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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Malachi 2

 

 

Verses 1-17

Chapter 2 continues the solemn warnings that have been occupying us. The priests, who were, so to speak, the finest specimens of the tribe of Levi, are further denounced for their sinful practices, and warned that already a curse lay upon them. They are reminded in verses Malachi 2:4-6, of God's original covenant with that tribe, when for a time they answered to it and walked suitably before their God. Now all was sadly changed. As ever, God viewed their defection in the light of the original calling and behaviour. How do we stand? we may well ask, in the light of the original calling and behaviour of the church, as we see it in the opening chapters of the Acts. Another matter to search our hearts very deeply.

Another very serious thing about the priests of those days comes to light in verses Malachi 2:7-8. The priest was intended to be a 'messenger', who should possess a knowledge of the law, and so be able to convey it to the masses of the people. Though the 'law of truth' was in the mouth of Levi at the outset, it was not so in Malachi's day. It was departed from the hearts and lips of the priests. They were not only out of the way themselves, but they were a cause of stumbling, leading many others out of the way. Thus they had corrupted God's original covenant with their tribe.

Once again we have to note how God always reverts to that which He establishes at the beginning. Man's beginnings are imperfect. His inventions are crude at the outset, and improved as time goes on. God establishes that which is perfect in its time and place. If men think to improve, they actually only deface. In the things of God today, let us remember this. As soon as departure from the faith of Christ became manifest. the Spirit of God began to emphasize 'that which was from the beginning', as John's epistles show. Amid the confusions of Christendom we are on safe and right ground if we revert to the simplicity, both in faith and in practice, of that which was divinely established at the outset of the dispensation.

Verses Malachi 2:9-13 that follow, show how departure from God's purpose and plan had disorganized and corrupted all behaviour amongst the people themselves. The priests had become contemptible in the popular view, and false dealing abounded amongst the people. Idolatry crept in, and the holiness of the Lord outraged. When this brought down God's judgment upon them, there was much outcry and covering the altar with tears, but this was not real repentance, but only a protest against their troubles. Hence God paid no regard to it.

This disregard on God's part was an offence to them, and they in petulant fashion asked, 'Wherefore?' This led to a more specific charge being laid against them. There was much marital infidelity: much putting away of their wives in treacherous fashion, in disregard of God's original purpose in making both man and his wife to be one. Here once more we see that God's original design stands unshaken, no matter how far it may be forsaken and forgotten. We also see that when God is ignored and His things forgotten, confusion soon ensues as to our own things.

We have to notice also that when evil of this sort is allowed, it not only spreads but persists. When some centuries later our Lord was on earth, the Pharisees came with the question, 'Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?' (Matthew 19:3), which infers that these loose practices were still common. We know how our Lord referred them at once to what God established at the beginning.

Having read thus far, the last verse of Malachi 2:1-17 does not surprise us. They had indeed wearied the Lord with their words, refusing to admit any charge that had to be brought against them, but rather challenging the accusation in very insolent fashion. But even this remonstrance they met in the same self-satisfied way, asking, 'Wherein have we wearied Him?' They were not prepared to admit anything. They would rather cast an aspersion on God Himself.

So the prophet is led to bring home the charge against them in two specific ways. First, there were those who sought to make God to be, so to speak, a partner in their evil, as though He approved of it, treating as good that which was evil. This is a religious trick, not uncommon, we fear, in our day. All too many would claim they are serving God and pleasing Him in practising things wholly astray from His truth. The priests and people, that Malachi addressed, were religious folk, and this is an evil specially seen in the religious sphere.

But then again, there were others, who did not attempt to make God a partner in their evil. They were less crafty, but more bold. They apparently challenged God's judgment, when He by the prophet challenged them. Their question, 'Where is the God of judgment?' may not have insinuated that He had no right to judge, but rather that He had not exercised His right of judgment in the matters that were in question. Whatever was their exact meaning, they evidently endeavoured to thrust God, and His word, out of the whole matter. The spirit, that lay behind this form of reasoning in self-defence, is not dead in our day.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Malachi 2:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/malachi-2.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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