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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Malachi 3

 

 

Verses 1-5

5. "WHERE IS THE GOD OF JUDGMENT?"

Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:1-5

In this section "Malachi" turns from the sinners of his people to those who weary Jehovah with the complaint that sin is successful, or, as they put it, "Every one that does evil is good in the eyes of Jehovah, and He delighteth in them"; and again, "Where is the God of Judgment?" The answer is, The Lord Himself shall come. His Angel shall prepare His way before Him, and suddenly shall the Lord come to His Temple. His coming shall be for judgment, terrible and searching. Its first object (note the order) shall be the cleansing of the priesthood, that proper sacrifices may be established, and its second the purging of the immorality of the people. Mark that although the coming of the Angel is said to precede that of Jehovah Himself, there is the same blending of the two as we have seen in previous accounts of angels. It is uncertain whether this section closes with Malachi 3:5 or Malachi 3:6 : the latter goes equally well with it and with the following section.

"Ye have wearied Jehovah with your words; and ye say, ‘In what have we wearied Him?’ In that ye say, ‘Every one that does evil is good in the eyes of Jehovah, and He delighteth in them’; or else, Where is the God of Judgment?’ Behold, I will send My Angel, to prepare the way before Me, and suddenly shall come to His Temple the Lord whom ye seek and the Angel of the Covenant whom ye desire. Behold, He comes! saith Jehovah of Hosts. But who may bear the day of His coming, and who stand when He appears? For He is like the fire of the smelter and the acid of the fullers. He takes His seat to smelt and to purge; and He will purge the sons of Levi, and wash them out like gold or silver, and they shall be to Jehovah bringers of an offering in righteousness. And the offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to Jehovah, as in the days of old and as in long past years. And I will come near you to judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and the adulterers and the perjurers, and against those who wrong the hireling in his wage, and the widow and the orphan, and oppress the stranger, and fear not Me, saith Jehovah of Hosts."


Verses 1-18

; Malachi 2:1-17; Malachi 3:1-18; Malachi 4:1-6

PROPHECY WITHIN THE LAW

"MALACHI" 1-4

BENEATH this title we may gather all the eight sections of the Book of "Malachi." They contain many things of perennial interest and validity: their truth is applicable, their music is still musical, to ourselves. But their chief significance is historical. They illustrate the development of prophecy within the Law. Not under the Law, be it observed. For if one thing be more clear than another about "Malachi’s" teaching, it is that the spirit of prophecy is not yet crushed by the legalism which finally killed it within Israel. "Malachi" observes and enforces the demands of the Deuteronomic law under which his people had lived since the Return from Exile. But he traces each of these to some spiritual principle, to some essential of religion in the character of Israel’s God, which is either doubted or neglected by his contemporaries in their lax performance of the Law. That is why we may entitle his book Prophecy within the Law, The essential principles of the religion of Israel which had been shaken or obscured by the delinquency of the people during the half-century after the rebuilding of the Temple were three-the distinctive Love of Jehovah for His people, His Holiness, and His Righteousness. The Book of "Malachi" takes up each of these in turn, and proves or enforces it according as the people have formally doubted it or in their carelessness done it despite.


Verses 6-12

6. REPENTANCE BY TITHES

Malachi 3:6-12

This section ought perhaps to follow on to the preceding. Those whom it blames for not paying the Temple tithes may be the skeptics addressed in the previous section, who have stopped their dues to Jehovah out of sheer disappointment that He does nothing. And Malachi 3:6, which goes well with either section, may be the joint between the two. However this be, the new section enforces the need of the people’s repentance and return to God, if He is to return to them. And when they ask, how are they to return, "Malachi" plainly answers, By the payment of the tithes they have not paid. In withholding these they robbed God, and to this, their crime, are due the locusts and bad seasons which have afflicted them. In our temptation to see in this a purely legal spirit, let us remember that the neglect to pay the tithes was due to a religious cause, unbelief in Jehovah, and that the return to belief in Him could not therefore be shown in a more practical way than by the payment of tithes. This is not prophecy subject to the Law, but prophecy employing the means and vehicles of grace with which the Law at that time provided the people.

"For I Jehovah have not changed, but ye sons of Jacob have not done with(?). In the days of your fathers ye turned from My statutes and did not keep them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, saith Jehovah of Hosts. But you say, ‘How then shall we return?’ Can a man rob God? yet ye are robbing Me. But ye say, ‘In what have we robbed Thee?’ In the tithe and the tribute. With the curse are ye cursed, and yet Me ye are robbing, the whole people of you. Bring in the whole tithe to the storehouse, that there may be provisions in My House, and pray, prove Me in this, saith Jehovah of Hosts-whether I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour blessing upon you till there is no more need. And I will check for you the devourer, and he shall not destroy for you the fruit of the ground, nor the vine in the field miscarry, saith Jehovah of Hosts And all nations shall call you happy, for ye shall be a land of delight, saith Jehovah of Hosts."


Verse 13

7. THE JUDGMENT TO COME

Malachi 3:13;, Hebrews 3:13-19; Hebrews 4:1-2

This is another charge to the doubters among the pious remnant of Israel, who, seeing the success of the wicked, said it is vain to serve God. Deuteronomy was their Canon, and Deuteronomy said that if men sinned they decayed, if they were righteous they prospered. How different were the facts of experience! The evil men succeeded: the good won no gain by their goodness, nor did their mourning for the sins of their people work any effect. Bitterest of all, they had to congratulate wickedness in high places, and Jehovah Himself suffered it to go unpunished. Such things, says "Malachi," "spake they that feared God to each other"-tempted thereto by the dogmatic form of their religion, and forgetful of all that Jeremiah and the Evangelist of the Exile had taught them of the value of righteous sufferings. Nor does "Malachi" remind them of this. His message is that the Lord remembers them, has their names written before Him, and when the day of His action comes they shall be separated from the wicked and spared. This is simply to transfer the fulfillment of the promise of Deuteronomy to the future and to another dispensation. Prophecy still works within the Law.

The Apocalypse of this last judgment is one of the grandest in all Scripture To the wicked it shall be a terrible fire, root and branch shall they be burned out, but to the righteous a fair morning of God, as when dawn comes to those who have been sick and sleepless through the black night, and its beams bring healing, even as to the popular belief of Israel it was the rays of the morning sun which distilled the dew. They break into life and energy, like young calves leaping from the dark pen into the early sunshine. To this morning landscape a grim figure is added. They shall tread down the wicked and the arrogant like ashes beneath their feet.

"Your words are hard upon Me, saith Jehovah. Ye say, ‘What have we said against Thee?’ Ye have said, ‘It is vain to serve God,’ and ‘What gain is it to us to have kept His charge, or to have walked in funeral garb before Jehovah of Hosts? Even now we have got to congratulate the arrogant; yea, the workers of wickedness are fortified; yea, they tempt God and escape!’ Such things spake they that fear Jehovah to each other. But Jehovah gave ear and heard, and a book of remembrance [Ezekiel 8:9] was written before Him about those who fear Jehovah, and those who keep in His Name. And they shall be Mine own property, saith Jehovah of Hosts, in the day when I rise to action, and I will spare them even as a man spares his son that serves him. And ye shall once more see the difference between righteous and wicked, between him that serves God and him that does not serve Him."

"For, lo! the day is coming that shall burn like a furnace, and all the overweening and every one that works wickedness shall be as stubble, and the day that is coming shall devour them, saith Jehovah of Hosts, so that there be left them neither root nor branch. But to you that fear My Name the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings, and ye shall go forth and leap [Habakkuk 1:8] like calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be as ashes beneath the soles of your feet, in the day that I begin to do, saith Jehovah of Hosts."

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Malachi 3:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/malachi-3.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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