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The Book of Malachi
Chapter 1

The Love of God for Israel, Malachi 1:1–5

Malachi 1:1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. (KJV)

A “burden” is a judgment or doom from God, and it will be a very strong and rigorous rebuke that God will give to them. Malachi was given a message from God. Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet, preaching after Haggai, Zechariah and Nehemiah. The temple had been rebuilt for almost a century, and the people were losing their enthusiasm for worship. Indifference had set in because none of the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah had been fulfilled. Many of the sins that had brought the downfall of Jerusalem in 586 BC were still being practiced. Malachi had to deal with the same problems with which Nehemiah had. The first problem was the corruption of the priesthood. The second is their foreign marriages and the divorce of their Israelite wives. The third problem is that the people of Israel were neglecting their giving the tithes and offerings to God. More on this in later lessons.

Malachi 1:2-3 I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, [3] And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. (KJV)

God’s first message through Malachi was “I have loved you.” Isn’t that a wonderful way to begin? Although this particular message applied specifically to Israel, it is a message of hope for ALL people in ALL times. Many people are hostile about God’s love, using political and economic progress as a measure of success. Because the government was corrupt and the economy poor, the Israelites assumed that God did not love them. They were wrong. God loved them, then and now! He loves all people because he made them; but, His eternal rewards go only to those who are faithful to Him. How do you think Israel will respond to that? Remember, they have returned to the land from Babylon, and are discouraged about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. There are some signs of prosperity, and they are going through the ritualistic form of worship in the rebuilt temple.

God says to them, “I have loved you,” but listen to them! What do they say? “Wherein hast thou loved us?” Can you believe, that these people would be so bold and brazen as to speak to God like that? They are saying, “How have You loved us?” Do you think that people today feel the same way? I can hear some of them say, “Look at the things that are happening to us today. How can you say that God loves us?” Yes! There are some bad things happening in today's world. And it is my humble opinion that a lot of it goes back to sin . . . our sin today. YES! God does love! But He also hates . . . SIN! He hates apostasy, disobedience, distrust, denial of His Word, injustice anywhere, rejection of Christ, and a multitude of immorality sins . . . I could go on, but I think you get the picture. God SHALL punish sin . . . ALL sin, everywhere!

God made it very clear to Israel from the very beginning that He loved them. And my friend, IF you trust and obey God, He will love you too.

God is prepared to prove what He has said, and His answer is: “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” This is a huge statement that God makes to them. The people were doubting the love of God, and God reminds them of the origin of their nation. Jacob and Esau were twins. God made a difference between them from the very start (Gen. 25:22–23), but it was about 1500 years before He stated as He does here, that He loved Jacob.

WHY would God say that He loved Jacob and hated Esau? God never said this until Jacob and Esau had become two great nations which had long histories. God said that He loved Jacob because of the fact that He knew what was in Jacob’s heart. He knew that Jacob loved Him and had a desire for Him, but that Esau did not have a desire for God at all. It took 1500 years of history before God made the kind of statement He makes here in Malachi. We need to understand that the difference here between loving and hating is simply that the life of the nation that came from Esau, which is Edom, and the life of the nation which came from Jacob, which is Israel, demonstrate that God was right when He said that He loved one and hated the other.

All this reveals something that we need to face up to today. We have majored so much on the love of God. Do you realize that if God loves, He also hates! NO one can love without hating. Love and hate are very close together. If God loves the good, He MUST hate the evil . . . it cannot be any other way!

The histories of the nation of Israel and the nation of Edom are completely different. Because of Esau’s life, and the evil which was inborn in him, God was justified in making this statement “Esau I have hated.” It simply means that God chose Jacob, not his brother Esau, to be the one through whom the nation of Israel and the Messiah would come (Rom.9:10-13). God allowed Esau to father a nation, but this nation, Edom, later became one of Israel’s main enemies.

In Luke 14:26, the word “hate” means to love less. We must put Jesus first, in ALL things, and above ALL people: father, mother, brother, sister, spouse, anyone!

Malachi 1:4-5 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. [5] And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel. (KJV)

After God judged Edom, they never made a comeback. God had a real relationship with His TRUE people. He was the Father of the nation; He was their Lord, their God, and also their Judge. And He judged them most severely. In fact, it would seem that later on He judged Israel more severely than He judged Edom . . . but that was when they rejected the Messiah.

There is much said today about “God is love” (1 Jn.4:8). God does not say to Israel that He is love. He says, “I have loved you and I have demonstrated it.” God was a long time telling the human family that He loved them, but He demonstrated it long before He said it. He demonstrated it from the very beginning, in the lives of Adam and Eve, from the time of the call of Abraham, and right down to this present day.

Sinful Priests Malachi 1:6-14

Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? (KJV)

God accused the priests with failing to honor Him, and even showing contempt for His Holy Name. They were NOT good examples to the people, like SO many of today's covetous, modern leaders. They did not worship God properly . . . the priests were not following God's laws for the sacrifices. The nation’s leaders had once again fallen away from God, taking the people right along with them. The worship of God was no longer heartfelt adoration; it had become simply a burdensome job for the priests.

God was not Father to individual Israelites, like He is to His children (John 1:12-13; 3:3-8) but God called the NATION of Israel His son in the Old Testament. They went to the temple, went through the rituals; the priests sarcastically asked “How have we despised Thy Name?”

Malachi 1:7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. (KJV)

God told them they had offered corrupt sacrifices on His altar. Then, they asked “How have we defiled the sacrifices?” The Lord answers “You pollute them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.”

The people sacrificed to God wrongly by:

  • #1 being as cheap as possible,
  • #2. not caring how they offered the sacrifice, and
  • #3. outright disobedience; sacrificing their way and not as God had commanded. This showed their real attitudes toward God.

"Bread" refers to the offering that was made on the altar. Verse 8 will clarify this. God says that their sacrifice was polluted, but they would not acknowledge that. They ask, “How have we polluted thee?” To pollute God was a serious charge, but the people dismiss the charge with pretended ignorance. They act as if God does not know what He is talking about. Then God says to them, “Because you say that the table of the Lord is contemptible.” What they are saying is that the Lord deserves no respect.

Malachi 1:8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. (KJV)

Giving blind animals or animals that are crippled and diseased was wrong. All sacrifices were to be without blemish of any kind. The smallest deformity or defect made a lamb unfit for sacrifice (Ex.12:5; Num.19:2), which looked forward to Christ (Heb.7:26; 1 Pet.1:19). This verse makes it quite clear that He is talking about animal sacrifices. God made it clear to Israel at the start that nothing that was maimed or defiled in any way was to be offered to Him. Lev.22:20-23 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. [21] And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein. [22] Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the Lord. [23] Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted. (KJV)

Malachi 1:9 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts. (KJV)

These people continued giving, with an OUTWARD show, but their hearts simply were NOT right with God. They were hypocrites! Their hearts were corrupted and polluted, therefore their offering was polluted. With such offerings, the Lord will NOT receive anyone kindly. What about today? Does this apply to us? Do we offer polluted offerings to God?

Malachi 1:10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. (KJV)

The Lord said He wished that someone would shut the Temple doors so that they could not offer their contemptible sacrifices. He was NOT pleased with them and He refused their offerings.

Malachi 1:11 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. (KJV)

The Lord told them that His Name would be honored by the Gentiles from morning till night. This is speaking of the Millennium. All around the world they would offer sweet incense (prayer) and pure offerings in honor of His Name. “For My Name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord.

Malachi 1:12 But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. (KJV)

The Lord told them “You dishonor My Name by bringing contemptible sacrifices. By doing this, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table.”

Malachi 1:13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. (KJV)

They were saying it was too hard to serve the Lord, and they turned up their noses at His commands. They brought animals that were stolen, mutilated, crippled and sick, to present to the Almighty Lord as offerings. “Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord. As for us today, we may get tired IN the work of the Lord, but let us never get tired OF the work.

Malachi 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (KJV)

The Lord told them “A curse is on the cheater who sacrifices a worthless animal to Me, when he has in his flock a good animal that he promised to give Me! For I am a great King, and people of all nations fear Me.” They had an abundant harvest, but decided they would keep it for themselves. They chose instead, to offer to God the corrupt, the lame and the sick. Do we today, do similar things? Are we any better than they? OR, do we really give God the best we have, as we should?

Book of Malachi

Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4

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