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CRITICAL NOTES.] Messenger] The prophet, in first instance; applied to the Baptist (Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:27). Prepare] Clear away, like a pioneer before an Eastern prince. Suddenly] Unexpectedly.
Malachi 3:2.] Judgment will begin at the coming of the Lord. Who] i.e. no one can endure it (cf. Joel 2:11). Abide and stand] As opposed to falling under judgments. The double figure has one meaning. The smelter’s fire burns corrupt ingredients of metals (cf. Zechariah 13:9; the lye or alkaline salt cleanses the dirt out of clothes (cf. Isaiah 4:4).
Malachi 3:3.] As smelter the Lord sits], tempering the fire and keenly watching the process. Levi’s] sons, the objects of the trial, to be purified. When priests morally cleansed, offer sacrifices in righteousness.
Malachi 3:4.] The whole nation will be pleasant to God as in old time.
Malachi 3:5. I] whom ye challenged (ch. Malachi 2:17) will be a judge and eyewitness against sins named.
THE COMING OF THE LORD.—Malachi 3:1-39.3.5
These words are an answer to the sceptical question of the people—“Where is the God of judgment? If there be a God, why does he permit good to be overcome of evil? Why does he delay his coming to rectify things which seem wrong, to make life plainer, and his people easier?” The prophet replies, He will come; I am his messenger; be warned by me, lest you be caught unprepared.
I. The coming of the Lord is a certain event. “He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Do not judge of this event by what you see. Remember the prediction, which can never be falsified by the unbelief and contempt of man, or by the events of nature.
II. The coming of the Lord will be an unexpected event. “The Lord shall come suddenly.” He may come when men are not prepared for him, when they do not anticipate the appearance of the Judge of all the earth. “This suddenness is repeated in all the acts and judgments of the Lord. The Lord of glory always comes as a thief in the night to those who sleep in their sins” [Schmieder]. Therefore “be ye also ready.”
III. The coming of the Lord will be a solemn event. “Who may abide the day of his coming?” It will be very different from that which carnal Jews expected. He comes not to flatter national pride, nor gratify personal wishes, but to subject their principles and actions to a severe trial. He was to test them by fire.
1. A day of magnificence to the temple. He will come “to his temple,” to beautify and adorn it by his glory, to purify it for his worship by judicial expulsion of all who profane it (Matthew 21:12-40.21.13).
2. A day of solemnity to the world. “Who shall stand when he appeareth?” (a) He will judge the wicked (Malachi 3:5). (b) He will purify the godly (Malachi 3:4). To some the day will be a revelation of wrath, to others a manifestation of grace, to all a solemn trial. Hence question not God’s justice, murmur not at his delay, but prepare for the decisive day. “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible, and who can abide it?”
IV. The coming of the Lord is an event of which men are warned. “Behold, I will send my messenger.” Lest men should be unprepared, warning is given, messenger after messenger is sent to prepare the way. The moral condition of men is not what God desires. In the ministers of the gospel God urges to repentance, helps to remove hindrances and to prepare for the presence of Christ. “To make ready a prepared people (supplied like an army with all necessaries) for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
THE MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT.—Malachi 3:1
Observe the character under which the Messiah is here presented to our notice. He is described in three ways. First, by his person: “The Lord.” The word signifies authority and dominion. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, “Ruler in Israel,” and “Governor among the nations.” Though all power is given to him as Mediator, yet he had a previous claim to dominion before his obedience and death. Secondly, he is described by his office: “The Messenger of the covenant.” The covenant of grace, “ordered in all things and sure,” to which David fled for refuge and solace, and in which he found all his salvation and desire. He is the “Mediator,” the “Surety,” and the “Messenger” of the covenant, because he not only procures and possesses its blessings, but bestows them. He announces and makes them known, prefaces all invitations and disclosures with a declaration of his commission from the Father. This inferior title does not detract from his glory as “the Lord,” but displays it, magnifies it, because it shows infinite condescension and grace. Thirdly, he is described by the estimation in which he was holden: “Whom ye delight in.” Carnal Jews, mistaken, viewed him as a temporal prince, did “seek” him, and “delighted” in him. It applies, in a nobler sense, to spiritual Jews. He was desired and delighted in by all the people of God from the beginning. To seek and delight in him will always characterize the redeemed—those who believe in him; for “to them that believe he is precious.” All that is desirable, all that is delightful to us we find in him. He is our “sun” in darkness, our “shield” in danger, our “physician” in sickness, our “righteousness,” our “bread,” the “water of life,” and “all in all.” Let the hearts of them rejoice, therefore, that seek the Lord [W. Jay].
THE REFINER AND THE CRUCIBLE.—Malachi 3:2-39.3.3
I. The severity of the trial.
II. The agency by which the trial is wrought. “He,” that is, the Lord, is “like a refiner’s fire.” He alone appoints it; he alone effects it. He is present all through the operation.
III. The utility of the trial.
1. It is a sign of preciousness. We never prune the bramble, nor try the worthless.
2. It is a test of genuineness.
3. It is a medium of purification.
4. It is a preparation for service [C. Stanford].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Malachi 3:1. This word “Behold” signifieth that this coming of Christ in the flesh should be—1 New, admirable, and stupendous.
2. Sure and certain.
3. Desirable and joyful.
4. Famous and renowned [Trapp].
Malachi 3:2. Who may abide the day? There is something awful even in reference to Christ’s coming in the flesh. First, in the occasional emanations and displays of his majesty. Herod “was troubled, and all Judæa with him.” With a whip only he rushed into the temple and drove out the money-changers. On the mount of transfiguration, in the garden, at death, and in his resurrection were displays of majesty. Secondly, it may be exemplified in his detection of character. All through his ministry his eyes were a flame of fire. He silenced those who ensnared him, knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man. Thirdly, it may be exemplified in the calamities which were to follow the rejection of him. They said, “His blood be upon us,” and it fell upon them, and rests upon them now. But their unspeakable sufferings were only emblems of those more dreadful punishments to which they are exposed “who have trodden under foot the Son of God,” &c. For there is another coming and appearance of Christ. Only those who have a better righteousness than their own can stand [W. Jay].
Malachi 3:3-39.3.4. The refining process.
1. The objects of it. “The sons of Levi.” The purest Church and the holiest saints need refining. Gold, the thing valued most, is tried or proved by fire; but God’s people are more precious than gold.
2. The method of it. “He sits” tempering the fire, and making it just the right heat, neither too hot nor too cold, keeping the metal in the fire the exact time, for none of heaven’s pure ore will be destroyed. What tenderness, care, and anxiety.
3. The design of it. To “purify,” that they may offer an offering in righteousness. Right service springs from purified men. There may be gilt, but not gold. Hence “the fining-pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold; but the Lord trieth the hearts.”
1. Monstrous evils in their source. They “fear not me.”
2. Monstrous evils in their detection. “I will be a swift witness against” them in providence and the ministry of the gospel.
3. Monstrous evils in their results. “I will come near to you, “though you cry, Where is the God of justice? &c.
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 3
Malachi 3:1-39.3.5. Come.The last day will assign to every one a station suitable to his character; ranks will then be adjusted, and precedency set right; then virtue will be rewarded and vice punished [Wilson]. A due consideration of this important subject is calculated to rouse our minds, and to set on work those two grand engines and mighty springs of activity—viz., hope and fear [Ib.].
Malachi 3:3. Refiner. A few ladies once met in Dublin to read the Scriptures and converse together. One lady said that the fuller’s soap and the refiner of silver were only the same image intended to convey the same view of the sanctifying influences of the grace of Christ. “No,” said another, “they are not just the same image; there is something remarkable in the expression in this verse: ‘he shall sit,’ ” &c. All thought it possibly might be so. This lady was to call upon a silversmith, and report to them what he said on the subject. She went, without telling the object of her visit, and begged to know the process of refining, which he fully described to her. “But do you sit while you are refining?” asked she. “O yes, madam; I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, since if the silver remain too long it is sure to be injured,” said he. “And how do you know when it is sufficiently refined?” “Whenever I see my own image reflected in it, I know the process is completed.” She at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression [Whitecross].
Malachi 3:6. I Jehovah] am unchangeable in gifts and calling, therefore sons of Jacob] (contrasted with Jehovah) will not be destroyed. “The Divine immutability secured the preservation of the Jewish people from destruction, not withstanding their flagrant wickedness, till he had accomplished all his purposes of mercy” [Henderson].
Malachi 3:7.] Reproof for non-payment of tithes, which was the cause of national calamities. Wherein] In what respect return? indicates a self-righteous spirit
Malachi 3:8.] They did what none should dare to do. Rob] Defraud God. Tithes had been withheld, though they were severely punished.
Malachi 3:9.] Ch. Malachi 2:2
Malachi 3:10-39.3.12.] Nature of curse.
Malachi 3:10. All] Not a portion, and thus defraud God. Storehouse] Treasuries (Nehemiah 13:12). Prove] if I am not holy and righteous, an attitude which they had questioned. Then shall promised blessings flow like pouring rain. Pour] Lit. empty out (2 Kings 7:2). Enough] Lit. till there is no more need; i.e. superabundance [Keil]. Where sufficiency can have no more place; more than sufficient; superabundantly [Henderson].
Malachi 3:11]. The thought individualized. Devourer] Locusts and other noxious creatures. Rebuke] Practically; i.e. to frustrate the intention. Nothing shall then miscarry.
Malachi 3:12. Blessed] In consequence of God’s blessing. Delight.] An object of pleasure to every one (Zechariah 8:13; Deuteronomy 33:29).
THE UNCHANGING GOD.—Malachi 3:6
God judges the wicked and purifies the righteous to carry out his immutable purpose of love. He changes not, therefore the sons of Israel do not perish.
I. God is unchangeable, therefore his character should not be maligned. “I Jehovah, I change not.” Sin may triumph, judgments appear long, but we must never infer from this that God has changed. God is the same in essence and act as ever. He is not less wise and mighty, just and true, than at the beginning. Whatever be the character of his dispensation, he is the eternal and immutable One, “with whom is no variableness (vicissitudes, eclipses, and decreases, like planets), nor shadow (adumbrations, like stars in different sites and positions) of turning” (James 1:17).
II. God is unchangeable, therefore his covenant abides. Man’s word is recalled, altered, or forgotten. Man’s conduct is fickle, self-willed, and sinful. But “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” God’s covenant with Israel is “equipped and sure” (2 Samuel 23:5). The ingratitude and unfaithfulness of man can never annul it. Nothing can be reversed. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (i.e. immutable and unalterable) (Romans 2:29).
III. God is unchangeable, therefore his people are not consumed. “Ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” We are fretful and impatient with one another, despair of amendment and love; but God waits patiently, never casts off entirely, and abides by his word of promise. We provoke him to anger, but he remembers his covenant. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”
DIVINE BLESSINGS SUSPENDED.—Malachi 3:7-39.3.12
In these words God explains why his blessings have been withheld, reproves the people for keeping back tithes and offerings, and promises abundant blessings on condition of repentance.
I. Why are Divine blessings withheld? The reason is not found in God, but in the people. God is not unwilling to bless, nor slack concerning his promise, but they do not fulfil the conditions.
1. They have rebelled against God. “Ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them” (Malachi 3:7). Their sins were of long continuance, imitated by posterity, and defended with pertinacity.
2. They have robbed God. They defrauded God in a twofold sense. The priests did not discharge their sacrificial duties rightly, and the Levites could not officiate for God, because driven away in destitution. How, therefore, can God bless them in their apostasy? The reward of obedience cannot be given to the disobedient.
II. On what conditions will Divine blessings be given? They are called upon to prove God, to test him, by complying with his wish (Malachi 3:10).
1. Return to God. “Return unto me, and I will return unto you” (Malachi 3:7). If they return in penitence, he will return in blessings. Distance from God will hinder the fulfilment of every promise.
2. Pay God his dues. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse” (Malachi 3:10). No wonder men do not morally conform to the Divine will when they neglect the smaller duty of sacrifice. All, not a part of the tithes must be given. Nothing must be kept back, for God has a right to the firstfruits and the best of everything. Then, if these conditions are complied with, the curse will be removed, blessings like fruitful showers will fall upon them.
1. The temple will be blessed. The treasury will be filled. There will be meat, not superfluity, for those who minister in my house.
2. The land will be blessed. The devouring locusts will be rebuked, the fruits of earth shall not be destroyed, and the grapes of the vintage shall not miscarry. “Ye shall be a delightsome land.”
3. The people will be blessed. “All nations shall call you blessed” (Malachi 3:12). If we honour God with our substance and free-will offerings, we shall not lose in this world. The windows of heaven will open, and no real good will be withheld. So happy will be our condition, so fertile our farms and lands, that all men will call us blessed. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
ROBBING GOD.—Malachi 3:8
When exhorted to return, they reply in a spirit of pride and self-righteousness. Return to God! In what? Have we, the chosen race, the holy people, departed from God? Yes, replies the prophet, in those very things in which you profess to be exact. You do not duly pay tithes and offerings, though rebuked by the famine for neglect. You defraud God, therefore, of his dues. This is a common sin in Christian worship and daily life.
I. Men rob God of worship. Man is made to worship. God alone is the proper object of worship. To him we owe reverence, homage, and praise. But to withhold these or transfer them to the creature is to rob God.
II. Men rob God of time. Our times are in his hands. But time is not valued nor turned to good account. The Sabbath, expressly claimed for God, is neglected. Youth, “the morning of life, and maturity of age are given to pleasure.” “Redeem the time.” “Time wasted is existence, used is life” [Young].
III. Men rob God of talents. All gifts are bestowed by God, should be improved and consecrated to him. But to devote them to sinful conversation and unlawful pursuits is to rob God. “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
1. The charge of defection. Gone away and not kept the ordinances of God.
(1) Defection of long standing. “From the days of your fathers.” Posterity walking in the steps of their fathers, and thus entailing a curse upon generation after generation.
(2) Defection of stubborn spirit. “Wherein shall we return?” In wilful ignorance and prejudice, in frivolous excuses and self-righteousness, they challenge the charge and demand particulars.
2. The invitation to return. “Return unto me,” &c.
(1) This invitation displays the great mercy of God. After such long and grievous apostasy he offers to be reconciled.
(2) This invitation aggravates the impenitent conduct of men. No excuse can be made. “I will return unto you.”
Malachi 3:8. Rob God! How base; what presumption, and what folly! “In what? God specifies two things only, obvious, patent, which, as being material things, they could not deny. In tithes and offerings” [Pusey]. A striking instance found in Nehemiah 13:10.
Malachi 3:10. Prove me.
1. Prove God concerning his promise of mercy to the penitent sinner and the troubled Christian.
2. Prove God concerning the blessings promised to his house.
3. Prove God concerning his predictions of good to his Church. In these and in other ways God shows marvellous love and condescension, and pledges himself in a way in which he can verify his word. “Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the peeple began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the Lord hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store (2 Chronicles 31:10).
Malachi 3:10-39.3.12. How much depends upon giving ourselves an offering wholly unto the Lord! The offerings now required are our hearts, and all that comes from them. But if the Lord was so strict in tithes, how much more with our hearts! Dost thou wish the full blessing of God? then be exact in whatever is thy duty. What is our duty? Whatever God requires of us, in great or little, in his service or in every-day life. How can he who is not strict in duty hope or pray for the full blessing of God? [Lange].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 3
Malachi 3:6. Change not. In commercial crises manhood is at a greater discount than funds are. Suppose a man had said to me last spring, “If there comes a pinch in your affairs, draw upon me for ten thousand dollars.” The man said so last spring, but I should not dare to draw on him this fall. I should say, “Times have changed; he would not abide by it.” But God’s promises are “from everlasting to everlasting,” and he always stands up to them. There never was a run on heaven that was not promptly met [Beecher].
Malachi 3:8. Rob. Special favours call for special gratitude and service, as those who rent the largest farms generally pay the most for them [Wilson]. In tithes. Well may we think our substance due where we owe ourselves [Bp. Hall].
Malachi 3:9-39.3.12. Prove. The condescending goodness of God gives not only to the godly, but sometimes to the ungodly, opportunity and challenge to prove his truth and power; and it is the duty of a minister of God, as it was of the prophet, not only to point both classes to it, but even to offer them this proving of God, confident as Elijah against Ahab, as Isaiah against Ahaz, that God will not forsake his servants, but will by the event put to shame all unbelief [Lange].
Malachi 3:13-39.3.18.] Impatient murmuring is most unreasonable; the day is coming which will bring to light the distinction between the righteous and the wicked.
Malachi 3:13. Stout] (bold) sig. to bind fast, make firm, and in a bad sense to be hard or obstinate, such as that in Jude 1:15. [Henderson]. Keil gives, to do violence to one, to overpower him (cf. Exodus 12:33; 2 Samuel 24:4). Specimen words are given.
Malachi 3:14.] God has no regard to well doing, therefore there is no advantage in serving him (cf. ch. Malachi 2:17). His ordinance] Lit. what he requires to be observed, prescribed rites. Mourn.] In black or mournful garb, as a sign of penitence. Voluntary fasting is brought into prominence.
Malachi 3:15.] Because God does not reward their works with prosperity, they call proud] sinners happy men, favourites of God when blessed (cf. Psalms 73:12). The wicked are set] Lit. built up, i.e. flourish (cf. Jeremiah 12:16-24.12.17; Exodus 1:21), and though they have tempted God, are delivered.
Malachi 3:16. Then] When the wicked were openly talking one with another; so the godly held mutual intercourse, and defended the providence of God. Jehovah noticed their conversations, and wrote them in a book]. A custom borrowed from a Persian king, recording the names and merits of any who deserved well, that they might be rewarded (cf. Esther 6:1-17.6.2). God keeps a book also (cf. Psalms 56:9; Daniel 7:10). Before] To lie open before him, and remind him of righteous deeds.
Malachi 3:17. Jewels] Lit. private, peculiar property, “expressing the highest estimation of God’s people and their perfect security in the day of judgment.” Spare] (Psalms 103:17-19.103.18) Contrasted with punishment.
Malachi 3:18. Return] to a better mind. Discern] the falseness of your calumny against God’s dealings (cf. Exodus 11:7). The day of judgment will change many opinions concerning God’s ways and God’s people.
HARD SAYINGS AGAINST GOD.—Malachi 3:13-39.3.15
The people still murmur against God, and openly declare that there is no profit in serving him, because the righteous have no advantage over the wicked. But this murmuring is unjust, and the coming judgment will make a distinction between those who fear God and those who fear him not. Some of their hard words are given. The common sentiment of the time was that piety brings no reward, and the religious error of the time that observance of outward forms was the service which God should bless.
I. God’s service is falsified. “It is vain to serve God.”
1. This sentiment springs from a wrong estimation of God’s service. It is not a mercenary service. The Jews waited not upon God in love, but in hope of being well paid. Religion is not a bargain, but affection, obedience, and gratitude to God. It is not a mournful but a delightful service. “What profit that we have walked mournfully,” in black and in grief? Fasting, prescribed or voluntary, was considered meritorious, had claims upon God, and when left unrewarded, they complained against God. “Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?”
2. This sentiment is denied by Scripture. Paul seems to give some truth to it when he says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” But from the same person we learn that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” God himself told the Jews that the meanest act for him would not be left without reward (ch. Malachi 1:10). In every sense, “wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are paths of peace.” “Riches and honour are with me; my fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”
3. This sentiment is contradicted by Christian experience. God’s people have found God’s service their highest happiness and joy. They have tasted that the Lord is good, and that the man who trusts in him is blessed. Whatever be their outward condition, their spiritual experience gives the lie to such an impudent statement concerning God’s service. “Blessed are they that do his commandments.”
II. God’s justice is impugned. Because they met with no reward for their services; because the wicked seemed to prosper rather than the righteous; they openly declared that God’s favourites were proud and ungodly men. The wicked have put God to the test, they reply, calling down vengeance from heaven; but they are built up, and flourish, and though they have tempted God by breaking his laws, yet they are delivered from misfortune. Hence they gave wrong verdicts, and set at nought the decrees of God. “We call the proud happy.” We should not cavil against God’s dealings for many reasons.
1. We cannot read the heart. How do we know who are happy, and who are not happy. Men most prosperous outwardly may be most miserable inwardly. Beneath the splendid show may be “the worm, the canker, and the grief.” And men most afflicted may be most happy. The glare of prosperity should not blind our judgment. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth.”
2. We forget the future. For a time the proud may be happy, but their happiness is shortlived, “only for a season,” and does not satisfy. The wicked may be set up, but they build on a wrong foundation, and great may be their fall. Those who tempt and defy God, may be delivered for the present; but God is often most angry with men when he seems best pleased; sweeps them away when their inward thought is to continue for ever. On earth what a curse, and how uncertain their prosperity! But at the great day, how sudden, complete, and terrible their overthrow! Headlong their fall, without escape, and without hope. “How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.”
DIVINE RECOGNITION OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.—Malachi 3:16-39.3.18
The prophet now contrasts the faithful few with the sceptical many. While the ungodly were uttering hard sayings, those who feared God held mutual intercourse, defended God’s dealings, and encouraged one another to love and trust him. A remnant has always been found in the darkest days, whom God has noticed and blessed.
1. The practice they adopted. In character and conduct they stand out in remarkable contrast.
1. They were secretly pious. They “thought upon his name.” The wicked do not think upon God; or if they do, their thoughts concerning him are sinful and vain. The righteous, in contrast, esteem and ever seek to honour the name of God. They meditate upon his perfections, works, and words, and their meditation is sweet.
2. They were personally sincere. They “feared the Lord,” not in slavish terror, but with awe and filial reverence. They were loyal and true in their profession. The root of the matter was in them. Fear was the secret spring, the hidden power of holy life.
3. They openly encouraged one another. So powerful was their piety, that it was revealed in their speech. (a) They spoke openly “one to another,” without fear or shame. (b) They spoke often, to encourage and strengthen one another. Amid the atheism and ungodliness of the times, they mutually talked not about the politics of the nation, but of personal religion and the God they feared.
II. The distinction they gained. Those who disregarded God would ridicule his people. But here is a caution to the wicked, and an encouragement to the godly.
1. God heard their conversation. “The Lord hearkened and heard it.” God was thought to be forgetful, or an idle spectator of events. But not a sigh nor a prayer, not a loyal word nor a feeble meeting, escape his notice.
2. God remembered their works. As earthly monarchs record the deeds and remember the names of their servants, so the King of Heaven keeps a record of his people. The meanest service will not be forgotten. “Write this a memorial in a book.”
3. God spared them on earth. “I will spare them,” in contrast with the doom of the wicked: “as a man spareth his own son,” in tender compassion (Psalms 103:17-19.103.18). All of mercy, nothing from merit.
4. God will reward them at judgment. In the coming day men will “return” to a right mind, and confess the justice of God. (a) They shall be separated from the wicked. “Discern between the righteous and the wicked.” This not always possible on earth, will be easy at the great day. (b) They will be claimed as peculiar treasure. “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” They are precious to God, and will be owned and honoured by him. There is a solemn, an eternal distinction between those who serve God and those who serve him not. The reward of God’s servants is the greatest, the highest distinction we can attain. What are all the distinctions of the world to refuge on earth and blessedness in heaven? Follow the example that you may share the honour and happiness of the saints. “Verily, there is a reward for the righteous: verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES
Malachi 3:14. Vain. They themselves are vain and most vain, for two reasons, and in two respects. First, they take themselves to be servers of God. Secondly, they stick in the bark, serve him with the outside only, honour him with the lips, and not with their hearts; they bring vain oblations, empty performances, serve him with formalities which he rejects with scorn as he did the Pharisees’ devotions (Luke 16:15) [Trapp].
Malachi 3:15. Proud, happy. A sentiment—
1. At variance with the truth of God. “Thou hast rebuked the proud, who are cursed” (Psalms 119:21).
2. Displaying ignorance. How do we know that the proud are happy? Can we read their hearts? (Proverbs 21:24).
3. Indicative of pride. They boast of their superior intelligence. “We call.” “Pride is increased by ignorance; those assume the most who know the least” [Gay].
Malachi 3:16. The Divine jewels. My jewels. It is a strong expression of value. Much in this world even on which God sets high value, though much that he condemns. Something which he distinguishes from all that sparkles and glitters with material lustre—from things which earthly and carnal men have most coveted and idolized. These jewels are scattered here and there, among earthly things; not in a collected state, except in God’s view. By him they are seen as one sacred company and fraternity. Unequal in degrees of purity and lustre, accounted the dross and offscouring of society; but He to whom they belong sees them in a different light; a beam of his radiant light falls on each, and all will see them at last. There will be a collecting, an assembling of them together. The grand act of righteous separation must bring the saints together, that the effect of redemption may be conspicuously displayed. Think of that stupendous knowledge and power which will secure that none of them shall be missing, or will be lost! Not one lost in the vastness of the scene; not one that was even in the utmost obscurity in mortal life; not one in the remotest corner of the earth, or island of the sea. When each sees all, each may wonder at the vigilance, the affectionate care, and the mighty power that will have brought them all together, after preserving them all separately, in infinite variety of circumstances and so many ages. Then, when the jewels are “made up,” he will pronounce, “they are mine.” What triumph to hear it! What congratulation with one another! And what a situation that must be—in place and circumstances, felicity and glory—in which he will assign their abode within the immediate manifestation of his presence! Looking at this prospect, which of us can be content that his soul should be wanting when “the Lord of Hosts” shall “make up his jewels!” Who can bear the thought of being cast among the baser rejected things of creation, and for him to say, “That is not mine; take it away!” [J. Foster].
Malachi 3:17. Spare them. If a man spares any one, it will surely be his own son. The very relation pleads for him. He spares them as to exemption. He spares them as to correction. They are afflicted, but have alleviations. He spares them as to exertion. He considers their strength, and will not require of some what he ordains for others. He spares them as to acceptance. Their best actions are imperfect. Their obedience needs pardon. He views all through Christ. He spared not him, that he might spare you. Never forget the kindness of God, and spare not your selves in his cause [Jay].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 3
Malachi 3:13-39.3.15. Stout words. Rash, undigested, ill-considered speech, is responsible for much of the heart-burning and trouble in the Churches. Expressions which convey the impression that the Lord acts unjustly or unkindly, especially if they fall from the lips of men of known character and experience, are as dangerous as fire-brands among stubble; they are used for blasphemous purposes by the ill-disposed, and the timid and trembling are sure to be cast down thereby, and to find reason for yet deeper distress of soul [Spurgeon].
“Language is the dress of thought” [Johnson].
Malachi 3:16-39.3.18. Spake often. When the wicked are talking against God, the righteous should talk for him. Religious conversation is necessary, all the more, for the very reasons that chill and repress it. When a fire burns low, the coals that are alive should be brought near together, that they may be blown into a flame. So when all is cold and dead, living Christians should draw near and seek the breathings of the Spirit, and kindle each other by mutual utterance. The words thus and then spoken shall be heard and recorded in heaven [Lange].
“The Chronicles of heaven shall keep
Their words in transcript fair;
In the Redeemer’s book of life
Their names recorded are” [Doddridge].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Malachi 3". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany