Malachi Chapter Two

 

Read Malachi 2:1-10 – Condemnation of the Priests of Judea

 

v.1And now, O YE priests, this commandment is for you.”

 

            God through the words of his prophet began his condemnation of the priests of Judea in chapter 1 verse 6 and continues well into chapter two.  There are two things that this brings to mind.  Those who have greater responsibility within the church that do not uphold the will of God will have greater condemnation.

 

James 3:1  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (heavier judgment ASV).

 

            Secondly those that have accepted leadership responsibilities within the kingdom of God, are also held to a higher expectation by God than are others.  Under the Mosaic Covenant these were the priests, under the New Testament Covenant this is the responsibility of the shepherds, the elders of a congregation:

 

I Peter 5:1-3The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:  2Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.”

 

            His ordained leaders are to “FEED THE FLOCK”, take it’s “OVERSIGHT”, treat it as God’s own precious possession entrusted to their care, living and leading as examples of all of those things that God expects us to be as his children.  This was the responsibility of the Old Testament priests just as it is of the elders in the Lord’s church today.  But just as is true of the elders within many congregations of the Lord’s church today, the priests of Judea were failing miserably.

 

v.2If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.”

 

            From the very beginning of their existence as a nation God had warned Israel, her people, her leaders and her priests that:

 

Leviticus 26:14But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;”

 

That he would: bring them terror, consumption, burning ague, they would sow their seed in vain because their enemies would eat the bounty it yielded.  God would set his face against them, their enemies would slay them and those that hated them would rule over them.  This warning is repeated in Moses’ sermon just before his death:

 

Deuteronomy 28:15But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:”

 

And then God causes Moses to list a variety of curses, similar to those listed in Leviticus.  But Israel never learned her lesson for very long.  They would turn away from God, God would punish them, they would repent and be OK for a while, then start the cycle of apostasy, rebellion and unfaithfulness to God all over again and God would punish them.  At the time of Malachi the remnant left that was send back to Jerusalem after being punished by captivity in Babylon, had done reasonably well for about 120 years then but now have turned away from the way they were supposed to be going.  In doing so they hear again very similar warnings:

 

v.3-4Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.  4And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.”

 

            God would corrupt or rebuke their seed, their solemn feasts would be offensive to God, they would again, through suffering and God’s punishment realize that it is God whom they must serve.  The priests, the tribe of Levi had been set aside, consecrated to God to serve God in the daily worship in the tabernacle and temple.

 

Numbers 3:45Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.”

 

In exchange for their service God provided the means for their support by the rest of the nation of Israel. 

 

Numbers 18:21And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

 

They were to serve in the tabernacle, prepare and present the sacrifices in worship to God, teach the law to others, keep the spiritual well-being of the children of Israel.

 

v.5My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.”

 

            God’s covenant with Levi was to be a covenant of peace, prosperity and one wherein the sons of Levi would stand in fear or awe of Almighty God.

 

Numbers 25:12-13Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:  13And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.”

 

The blessing by Moses in his final sermon to Israel carried with it words of blessing for Levi and all of his children.

 

Deuteronomy 33:8-9And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;  9Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.”

 

v.6The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.”

 

            God through his prophet holds up Levi to the priests of Judea as an example of what God expects them to be.  First of all the “LAW OF TRUTH” was found is “HIS MOUTH”.  One of the responsibilities of the priests of the Old Covenant was that:

 

They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.” Deuteronomy 33:10

 

A major part of the reason that Israel was so rebellious and punished by God was because the priests did not carry out this responsibility.

 

Jeremiah 23:22But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.”

 

Under the New Testament or New Covenant, because we are all priests, we all have this same God given responsibility.  Jesus gives us this commandment through what we call the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16) and James reminds us of the spiritual benefits of carrying out this responsibility:

 

James 5:20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

 

v.7For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.”

 

            Since the priests were to the teachers of the Law to the Israelite people one of their primary responsibilities was to prepare themselves and know the Law.  One example that we find in the O.T. is Ezra who served at Jerusalem less than 50 years before Malachi’s writing.

 

Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

 

v.8But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.”

 

            The religious leaders of Judea, the very people who God held responsible to maintain the purity of the Word of God, to know the Law, to teach the law to others have turned out to be the problem.  They were no better than the sons of Eli at the time of Samuel:

 

I Samuel 2:12Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” v.17Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.”

 

When Nehemiah came from Babylon to Jerusalem almost 100 years after the Jews had returned from captivity he found the same kinds of problems:

 

Nehemiah 13:29Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.”

 

Now, just a few years later Malachi must deal with the same kinds of problems.

 

v.9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.”

 

            Also, just as the sons of Eli were corrupt, the current priests were being partial in their judgments, partial to one over another, whether due to politics, wealth, family connections or some other reason.  This is a direct violation of God’s Covenant with Israel:

 

Deuteronomy 1:17Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.”

 

The same conditions now exist that existed before the time of the destruction of Israel during the prophecy of Micah:

 

Micah 3:11The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.”

 

Israel in all of this corruption is standing defiantly in the face of God but still claiming to be God’s children, God’s chosen people.  In the church today we have the same conditions.  Many, if not most congregations in this country have the same kind of problems today; elders that seek to please the people rather than God, preachers that are hirelings, preaching for a salary with little attention to saving men’s souls and we could go on but time does not permit.

 

v.10 “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

 

            The prophet asks, “HAVE WE NOT ALL ONE FATHER”; “ONE GOD”; the God who “CREATED US”; of course we all understand that this is so.  Job, who is recorded in what is probably the oldest book of the Bible, recognized this truth:

 

Job 31:15 “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?”

 

In God’s New Covenant with mankind, as we noted earlier in the study of this book the oneness of God is emphasized:

 

I Corinthians 8:6 “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”

 

And as Paul wrote to the Ephesian church:

 

Ephesians 4:6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Yet!  Yet, in the time of the priests of Judea they profaned the “COVENANT OF OUR FATHERS”.  They turned their backs on God and God’s law, they perverted it in their practice, they ignored it where they chose, failing to keep the solemn feasts, allowing their lives to be corrupted by all manner of sin.  And it is not any different today.  It doesn’t take long.  In our lifetime we have seen the Lord’s church corrupted, destroyed, led astray, turned in many places into just another denomination that unfortunately still carries the name “church of Christ”.  Paul warned us:

 

II Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

 

Read Malachi 2:11-13Judea’s Idolatry

 

v.11Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.”

 

            Is the prophet talking about literal idol worship here?  No, Judea has followed the same practice that has kept men in trouble with God since the beginning of time.  In Genesis 6:2 we find that:

 

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

 

When Israel entered the promised land they were commanded by God not to marry the Canaanites:

 

Deuteronomy 7:3-4Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

 

But even after the captivity the remnant of Israel has not learned the lessons of history and has repeated what God has forbidden:

 

Ezra 10:2And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.”

 

Nehemiah 13:23In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:”

 

And just as God had warned Israel in the wilderness against intermarriage with heathen women, here hundreds of years later the same old problem was causing them to turn away from God.  As is common to man, most families, even yet today, will follow the religion of the wife and mother rather than that of the husband and father.

 

v.12  The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.”

 

            So even the priests and Levites, those responsible for teaching and setting an example before God’s children had transgressed God’s commandment.  Nehemiah records the following about the grandson of the High Priest:

 

And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.  29Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.” Nehemiah 13:28-29

 

Sanballat was the governor or ruler of Samaria during the time of Persian rule, contemporary to Nehemiah and Malachi.  The Samaritans were a mixture of the Israelites left behind during the destruction of the Northern Kingdom and the captivity of the Southern Kingdom.  They intermarried with those around them, adopted their religion, their moral standards, etc. abandoning their inheritance as children of God.  Nehemiah records that he ran the young man off “CHASED HIM FROM ME” because he had defiled the priesthood.  Matthew Henry in his commentary calls those who married those who worshiped idols sons-in-law of the idol gods.

 

v.13And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.”

 

            The prophet writes that this is second thing that they do that has turned God against them.  The priests have not carried out their duties to know the law and to teach the people what they must do to be in harmony with God.  Now he has charged them with marrying foreign wives and allowing their influence to turn them from God.  They have been corrupted both spiritually and morally.  Consequently their worship is no longer acceptable to God.  This brings to mind the words of John the Apostle:

 

I John 1:6-7If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

 

When we have taken ourselves out of fellowship with God; when we no longer “WALK IN THE LIGHT” in obedience to our benevolent God; it doesn’t matter how much we weep at the place of his worship, it doesn’t matter if we cover the altar with our tears; it doesn’t matter if we give ourselves into the poverty; God will reject our offerings, refuse to received them in goodwill.  It doesn’t matter whether our offerings are spiritual worship, giving of our means, prayer or anything else that we would present to God, if we are not faithful, if we are not “walking” with him; he won’t accept it.

 

Read Malachi 2:14-16 Judea Was Guilty of Adultery

 

v.14Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”

 

            Just as is common in this world today and sadly also among those who claim to be the Lord’s people divorce was easily obtained and common among the Jews of the time of Malachi.  It is true that God had allowed divorce for several reasons under the Mosaic Covenant:

 

Matthew 19:8 “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

 

But as is also common when God has been benevolent with mankind; the Jews were abusing their freedom.  They were dealing “TREACHEROUSLY”, breaking their marriage “COVENANT” for no good reason.  They were apparently discarding the “WIFE OF THY YOUTH” like many 40+ year old men, and some women, with an itch they can’t scratch any other way and seeking a younger replacement.

            Though divorce was allowed they were ignoring the wisdom provided to them through the Holy Spirit and pen of Solomon.  That wisdom would:

 

…deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;  17Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.  18For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.” Proverbs 2:16-18

 

v.15But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit?  And why one?  He seeks godly offspring.  Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (NKJV).

 

            Marriage is a God ordained covenant, while sometimes it may not be a match made in heaven it definitely is an institution; a relationship that is bound, not only by a covenant between two people but also a covenant made before and with God.  The prophet asks the question that all must hear “DID HE NOT MAKE them ONE?”  Hear the words of our Saviour:

 

Matthew 19:4-5And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,  5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”

 

One of the reasons that God created the covenant of marriage was to provide a legitimate means for man to fill the earth; “HE SEEKS GODLY OFFSPRING”.  But not everyone has a Christian mate so the Holy Spirit in the writing of the Apostle Paul provides the following that should be encouragement to Christians who do not have Christian mates:

 

I Corinthians 7:14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

 

Here the Christian mate is faithful and this will prevent them from being led away from God by an unfaithful spouse and it also keeps open the opportunity to teach the unfaithful mate. 

Today among the elite of our country; whether it be civic leaders, business people, entertainers, athletes or others; those who should be setting an example are the worst offenders.  This was also true in Judea in the time of Malachi:

 

Ezra 9:2For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.”

 

v.16  For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts.  Therefore take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously.” (NKJV)

 

            The simple question is: How can one who claims to be a child of God participate in something that God hates and maintain their relationship with their God?  The obvious answer is that they cannot.  The Son of God gave us one exception to this rule in Matthew 19:9; the one exception to His rule that men seek to circumvent, pervert and ignore just as the Jews did with their freedom to divorce under the Old Covenant.

 

Read Malachi 2:17 – God is Weary of Their Words

 

v.17Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”

 

            What was the problem that the prophet addresses here?  Just as Isaiah described Judah in his day:

 

Isaiah 5:20-2120Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

 

            They called evil good and good evil.  They chose to follow that which God hated and called it good and to ignore the words of God that were truly good.  In their worship and in their lives they turned away from what God required, what God had authorized and substituted that which they thought appropriate.  They followed the path of Cain, who did this worship thing his way.  Consequently; the words of their prayers, the melodies of their worship, made God weary to the point that he will no longer hear them, lest they repent. 

Men, not only among the denominations but all over the brotherhood of Christ are making the same mistake today and are too haughty, too proud, too enamored in their own man-made wisdom to hear anything else.

Observations:

 

  1. When God was ready to talk to his people who were learned in the Law; who were expected to know His will, He minced no words; He apparently did not concern himself with treading on their sensitivities.  He told his priests that His message was for them.  We find the same example in the words of the Son of God:

 

Matthew 21:45And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.”

 

  1. God keeps his promises.  In the final sermon of Moses, many blessings were promised and warnings were made to Israel:

 

Deuteronomy 28:1And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:” v.15But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:”

 

And God kept those promises.  If we glean no other lesson but this from our study of the Old Testament we will be spiritually richer as a result of our efforts.  God has not changed as the Apostle Peter assures us:

 

II Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

 

  1. God made a covenant with Levi and those who followed him and expected them to keep it.  God has made a covenant with mankind today and fully expects us to keep it.

 

Hebrews 8:8-10For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:”

 

  1. In attitude and in conduct we need to strive to be like Levi.  We need to honor our covenant with God, appreciate the peace that it provides, stand in awe of God, reverence the name of God, to speak the truth of God’s law always, to be pure in heart and in speech, to walk in fellowship with God (I John 1:5-7) and to lead others to The Way.

 

  1. Every Christian is a priest of God; obligated and privileged to serve as a priest.

 

Revelation 5:10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (1 Peter 2:5).

 

Those that are priests that are must know the law of God, conduct our speech from that knowledge, teach others from God’s law, serving as a faithful messenger of God; dedicated to his service (Romans 12:1).

 

  1. Today many of God’s “priests” have failed to follow God’s word and have placed themselves in the same situation of the priests did in the days of Malachi.

 

  1. All of God’s priests, all of those who are “IN CHRIST” all of those who have “ONE FATHER”, are all members of the “ONE BODY” the church, God’s spiritual family.  As brethren we must love one another, consider one another, be faithful to each other and to God.

 

  1. It not enough to come to our place of worship in tears, beseeching God for his richest blessings; we must truly worship God as he has authorized.  We much worship “IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH” John 4:24.

 

  1. God will not accept the worship of hypocrites, those who claim to be faithful but conduct their lives contrary to his commandments and disregard his commandments concerning homes and families.

 

  1. God conducted the first wedding and gave the bride away.  He is witness and blesses all weddings that followed, including ours.  Our marriage covenant is both a covenant with each other and a covenant with God.

 

  1. God stresses the need for the home to produce godly offspring and gives us instruction regarding how to accomplish His purpose.  Both parents and children have responsibilities:

 

Ephesians 6:1-4Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

 

If either one; parents or children fail to honor the commandment of God we will not achieve the result that God wants.  The one who fails will bear the result of their failure.

 

  1. God requires that man and wife be faithful to Him and to each other.  It is His plan that marriage be a lifetime proposition “until death do us part”.  Man does not have the authority to change the will of God.  With the practice of easy divorce a marriage can be “right” in the sight of man; legal in terms of the courts of our land never and be a marriage in the sight of God.  God hates divorce.  God hates cruelty of any kind toward anyone or anything, it has no place in the life of a Christian.

 

  1. God’s recipe for a successful marriage – be faithful to God, be faithful to each other and keep your passions, whether anger or whatever their nature, under control.

 

  1.  Never call evil good or good evil in order to justify your actions.  The only source of wisdom is the Word of God.  Live life walking in the light of life in harmony and fellowship with God.  Anything else will cause God to become weary of your words, your prayers, your praise and turn from you.