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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Malachi 1

 

 

Verse 1

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

The burden of the word of the Lord - the heavy sentence.

To Israel - represented now by the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with individuals of the ten tribes who had returned with the Jews from Babylon. So "Israel" is used, Ezra 7:10. Compare 2 Chronicles 21:2, "Jehoshaphat king of Israel," where Judah, rather than the ten tribes, is regarded as the truest representative of Israel (cf. 2 Chronicles 12:6; 2 Chronicles 28:19).

Malachi - see Introduction. God sent no prophet after him until John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, in order to inflame His people with the more ardent desire for Him, the great antitype and fulfiller of prophecy.


Verse 2

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,

I have loved you - above other men; nay, even above the other descendants of Abraham and Isaac. Such gratuitous love on my part called for love on yours. But the return ye make is sin and dishonour to me. This thought, which is to be supplied, is left unexpressed, sorrow, as it were, breaking off the sentence (Menochius). Compare, as to God's gratuitous love to His people, Deuteronomy 7:8; Hosea 11:1.

Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? In painful contrast to the tearful tenderness of God's love stands their insolent challenge. The root of their sin was insensibility to God's love, and to their own wickedness. Having had their full prosperity taken from them ever since their nation was taken away to Babylon, they imply they have no tokens of God's love; they look at what God had taken, not at what God had left. They forget how graciously God has restored them from Babylon to their own land, and enabled them, though a weak and small remnant, to set up again the temple service and the Jewish polity. God's love is often least acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer God does not love us because He afflicts us. Men, instead of referring their sufferings to their proper cause, their own sin, impiously accuse God of indifference to their welfare (Moore). Thus, the four first verses form a fit introduction to the whole prophecy.

Was not Esau Jacob's brother? - and so, as far as dignity went, as much entitled to God's favour as Jacob.

Yet I loved Jacob - my adoption of Jacob, therefore, was altogether by gratuitous favour (Romans 9:13). So God has passed by our older brethren, the angels who kept not their first estate, and yet has provided salvation for man. The perpetual rejection of the fallen angels, like the perpetual desolations of Edom (Malachi 1:3), attests God's severity to the lost, and goodness to those gratuitously saved. The sovereign eternal purpose of God is the only ground on which He bestows on one favours which are withheld from another. There are difficulties in referring salvation to the election of God, there are greater in referring it to the election of man (Moore). Yahweh illustrates His condescension and patience in the very fact of His deigning to argue the case with them.


Verse 3

And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

And I hated Esau - not positively, but relatively - i:e., I did not choose him out to be the object of gratuitous favour, as I did Jacob (cf. Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother ... he cannot be my disciple," with Matthew 10:37, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me;" Genesis 29:30-31; Deuteronomy 21:15-16). In all these instances "hate" is a term used not positively, but relatively - i:e., to love one less than another.

And laid his mountains and his heritage waste - "his mountains and his heritage" - i:e., his territory, which was generally mountainous. Israel was, it is true, punished by the Chaldeans, but Edom has been utterly destroyed; namely, either by Nebuchadnezzar (Rosenmuller), or by the neighbouring peoples, Egypt, Ammon, and Moab, whose countries severally had been invaded five years after the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, whose allies the Edomites were (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 10: 9, 7; Maurer; Jeremiah 49:17-18).

For the dragons of the wilderness - jackals (Moore). Compare Isaiah 34:13. Maurer translates [tanowt, from taanaah (Hebrew #8566) and naatan, to extend one's self, to abide], 'abodes of the wilderness,' from a Hebrew root [taanan] akin to an Arab root, to stop, or abide (Gesenius). The English version is better. [It is plural feminine, from tan (Hebrew #8565), the same as taniyn (Hebrew #8577).]


Verse 4

Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.

Whereas , [ kiy (Hebrew #3588)] - rather, But if Edom say (Maurer).

We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down. Edom may strive as she may to recover herself, but it shall be in vain, because I doom her to perpetual desolation, whereas I restore Israel. This Yahweh states, to illustrate His gratuitous love to Israel rather than to Edom.

And they shall call them, The border of wickedness - a region given over to the curse of reprobation (Calvin). For a time Judea seemed as desolate as Idumea; but though the latter was once the highway of Eastern commerce, now the lonely rock-houses of Petra attest the fulfillment of the prophecy. It is still "The border of wickedness," being the resort of the marauding tribes of the desert. Judea's restoration, though delayed, is yet certain.

And, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever - "The people of my curse" (Isaiah 34:5).


Verse 5

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel. Ye, restored to your own "borders" in Israel, "from" them shall raise your voices to "magnify the Lord," acknowledging that Yahweh, as He has shown to you a gratuitous favour not shown to Edom, ought therefore to be specially "magnified from the borders of Israel."


Verse 6

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. Turning from the people to the priests, Yahweh asks, whereas His love to the people was so great, where was their love toward Him? If the priests as they profess, regard Him as their Father (Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8) and Master, let them show the reality of their profession by love, honour, and reverential fear (Exodus 20:12). It is vain to call Yahweh "Lord" if we do not what He saith (Luke 6:46). He addresses the priests, because they ought to be leaders in piety to the rest of the people, whereas they are foremost in "despising His name." See how in Jeremiah 35:14 God contrasts the honour and obedience of the Rechabites toward their father, in his somewhat hard commands, with the irreverence and disobedience of the Jews in the case of the often-repeated commands of their heavenly Father.

And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? ... The same captious spirit of self-satisfied insensibility here betrays itself again as prompted their question (Malachi 1:2) "Wherein hast thou loved us? They are blind alike to God's love and their own guilt.


Verse 7

Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.

Ye offered polluted bread upon mine altar - God's answer to their challenge (Malachi 1:6), "Wherein have we despised thy name?"

Polluted bread - namely, blemished sacrifices, expressly forbidden by the law (Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:13-14; Deuteronomy 15:21). So "the bread of thy God" is used for "sacrifices to God" (Leviticus 21:8).

And ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? - i:e., offered to thee "polluted bread."

In that ye say, The table of the Lord - i:e., the altar (Ezekiel 41:22) (not the table shewbread). Just as the sacrificial flesh is called "bread."

Is contemptible - (Malachi 1:12-13). Ye sanction the niggardly and blemished offerings the people on the altar, to gain favour with them. Darius, and probably has successors, had liberally supplied them with victims for sacrifice, yet they presented none but the worst. A cheap religion, costing little, is rejected by God, and so is worth nothing. It costs more than it is worth, because it is worth nothing, and so proves really dear. God despises not the widow's mite, but he does despise the miser's mite (Moore).


Verse 8

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Your earthly ruler would feel insulted if offered by you the offering with which ye put off God (see Leviticus 22:22; Leviticus 22:24, where God forbids such a blemished offering).

Is it not evil? Maurer translates, 'there is no evil,' in your opinion, in such an offering; it is quite good enough for such a purpose.


Verse 9

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us - ironical. Think you that God will be persuaded by such polluted gifts to be gracious to you? Far from it.

This hath been by your means - literally, from your hand. These contemptible offerings are your doing, as being the priests, mediating between God and the people.

Will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts - and, think you, will God pay any regard to you? (cf. Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:10, the end.) "Accept thy person" ('face'), Malachi 1:8, answers to "regard your persons," in this verse.


Verse 10

Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.

Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Not one even of the least priestly functions (as shutting the doors, or kindling a fire on the altar) would ye exercise without pay, therefore ye ought to fulfill them faithfully (1 Corinthians 9:13). Drusius and Maurer translate, 'Would that there were absolutely some one of you who would shut the doors of the temple (i:e., of the inner court, in which was the altar of burnt offerings), and that ye would not kindle fire on my altar in vain!' Better no sacrifices than vain ones (Isaiah 1:11-15). It was the duty of some of the priests to stand at the doors of the court of the altar of burnt offerings, and to have excluded blemished victims (Calvin). Gataker objects to this view, that there was no need of, or use in shutting the doors in order to reject blemished victims. He therefore supports the same rendering as the English version.

The Hebrew, 'for nought' [ chinaam (Hebrew #2600)] is to be supplied in the first clause, from the second clause of the double question, where it is expressed, Ye have no excuse to allege for your carelessness in winking at such insulting offerings being presented to Yahweh, on the ground of not being paid for your services. Even the least service, such as shutting the door and kindling the fire, is paid for. I prefer Drusius' view, because it appears from Malachi 3:8-10 that the Levites were not paid their tithes at this very time, and therefore they had this plea, bad a one as it was, for excusing their connivance at the people's blemished offerings. It was one of the first abuses requiring to be rectified on Nehemiah's second visit to Jerusalem, when he had returned from Artaxerxes. He therefore proceeded to restore the tithe chamber, which had been appropriated in the meanwhile by Tobiah, to its proper use (Nehemiah 13:4-13). The Levites, defrauded of their livelihood, had generally fled to the country. Malachi, the prophet, seconded Nehemiah, the civil governor, in his efforts; and so the tithes were again paid to the Levites, and "the house of God" was no longer "forsaken." The prayer here was then realized in the doors being shut against blemished victims, which previously had been insults, not honours, offered to God. However, the priests seem to have fared well at the expense of the Levites, whom they suffered to be defrauded of their dues (Malachi 3:8-10).


Verse 11

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles - Since ye Jewish priests and people "despise my name" (Malachi 1:6), I shall find others who will magnify it (Matthew 3:9). Do not think I shall have no worshippers because I have not you; for from the east to the west My name shall be great among the Gentiles (Isaiah 59:19; Isaiah 66:19-20), those very peoples whom ye look down upon as abominable.

And in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering - not "the blind, the lame, and the sick," such as ye offer (Malachi 1:8). "In every place" implies the catholicity of the Christian Church (John 4:21; John 4:23; 1 Timothy 2:8). The "incense" is figurative of prayers (Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:3). "Sacrifice" is used metaphorically of the offering of a broken and contrite heart; also the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of the lips, and the sacrifices of doing good and imparting a share of our possessions to the needy, the spiritual sacrifices of good works, and the presentation of the body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service (Psalms 51:17; Hebrews 13:10; Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:12). In this figurative sense, the reference to the Lord's Supper, maintained by many of the fathers, may be admitted; it, like prayer, is a spiritual offering, accepted through the literal offering of the "Lamb without blemish," once for all slain.


Verse 12

But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.

But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible - renewal of the charge in Malachi 1:7.

Fruit ... meat - the offerings of the people. The "fruit" is the produce of the altar, on which the priests subsisted. They did not literally say, The Lord's table is contemptible; but their acts virtually said so. They did not act so as to lead the people to reverence it, and to offer their best to the Lord on it. The table of the Lord was indeed polluted; but the fault of its being so rested with the priests themselves in a great measure. The people were poor, and put off God with the worst offerings. The priests let them do so, for fear of offending the people, and so losing all gains from them.


Verse 13

Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.

Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! Ye regard God's service as irksome, and therefore try to get it over by presenting the most worthless offerings. Compare Micah 6:3, where God challenges his people to show wherein is the "weariness" or hardship of His service. Also Isaiah 43:22-24, wherein He shows that it is they who have "wearied" Him, not He who has wearied them.

And ye have snuffed at it - despised it.

It - the table of the Lord, and the meat on it (Malachi 1:12).

And ye brought that which was torn - namely, by beasts, which it was not lawful to eat, much less to offer (Exodus 22:31).

Thus ye brought an offering - Hebrew [ haminchaah (Hebrew #4503)], minchah: the unbloody offering of flour, etc.

Should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. Though this may have been of ordinary ingredients, yet the sacrifices of blemished animals accompanying it rendered it unacceptable.


Verse 14

But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

But cursed be the deceiver - the hypocrite. Not poverty, but avarice, was the cause of their mean offerings.

Which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing - "a male," required by law (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10).

For I am a great King - (Psalms 48:2); Matthew 5:35).

And my name is dreadful among the heathen. Even the pagan dread me because of my judgments: what a reproach this is to you, my people, who "fear" me not (Malachi 1:6)! Also it may be translated, 'shall be feared among,' etc.; agreeing with the prophecy of the call of the Gentiles (Malachi 1:11).

Remarks:

(1) The Lord's word is a heavy "burden" upon those who, though called His children, walk unworthily of their high calling (Malachi 1:1). If professors of religion dishonour their profession, instead of having before them an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17), which is the portion of the saints, they entail on themselves an exceeding and eternal weight of shame and condemnation.

(2) Whatever spiritual privileges any possess are due wholly to the prevenient grace of God, who maketh one to differ from another. God's gratuitous love calls for His people's warmest gratitude and affection. Yet how apt are our naturally ungrateful and unbelieving hearts to repine when the least trial befalls us, and to say, "Wherein hast thou loved us?" (Malachi 1:2). A sadly prolific root of sin is self-love, blinding us to our own sin, which incurs God's chastisements, and to the love of God, which deals with us so infinitely more graciously than we deserve. Hence, it is that those most highly favoured in religious and temporal advantages are often the very persons who show the smallest sense of their obligations to the gracious Giver.

(3) Great as are the difficulties in accepting the doctrine of election, there are still greater to be encountered if we reject it (Malachi 1:2). Yet nothing is arbitrary in God's dealings. If Edom's heritage was laid waste (Malachi 1:3), Edom had himself, not God, to blame for it, inasmuch as it was Edom's own hatred of his brother Israel which brought upon himself what, in accommodation to human conceptions, is called here the "hatred" of God, but which is in truth His judicial displeasure against sin.

(4) It is in vain that the sinner thinks to reverse the unalterable sentence of God, when once it has gone forth. Though Edom, after his disaster, rebuilt his cities, God has long since thrown them down (Malachi 1:4); and Idumea is now, in fact, what the prophet of old foretold it would be, the "border of wickedness," the haunt of the Bedouin robber. On the other hand, the Jews still exist as a distinct people, though scattered among the nations; and as the first part of the prophecy has been fulfilled in Edom's extinction, so shall the rest of it also come to pass in Israel's restoration: and then, in respect to both fulfillments alike, the people of God's covenant of grace, when they shall see the event with their eyes, shall say, "The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel" (Malachi 1:5). Let sinners remember that if they will not glorify God in their gratuitous salvation, they must glorify Him in their deserved condemnation.

(5) The infinite greatness of God's love to us calls for a return of love on our part. We call Him rightly Father and Lord. (Malachi 1:6): do we, then, give Him the "honour" which is due to a father, and the reverent "fear" which is due to a master? Acts of loving obedience, not empty professions, are the test. Let us, in our self-examination on this point, beware of the blinding influences of self-love. When the Word of God condemns us, let us not parry its stroke by asking, in self-satisfied complacency, "Wherein have we despised Thy name?"

(6) Those who offer to God the dregs of their time, their strength, and their means, are virtually offering "polluted bread upon the altar of God," and treat "the table of the Lord" as "contemptible" (Malachi 1:7). God, who is the Best, claims what is best of His creatures' hands. God is not to be put off with niggardly leavings and gleanings: He demands the "first-fruits" of our all, or else He will accept neither us nor our offerings. God prizes highly the widow's mite, but abhors utterly the miser's mite.

(7) Men often offer to the King of kings what they dare not offer to an earthly king (Malachi 1:8). The scanty and grudged gift is a sacrifice of "the blind;" for it is wanting in that faith which is the soul's eyesight, where-with believers see Him who is "invisible." The service offered to God by one not walking uprightly is a "lame" offering. That offered by one not sound at heart is the offering of the "sick." And that service wherein the offerer suffers distracting thoughts to draw away his mind is a "torn" offering (Malachi 1:13).

(8) It is vain to pray and expect "God will be gracious unto us," when we are habitually and willfully acting ungraciously toward Him (Malachi 1:9). God has "no pleasure in fools" (Malachi 1:10; Ecclesiastes 5:4). Better no offerings than hypocritical ones, which God will not accept. The church "doors" were better altogether "shut" than opened to subserve self-deceit and hypocrisy.

(9) If those now highly favoured as to spiritual privileges will not glorify the name of God as they ought, God will, notwithstanding, never want a people to serve Him (Malachi 1:11). When the Jewish Church failed to magnify the Lord, the kingdom of God was taken from them and passed to the Gentiles. Again, when the present Gentile Church shall cease duly to glorify God, her candlestick shall be removed. And then shall a new and brighter order of things begin, when from Jerusalem the Gospel word shall go forth, and the name of the Lord shall be great among all nations, "from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same" (Malachi 1:11).

(10) How many act as if they regarded the table of the Lord as contemptible! They feel as to holy services, sacraments, prayers, and sermons, "Behold, what a weariness is it!" (Malachi 1:13.) "When will the Sabbath be gone, that we may sell grain and set forth wheat?" (Amos 8:5.) Ministers have much to answer for if they do not impress on the people a sense of the high privilege and blessedness of the Lord's services.

(11) The "deceiver" (Malachi 1:14), who devotes his best to his lusts, and puts off God with the worst and the smallest that is consistent with keeping up decent appearances, deceives not God, but himself, and that to his eternal ruin. But, nevertheless, the incense of prayer and praise, and the pure offering of hearts consecrated to God through Christ, shall in due time be offered in every place (Malachi 1:11; Malachi 1:14), and the name of the Saviour shall be universally revered and loved. Let us see that we now duly magnify the name of the great King, the Lord of hosts, with all that we have and all that we are!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Malachi 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/malachi-1.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, July 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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