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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Malachi 1

 

 

Verses 1-5

CRITICAL NOTES.] Burden] (Massa) A heavy vision full of toil and weight. "What is the burden of the Lord?" was asked scoffingly from the prophets. As a punishment for the blasphemy of the people, God declares, "I will burden you" [cf. Lange: Jer ].

Mal . Loved] A faction their history and the foundation for reproof. Hated] Not a proper and formed hatred (for God could not hate Esau before he sinned), but only a lesser love, which, in comparison of the great love for Jacob, seemed as if it were not love [Pusey]. Jacob and Esau are illustrations of God's purpose in the election of grace. Their history typified and conditioned that of their posterity (cf. Rom 9:11).

Mal .] The condition of the country, desolate and inhabited by (dragons) jackals of the wilderness, a proof of this hatred.

Mal . Edom] cannot recover herself. Her perpetual ruins illustrate love to Israel rather than to her. Border] still the resort of marauding tribes of the desert. Indignation] Curse (cf. Isa 34:5).

Mal . See] the ineffectual attempts of Edom, and then acknowledge the greatness of Jehovah in and beyond the land of Israel.

HOMILETICS

SPECIAL FAVOURS DEMAND SPECIAL RETURNS.—Mal

The sovereign benevolence of Jehovah and the ingratitude of the Hebrews in the time of the prophet are strikingly contrasted. To the petulant question, "Wherein hast thou loved us?" which is only the first of a series which are put in the course of the book, the answer is direct and conclusive—in showing greater kindness to their progenitor Jacob than he had done to his brother Esau [Hend.].

I. Distinction above others an act of Divine love. From the first Israel were chosen and set apart, and to the last were they loved in chastisement and rebuke. Nothing was due to their own industry and virtues.

1. Their temporal blessings were greater that those of others. We have only to look around to see Divine goodness. Protected homes, restored health, and fruitful lands. The land of Israel was specially favoured, while Idumea was sterile, desolate, and the haunt of jackals. Israel had been restored, but Edomites were under the ban.

2. Their religious privileges were greater than those of others. Edom and heathen nations had not the temple and the oracles of God. "He hath not dealt so with any nation" as with the Jews (Psa ). God's love is the source of every blessing. He makes one differ from another. The distinctions of men and the advantages of nations result from his sovereign goodness. Thus the love of God is—

(1) proved from his word: "I have loved thee;" and

(2) confirmed by our life. In our past and present condition we are reminded of gratuitous love. "The Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day."

II. Distinction above others a reason for implicit submission. The people ask for proofs of love. God appeals to facts to silence scepticism.

1. God's love may be questioned. "Wherein hast thou loved us?" If God afflicts we think him unkind; if he withholds what we desire we question his mercy. Pride and petulance have dimmed our vision. We have formed the habit of doubting until it has grown strong, and we constantly cry "Wherein?"

2. God's love may be denied. Men cry, "Give me the ocular proof; make me see't." If evidence of God's providence is not seen they deny it. The Jews could only say, We are few and feeble, unable to defend our houses and gather pur harvests, the frequent prey of some and the perpetual scorn of others. This insolent challenge is a common, a prolific root of sin, a fountain of ingratitude and rebellion. The doctrine of election may be mysterious, but greater difficulties arise from its rejection. God says that he loves us, and gives abundant proof of it. What more do we wish? All misery is due to ourselves. We must be silent, for God is just. "Why dost thou strive against him? (quarrel with and dispute his dealings, Isa ) for he giveth not account of (he answereth not) any of his matters" (Job 33:13).

III. Distinction above others an inducement to grateful service. The election of Israel was "not of works, but of him that calleth." Descent from one and the same patriarch was not the reason of their choice. The prophet and the apostle declare it to be of free grace. This a reason—

1. For grateful service. god's love lays us under obligation to love him in return. But amid striking proofs of it we are blind, ungrateful, and dissatisfied. "Wherein hast thou loved us?"

2. For constant service. "God's everlasting love was uniform in itself, manifold in its manifestations" [Pusey]. If God never ceases to bless we should never cease to serve. "I am constant as the northern star, of whose true, fixed, and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament" [Shakespeare].

"Love me little, love me long" [Marlowe].

LESSONS FROM THE RUIN OF EDOM.—Mal

Jacob and Esau were brothers, but God did not deal with them both alike. Their personal history was repeated in their posterity. The doom of one was pointed to as a lesson of providence and love to the other.

I. The ruin of Edom a monument of God's anger. "I hated Esau." In whatever sense we take the word "hated," greater love was shown to Jews than to Edom. But God has reasons for his acts. The Edomites were "the children of the sword," and "he that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword." Hence they brought the anger of God upon themselves in "a form of that Divine and wholesome law of retribution which we find in our own lives no less than in the written word," says one.

II. The ruin of Edom a warning to other people. What happened to them may happen to us. "Your eyes shall see." God's people may be assured of his love towards them and his providence over them when they see the enemy punished and frustrated in their designs. The world should learn that God "will be magnified from the border of Israel."

III. The ruin of Edom a proof of Jehovah's supremacy over all nations. The judgments that fell upon Edom taught the Jews, and the world through the Jews, that God was not only the God of Israel, but the God of the whole earth. By contrasting the condition of Israel with that of Edom we learn that Jehovah is supreme over all nations, saying to one, Thou shalt live, and to another, Thou shalt perish; that his government is merciful to his people and retributive to his enemies.

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Mal . Malachi's message.

1. The nature of the message. "The burden."

2. The authority of the message. "The word of the Lord."

3. The design of the message. "To Israel."

4. The medium of the message. "By Malachi."

Mal . Learn—

1. That God's love is not dispensed according to any merit in us. "I have loved thee."

2. That God's love cannot always be seen in our outward condition. "Wherein hast thou loved us?"

3. That love may often be seen when we compare our condition with that of others. "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau."

4. That God's love should always beget gratitude to God in return. "‘I have loved you,' God would say, ‘with a special love, a more than ordinary love, with greater tokens of love than to others.' So God brings to the penitent soul the thought of its ingratitude" [Pusey].

5. That when there is no gratitude in return for his love God will punish. The sequel proves this. Lycurgus, when asked why he set down no punishment in his laws for ingratitude, replied, "I have left it to the gods to punish."

Mal . Jacob viewed chiefly in his national capacity as Israel, and taken by the apostle as a type of the elect (Rom 9:13). Esau viewed as the Edomite nation show that the accepttance or rejection is not spiritual, that a principle of election runs through all history, and that God, as absolute sovereign, bestows religious privileges and Divine blessings.

Mal . The world's defiance of God's decree. It breaks down, he builds up; it builds, he breaks down [Lange].

Mal . Observe the repetition of the word border in the contrast between them. Edom is the border (gebl) of wickedness; but the Lord will show his power and love over the border (gebl) of Israel [Words.]. The Lord magnified, &c.

1. By his gracious acts to Israel.

2. By sending his word to the Gentiles.

3. By his judgments over all the earth (Rev ).

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1

Mal . Loved you. Ingratitude is too base to return a kindness, and too proud to regard it; much like the tops of mountains, barren indeed but yet lofty; they produce nothing, they feed nobody, they clothe nobody, yet are high and stately, and look down upon all the world about them [Dr. South].

Mal . Waste. Divine curses are not merely imprecations, impotent and fruitless desires; they carry their effects with them, and are attended with all the miseries denounced by God [Cruden].


Verses 4-10

CRITICAL NOTES.

Mal . Edom] cannot recover herself. Her perpetual ruins illustrate love to Israel rather than to her. Border] still the resort of marauding tribes of the desert. Indignation] Curse (cf. Isa 34:5).

Mal . See] the ineffectual attempts of Edom, and then acknowledge the greatness of Jehovah in and beyond the land of Israel.

Mal .] Expostulation to priests, who should love Jehovah as sons, and fear] him as servants (Exo 20:12). Say] Instead of confessing guilt, deny the charge and demand proofs.

Mal . Polluted] i.e. any sacrifices the bread or food of God (Lev 21:6; Lev 21:8; Lev 22:25; Num 28:2). Blind and lame were polluted bread.

Mal . Governor] If customary to offer heathen rulers presents proportionate to the dignity of the receiver the circumstances of the giver, and the value of the favour sought, should God be insulted by offering things which they would reject?

Mal . Pray] An earnest call to repentance say some; others, that it is ironical. Think you that God will be persuaded by polluted gifts? No; amend your ways. This] Contemptible offerings your doing. Means] Lit. from your hand. Will God regard] you?

Mal . Nought] So avaricious were they that the meanest things were not done without payment. Some say this frees the priests from excuse for carelessness, for the least service, such as shutting the door, was paid for. Others regard the words as a wish: "Oh that some among you would not open my sanctuary to such profane intruders (close the doors against such worshippers and sacrifices), and would not kindle the fire on mine altar to no purpose!" Better without worship than such as this [cf. Keil and Words.].

HOMILETICS

BUILDING UP WITHOUT GOD.—Mal

Edom's temporal desolation and her resolve to repair it may be taken as a figure of our moral condition and the efforts of men to improve it.

I. Man's moral condition is a ruin. "We are impoverished; lit. ruined." Sin creates distance from God, and brings poverty and ruin. There is no misery like that which sin brings, and no misfortune so disastrous as that in which it ends. Sin "brought death and all our woe into the world;" and death is passed upon all men, for all have sinned.

II. Men try to repair their moral condition by wrong means. They are sensible of their misery,—"we are impoverished,"—feel their distance,—"we will return,"—and resolve to build up their broken fortunes,—we will "build the desolate places."

1. Men's efforts are directed to a wrong end. "We will return." Return to what? Return to our kingdom and associations. Thus men cling to creeds, societies, and institutions, and not to God. "If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me."

2. Men's efforts are put forth in a wrong spirit. "But we will return and build." Here we have pride, presumption, and opposition to God. Men resolve, but God will hinder. At Babel men were frustrated in purpose, confused in tongues, and scattered over the earth.

3. Men's efforts are built on a wrong foundation. "They shall call them the border of wickedness." If the foundation be bad, the higher it is run up the more labour is lost, and the more tremendous the fall. Empires, houses, and fortunes built on selfish principles will never stand. "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong" (Jer ).

III. When men try to repair their moral condition by wrong means God will overthrow their efforts. "They shall build, but I will throw down." Providence pulls down as well as builds up (Ecc ). God can crush every effort and break down every edifice of man. "I will work, and who shall let?" (hinder, turn it back, Isa 14:27) (Isa 43:13). He overturns our bodies by disease and death; our families by discord and bereavement; business by failure and loss; nations by famine and sword.

1. This overthrow is terrible. Places were desolate, buildings thrown down, broken into fragments. The firmest foundation, the most fortified walls of sin, will not avail before God. "The Lord hath stretched out a line (not to build, but destroy, 2Ki ; Isa 34:11), he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the wall and the rampart to lament" (Lam 2:8).

2. This overthrow is irrevocable. The "indignation" is "for ever." The destruction can never be repaired. This seen in the tower of Babel and the cities of the plain. Joshua's curse fell upon the rebuilding of Jericho (cf. Jos ; 1Ki 16:34). The apostate Julian could not contravene the word of God concerning Jerusalem. When he had gathered materials and commenced the work the tempest from heaven filled him with dismay, and forced him to confess the hand of God. "He breaketh down, and (so that) it cannot be built again" (Job 12:14). But is there no way of building that we may be secure and happy? Must our efforts to recover ourselves perpetually fail, and our hopes be for ever disappointed? Build on Christ, the true foundation, for no other foundation can any man lay; build by the aid of the Spirit, and in humble confidence in the promise of God, then your work shall abide. "Building up yourselves on your most holy faith." "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."

TITLES WITHOUT HONOURS.—Mal

Upon the fact that respect is shown by inferiors to superiors Jehovah founds his right to honour and reverence due to him as Creator and Ruler. But God condemns the contempt priests and people displayed in offering blemished sacrifices.

I. God is our Father, and should be honoured. The prophet does not appeal to the law, but lays down the truth, which none will dispute, that Jehovah is the Father of Israel. If God, therefore, is a father, the honour of sons is due to him. Heathen philosophers taught that parents were household gods, and were to have all possible respect. "To God and our parents," said Aristotle, "we can never make recompense."

1. God claims honour from us. "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Exo ). "Doubtless thou art our father" (Isa 63:16; Mal 2:10).

2. Men withhold the honour due to him. "Where is mine honour?" They do not honour him with their substance, but despise him in heart and act. "Do ye thus requite the Lord?"

II. God is our Master, and should be served. "If I be a master, where is my fear?" God is acknowledged to be our Lord. He should be served in filial not in slavish fear. We are not to find fault with his employment, or engage in it by force and constraint. "They say and do not." Our service must be earnest and constant. In all fear should we obey and submit to him (1Pe ). Fidelity to our conscience will ever be rewarded. "He that waiteth on his master shall be honoured;" here by the promise and presence of God, at length by the approval of God. "Well done," &c. "If any man serve me him will my Father honour."

"Bad servants wound their master's fame" [Gay].

THE SINS OF THE PRIESTS.—Mal

Turning from the people, the prophet addresses the priests, who should be leaders in holiness, but are foremost in bringing the service of God into contempt. They were under special obligations to sanctify him, but they profaned his name and caused Israel to sin.

I. Their services were a violation of all law. A son should honour his father, and a servant obey his master (Mal ); but they withheld from God what they-demanded from the people, and slighted him more than any creature.

1. The law of nature was dishonoured. Fair words and grand titles require consistent life. Nature teaches honour to parents and respect to masters, reproves want of reverence to God, and testifies against those who honour in word and dishonour in life. "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"

2. The law of God was violated. God expressly forbade the offering of the blind, the lame, or any evil-favoured sacrifice. "Whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. Ye shall not offer unto the Lord that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut" (Lev ; Lev 22:24). If it be lame, or blind, or have "any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the Lord thy God" (Deu 15:21; Neh 5:14-15).

3. The law of common civility was disregarded. "Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee?" (Mal ). What insult to offer God what a mortal would disdain! Yet what a contrast between God's table and that of our princes! If an earthly monarch would neither accept our gift nor espouse our cause with such approach, can we expect God to bless? "Will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person?"

II. Their services were offensive to God. They despised his name and offered polluted bread upon his altar.

1. Their offerings were mean in substance. "Ye offer the blind for sacrifice; is it not evil?" They put God off with what was worth nothing. Darius probably supplied them plentifully with victims for sacrifice, but they offered the worst. "God despises not the widow's mite, but he does despise the miser's mite," says Moore.

2. Their offerings were mercenary in spirit. They would neither kindle a fire nor shut the door without pay (Mal ). "What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?" How niggardly we are in God's service! Ever crying, "What profit shall we have?" Thinking more of gain than duty. The meanest service for God will not be unrewarded. The servants of the temple had their tithes, cups of cold water have their benediction, and God is not unjust to forget labours of love. But if we become covetous and unfaithful, every one for his gain, from his quarter (Isa 56:11), then we pollute the altar and bring the service of God into contempt.

TRUE SPIRITUAL SERVICE.—Mal

In the condemnation of what was evil in the spirit and substance of ancient sacrifice we learn the right method of approaching God, the true nature of spiritual service.

I. It should be intelligent. We should never offer the blind or ignorant service, and worship we know not what. "For he hath no pleasure in fools."

II. It should be earnest and hearty. Not lame and half-hearted, but upright and sincere; not sick and feeble, but vigorous and cheerful. The homage and communion of the highest part of man; for God is a spirit, and can only hold communion with spirit. "If my soul is not engaged in my worship, it is even as though I worshipped not" [Confucius].

III. It should be reverential. If heathens were careful to offer sacrifices without blemish, how reverential should we be in the sanctuary of God. Never enter without due preparation; never utter hasty and ill-arranged thoughts, nor offer slovenly prayers and praise. Be as anxious to worship God as to discharge secular functions. God deserves our best, let us not dishonour him with unsound and grudged gifts. "Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

Mal . It becomes us to do what God enjoins. First, because he has a right to command us. He is Sovereign, we are subjects; Master, we are servants; Father, we are children. Secondly, because all his commandments are reasonable. None arbitrary or tyrannical. Thirdly, because his commands are beneficial. All enjoined has special regard to our welfare. "In keeping his commandments there is great reward." Fourthly, because God's commands are practicable. All imply power to obey. If not possessed, yet attainable; if not in nature, yet in grace; if not in ourselves, yet in him whose authority we recognize, and who is always accessible [Jay]. God is the Father of the faithful—

(1) By creation;

(2) by preservation and governance;

(3) by alimony;

(4) by fatherly care and providence;

(5) by faith and grace, whereby he justifies and adopts us sons and heirs of his kingdom [Pusey].

Mal . Is it not evil? If we worship God ignorantly and without understanding we bring the blind for sacrifice; if we do it carelessly and without consideration, if we are cold, and dull, and dead in it, we bring the sick; if we rest in the bodily exercise, and do not make heart work of it, we bring the lame; and if we suffer vain thoughts and distractions to lodge within us, we bring the torn [Matt. Henry].

Polluted bread. Because—

1. It does not correspond with the requirements of God's law.

2. It is offered with impure mind and life. If temple purifications were necessary of old, how much holiness is needful now! Contemptible table. In what way can we now pollute the table of the Lord?

(1) In the Sacrament, when we ourselves partake of it unworthily, or do not enough arouse the consciences of others.

(2) In life, when we allow in ourselves, or in others committed to us, a half-way devotedness to the Lord [Lange].

Mal . These words are difficult, but may contain—

1. A charge against the priests. You begun, and continued to insult God, by worthless sacrifices, and brought all the consequences upon the people. Not from aliens, not from the custom of your fathers, but from your hand hath this been.

2. "An ironical appeal, covering an implied menace." Bring your maimed sacrifices, press God with your prayers, will he regard your persons, in the spirit in which you serve him? Some say—

3. A call to repentance and prayer for the mercy of God. "I pray you, beseech God, that he will be gracious unto you."

4. A rejection of priestly intercession. An indignant appeal is made to their own consciences. If you have brought this evil upon the worship of God, if your hands are tainted with sinful offerings; are you fit to pray for the rest? Try it on, you will not succeed. God will reject you! "He sums up with an entire rejection of them, present and future: I have no pleasure in you; it is a term of repudiation (cf. 1Sa ), sometimes of disgust (Jer 22:28; Jer 48:38; Hos 8:8), neither will I accept an offering at your hands" [Pusey].

5. To silence excuse. You have nothing to say for such careless offerings. You know what is right, and you are paid for the smallest service you perform.

6. A wish to close the doors against such proceedings. Who among you will shut the doors, and keep such worshippers out of the temple? Better close the sanctuary than open it to subserve selfish and hypocritical purposes—better have no offerings at all than vain offerings which God will not accept (Isa ). "Away with your vain oblations! What purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me!"

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1

Mal . Loved you. Ingratitude is too base to return a kindness, and too proud to regard it; much like the tops of mountains, barren indeed but yet lofty; they produce nothing, they feed nobody, they clothe nobody, yet are high and stately, and look down upon all the world about them [Dr. South].

Mal . Honoureth. One of the best elements of character as well in a child as in a man, is reverence. This is the feeling due to parents and to God, our Father in heaven. It is more than respect; it is respect blended with awe. One void of reverence unconsecrates all the mysteries and sanctities of life [Dulce Domum].

Mal ; Mal 1:12-13. Accept person.

"When once thy foot enters the Church, be bare:

God is more there than thou, for thou art there

Only by his permission. Then beware;

And make thyself all reverence and fear." [G. Herbert.]

Mal . Nought. "His money perish with him," said the pious marquis of Vico, "who prefers not one hour's communion with Christ before all the riches and pleasures of the world." "Covetousness debaseth a man's spirit" [Tillotson].


Verses 11-14

CRITICAL NOTES.

Mal .] The name of God, treated with contempt by priests, will receive universal homage. Jewish worship will be rejected, and Gentiles offer spiritual worship in the Church of Christ (Mat 21:43). Place] (Joh 4:21-23; 1Ti 2:8). Incense and pure offerings] Prayers (Rev 5:8), thanksgiving, and praise (Heb 13:15-16).

Mal . But] a renewal of charge against priests in Mal 1:7. Profaned] habitually. Say] by acts and life. Table] i.e. the altar, polluted by worst offerings. Fruit] and food, i.e. the provision of the altar.

Mal . Weariness] An oppressive drudgery, not an honourable privilege. Snuff] Do not hide your contempt. Torn] Taken by violence; not fit to eat, and unlawful to offer (Exo 22:30; Lev 7:24; Eze 4:14).

Mal . Deceiver] The hypocrite, professing one thing and intending another. The people now reproved. Male] required by law (Lev 1:3; Lev 1:10). King] An argument for service from the majesty of God. Dreadful] Jews had no fear nor reverence for Jehovah. The heathen] will reproach all who offer to God corrupt and offensive sacrifices.

HOMILETICS

THE GREAT NAME HONOURED.—Mal

The priesthood is to be transferred, and the Gentiles will become worshippers of Jehovah in sincerity and truth. A prediction is given of the future glory of God's name.

I. Great by the universality of its revelation. "Great among the Gentiles," "great among the heathen," great "from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same." The name, the perfections of God, shall be known from east to west—the greatness of God shall be clear and prevalent as the orb of day. "Gentiles shall come to the light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (lit. sunrising, Isa ).

II. Great by the purity and prevalence of its worship. When Jehovah's greatness is known, then incense and sacrifice will be offered to him, which are not defiled.

1. Pure worship. "A pure offering"—"not the blind, the lame, and the sick,"—pure from carnal ordinances and the corruptions of human life. Offerings which spring from hearts sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and fragrant as incense from the altar. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving will be holy and acceptable to God.

2. Universal worship. "In every place," not confined to Jerusalem, Canaan, or any locality. This implies the abrogation of the old dispensation, and the universal spread of the Gospel. "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name is to be praised" (Psa ).

MAN'S ESTIMATE OF GOD'S WORSHIP.—Mal

The people were poor, and offered the worst sacrifices. The priests connived at this to secure their gains, and thus profaned the name and despised the service of God.

I. God's service was burdensome. "Behold, what a weariness is it!" God requires willing service. Nothing is a greater drudgery than service without love. Many are weary in God's cause. What should be a pleasure is a toil. The Sabbath is a loss of time. Money and gifts presented to God are wasted. Everything done for God is useless. "Wherefore this waste?"

II. God's service was despised. "Ye have snuffed at it," treated it contemptuously, think it a trifle to blow away with your breath. If we wrongly estimate God's service, we shall be vexed with his demands. Who likes to give to any person whom they disregard? To despise anything God-like is a symptom of a base heart. "He that despiseth his ways shall die."

"Such acts

Of contumacy will provoke the Highest

To make death in us live" [Milton].

GOD'S ESTIMATE OF MAN'S WORSHIP

These words may be taken in another sense (orig.) "You have said, behold what a weariness it is, a matter of weight, whereas you might have blown it away, it was so trifling."

I. What we think to be great is very little. Little in its substance and spirit—little in comparison to our ability, and God's claims upon us. What paltry gifts we offer to him who gave himself for us! "Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong" [Dryden].

II. What we think will be acceptable may be rejected. Sacrifices unsuitable and wicked will be cursed (Mal ).

1. Because offered in a spirit of indifference. We put God off with anything.

2. Because offered in a spirit of deception. Jews offered a female under pretence they had no male in their flocks.

3. Because offered in a spirit of falsehood. "The liar, under stress of danger or desire, vows a pure, and then when the peril is past or the desire gratified, offers an impure or blemished beast." God cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked!

GOD'S MAJESTY A MOTIVE FOR TRUE SERVICE.—Mal

Because God's greatness is known and God's majesty dreaded among the heathen, they should offer the best sacrifice. David prepared the materials, and Solomon built the temple, under a deep sense of God's greatness. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness" (1Ch ; 2Ch 2:5).

I. God's great majesty calls for due reverence. "Honour to whom honour is due," is a maxim of social intercourse. What honour, then, must there be due to the Omnipotent, the Infinite, and only wise God! How unreasonable for man to reflect upon his majesty by offering inferior when we can offer superior service! "Our hearts should adore a spiritual majesty, which it cannot comprehend, and, as it were, lose itself in his infinitude. We must believe him great without quantity, omnipresent without place, everlasting without time, and containing all things without extent; and when our thoughts are come to the highest, let us stop, wonder, and adore" [Bp. Hall]. "Who so great a God as our God?"

II. God's spiritual nature calls for spiritual worship. Formal worship and bodily exercise in waiting upon God, do not honour him. "If this hypocrisy, this resting in outward performances, so odious lo God under the law, a religion full of shadows and ceremonies, certainly it will be much more odious to do so under the Gospel, a religion of much more simplicity, and exacting so much the greater sincerity of heart, even because it disburdens the outward man of the performance of legal rites and observances" [Chillingworth]. Christian sacrifice of prayer and praise must be intelligent and sincere, not outward, slight, and superficial; internal, for only with the spirit can we be earnest and sincere; spiritual as opposed to ritual, to anything outward. God is a Spirit (not matter or form), and they that worship him must worship him in spirit (spiritually and sincerely) and in truth (truthfully in desire and life) (Joh ).

III. God's universal dominion demands loyal obedience. "My Name is dreadful among the heathen." Men have no fear of God before them, treat him as they do a fellow-creature whom they regard, and by whom they are overawed. This is the root of ignorant, heartless service, of irreverent systems and theologies of the present time, says a writer. To correct this error, God reveals his name, insists upon his demands, and sets forth his supremacy and universal dominion. He is a God to whom we have to render account, whose presence and power we cannot shun—a Father who loves and redeems us; we should therefore constantly and cheerfully submit to his authority, and obey his will. God is not dethroned, nor does he reign over a decaying empire. He must and will be obeyed in freedom or force. "The Lord most high is terrible; he is a Great King over all the earth."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Mal . The Jewish sacrifices had defects, partly incidental, partly inherent. Incidental were these, with which the prophet had upbraided them; inherent (apart from their mere typical character), that they never could be the religion of the world, since they were locally fixed at Jerusalem. Malachi tells them of a new sacrifice which should be offered throughout the then heathen world, grounded on his new revelation of himself to them. For great shall be my name among the heathen. The prophet anticipates an objection which the Jews might make to him. What then will God do unto his great name? Those by whom he would replace them would be more worthy of God in two ways—

(1) in themselves;

(2) in their universality [Pusey].

Every place.

1. Canonical hours abolished.

2. Holy places abolished—since we cannot be always in them.

3. Every time and place consecrated (cf. Treas. of David, Psa ), or the daily universality and purity of Divine worship.

Mal . King. God is a King—a great King—a great King who is feared. "As God is alone Lord, through his universal providence and his intrinsic authority, so he alone is King so great, that of his greatness, or dignity and perfection, there is no end" [Pusey].

Cursed. The description and doom of the false worshipper.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1

Mal . Deceiver. We never deceive for a good purpose; knavery adds malice to falsehood [Bruyre].

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Malachi 1:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/malachi-1.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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