Malachi 1:1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. As we mentioned in the Malachi Introduction article, this is the ONLY time in the Bible where the word or name Malachi is given. Since the word malachi (lower case) means messenger of the Lord, it is feasible the assumed name Malachi could simply be written… The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by a “messenger of the Lord.” Some opinions in the Talmud maintain that (M) malachi was Mordechai, the hero of the Purim story in the Book of Esther, but referred to as malachi because of his position as viceroy of Persia—a designation similar to that of an angel (“malach”). Another view, supported by many authorities, is that malachi is a pseudonym for Ezra, a messenger of the Lord.
Malachi 1:2 “I have loved you”. Chapter 1 begins a series of seven questions asked to the messenger of Jehovah by the leaders of Judah. Let’s remember throughout this narrative commentary of Malachi that Jehovah God is not speaking directly to the people of Judah. He has a messenger…Malachi. Verse 2 is the first of the seven questions asked by Malachi throughout the 4 chapters of this book. Each of the seven questions asked by the Jewish leaders are a basic challenge to God himself, his Old Testament word, and COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL. The ones asking (challenging) questions are the same people to whom this book was written.
I have *loved Jacob, but (v3) I have *hated Esau. This challenge comes from priests asking Malachi “How has God loved us?” These leaders of Judea do not need to ask a question for which they already know the answer(s). It is an avoidance question, a deference, not a question from ignorance. Might one go back to the beginning of how the captive Israelis were allowed to leave Egypt 1,000 years earlier. The identities of Jacob and Esau, twin brothers of their father Isaac, references their identities as Edomites and Israelis. From birth these two went in opposite directions in respect to their attitudes toward God. The Edomites, Esau’s descendants, go by several names: Edomites, Men of Mt. Seir, Idumeans, sons of Esau. King Herod of New Testament fame was a descendant of Esau…an Idumean.
*John Calvin sees these two Hebrew words, loved and hated, as meaning accepted and rejected to be the light on the hillside [emphasis mine].
God, as promised, made a great nation of both twins. Esau’s offspring grew up hating Jacob’s offspring. When Moses led the captive Israelis out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them passage through their lands. They had allied with the Amalekites to harass Israel when it was migratory from Egypt then continued attacking them as a new nation after the northern ten tribes seceded into a kingdom separate from the kingdom of Judah. No longer were the 12 tribes a nation, but two separate kingdoms. Edomites fought alongside the Babylonians to conquer Judah, especially Jerusalem. Then, moved into Judah’s abandoned homes. In end time God will again bring justice to the enemies of Israel. God does not need to justify himself. Genesis 12:3. Heaven and earth are God’s creation. God is not our creation. [John 1:3]
Malachi 1:3 Some modern day people have asked in their hearts or of their ministers, what did God ever do for Esau and his descendants? Look closer at the word “heritage” in verse 3. Nachălâh in the Hebrew means to be given something through inheritance. God promised to bless Jacob AND Esau. Esau saw his inheritance as a birthright. In Genesis 25:29-34 Esau willingly sold that birthright to Jacob. Later he wanted it back as do his descendants today. They try to take the lands of Israel as an inheritance via aggression, the UN, peace agreements, alliances, news media, and wars.
NOTE: The word “dragons” in Malachi 1:3 in some translations (v3) is a reference to female jackals. They are not the fire-breathing dragons some try to make them out to be.
Malachi 1:4 From the birth of Esau and Jacob around 1800 B.C., God has given Esau’s descendants, grandchildren of Isaac, ample time to turn (back) to him. They never did and still haven’t. Just as God brought judgment on many nations for denying HIM as God, He is the creator; He sets the conditions. Not us!
JIV NOTE: It may help our understanding of enemies of Israel by explaining or differentiating between those we group together (often incorrectly) as Arabs. The first people identified as (pure) Arabs descended through Eber. He had two sons: Joktan and Peleg. Joktan had twelve sons all identified today as pure Arabs. Abraham eventually descended through the line of Peleg. We can read about them as a point of reference in Genesis 10:25; 1 Chronicles 1:19. The short of this historical sidetrack is:
- Abraham is connected to one source of Arabs (Ishmael). Abraham’s great-great-great-great grandfather (Eber) is connected to both Arabs and Israelites. The same is true of Isaac through Ishmael. For a brief overview look at generational sequence of patriarchs before and after Noah, click on this.
Abraham fathered Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael fathered a different portion of the people we call (dirty) Arabs. Hagar mothered the Hagarites, Ishmael the Arab Ishmaelites.
- Isaac fathered twins: Esau and Jacob. Esau had wives of Hittite DNA and (AHA MOMENT) seeing that Abraham and Sarah were troubled by his marriage to Hittite women, married a third wife…Mahalat, a daughter of Ishmael. What a mess! Esau fathered the Edomites and Idumeans who are classified as Arabs. This means there are three branches of so-called Arabs:
- Joktan, son of Eber, had twelve sons known as pure Arabs even by today’s Arab standards. His brother Peleg brought in the line through Abraham people known as Israelites. Both A and B are Hebrews, descendants of Eber.
- Ishmael, along with his mother Hagar brought into the Arab fold people known as dirty Arabs since they were not from a direct line of descendants as were Joktan’s 12 sons; Eber’s grandsons.
- Esau added to the line of dirty Arabs through his Hittite wives and the daughter of Ishmael, Mahalat.
Three sources of Arabs: One is considered pure and the other two are identified a dirty Arab mix.
Malachi 1:5 The eyes have it (The first words in verse 5). This verse portrays God’s concern for mankind well beyond the borders of “then-times” Israel/Judah. This is not selection but election. It is not predestination meaning rejection of different DNA peoples. A mankind today is connected through Noah. Every race today is somehow a cousin!
Malachi 1:6 is an continuation of verse five. Malachi goes beyond descendants of Esau and Jacob. In general, parents, particularly fathers (not so much true in today’s society) are honored by their children (sons). Certain servants honor their masters. By extension, faithful employees reflect their employment. God asks, if this is true and I am your Father, where is my honor? This sets the stage for the next question by the Levitical priests who have dishonored God. They ask, “In what way have we dishonored (despised) God?”
Malachi answers in verse 7.
Malachi1:7 Click on this verse and read it for yourselves. Bottom line: the Jews of that time were no longer honoring the God-set conditions for sacrifices and sin forgiveness. The people of Israel no longer brought the best of their flocks for sacrifice. The priests could see that the animals to be sacrificed were blemished. Yet, they defiled the alter and name of God by knowingly offering the blemished animals as good-enough sacrifices. This event set the stage some 400 years later for Christ to be the unblemished sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Verse 8 continues this question to the Levitical Priests.
Malachi 1:8 Would these same priests try to honor their governor (leader?) with blemished foods? Would he be honored? Would he accept being offered the blemished of their flock as a gift? Would such a gift to the governor be pleasing to him? Would it be deemed as a prized and honorable offering? We don’t need to try and sidestep this rebuttal by God through his messenger Malachi. Such is total insincerity as an offering and attitude.
In another sense, the Levites are not happy since they were also the recipients of those food offerings. Historically they ate of it themselves. In the back of their minds, they are loathsome of the food that eventually goes on their dinner plates.
Malachi 1:9,10 God through Malachi goes full circle. Verses 9 & 10 sound like God had tolerated such offerings. God asserts in verse ten that the alter is HIS. It isn’t a property of the ones making the offerings. John Calvin suggest that God’s alter will not accept such deceptive offerings. It is not the acts of an individual that brings salvation as much as it is the intent of the heart and following God’s GPS: God’s Plan of Salvation. It is not man’s attempt to analyze what is good and what is not; what is honoring and what is insulting, then write the prescription on their terms. It is following God’s prescribed way.
Malachi 1:11 is a critical verse. No longer can Israelis proclaim that God is “their” God alone. He never was exclusive to them, but this verse is a declared turning point. In a way, an introduction to the New Testament. [NKJV]
“For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
My name SHALL BE GREAT. It does not say this in the current tense. This is pointing to the New Testament and the eventual unblemished sacrifice for sin through Jesus Christ. Add to this the millennial conditions.
Malachi 1:12 – 14 can be seen as not only contempt toward God by the priests themselves, but contempt toward the service of man to God. The priests knew better but continued to offer the blemished sacrifices. This is like a minister today who has no real relationship with God in his (sadly ‘her’) messages and personal life (one’s prayer closet). S/he sees the ministry as a social process, a habit, a routine, a tradition. S/he sees it as a job or career. This is why Malachi chapter 1 leads up to the break away from Israel being the light unto the world. Gentiles beyond Israel’s borders become that light unto the word. This includes Gentiles today being a light unto the former banner carriers instead of Israelis themselves.
Rev. Dr. Jstark