty, to receive large wages, and neglect your work!
I have no pleasure in you; I cannot be pleased with such servants and services: or it is a meiosis, I am very greatly displeased with you.
Neither will I accept an offering at your hand; whilst you are thus profane and contemptuous, I will never accept your gifts, but reject you and them.
This verse is a very full and plain prediction or promise made on behalf of the Gentiles, that they should be a people to the Lord, and should exalt his name, and worship him in a pure way, and well-pleasing to the Lord. That when he casteth off ceremonial services and carnal ordinances, he will set up spiritual and heavenly, and all nations, from east to west, shall submit to them, and sanctify the holy and reverend name of God in them.
Incense; a law term for a gospel duty; and under this type is contained the prayers and praises, nay, the whole gospel worship is that incense which shall be offered unto God, which is in the verse called a pure offering.
A pure offering; both sincere, in opposition to hypocrisy, and holy, in opposition to impurity, and purged from superstition and idolatry. The sum of this verse is contained in that John 4:21-24.
But ye, O priests, principally and first; the people next, by their examples;
have profaned it; used it as a common thing, and valued it at a strange undervalue, as if neither excellent nor useful.
Ye say; by your deportment you say so; perhaps you do not say so in words, this were two impudent indeed.
The table of the Lord is polluted; not a sacred thing, or to be revered.
His meat; either the meat which fell to the priests’ share, and was for them to live upon, this they despised; or else the portion which did belong to God himself, and was laid upon the altar; they were neither pleased with that the Lord did reserve to himself, nor with that he gave to them, but they found fault with both.
Is contemptible; a poor, sordid allowance, scarce fit for meaner persons and less service.
Ye said also; to those sins before mentioned, the priests chiefly, and the people with them, added this also, that they openly complained of God’s service.
Behold, what a weariness! what a toil and drudgery is it to observe every point of the law about ordering ourselves and the sacrifices!
Ye have snuffed at it, in token of discontent, and that you thought it was all needless labour; would not examine your sacrifices as you should.
Ye brought that which was torn, & c.: for want of value for the ordinance, and patience in examining whether the sacrifice were perfect and according to law, you priests accepted and offered the torn, and blind, &c., which are expressly forbidden to be made sacrifices: see Malachi 1:8.
Thus ye brought an offering; with such minds, snuffing at my service, and with such sacrifices, unfit for mine altar, have they wearied themselves somewhat, but their God more.
Should I accept this of your hands? saith the Lord, i.e. it is not at all fit to be accepted, nor will our God receive it.
Now comes a thunder-clap from heaven against sinners, who were before reproved.
Cursed be the deceiver; the hypocrite, that doth deceive man, and would deceive God; the false heart, that intends one thing and pretends another, would seem to offer a sacrifice of the best, but puts God off with the worst.
A male; a perfect male, such as God requireth and accepteth.
Voweth: in vows God required very perfect and unblemished offerings, Leviticus 22:18,Leviticus 22:19; but there are jugglers that vow corrupt things, when they have what is perfect, and should vow that.
And sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; solemnly sacrificeth the worst, wholly unfit for acceptance. Any thing but the best we have is this corrupt thing, for the best we have is justly commanded, and that only is acceptable to the Lord.
I am a great King; very full of majesty, and therefore will by no means be slighted.
My name is dreadful among the heathen: heathens reverence this name, and will do so when converted, and you Jews ought not to undervalue it.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Malachi 1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25