Scripture reading – Malachi 1

Our 2-year chronological study of the Scriptures began January 1, 2021, has brought us to Malachi, the final book of Old Testament. Authored by the prophet whose name it bears; it is believed to have been written around 400 BC (though some scholars suggest an earlier date making him a contemporary of Nehemiah). Like Ezra and Nehemiah, Malachi’s ministry would have been to the remnant of Jews and their children that had returned from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem. Malachi’s prophecy is the last word of prophecy from the LORD in the Old Testament Scriptures, until Israel heard the “voice of one [John the Baptist] crying in the wilderness” (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23).

Malachi 1

Unlike the earlier prophets whose lineages were recorded, we know nothing about Malachi apart from his writing. Malachi described his ministry as, “The burden [weight and importance] of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi” (1:1). Though less than a century had passed since the Jews returned to their homeland, we see tragic evidences of backsliding from the first verses of the book.

Malachi’s Burden (1:2-5)

The prophet declared God’s love for Israel, writing, “I have loved you, saith the LORD” (1:2a). Yet, rather than acknowledge God’s love, the people obstinately asked, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” (1:2b). What an affront to the LORD who had wonderfully restored Israel to their land, and blessed the people as they rebuilt the Temple, Jerusalem, and their homes. In spite of the love and grace He had extended to the nation, the people questioned God’s favor (1:1-5).

Malachi answered the people, and reminded them of examples of God’s love and grace (1:2b-5). The LORD had chosen Jacob (Israel) and rejected Esau, although he was the eldest brother (1:2-3). When Israel and Judah were taken into captivity, Edom was also laid waste. Yet, Israel was restored to her land, while Edom was left impoverished (1:3). The LORD remembered His covenant with Israel, but with Edom He had no covenant or obligation (Isaiah 34:6; Psalm 137:7). Surely Israel had cause to see God’s unconditional, everlasting, unfailing love and favor (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Romans 5:8; Jeremiah 31:3-4).

Condemnations of Unfaithful Priests (1:6-14)

Tragically, we find the priests had failed the LORD and His people. The LORD had declared He loved Israel as a father loves a son (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1); yet, though a son is commanded to honor his father and mother (Exodus 20:12), the priests had dishonored the LORD by polluting His offerings and thereby defaming His name (1:6a). Some priests dared to challenge Malachi’s assertion, and demanded, “Wherein have we despised [the LORD’s] name” (1:6b).

Malachi rebuked the priests, and boldly asserted the people had brought inferiors offerings, and the priests had sacrificed less than God’s Law required (Deut. 15:19-23; Leviticus 22:17-33). They had had offered “polluted bread” (food), and sacrificed animals that were blind, lame, and sick (Malachi 1:7-8, 13). They dared offer God what human authorities would reject (1:8b).

The pretense of worship so offended God, that Malachi admonished the priests it would be better to “shut the doors” of the Temple and offer no sacrifices. Such is the offense when God’s people offer the LORD less than their best (1:10, 14).

Malachi then declared a great prophecy, and one that has in part come to pass. Though priests and the children of Israel had trifled with the LORD, Malachi declared the LORD would be glorified among the Gentiles. He prophesied, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles; And in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: For my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts” (1:11).

Sadly, the people whom God had chosen, and with whom He established His covenant, had once again turned from the LORD and despised His offerings (1:13). The LORD, faithful to His Word and covenant, warned, “cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, And voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing” (1:14).

Believer, what is your attitude when giving the LORD your tithes, time, and talents? Do you treasure the things that are eternal, or covet the things of this earth that are temporal and fleeting? (Matthew 6:21, 31-33)

Have you given Him your heart?

Romans 12:1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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