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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Malachi 1

 

 

Verses 1-14

UNLIKE THE PROPHETS, Haggai and Zechariah, who furnish us with dates in regard to their utterances, Malachi gives us no such details. It seems certain, however, that he wrote about a century later; hence his words reveal how little effect the ministry of these two earlier prophets had produced amongst the masses of the people in the land. As we read through the short book we shall notice that every statement the prophet has to make — usually by way of correction — is repudiated. The people and their leaders were not prepared to admit anything. They were quite self-satisfied.

Satisfied with themselves, they were dissatisfied with God. Hence when the prophet made his first assertion — 'I have loved you, saith the Lord' — they challenge it at once. Many troubles afflicted the Palestinian Jews in those years, which God permitted as a chastisement, because of their state: these afflictions they resented, regarding them as harshness and contrary to love. Hence they challenged the assertion, in an insolent way, asking, 'Wherein hast Thou loved us?'

The answer of God to this was to recall them to what marked His attitude and action from the beginning. He had loved Jacob and hated Esau. Human opinion would have reversed this: Jacob stooped to crooked and crafty schemes: Esau a fine manly fellow. Yes, but the 'birth-right', which carried with it, we believe, the advent of the Messiah, meant so little to Esau, that he sold it for a bowl of pottage, whereas Jacob esteemed it of highest worth. Here we have perhaps the earliest forecast that 'What think ye of Christ' is the test.

Now God maintained His attitude of judgment against Esau, as verses Malachi 1:4-5 show, and thus magnified Himself beyond the border of Israel' (New Trans.). But, on the contrary, Israel had been brought into relationship with God, who in regard to them had taken a father's place, as verse Malachi 1:6 shows. Love had established this relationship. How had they acted as to it?

To them God was both Father and Master. Both honour and fear should have been His, and yet the very priests had despised His name. They should have been the very first to have revered His name, and have acted consistently with it. They had not done so, and this brought the hand of God in government against them. They treated this as a denial of His original love towards their nation.

But it was not so. Nor are the fatherly chastisements that come upon His saints today, any denial of His love, as Hebrews 12:6 plainly declares. Let us remember this, and never ask, when trying circumstances arise — If God loves me, why does He send, or permit this?

In Malachi's day the priests did not for one moment admit the charge laid against them. They repudiated it saying, 'Wherein have we despised Thy name?' This brought forth a more specific accusation as to their offering 'polluted bread' upon God's altar; and verse Malachi 1:8 gives further details as to this. The kind of offerings they were bringing meant that they treated 'the table of the Lord' as 'contemptible'. It was not, we judge, that they were saying this in so many words, but that was what their actions declared; for, as we know, actions speak louder than words, and God knows perfectly how to interpret them.

The fact was that they were offering to God animals that they would never present to a secular governor; and further, as verse Malachi 1:10 shows, they expected to make some material gain for the simplest things they did in the temple service. They were putting their own things first and treating God's service as subservient to themselves. Has this no voice for us? We believe it has very definitely. The flesh in each of us would naturally and easily put our own earthly interests first, and treat 'the kingdom of God and His righteousness' as something that may conveniently fill up any little gaps left as we pursue our own things. It is all too easy to forget the Lord's words in Matthew 6:32.

Through the prophet God made it plain that though they profaned His name, He would yet make it 'great' as we see in verse Malachi 1:11, and that even among the heathen, whom they so greatly despised. When the wise and mighty utterly fail, God takes up the weak and despised to achieve His ends, as is stated so clearly in 1 Corinthians l: 26- And what about the fulfilment of this prediction? It will be literally fulfilled in the coming millennial age, but we can make a spiritual application even today. We have humbly to admit that many of us, easy-going, English. speaking Christians, living amid luxuries, may have to take a back seat in the coming Kingdom of reward, compared with simple saints — often but babes in Christ — who live and die for their faith under Communist or Romish persecution.

The three verses that close this chapter again bring home the evils that were prevalent. Twice further the prophet charges home upon them what they were saying — 'The table of the Lord is polluted', and also, as to the service rendered, 'What a weariness is it!' They themselves had polluted it, and if the heart be not in God's service, what a weariness it can become! To have 'a form of godliness' without the 'power', leads to all the evils delineated in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. We must never forget the closing words of the chapter. In Christ God is known to us as the God of all grace, but at the same time He is 'a great King', and His name is 'dreadful', or 'to be revered', among the nations. His grace does not cancel out His majesty; indeed His majesty enhances His grace.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Malachi 1:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/malachi-1.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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