Malachi 1:1-2:16 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jacob Loved and Judah Unfaithful
Comments for Study 1

Malachi 1:1-2:16
Memory Verse: 1:11

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I. Jacob Loved, Esau Hated (1:1-5)

Malachi by Duccio di Buoninsegna cir. 1310

* See a painting of Malachi by Duccio di Buoninsegna cir. 1310 to the right.

>1. What is an oracle?

* Malachi 1:1 "An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi."

* "An Oracle" -The term here is actually part of the original text. The Hebrew word is also used in Isaiah and Zechariah. The Hebrew word implies the message was a burden for the prophet to deliver; that is something that they did not want to deliver finding it unacceptable, but did so because they were a faithful messenger of the Lord. An oracle often concerns Gentile nations.

Oracles are communications from God. The term refers both to divine responses to a question asked of God and to pronouncements made by God without His being asked. In one sense, oracles were prophecies since they often referred to the future; but oracles sometimes dealt with decisions to be made in the present. Usually, in the Bible the communication was from Yahweh, the God of Israel. In times of idol worship, however, Israelites did seek a word or pronouncement from false gods (Hos. 4:12). Many of Israel’s neighbors sought oracles from their gods. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Concordance study shows the following meaning and use of “oracle.” Sometimes “oracle” refers to the whole of a prophetic book (Mal. 1:1 NRSV) or a major portion of one (Hab. 1:1 NRSV). In Isaiah, several smaller prophecies of judgment or punishment are called “oracles” (13:1 NRSV; 14:28 NRSV). The NRSV and NIV also entitles Zechariah 9 and 12 “An Oracle.” Specific sayings about God's judgment on Joram (2 Kings 9:25 NRSV) and Joash (2 Chron. 24:27 NRSV) are also called oracles. Other examples, although the word oracle is not used, include Elijah's word to Ahab (1 Kings 21:17-19) and Elisha's word to Jehoram (2 Kings 3:13-20). On the basis of these kinds of usages, many Bible students understand oracles to be divine words of punishment or judgment. However, Balaam's oracle (Num. 24:3-9) is a blessing. Also references to Ahithophel'’s counsel (2 Sam. 16:23) and to oracles in Jerusalem which were pleasing but false (Lam. 2:14) show us that prophetic pronouncements were not always negative. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "the word of the Lord" -The Lord's message to mankind, nations, cities, and individuals is referred to in this way. The primary mission of a prophet was to give God's word involving past, present, and future events. A third of a prophet's message had to do with future events. These future events could be; in a prophet's own time, the captivity and return, coming of the messiah (both events), and reign of the Messiah. Other ministries carried out by the prophets included herald, teacher, spokesman, intercessor, reformer, and shepherd. As shepherd one of his missions was the moral conscience of people, exposing and rebuking their sins. (Isa 40:1-2, 58:1; Ezek. 22:2; 43:10; Mic. 3:8)

>Who did it come to?

* "Malachi" -Malachi in Hebrew means "my messenger". Little is known about him. Some believe that Malachi is the person's title, not his name.

>When did he live?

* See introduction.

>2. Did the Jews question God's love for them? (2)

* Malachi 1:2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob,"

* "I have loved you" -The Hebrew tense of the verb suggests continuity. G. Campbell Morgan comments, "It does not look back only, but around and on, and I think may be rendered for our more accurage apprehension, 'I have loved, I do love, and I will love you." (Searchlights from the Word)

* "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'" -Those who returned from captivity began to question God's love for them. Life was hard due to hostile neighbors, high Assyrian taxes, occasional droughts, and surrendering to temptations and the sinful nature.

* After the Jews had been allowed to return from exile and rebuild the temple and Jerusalem's wall, several discouraging factors brought about a general religious malaize:

  1. Judah remained but a small province in the backwaters of the Persian empire.
  2. Many Jews did not return to the promised land. Almost none of the northern tribes returned. Thus, there could be no reuniting of the twelve tribes.
  3. The glorious future for God's people announced by the prophets had not been realized. No one was King of Israel and the Messiah had not yet come.
  4. Their God had not come to his temple with majesty and power to exalt his kingdom in the sight of the nations. The former temple was filled with smoke (a sign of the Lord's presence) when it was finished. Nothing like that happened when their temple was finished.
As a result many of the Jews lost hope and began ignoring the laws of the covenant. Malachi rebukes their doubt of God's love, the faithlessness of the priests, and the people. The Lord will indeed come to his people, but not as they presume, a God full of vengeance. Rather, the Lord will be a refiner's fire (3:1-4) and start the judgment of the nations with the judgement of his people (3:5). Those who honor the Lord will be spared judgement when he comes.

* When things don't go our way and when tragedy stricks it is easy to doubt God's love. Many times whether via personally, in print, or on the TV and radio I've heard people ask, "How can a loving God allow such terrible things to happen?" Tragedy does not come by the will of God; tragedy comes as a result of sin. As long as sin is in the world, there will be tragedy. Yes, God is in control. Yes, he knows all that will happen. Yes, nothing can stop his will. Yes, tragedy was never part of God's plan. God gives man and angels a choice. The choice of his love brings blessing. The choice of rejecting and doubting his love brings curse. This is a law of God and it is a good law. Moses told the Israelites just before they entered the promised land, "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Which will you choose?

* The introduction to Job's study found on this site examines tragedy. Here is an excerpt.
Why do people suffer?

  1. Superficial reasons.
    1. Something a person does wrong (intentionally or unintentionally) whether it be a mistake, error in judgment, lack of judgment, stupidity, or ignorance.
    2. Something someone else did wrong that affected us (intentionally or unintentionally) whether it be a mistake, error in judgment, lack of judgment, stupidity, or ignorance.
    3. An act of nature. In other words a natural act caused us to suffer.
  2. Reasons with the acknowledgement of God as the Almighty, Omnipotent, and Loving (There may be more than one reason we suffer.)
    1. In general because of the curse in Genesis 3, which came because of Adam and Eve's sin, which all human beings have inherited.
    2. Because of a specific sin that we have committed thus being:
      1. punishment
      2. rebuke
      3. training
      4. correcting
    3. Because of a specific sin that our parents committed.
    4. Because of someone else's sin.
    5. To purify our faith in God/To teach us a spiritual reality.
    6. To test our faith.
    7. Because of the spiritual battle; Satan and his kingdom against Jesus/God.
    8. To display the glory of God.
    9. God wants to use it in his redemptive plan.
    10. Physical cause and effect. (i.e. breaking a leg while bungee jumping, a child putting his hand on a hot stove). This is God's natural way of keeping a person healthy/alive.
    11. No apparent reason that we can fathom.
    12. An act of nature. In other words a natural act caused us to suffer.

>Why didn't the Lord love Jacob's brother, Esau? (3-4; Rom. 9:10-15)

* Malachi 1:3-4 "but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins." But this is what the LORD Almighty says: "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD."

* "Esau I have hated" -Paul wrote about this in Romans 9:10-16. He emphasizes that God's sovereign rejection of Esau was not an unrighteous act. Burton L. Goddard says, "The 'hating' consisted of God's peretuating the line of the Chosen People through Jacob rather than through Esau, and giving Esau a position subordinate to that of his brother. (Genesis 27:37-40) (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)

* "loved you... hate" -If Israel doubts God's covenant love, she should consider the contrast between God's ways with her and his ways with Jacob's brother Esau (Edom). Paul explains God's love for Jacob and hatred for Esau on the basis of election. (Romans 9:10-13) God chose Jacob but not Esau. For the use of "love" and "hate" here; cf. how Leah was "hated" in that Jacob loved Rachel more (Genesis 29:31,33; cf. Deuteronomy 21:16-17). Likewise, believers are to "hte" their parents (Luke 14:26) in the sense that they love Christ even more (Matthew 10:37). (NIV Study Bible)

* "Edom" -Edom was a kingdom and state to the south-east of Judah (between the Salt Sea and the Gulf of Aqabah, part of the Red Sea). Most of the area is now part of Jordan, though some of Edom's territory is also in modern southern Israel. Edom is Idumea in Greek. Edom consisted of descendants of Esau, Jacob's twin brother. See their history in the following verses: Genesis 27:41-45, 32:1-21, 33, 36; Exodus 15:15; Numbers 20:14-21; Deuteronomy 2:1-6, 23:7; 1 Samual 22 w/ Psalm 52; 2 Samuel 8:13-14; 2 Kings 8:20-22, 14:7; Psalm 83; Eze 35; Joel 3:18-19; and Amos 1:11-12, 9-12. The Edomites may have been connected with the Shasu and Shutu, nomadic raiders mentioned in Egyptian sources. The last unambiguous reference to Edom is an Assyrian inscription of 667 BC; it has thus been unclear when, how and why Edom ceased to exist as a state, although many scholars point to scriptural references in the Bible, specifically the Book of Obadiah, to explain this fact. After the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, Edomites settled in the region of Hebron. They prospered in this new country, called by the Greeks and Romans "Idumaea" or "Idumea", for more than four centuries. Strabo, writing around the time of Christ, held that the Idumaeans, whom he identified as of Nabataean origin, constituted the majority of the population of Western Judea, where they commingled with the Judaeans and adopted their customs. Judas Maccabeus conquered their territory for a time in around 163 BC. They were again subdued by John Hyrcanus (c. 125 BC), who forcibly converted them to Judaism and incorporated them into the Jewish nation, despite the opposition of the Pharisees. Antipater the Idumaean, the progenitor of the Herodian Dynasty that ruled Judea after the Roman conquest, was of Edomite origin. Under Herod the Great Idumaea was ruled for him by a series of governors, among whom were his brother Joseph ben Antipater and his brother-in-law Costobarus. After the Jewish Wars the Idumaean people are no longer mentioned in history though the area retained their name.

* The Lord did bless Esau and his descendants. Esau told his brother, "I already have plenty." (Genesis 33:9) His descendants became a powerful nation that lasted one thousand years, and this inspite of their idolatry and sin. The Lord even gave them prophecies of warning from Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. So even the Lord's hate is generous compared to the hate of men and Satan.

* "Edom may say" -Edom's pride is stated here and in Obadiah. Jeremiah 49 is almost identical to parts of Obadiah, repeating Edom's pride was their downfall.

* Romans 9:10-16 "Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."

>When the Lord deals with Edom what will the Jews realize? (5)

* Malachi 1:5 "You will see it with your own eyes and say, 'Great is the LORD--even beyond the borders of Israel!'"

* "You will see it with your own eyes" -Perhaps Malachi was stating his generation would see it. If so this would be fulfilled between 430 and 380 B.C. Edom's downfall came in stages as mentioned above. After Malichi's death and by the time of the Greeks rise to power Edom was small in size and strength compared to centuries past. After that they became subject to Judea as mentioned above even though Herod (Esau's descenant) came to power (see above). Obadiah four hundred years before Malachi, stated that what would happen to proud Edom would be a sign of what would happen to nations like them when Jesus comes again and judges the nations.

* "Great is the LORD" -Lord here in Hebrew is YHWH, the covenant name of the God of Israel. The Jews who had returned from captivity in Babylon had a hard time seeing that their God was great when Jerusalem and Judea was a back-water state of the Assyrian Empire. When they would see the word of the Lord fulfilled concerning Edom they would realize that their God was great.

* "even beyond the borders of Israel" -Many ancient cultures believed that a god was only powerful in a certain region and territory. The Lord Jesus' power is not limited by country's boarders.

* Jesus told his disciples that life would be hard, each day having its own trouble. (John 16:33, Mark 4:17) Many believe that once they repent and begin to serve God, then showers of blessings will follow. Then when trouble and persecution come they wonder where their God is and why did this happen to them. Then they see how the wicked and godless seem to have life so good and ask, "Where is the God of justice and righteousness? Why do the wicked prosper?" Habakkuk the prophet wondered these very things when the Lord revealed that Judah and Jerusalem would go into exile at the hands of the evil Babylonians. The Lord's answer to Habakkuk and here to the Jews was that God was going to do things and if they paid attention and had faith they would one day rejoice and be glad. Endure the times of trouble for they are test of our love. In other words they are ways that we can show our love for the Lord Jesus. Isn't the best relationship filled with reciprocated love. Isn't having faith in someone's motives even when there is no logical reason to have faith in them a way to show love? This is what Abraham did when he by faith was willing to offer his son Isaac just because the Lord told him so? Then the Lord stopped him and told him, "Now I know that you fear God." (Genesis 9:12)

II. Blemished Sacrifices (1:6-16)

>3. What does the Lord compare himself to in verse 6?

* Malachi 1:6a "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty."

* "A son honors his father, and a servant his master." -A general statement concerning societies that are stable, moral, and ethical.

* "I am a father" -The Lord is the father of the nation of Israel. (Hosea 11:1)

* "where is the honor due me" -A son obeys his father out of love and honor. A servant obeys his master out of respect and duty. Israel did neither.

* Love, honor, respect and obedience is due to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

>How were their offerings to the Lord nothing like what was due him? (6b-8)

* Malachi 1:6b-8 ""It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?' You place defiled food on my altar. But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?" says the LORD Almighty."

* "priests" -A priest was the servant of the Lord. The priest were responsible for things in the temple including offering sacrifices to the Lord.

* "contempt" -Contempt is the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless. Contempt is disdain and scorn.

* "You place defiled food on my altar" -The priests' duties including offering sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem at appointed times and feasts and at times when people brought items to sacrifice. The altar was the Lord's table. By placing defiled food before the Lord they were showing contempt for him.

Priest making an offering at the temple.

* See a drawing of the priest making a offering at the temple altar to the right.

* "blind... crippled or diseased animals" -The Law of the Covenant forbid Israel from offering these kind of animals. They were to offer the best. (Exodus 12:5, 29:1; Leviticus 1:3, 10, 3:1, 6, 4:3, 23, 28, 4:32, 5:18, etc.)

* Christ followers are to offer our lives to him. Do you offer the left over parts of your life in service to him? What do you and have you sacrificed for Jesus?

* Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

* 1 Peter 2:5 "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

>How does the Lord respond to such disgrace? (9)

* Malachi 1:9 "'Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?'--says the LORD Almighty."

* "implore" -Implore means to beg urgently or piteously, as for aid or mercy.

* "to be gracious to us" -When the priests were offering sacrifices they would also bring prayers and requests to the Lord on behalf of the people and themselves. Since they were offering defiled sacrifices how could they expect the Lord to answer their prayers?

* Similarly for us today if we grudgingly approach our service to the Lord, if we consider it a burden to join the congregation is assembly and prayer, if we ignore Bible study and meditation, how then can we expect the Lord to listen to our prayers and bless us? Jesus taught, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

>4. How are half hearted offerings worse than none? (10)

* Malachi 1:10 "Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," says the LORD Almighty, "and I will accept no offering from your hands."

* "shut the temple doors" -So none of the priests could enter to offer sacrifices.

* "useless fires" -Fires for burnt offerings. Better no sacrifices that unacceptable ones. Jesus said the the church at Laodicea, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)

* "I am not pleased with you." -The Lord can be pleased or not pleased with us. The Lord was pleased with Able's offering but not Cain's because Able offered by faith. (Hebrews 11:4)

* "I will accept no offering from you hands" -The Lord rejected their offerings. The Lord does not need meat or grain or anything. He already owns everything since he created it. What the Lord wants and looks for is a proper heart.

>What does the Lord foresee the nations doing when the gospel is preached? (11)

* Malachi 1:11 "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty."

* "the nations" -Gentile nations would honor the Lord if the Lord's people would honor the Lord in their service. Israel's mission is no different than the church's mission. We are to be a witness to others in word and action.

* "In every place" -In the lands of the nations the people lived in.

* "incense and pure offerings" -The acceptable offerings presented by foreigners in Isaiah 56:6-7, 60:7. some interpreters understand "incense" to mean "prayer" (Revelation 5:8) and "offerings" to mean "praise" (Hebrews 13:15)

* Wise men from the east brought infant Jesus incense and offerings. (Matthew 2:11)

Priest making an offering at the temple.

* See a drawing of the priest making a offering at the temple altar to the right.

>How does Jesus and the apostles warn us like Malachi warned the Jews? (Matt. 6:24; Rom. 12:1-2)

* Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

* Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

* Either we love Jesus or we do not. Jesus loves us to the point of dying on the cross for us. There is no way to repay him for this. However we can return his love.

>5. How did they show disgrace to God? (12-13)

* Malachi 1:12-13 "But you profane it by saying of the Lord's table, 'It is defiled,' and of its food, 'It is contemptible.' And you say, 'What a burden!' and you sniff at it contemptuously," says the LORD Almighty. "When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?" says the LORD."

* "by saying" -The priests did not like their service to the Lord because of what they had to do. They brought on their own problem by offering defiled food. No wander they found it repulsive.

* "What a burden!" -They were burdened as a result of half heartedness.

* The Lord repeats the offence of he priests.

>How are vows important to God?

* Malachi 1:14 "Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king," says the LORD Almighty, "and my name is to be feared among the nations."

* "vows" -Vows were voluntary expressions of devotion usually fulfilled after some condition had been met. Vows in the Old Testament usually were conditional. A common formula for vows was the “if… then…” phrase (Gen. 28:20; Num. 21:2; Judg. 11:30). The one making the religious vow proposed that if God did something (such as give protection or victory), then he or she in return would make some act of devotion. Not all vows, however, were conditional. Some, such as the Nazirite vow (Num. 6), were made out of devotion to God with no request placed upon God. Whether conditional or not, the emphasis in the Bible is on keeping the vow. A vow unfulfilled is worse than a vow never made. While vows do not appear often in the New Testament, Paul made one that involved shaving his head (Acts 18:18). (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "Cursed" -A curse is the opposite of a blessing. A curse is being in disfavor with God and thus God works against them and does not bring them good things. Why does God curse people? First, his justice demands it. Second, he hopes that they will repent and turn to righteousness that is only found in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 5:5-6)

* "I am a great king" -The sign above Jesus as he hung on the cross said, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews". (John 19:19)

Jesus with sign over him saying Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

* See a illustration of Jesus with the sign over him saying "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" to the right.

* John 18:33-37 "Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?" "Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?" Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

* John 19:12-15 "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" "Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. "We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered."

* "feared among the nations" -Fear is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is knowing judgment because of sins against God and man. Fear leads to repentance and righteous living. Fear leads us to God's love and forgiveness. Fear frees us from the curse and leads us to blessings.

* Hebrews 2:14-15 "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."

* Galatians 3:23-25 "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."

* Romans 8:15-17 "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

>How are promises to God made and then rationalized away? (Matt. 5:33-37)

* Matthew 5:33-37 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

* J. Vernen McGee wrote regarding Paul's vow while in Jerusalem, "Under grace, friend, if you want to make a vow, you can make it. And if you do not want to make a vow, you don't have to. Paul didn't force anyone else to make a vow. In fact, he said emphatically that no one has to do that. But if Paul wants to make a vow, that is his business. That is the marvellous freedom that we have in the grace of God today. There are some super-saints who form little cliques and make laws for the Christian. They say we can't do this and we can't do that. May I say to you very candidly that our relationship is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a love affair. If we love Him, of corse we will not do anything that will break our fellowship with Him. Don't insist that I go through your little wicket gate; I am to follow Him. He shows me what I can and cannot do in order to maintain fellowship with Him."

* Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

* James 2:14 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?"

* Hebrews 4:2 "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."

* Philippians 2:12-13 "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

III. Admonition for the Priests (2:1-9)

>6. What is an admonition and who was one directed to?

* Malachi 2:1 "And now this admonition is for you, O priests."

* "admonition" -An admonition is a gentle reproof, counsel, advice, or caution.

>What was it?

* Malachi 2:2 "If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me."

* "I will curse your blessings" -The priests was to pronounce God's blessing on the people. (Numbers 6:23-27). However, because they were hypocrites their office would be reversed and worse than before.

* "I have already cursed them" -Jesus pronounced woes during his ministry too. (Matthew 23) He did not pronounce curses.

>Why did he give it?

* "If you do not listen" -The priests knew at least some of the Bible if not all, but they did not follow it. Hypocrisy was a common verdict Jesus applied to the religious leaders of his day. (Matthew 23; Mark 7:6; Luke 12:56, 13:15) He also taught, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:3-5)

* "you did not set your heart to honor my name" -The greatest commandment is, "Love the Lord your God will all your heart, mind, soul, and strength."

* How can we honor Jesus' name? Obey him by loving him, loving others, and preach the gospel.

>7. How would the priest's descendants be affected by their contentment toward the Lord? (3-4)

* Malachi 2:3-4 "Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty."

* "offal" -Offal is the parts of a butchered animal that are considered inedible by human beings; carrion. They were to be taken outside of the camp and burned along with its hide and flesh. (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 8:17, 16:27)

Offal

* See a picture of offal to the right.

* "I will rebuke your descendants" -Jesus rebuked the religious leaders including the priests.

* "you will be carried off with it" -The next exile was in 70 A.D. the fulfillment of this promise.

* "my covenant with Levi" -The tribe of Levi was chosen while the Israelites were at Mount Sinai. They obeyed God's call during the golden calf sin. (Exodus 32:25-29; Numbers 3:12-13; Nehemiah 13:29)

>How was their ancestor, Levi different then they were? (5-6)

* Malachi 2:5-6 "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin."

* "a covenant of life and peace" -An allusion to the covenant with Phinehas, Aaron's grandson. (Numbers 25:10-13) Phinehas defended God's honor by killing two offenders involved in the idolatry and immorality connected with the Baal of Peor. (Numbers 25:1-3)

* "reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name"

* "He walked with me" -The Bible often compares a life of faith in Jesus as walking with God. Adam walked with God in the cool of the garden. (Genesis 2:19-20, 3:8-9) Enoch walked with God. (Genesis 5:22) Abraham walked with God. (Genesis 17:1, 18:1, 19:27) Jesus called his disciples saying, "Come follow me." (Matthew 4:19, 16:24, 19:21) People in the ancient middle east saw sharing lives together as walking with them. Travel was by foot sometimes for days. To walk with someone was to share common life with them. God desires this kind of relationship with everyone. Not many take Jesus' invitation to walk with him. Jesus' way is a road less traveled. (Matthew 7:13-14)

* "in peace and righteousness" -Walking with Jesus brings peace beyone understanding. Walking with Jesus is living a life of righteousness.

* "turned many from sin" -When we walk with Jesus, that is have a personal relationship with him we are to witness to others though word and action as Levi did.

>What can be learned?

* The Lord continually honors those who honors him. He makes covenants and does not break them.

* A life of faith in Jesus is a continual personal relationship in love, peace, and righteousness.

>8. How are we like the priests of the Old Testament? (7; 1 Peter 2:9-10; James 3:9-12)

* Malachi 2:7 "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty."

* 1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

* James 3:9-12 "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

* "the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge" -We repeat and teach the word's of the Lord Jesus.

* "from his mouth men should seek instruction" -When we lift of Jesus people will come to learn of Jesus from us.

* "because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty" -Jesus told us to go and preach the gospel. Apostle means sent. We are sent just as the apostles were sent.

Whispering girls

>How can our words cause stumbling? (8; Matt. 16:21-23)

* Malachi 2:8 "But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty."

* Matthew 16:21-23 "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

* "by your teaching have caused many to stumble" -Levi was said to walk with the Lord. (4) So did Phinehas. When our teachings cause people to live by faith in Jesus we help them to walk with Jesus. If we draw people away from Jesus we cause them to stumble.

* Jesus called the religious leaders in his day blind guides. He taught, "Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit." (Matthew 15:14)

* Romans 1:28-32 "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Millstone on neck

>What will happen to those whose words cause others to stumble? (9; Mark 9:42-47)

* Malachi 2:9 "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law."

* Mark 9:42-47 "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,"

* "shown partiality in matters of the law" -Forbidden in Leviticus 19:15. The priests were to be like God in that no matter how rich or poor, prominent or common, no matter the gender, no matter the age, no matter anything outward the priests were to conduct their service.

IV. Judah Unfaithful (2:10-16)

>9. What does it mean to break "faith with one another"?

* Malachi 2:10 "Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?"

* "Have we not all one Father?" -At the beginning of chapter 1 the Lord proclaims that Israel was his son. The obvious conclusion is that he is their Father. Jesus often called God his Father, not only because he had no human father, but also because he was a Jew and a descendant of Jacob (Israel).

* "covenant" -The covenant made at Mount Sinai.

* "breaking faith with one another" -The trust between fellow Jews was broken. They did not trust each other. Some betrayed others. Others gave away secrets.

* 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

>What were the men doing? (11-12)

* Malachi 2:11-12 "Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob--even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty."

* "in Israel" -Israel indicates all twelve tribes. During Malachi's life, after the exile, most of the people in the promised land were from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Though some of the other tribes were with them. (Luke 2:36)

* "Judah has desecrated the sanctuary" -The sanctuary is a specific place, namely the temple. Sanctuaries were places set aside as sacred and holy. On sites where the patriarchs had erected altars, the people of Israel later built shrines and temples to commemorate the encounters with God.

* "marrying the daughter of a foreign god" -The Israelites were not to take wives and husbands from the nations around them. However, if those people renounced the gods of their forefathers and accepted the God of Israel marraige was permitted. Judah, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Boaz, David, Solomon, and many other Israelites took foreign women as their wives. Some married women who accepted the God of Israel. Others did not for example Solomon. (1 Kings 11:1-6) When they did their hearts were turned

* "may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob" -Marrying a woman who worshipped other gods was a sign of a lack of priorities. Such a person was to be cut off from the Lord's society. "Tents of Jacob" means the Jewish society. This also may be translated, "May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob anyone who gives testimony in behalf of the man who does this." If this understanding of the Hebrew is correct than the one to be cut off is the one who defends such practices.

* Ezra and Nehemiah both warned against this telling them to repent. (Ezra 9:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23-29)

Wedding under canape

* See a wedding under a canape to the right.

>Why is marriage with a true believer so important? (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

* 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

* Love between others is secondary to our love with God. Also, marrying someone based on emotions alone, while ignoring spiritual implications is foolish. Life has troubles. When troubles hit a marriage the true nature of the couple is seen. An unbeliever reacts different to troubles then a believer. Eventually a believer will have to decide what to do, and divorce is detestable to the Lord. An unmarried person must consider the hard life they will have when they marry an unbeliever.

* As fewer and fewer people follow the Lord Jesus and attend churches it becomes harder and harder for Christians to meet other believers in Jesus. Yet the Lord has someone for everyone whose heart is inclinded to be marry. Waiting patiently takes faith.

* 1 Timothy 5:11-15 "As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan."

* 1 Corinthians 9:5 "Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?"

>10. Why wasn't the Lord accepting their offerings? (13-14)

* Malachi 2:13-14 "Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant."

* "You flood the LORD's altar with tears" -The Lord was not responding to their sacrifices with blessing.

* "You ask, 'Why?'" -"Why me Lord?" is a common question. When trouble comes and when our prayers aren't answered we wonder why. Job and Habakkuk asked this question for different reasons. When a loved one becomes ill or dies we ask why. When we lose a job or get laid off we ask why. When evil prospers and our prayers are unanswered we ask why. When illness and injury falls upon us we ask why. Many prophets tell the Israelites why these things happen and what they needed to do, repent and seek the Lord. How about the apostles? When they were beaten, jailed and killed did they need to repent? No. What about Job was he in error and need to repent? No. When Caleb and Joshua had to suffer with the rest of Israel for 40 years in the desert even though they took a stand for the Lord did they deserve it. No. Sometimes we will get an answer to why troubles and distress has come to us. Other times we do not. It is impossible to give a systematic chart to come up with answers and direction. It is also foolish for in the end the Lord wants us to come to him. Did those in Malachi's day get an answer? Yes.

* "It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth" -When we make marriage vows the Lord and the community is witness to our vows, our covenant of marraige.

* "because you have broken faith with her" -Divorce was another problem in Malachi's time. Divorce was still an issue among the Jews in Jesus' time.

* "though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant" -Marriage is a covenant between a man and an woman. The Lord does not break his covenants and he does not want us to break our covenant. Consider what he endured and continues to endure by keeping his covenants with Israel and us.

* Matthew 19:3-12 "Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

>What is one thing the Lord seeking through marriage? (15)

* Malachi 2:15 "Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth."

* "made them one" -The union between man and woman is more than a contract, more than a covenant.

* "In flesh and spirit they are his" -A three way union, between one man, one woman, and the Lord.

* "he was seeking godly offspring" -Our children is very important to the Lord. When the Lord brought Even to Adam he said, "Be fruitful and increase in number." Godly offspring means his offspring.

* "guard yourself in your spirit" -Every married couple are faced with temptations to beak their covenant. The evil one hates marriage and godly offspring.

* "the wife of your youth" -Divorce amongst many both then and now happen after several years. Divorce amongst those who call themselves Christian is the same percentage as unbelievers and from other religions. This is a sign of a lack of understanding in the Lord's way and life of faith.

>Why is divorce hated? (16)

* Malachi 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith."

* "violence" -Divorce is equated with violence.

* Luke 16:18 "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

>What did Jesus have to say about marriage and divorce? (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:3-12)

* Matthew 5:31-32 "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery."

* Matthew 19:3-12 "Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it."

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