1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
The Lord’s Love for Israel
“I have loved 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!”
The Priests’ Polluted Offerings
“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? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. 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. 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. 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. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 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. 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.
Malachi 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Malachi is the last of the prophets in the Old Testament. In fact, when his voice ceased, over 400 years passed before God spoke to His people again. That voice would come through Jesus’.
He was the prophet after Haggai, Zechariah. The temple had been rebuilt for almost 100 years. The walls had been restructured under Nehemiah, the city filled with people again. But apathy had set in on and this led to slipshod worship by the people, indifference to the things and reform God had called them to.
Just think back to the worship services where the people as a whole stood before the Lord during the work of Ezra and Nehemiah – and how they vowed to continue to follow God. Through tears and commitment, they said they would. Those worship services were absolutely astounding! But the years passed and well… they slipped right back to where they were. The prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah had yet to be fulfilled with the coming Messiah. They grew lax. They gave into their own ways. And ironically, the sins that led to their first exile were picked back up in Judah.
The book of Malachi is a graphic dialogue between God and his hardened people. “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. Malachi 1:6
It doesn’t take long for our selfish, wayward spirit to take over our thinking and behavior. Without the continual working on our relationship with God, our hearts will grow cold. Our minds will run toward things that are not honoring of Him. Our actions will follow the darkness of our hearts. As this happens, slowly our own ways trump the ways of God and we fall right back to what we’ve been delivered from, the things of which we’ve been set free.
Malachi 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Malachi’s ministry would have overlapped with Nehemiah. The temple had been rebuilt (v. 13), and there was a presiding governor over the nation (v. 8), but the people were struggling with the same sins of their past.
As pastor and commentator David Guzik notes, there were three sins that continued to rise to the surface.
- The priesthood was defiled (Neh 13:29, Mal 1:6 to Mal 2:9)
- Marriage was corrupt in Israel (Neh 13:23-25, Mal 2:14-15)
- The tithe that should go to the Levites was kept from them (Neh 13:10-11, Mal 3:8-12)
It would be in this disobedience that God would remind the people of His faithfulness as well as the assurance of His will. It was not just a verbal love, but a tangible, measurable love. This leads us to a difficult passage to understand. God uses the example of Jacob and Esau as proof of His calling and election.
“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you ask: “How have You loved us?” “Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?” This is the LORD’s declaration. “Even so, I loved Jacob, 3 but I hated Esau. I turned his mountains into a wasteland, and gave his inheritance to the desert jackals.”Malachi 1:2-3 HCSB
This is difficult on many levels. First, we may get hung up on the strong language. How could God hate Esau? John Calvin believed that this idea spoke to being “accepted” or “rejected” more than “loved” and “hated.” MacArthur highlights that Genesis does not demonstrate any divine hatred toward Esau. His take is that it is not a more/less type of love but a divine choice. Based on God’s holy standard, which we cannot fully understand, Jacob was chosen. Our natural inclination is to think this isn’t fair, however, Esau was a blessed man (Gen 33:9; Gen 36:1-43). He was simply not chosen in regard to the blessing from Abraham.
But Paul squashes this theory in his own commentary on this passage in Romans 9.
As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau. 14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.Romans 9:13-16 HCSB
So, we know that it was not conditional. Jacob and Esau both sinned against God. They both rebelled against Him and earned His judgment. However, in His grace, and for reasons we cannot fully understand, God decided to show mercy on Jacob. According to Paul, this is not injustice, but simply the will of God interacting with flawed human beings for His glory.
Theologically, this is not black and white. Esau and Edom were devastated by God, but so was Israel on occasion. Over the sweep of Scripture, there were many who were outside of God’s covenantal favor who were recipients of His grace. Rahab is a perfect example of this. All of us who are not Jewish were at one time outsiders to God’s favor. Through faith in Jesus, God adopted us into His family even though we were not recipients of His original covenant.
Just like Jesus chose His 12 disciples, God chooses some for a more intimate relationship. However, His grace extends universally to all people. Some will realize that grace and respond with repentance and others will reject His grace and live for themselves. If God would save everyone, free will would not exist and He would deny His righteousness. If God chose to save no one, it would deny His love and human free will (and sin) would seem to overrule His sovereignty. The balance is both His divine election and the opportunity for us to respond in our free will.
Warren Wiersbe gives a simplified explanation of this idea using Moses and Pharaoh.
“Moses was a Jew, Pharaoh was a Gentile; yet both were sinners. In fact, both were murderers! Both saw God’s wonders. Yet Moses was saved and Pharaoh was lost. God raised up Pharaoh that He might reveal His glory and power; and He had mercy on Moses that He might use him to deliver the people of Israel. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave; yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God — because God willed it that way. God is sovereign in His work and acts according to His own will and purposes. So it was not a matter of righteousness but of the sovereign will of God.
By declaring His Word and revealing His power, God gave Pharaoh opportunity to repent; but instead, Pharaoh resisted God and hardened his heart. The fault lay not with God but Pharaoh. The same sunlight that melts the ice also hardens the clay. God was not unrighteous in His dealings with Pharaoh because He gave him many opportunities to repent and believe.”Warren Wiersbe
Pharaoh knew the truth. He even experienced it firsthand by witnessing God’s special relationship with Moses. But in the end, he still had a choice. God’s choosing of Moses did not negate the reality that Pharoah witnessed and the opportunity he had to turn and repent. All of this should lead us to gratitude for all the ways that God shows us mercy! We have earned death through sin, but God is patient, continually working in His divine will to reveal His love and grace through relationships with humanity. God’s grace really is utterly amazing.