2576.) Malachi 1

Mala1 prophetMalachi 1   (ESV)

The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.

Malachi makes no reference to his personal life or work, and he is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament. But his writings show him to have been a dedicated prophet, used effectively to warn people of sin and urge them to conduct their lives in a manner pleasing to God. He speaks against intermarriage with foreign people, failure to pay tithes, and offering of blemished sacrifices. Probably the most outstanding matter regarding him was that God granted him the privilege of bringing the illustrious line of writing prophets to a close. He is the last.

–Leon J. Wood

The Lord‘s Love for Israel

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

J. Campbell Morgan translates this as “I have loved you, I do love you, I will love you,” says the Lord.

But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”

God reminds his people that he loved Jacob but hated Esau. This is not to be taken absolutely but relatively, i.e., God preferred, or chose Jacob. Neither are Jacob and Esau to be understood exclusively as individuals but as nations, Israel and Edom. God’s love, then, primarily has to do with covenant. God formed a covenant relationship with the Israelites, so that they were the special objects of his love. Nevertheless, Gentiles are not completely excluded. The creator and father of all people is cognizant that there are those who fear him in every nation (see chapter 1, verses 11 and 14).

–from “Malachi” in Old Testament Survey, by William Sanford Lasor, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush

God did not hate Esau in the sense of cursing him or striking out against him. Indeed, Esau was a blessed man (Genesis 33:9, 36:1-43). Yet when God chose Jacob, He left Esau unchosen in regard to receiving the blessing given to Abraham.

–David Guzik

The Priests’ Polluted Offerings

The book is written in a question-and-answer format sometimes called a disputation style.  There are six disputes.  We have already read the first one, above: 

Yahweh:  I have loved you.

The people:  How have you loved us?

Yahweh:  By choosing Jacob (Israel) over Esau (Edom).

The second dispute starts here and continues into chapter 2:

Yahweh:  Why do you priests despise my name?

Priests:  How have we despised your name?

Yahweh:  By offering polluted sacrifices.

Priests:  How have we done that?

Yahweh:  By offering blemished, sick, or lame animals.

–from “Malachi” in Old Testament Survey, by William Sanford Lasor, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord‘s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?

The altar was the place of sacrifice, and it belonged to God. Yet the priests of Malachi’s day disgraced God and His altar by offering defiled food to Him. Ministers today must never present defiled food to God in their ministry.

If the pastor’s sermon (or the Sunday School teacher’s lesson, etc.) is filled with funny jokes, clever anecdotes, and emotional stores but it lacks God’s word – this is like defiled food. To throw in a few Bible verses here and there to illustrate or back up the preacher’s stories, but to really make the sermon all about the preacher is to offer defiled food. If the sermon isn’t about Jesus, if it isn’t about God’s Word, then the preacher is setting defiled food on God’s altar.

If the pastor’s sermon is sloppy, without doing the work in the study when there was the opportunity to do that work, that is like offering defiled food before God. When the preacher will not labor in prayer and meditation over God’s word and seek His message for the people, the sermon can be and offering of defiled food. If the preacher does not hold fast the pattern of sound words and rightly divide the word of truth, it is all like setting defiled food on God’s altar.

If that preacher’s sermon is cold, refusing to show any concern or passion in the pulpit; if his passion is reserved for other things in life, then the sermon can be like defiled food. If the preacher can pontificate or argue with the best of them, but his messages have no deep passion for God or your people, the message may be like defiled food. If the preacher does his job and collects his paycheck but with a heart for Jesus that is cold, that preacher sets defiled food on God’s altar.

–David Guzik

Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.

The offerings were so poor that even the government would not accept them for payment of taxes!

And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.

This phrase is rich with irony. Scottish theologian James Moffatt’s paraphrase gives the sense: Try to pacify God and win his favour? How can he favour any one of you, says the Lord of hosts, when you offer him such sacrifices?

10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Mala1 sunrise

This is a glorious promise that the true worship of God will extend all over the earth. Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel and to go to every nation is part of God’s way of fulfilling this promise.

–David Guzik

12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.

_________________________

Music:

“My name shall be great among the nations,” God says!  Another way to say it — “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun,” which is an Isaac Watts hymn.  HERE  it is adapted by Keith & Kristyn Getty.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Images courtesy of:
The prophet Malachi.   http://baptistmessage.com/malachi-old-sins/
I have always loved you.   https://allacin.blogspot.com/2018/03/malachian-illustrated-summary-of-life.html
worthless offerings.   https://www.slideshare.net/jamespharr1/12-dollars-more
Malachi 1:11.    https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/1356-malachi-1/

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