God's Love: Israel's Ingratitude: THE Priests'
Mercenary Spirit: A Gentile Spiritual
Priesthood Shall Supersede Them.
1. burden—heavy sentence.
to Israel—represented now by the two
tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with individuals of the ten tribes who
had returned with the Jews from Babylon. So "Israel" is used, Ezr 7:10. Compare 2Ch 21:2, "Jehoshaphat king of Israel,"
where Judah, rather than the ten tribes, is regarded as the truest
representative of Israel (compare 2Ch 12:6; 28:19).
Malachi—see Introduction. God sent no prophet after him
till John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, in order to enflame
His people with the more ardent desire for Him, the great antitype and
fulfiller of prophecy.
2. I have loved you—above other men;
nay, even above the other descendants of Abraham and Isaac. Such
gratuitous love on My part called for love on yours. But the return ye
make is sin and dishonor to Me. This which is to be supplied is left
unexpressed, sorrow as it were breaking off the sentence [Menochius], (De 7:8; Ho 11:1).
Wherein hast thou loved us?—In painful
contrast to the tearful tenderness of God's love stands their insolent
challenge. The root of their sin was insensibility to God's
love, and to their own wickedness. Having had prosperity taken
from them, they imply they have no tokens of God's love; they look at
what God had taken, not at what God had left. God's love is often least
acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer God does
not love us because He afflicts us. Men, instead of referring their
sufferings to their proper cause, their own sin, impiously accuse God
of indifference to their welfare [Moore]. Thus Mal 1:1-4 form a fit introduction to the whole
Was not Esau Jacob's brother?—and so,
as far as dignity went, as much entitled to God's favor as Jacob. My
adoption of Jacob, therefore, was altogether by gratuitous favor (Ro 9:13). So God has passed by our elder
brethren, the angels who kept not their first estate, and yet He has
provided salvation for man. The perpetual rejection of the fallen
angels, like the perpetual desolations of Edom, attests God's severity
to the lost, and goodness to those gratuitously saved. The sovereign
eternal purpose of God is the only ground on which He bestows on one
favors withheld from another. There are difficulties in referring
salvation to the election of God, there are greater in referring it to
the election of man [Moore]. Jehovah
illustrates His condescension and patience in arguing the case with
3. hated—not positively, but relatively;
that is, did not choose him out to be the object of gratuitous favor,
as I did Jacob (compare Lu 14:26, with Mt
10:37; Ge 29:30, 31; De 21:15, 16).
laid his mountains … waste—that
is, his territory which was generally mountainous. Israel was, it is
true, punished by the Chaldeans, but Edom has been utterly destroyed;
namely, either by Nebuchadnezzar [Rosenmuller], or by the neighboring peoples, Egypt,
Ammon, and Moab [Josephus,
Antiquities, 10.9,7; Maurer],
dragons—jackals [Moore] (compare Isa 34:13). Maurer
translates, "Abodes of the wilderness," from an Arabic
root "to stop," or "to abide." English Version is
4. Whereas—"But if" Edom say
[Maurer]. Edom may strive as she may to
recover herself, but it shall be in vain, for I doom her to perpetual
desolation, whereas I restore Israel. This Jehovah states, to
illustrate His gratuitous love to Israel, rather than to Edom.
border of wickedness—a region given
over to the curse of reprobation [Calvin]. For a time Judea seemed as desolate as
Idumea; but though the latter was once the highway of Eastern commerce,
now the lonely rock-houses of Petra attest the fulfilment of the
prophecy. It is still "the border of wickedness," being the resort of
the marauding tribes of the desert. Judea's restoration, though
delayed, is yet certain.
the Lord hath indignation—"the people
of My curse" (Isa 34:5).
5. from the border of Israel—Ye,
restored to your own "borders" in Israel, "from" them shall raise your
voices to "magnify the Lord," acknowledging that Jehovah has shown to
you a gratuitous favor not shown to Edom, and so ought to be especially
"magnified from the borders of Israel."
6. Turning from the people to the priests,
Jehovah asks, whereas His love to the people was so great, where was
their love towards Him? If the priests, as they profess, regard Him as
their Father (Isa 63:16)
and Master, let them show the reality of their profession by love
and reverential fear (Ex 20:12; Lu 6:46). He addresses the priests because they
ought to be leaders in piety to the rest of the people, whereas they
are foremost in "despising His name."
Wherein have we despised, &c.—The
same captious spirit of self-satisfied insensibility as prompted their
question (Mal 1:2),
"Wherein hast Thou loved us?" They are blind alike to God's love and
their own guilt.
7. ye offer, &c.—God's answer to
their challenge (Mal 1:6),
"Wherein have we despised?"
polluted bread—namely, blemished
sacrifices (Mal 1:8, 13, 14; De 15:21). So "the bread of thy God" is
used for "sacrifices to God" (Le 21:8).
polluted thee—that is, offered to thee
table of the Lord—that is, the altar
41:22) (not the table of
showbread). Just as the sacrificial flesh is called "bread."
contemptible—(Mal 1:12, 13). Ye sanction the niggardly and
blemished offerings of the people on the altar, to gain favor with
them. Darius, and probably his successors, had liberally supplied them
with victims for sacrifice, yet they presented none but the worst. A
cheap religion, costing little, is rejected by God, and so is worth
nothing. It costs more than it is worth, for it is worth nothing, and
so proves really dear. God despises not the widow's mite, but he does
despise the miser's mite [Moore].
8. Your earthly ruler would feel insulted, if
offered by you the offering with which ye put off God (see Le 22:22, 24).
is it not evil?—Maurer translates, "There is no evil," in your
opinion, in such an offering; it is quite good enough for such a
9. now … beseech God that he will be
gracious—Ironical. Think you that God will be persuaded by
such polluted gifts to be gracious to you? Far from it.
this hath been by your
means—literally, "hand." These contemptible offerings are
your doing, as being the priests mediating between God and the people;
and think you, will God pay any regard to you (compare Mal 1:8, 10)? "Accept thy person" ("face"),
Mal 1:8, answers to "regard your persons,"
in this verse.
10. Who … for naught—Not one even
of the least priestly functions (as shutting the doors, or kindling a
fire on the altar) would ye exercise without pay, therefore ye ought to
fulfil them faithfully (1Co 9:13).
Drusius and Maurer translate, "Would that there were absolutely
some one of you who would shut the doors of the temple (that is, of the
inner court, in which was the altar of burnt offerings), and that ye
would not kindle fire on My altar in vain!" Better no sacrifices than
vain ones (Isa 1:11-15). It was the duty of some of the priests
to stand at the doors of the court of the altar of burnt offerings, and
to have excluded blemished victims [Calvin].
11. For—Since ye Jewish priests and
people "despise My name" (Mal 1:6), I
shall find others who will magnify it (Mt 3:9). Do not think I shall have no
worshippers because I have not you; for from the east to the west My
name shall be great among the Gentiles (Isa 66:19, 20), those very peoples whom ye look down
upon as abominable.
pure offering—not "the blind, the
lame, and the sick," such as ye offer (Mal 1:8). "In every place," implies the
catholicity of the Christian Church (Joh 4:21, 23; 1Ti 2:8). The "incense" is figurative of
prayers (Ps 141:2; Re 8:3). "Sacrifice" is used metaphorically
(Ps 51:17; Heb 13:10, 15, 16; 1Pe 2:5, 12). In this sense the reference to the
Lord's Supper, maintained by many of the fathers, may be admitted; it,
like prayer, is a spiritual offering, accepted through the literal
offering of the "Lamb without blemish," once for all slain.
12. Renewal of the charge in Mal 1:7.
fruit … meat—the offerings of
the people. The "fruit" is the produce of the altar, on which
the priests subsisted. They did not literally say, The Lord's table is
contemptible; but their acts virtually said so. They did not act
so as to lead the people to reverence, and to offer their best to the
Lord on it. The people were poor, and put off God with the worst
offerings. The priests let them do so, for fear of offending the
people, and so losing all gains from them.
13. what a weariness is it!—Ye regard
God's service as irksome, and therefore try to get it over by
presenting the most worthless offerings. Compare Mic 6:3, where God challenges His people to show
wherein is the "weariness" or hardship of His service. Also Isa
43:22-24, wherein He shows
that it is they who have "wearied" Him, not He who has wearied
it—the table of the Lord, and the meat
on it (Mal
torn—namely, by beasts, which it was
not lawful to eat, much less to offer (Ex 22:31).
thus … offering—Hebrew,
mincha; the unbloody offering of flour, &c. Though this
may have been of ordinary ingredients, yet the sacrifices of
blemished animals accompanying it rendered it unacceptable.
14. deceiver—hypocrite. Not poverty, but
avarice was the cause of their mean offerings.
male—required by law (Le 1:3, 10).
great King—(Ps 48:2; Mt
my name … dreadful among …
heathen—Even the heathen dread Me because of My judgments;
what a reproach this is to you, My people, who fear Me not (Mal 1:6)! Also it may be translated,
"shall be feared among," &c. agreeing with the prophecy of
the call of the Gentiles (Mal 1:11).