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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Malachi 1

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Mal 1:1

Malachi begins with the prophet’s usual claim to inspiration, “the burden of the word of Jehovah.” The message is to Israel.

The term “Israel” appears four times in Malachi. (Malachi 1:1; Malachi 1:5; Malachi 2:16, and Malachi 4:4) There can be little doubt that its use in this Context is designed to underscore the covenant relationship of the people to Jehovah. (See comments on Micah 1:5)

The message will first convince, then comfort; first discover sin, then reprove it. It will reach its climax in the promise of Him Who is to take away sin.

Zerr: Malachi 1:1. Burden means an important message or saying, and the Lord had something of that character to say to the people of Israel. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets and wrote about four centuries before Christ. This would place him not long after the work of re construction following the return from the captivity. The people of Israel never worshiped idols after the return, but they often were careless about their duty to God and became selfish in their desires.

Verses 2-5

Mal 1:2-5

GOD LOVES ISRAEL . . . Malachi 1:2-5

In these verses Israel is charged with being insensible to God’s love. To overcome this insensitivity, He says emphatically, “I have loved you.” It is not the first time He has declared His love. (cp. Jeremiah 31:3-4) All of His dealings, from the initial establishment of the covenant, have been the result of this love.

In answer to the anticipated question “Wherein hast thou loved us?” Jehovah answers specifically in terms of His preference for Jacob over Esau.

The Jews were prone to think of themselves as superior to other races. Here God reminds them He has shown His love to them, not just in preference to other races, but in preference over those of their own race. Jacob and Esau were twin brothers, yet God established His covenant with Jacob, father of all Israelites, rather than with Esau, father of the Edomites. “I loved Jacob . . . I hated Esau.”

Zerr: Malachi 1:2-5. When the Lord censured them for their worldliness they com· plained that He did not love them. The Lord’s reasoning that he still loved his people is couched in the Question Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? The fact that while these men were brothers, the Lord chose Jacob or Israel instead of Esau was proof that He loved him.. Hated Esau means the Lord denied him any special favors, also He chastised him severely for wrong doings. Esau was the founder of the Edomites who thought they could resist the work of God that was meant for their punishment. Yet they failed, for the Lord was determined to through doing their work. All of this was evidence that Israel had fared better than his brother and hence was beloved by the Lord. The objective of the Lord in thus punishing Esau or Edam was that He might be magnified. Israel was supposed to see all this and ac- knowledge God’s greatness.

God does not, of course, unequivocally, hate any man or race of men. (cf. Acts 10:34-35) This statement must be kept in context. It is in contrast to His great love for His covenant people that His love for others seems hatred by comparison. Much in the same vein, Jesus demands that we “hate” father, mother, brother, sister, wife and even self. (Luke 14:26) We know He does not want us to literally hate anyone. (cp. Matthew 5:43-48) Neither does He hate anyone, excepting in comparison to His love for His chosen people.

The evidence of His preferential love for Israel over Edom is pictured in contrast of Edom’s homeland to the “land flowing with milk and honey” into which He led His people. Edom lies southeast of the Dead Sea in the Arabian desert. Its capital, Petra, was cut out of solid red limestone cliffs. The surrounding area is desolate and barren.

Paul set upon the contrast between Jacob and Esau in establishing God’s love for His covenant people. (Romans 9:13) The apostle points out the contrast is not between two nations per se, for “they are not all Israel that are of Israel.” (Romans 9:6) The real contrast is between the covenant people and the non-covenant people for “this is a word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Romans 9:9-13)

Since it was His promise to redeem all mankind that was the heart of His covenant, His preferential treatment of Israel is ultimately evidence of His love even for Edom! Nevertheless, in the years before Christ, He could point with justification to His treatment of His people in comparison to others as evidence of His love.

Verses 6-14

Mal 1:6-14

ISRAEL IS UNFAITHFUL . . .Malachi 1:6-14

God’s love and faithfulness to His covenant people stands in stark contrast to their unfaithfulness to Him. They neither fear Him as a master nor honor Him as a father . . . and their priests are the chief offenders. The severe reproof of the priests is a just one. They have profaned the holy things of God with which they were intrusted. It was their sin that was leading the people to be unfaithful. They took His name in vain, not by pronouncing it in profanity, but by offering unacceptable sacrifices to him. They are accused of polluting the altar. When they deny the charge, saying, “Wherein have we polluted thee?”, Jehovah’s answer is “In that ye say the table of Jehovah is contemptible.”

The term “bread of God” is synonymous with “sacrifices to God” (Leviticus 21:8), so we should not think here of the table of shewbread, but of the sacrificial flesh offered upon the altar. The priests have declared the table of God contemptible by sanctioning the offering of skimpy and blemished sacrifices. The sacrificial animals Darius, and no doubt his successors had provided Israel as a vassal state were kept to replenish their own flocks and only the culls were brought to God. Such cheap religion is less than worthless, it is an affront to God. The law said such animals were not to be offered as sacrifice (cp. Leviticus 22:17-25, Deuteronomy 15:21) yet the priests addressed here saw no harm in it.

The governor appointed by the Gentile emperor would not eat the meat they offered to God, yet they presented it as an act of worship and said, “it is not evil.”

Their real error in offering blemished sacrifices lies in the fact that such animals could not do what the sacrifices were designed to do, namely, typlify the ultimate Sacrifice, without spot or blemish. (1 Peter 1:19) It was to keep this prophetic object lesson before the people that the temple had been rebuilt. It was to maintain this constant covenant reminder in the eyes of the people that the sacrifices must be made according to divine directive. A blemished animal could not possibly portend the coming Lamb of God, and without that portent the entire sacrificial system was meaningless.

The scathing irony of verse nine underscores this truth. Malachi challenges the unfaithful priests to try it, if they think such unacceptable sacrifices will win them the favor of God. The entire passage draws a vivid contrast between man’s religion and God’s sacrificial scheme of redemption. Men, in their religious efforts to curry God’s favor, always think of themselves as bringing Him something. The advent of the Christ, toward which the sacrificial system pointed, is the exact opposite. God was bringing the Real Sacrifice to man.

From the beginning God has not been served by men’s hands as though He needed anything. (cp. Psalms 10:1-12, Acts 17:25) In demanding the presentation of the very best of Israel’s flocks to be slain upon the altar, God intended that they learn something of the price He would pay for our redemption when He offered the “Choice Jewel of Heaven” on Calvary. If He were to tolerate a lesser offering, the whole point of the sacrifices would be missed.

Zerr: Malachi 1:6-9. The usual treatment of a son for his father or a servant for his master is cited as an example of proper respect. God’s people were not that respectful to Him, but at the same time they were denying their guilt of neglect. The services of the Jews were beneath their abilities and short of the requirements of the law. Their neglect of duty was rendered more objectionable by their attitude. They would ask what was wrong in a way that implied that they could see nothing for the Lord to complain about. The animals to be used in the services were required to be those in the best condition. These Jews were bringing the blind and otherwise defective ones and seemed to think the Lord would accept them notwithstanding their poor qualities. He challenged them to try it out with their earthly ruler and see If he would accept it. The prophet implies that it will be in vain for them to seek mercy of God while they are conducting such interior services. Been by your means denotes that the corrupt situation was brought about by their own greed.

GOD DESPISES INFIDELITY . . .(Malachi 1:10-14)

(Malachi 1:10) Calvin points out that, in the temple, one priest was stationed at the doors of the court of burnt offerings for the express purpose of keeping out animals unfit for sacrifice. In this verse, God cries out in anguish for just one priest whose concern for God’s law would cause him to shut the door against such blemished sacrifices as were being offered daily. It would be better to let the fires go unkindled than to continue to desecrate the altar and mar the meaning of God’s covenant by offering animals unfit to depict the coming Real Sacrifice. Better none at all than these. (cp. Isaiah 1:11-15) Since no such priest stood at the door, God would Himself refuse to accept their sacrifices.

Zerr: Malachi 1:10. These Jews had become so selfish that they wanted to be paid for all of their services. They would not even close a door unless they were promised a reward for it. With such motives behind their activities the Lord was displeased with them.

(Malachi 1:11) This verse is reminiscent of Paul’s attitude toward those Jews who rejected the preaching of the Gospel. (Acts 13:46) God, Who lives in eternity and so is much less pre-occupied with time than we, treats the acceptance of His Sacrifice by the Gentiles as an already accomplished fact. He Who knows the end from the beginning is able of. the very stones to raise up children to Abraham (Matthew 3:9). Other sheep He has which are not of this fold (John 10:16). “For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves . . .” (Romans 2:14) and God is glorified. His name is, in fact, great among the nations. (cp. Isaiah 1:-11-15)

“Sacrifice,” in Malachi 1:11, is used figuratively as in Psalms 51:17, Hebrews 13:10; Hebrews 13:15-16 and 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:12, but the truth is that “in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” (Acts 10:35)

Zerr: Malachi 1:11. God had intended from the start that the services of the law were to be temporary (Galatians 3:19), but when these people became so insincere in their sacrifices it caused Him to be all the more displeased with them. This will shed some light on the language of Hebrews 10:5-8 as to the displeasure of God with the animal sacrifices.

Among the Gentiles is a prediction that another law and service will be Instituted that will be oftered to all people, not to Jews only

(Malachi 1:12-13) Whereas the ineffable name of God is thus glorified among the nations who have not the law and are thus separated from the Messianic hope, foreigners in the commonwealth of Israel, oblivious of the promises of God and unaware of any hope as yet (Ephesians 2:12), that same name is made a mockery among those who have for centuries been His covenant people. They offer to God what they would not eat themselves, and even this is “a drag,” irksome service! Isaiah had informed their fathers that it was God Who is wearied by such service and not they. (Isaiah 43:22 -f) Meat taken by violence, i.e. torn by animals, was not even lawful for human consumption, yet they offered it to God. (cp. Exodus 22:31)

Zerr: Malachi 1:12-13. To profane a thing means to cause it to become merely a temporal something instead of a sacred one. These Jews were pronouncing the services of the Lord to be only common activities and thus they profaned them. Malachi 1:13. means the same as most of the preceding ones.

(Malachi 1:14) For “deceiver” here, read hypocrite. It was not poverty, as some pretended, which caused such niggardly sacrifices. It was greed which placed personal gain above God’s required service. They possessed “a male,” i.e. such as required by law sacrifice, yet they offered God blemished animals. (cp. Leviticus 1:3-10) Even the Gentiles would be too fearful of God to do such things.

Zerr: Malachi 1:14. The Jews were required to offer the best of their animals for sacrifice on the altar. A male means just such a beast with all the special requirements as to qualities directed under the Law. God never asks more of a man than he is able to give, but He will not accept any service that is less than one is capable of performing.

Questions On Malachi Chapter One

1. What did the Lord affirm? With what question did they respond? (Malachi 1:2)

2. Who was used to affirm God’s love? (Malachi 1:2-3)

3. What nation descended from Esau? (Malachi 1:4)

4. What do both servants and sons do that Judah did not do? (Malachi 1:6)

5. How were priests despising God’s name? (Malachi 1:7)

6. What did the Lord wish someone would do? (verse 10) Why? (Malachi 1:11-12)

7. What was Judah’s attitude toward worship? (Malachi 1:13)

8. Who was cursed? Why? (Malachi 1:14)

Questions On Malachi 1:1-14

Denunciation of Unfaithfulness

1. The prophet ______________ is considered by Jewish tradition as the seal of prophecy.

2. The traditional Christian view is that Malachi is the bridge between the _____________ and the _______________.

3. Malachi probably wrote about _______________.B.C.

4. Malachi means _______________.

5. Malachi’s prophecy coincides with the _______________ period of Daniel’s seventy weeks.

6. Malachi’s central concern is _______________.

7. Discuss the corruption of the priesthood as addressed by Malachi and show its effect upon the people.

8. Why does Malachi immediately precede the New Testament in our English versions of the Bible?

9. Outline the book of Malachi.

10. The next word from Jehovah to His people after Malachi would be spoken by _______________.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Malachi 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/malachi-1.html.
 
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