The name Malachi has particular significance so far as the revelations contained in the book are concerned. The name means "My Messenger" the word "my" obviously applying to Yahweh, whose messenger Malachi certainly was.

And it is most interesting to discover that Malachi introduces a total of five "messengers" to his readers, all of whom would be sent by Yahweh, and thus each of them qualifying for the possessive title: "My Messenger".

The first... is Malachi himself (1:1); but then he writes of the Levitical priests (2:7); John the Baptist (3:1); The Lord Jesus Christ (3:1); and finally, Elijah (4:1). All five are termed "messenger" ofYahweh.

As the prophet speaks of the work of five messengers, so the book divides into five parts:

Part One: An unholy nation—Yahweh's love rejected and His Name despised (1:1-14).

Part Two- A faithless priesthood-Levi's fine example ignored (2:1-10).

Part Three: A treacherous people-'Take heed to your spirit! (2:11-16).

Part Four: A nation of robbers—Judgment will come (2:17-3:15).

Part Five: A faithful remnant to be vindicated—A message of hope (3:16-4:6).

Bro John Ullman

1 The burden of the word of Yahweh to Israel by Malachi.

Malachi (Heb. Malakhiy-yah), messenger of Yahweh.

"Behold, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me; and Yahweh whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant."—(Mal. 3:1.)

Scripture Names Doctrinally Applicable to Christ

The Christadelphian, June 1873

The prophet introduces himself abruptly and with a directness that is at once both brief and informative:

"The oracle of the word of Yahweh unto Israel by the hand of Malachi" (v. 1, Roth.)

Thus the opening words alluded to the prophet's name; he was "my messenger", according to Yahweh, sent to "Israel". And by this word is meant the remnant of the covenant people, from the various tribes, gathered from the nations and taken back to the land of their fathers under the direction and guiding hand of Yahweh.

This message was to be delivered to God's people "by the hand of" the prophet; wording which emphasizes the identity of the true author and illustrates that Malachi was merely the servant through whom God's words were to be delivered. Jeremiah uses this same expression, where in the AV margin it is more correctly rendered as "by the hand of" (Jer. 37:2; cp. Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:21).

Bro John Ullman

The prophet introduces himself abruptly and with a directness that is at once both brief and informative:

"The oracle of the word of Yahweh unto Israel by the hand of Malachi" (v. 1, Roth.)

Thus the opening words alluded to the prophet's name; he was "my messenger", according to Yahweh, sent to "Israel". And by this word is meant the remnant of the covenant people, from the various tribes, gathered from the nations and taken back to the land of their fathers under the direction and guiding hand of Yahweh.

This message was to be delivered to God's people "by the hand of" the prophet; wording which emphasizes the identity of the true author and illustrates that Malachi was merely the servant through whom God's words were to be delivered. Jeremiah uses this same expression, where in the AV margin it is more correctly rendered as "by the hand of" (Jer. 37:2; cp. Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:21).

The message begins with a short statement which was intended to be tenderly appealing, and to evoke a humble response in the people.

"I have loved you, saith Yahweh".

In commencing the message with these words, the prophet lays down a thesis which he proceeds to press unwaveringly, presenting an unanswerable argument concerning the compassion and affection Yahweh had manifested towards His people, and yet they had constantly rejected His love, revealing scant respect for the One who was their God and deliverer.

These simple words constitute a positive statement which Yahweh could prove by bringing to light the relative evidence.

Bro John Ullman

2 I have loved you, saith Yahweh. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith Yahweh: yet I loved Jacob,

I have loved you, saith Yahweh

In commencing the message with these words, the prophet lays down a thesis which he proceeds to press unwaveringly, presenting an unanswerable argument concerning the compassion and affection Yahweh had manifested towards His people, and yet they had constantly rejected His love, revealing scant respect for the One who was their God and deliverer.

These simple words constitute a positive statement which Yahweh could prove by

bringing to light the relative evidence.

Bro John Ullman

The Law of Moses, for which these people had now lost so much of their zeal, established Yahweh's love for His people—and of that fact they should have been well aware. There existed indisputable proof of God's love for Israel, a distinctive love which was initially exhibited when Yahweh chose that particular nation from among all the nations of the earth to be the vehicle through which His grand purpose would be developed (Isa. 44:1; Amos 3:2).

The hope of the gospel is termed "the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20), and it is only by becoming a member of the "commonwealth of Israel" that a gentile can be saved (Eph. 2:12). This requires an acceptance of "the covenants of promise" made to the fathers of Israel. All who remain unacquainted with the principles of hope and righteousness embodied in those promises are said, by the apostle Paul, to be

"aliens from the commonwealth of Israel."

Yahweh had proven His love for Israel, beyond all doubt, by the blessings and privileges He had extended to them throughout their history. But these blessings had been withdrawn many times when Israel had proven faithless to their covenant (3:10).

The application of these principles to Israel "after the spirit" (i.e. the ecclesia) in these closing days of the gentiles should not be lightly laid aside. How richly God has revealed His love for His chosen spiritual Israel; how readily He has provided indisputable proof of that love. But how will those people respond to that love, in an epoch of history when the signs indicate ...

"the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his Temple"?

Do they doubt His love? Or is His love rejected, as in the days of this prophet? Surely these questions require searching self-examination by every individual who claims to have become a member of the spiritual "commonwealth of Israel" (1 John 4:10, 19; Heb. 13:15; 1 Thess. 2:13).

Bro John Ullman

Yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us?

With the announcement of their negative response, an interesting and dramatic turn is now taken in the unfolding of the narrative; for there is now introduced a question and answer style of writing, which reveals much of the book as a dialogue of interrogation and reply, with Yahweh and His prophet on one side, and priests and people on the other.

It is as though the two sides were standing apart from each other, facing one another in an attitude of debate over the issues which were under discussion. This initial negative response from the nation represents the first of eight such challenges and answers, all of which revealed an astonishing lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of both priests and people (cp. 1:6-7; 2:14, 17; 3:7, 8, 13).

It was ignorance of the truth which brought about their destruction (Hos. 4:6, 9; Isa. 1:3; 5:13). How sad and tragic was the evidence which the answers to these eight queries brought to light: they lacked a sound knowledge of the truth; they had little understanding of the element of faith and what it should produce in men and women; they failed to manifest love for their God, because they failed to understand Him or His ways, or the demands He made upon His people. So much was this the case that they now demanded a proof of Yahweh's love towards them.

"Wherein hast Thou loved us?" was the contentious reply from the people. Their contradictory words expressed disappointment and doubt, and issued from unspiritual minds like the cry of a sulking, chastised child.

Because they did not have sufficient spiritual understanding they failed to recognize that their present troubles (3:10—11) were entirely of their own making.

Bro John Ullman

Was not Esau Jacob's brother?

The question here must refer not merely to the two men as individuals, but to their continuing posterity. What was the evidence of history? Had Esau received any special treatment from Yahweh, seeing he was, after all, Jacob's brother? The answer, as Israel well knew, was in the negative. God had chosen Jacob and rejected Esau.

Use of the term "brother" makes the entire argument here more impressive, because, in fact, Esau was the elder of the two and normally would have received the birthright and all that it represented.

God decreed that "the elder" should "serve the younger", and history had documented the truth of this proposition. God's firm statement:

"I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau"

is a direct reference to the principle of divine selection (Gen. 12:1; Acts 15:4; 1 Pet. 1:2), and emphasizes the exalted position into which Israel had been raised in the eyes of their God. Paul quoted these words (Rom. 9:11-13) for the same reason that Malachi does - to show that

"the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth"—or " order that God's electing purpose might stand, based not on their actions but on His calling them..." (Wey.)

The expression of hatred against Esau is a Hebraism to denote that

"I have loved Jacob more than Esau."

The extreme contrast between love and hate is used to define, in particular, the depth of the love (cp. Matt. 6:24; 10:37; Luke 14:26; Gen. 29:30-31; John 12:25).

The prophet does not attempt to outline the entire history of the two nations, but instead chooses to draw upon the Jacob-Esau relationship. Esau was the father of the Edomites, who had consistently manifested hostility towards Israel. The name Edom is derived from Adam, which signifies "red"; therefore Edom is identified with sin, and is often seen in the Scriptures to typify sin in political manifestation.

The many centuries of antipathy between Israel and Edom should have readily touched a chord in the memory of the Israelites to whom Malachi addressed himself: for, the example

of Edom was not only a well known one, but was also an up-to-date example of God's love for His people.

Since the beginning of the exile the hostility between the two nations had become extreme. When the kingdom of Judah was being overthrown by the Babylonians and in process of being exiled from their land, the Edomites assisted the army of Nebuchadnezzar in cruelly plundering and persecuting the Jews at every opportunity (Psa. 137:7; Ezek. 25:12; Obad. v. 8, 10).

They rejoiced in the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah, thereby arousing great bitterness among the Israelites. Retribution, however, fell upon the Edomites in due time, for while the Jews survived their captivity sufficiently to be able to return to their land and re-establish themselves, the Edomites were not so fortunate. They were strongly attacked by the Babylonians and later by the Nabateans and driven out of most of their important territories.

Was not this proof of God's love? And was it not a fact that, not only in recent history but down through the ages God had preserved Israel throughout the long history of antagonism which had existed between the descendants of Jacob and Esau? Those to whom the prophet addressed himself should have appreciated the truth of these words. God had laid Edom's

"mountains and heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness" (v. 3).

But the hardy and resilient Edomites had said:

"We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places".

The Edomites resolved to uphold human will, the strong will of the flesh. But human will, no matter how great the degree of resolution, cannot frustrate divine will. The men of Edom had no understanding of a most important principle:

"Except Yahweh build the house, they labour in vain that build it..." (Psa. 127:1).

Bro John Ullman

3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

When Isaac was sixty, and Abraham a hundred and sixty, Esau and Jacob were born. Before their birth, the Lord said to Rebekah,

"Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger."

Upon this election, the apostle makes the following remarks, saying,

"When Rebekah had conceived by our father Isaac: -- for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:10-13; Mal. 1:2, 3).

This election had relation to the purpose of God revealed in the promises to Abraham and Isaac. He purposed to make "a mighty nation" of their posterity, out of whom "He should come that shall have dominion" (Numb.24:19). This Purpose could not be accomplished if left to the undirected will of man. Abraham would have made Ishmael his heir, and Isaac would have elected Esau, both of which, as events have shown, would have defeated, rather than have promoted, "the purpose of God."

The wild Arabs of the desert, who have descended from Ishmael; or the Edomites, the posterity of Esau; both of which races illustrate the moral obliquity of their fathers: would have been a sorry election in which the purpose of God might be established. The rejection of Ishmael, and the election of Jacob, prove the wisdom and foresight of him with whom the fathers had to do. He sees the end of all things from the beginning; and perceiving the future characters of the two races, he said by Malachi,

"I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness."

It may be remarked here, that the election of Scripture hath reference to "the purpose of God " in relation to the constitution of the kingdom. He hath elected its territory; He hath elected the nation to inhabit it for ever; He hath elected the king to rule over it; and He hath elected its saints to assist Him in the administration of its affairs. The election in all these cases has been "of him that calleth."

....God elects saints for His kingdom, not by foregone conclusions which are irreversible; but men are "elect through sanctification of spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:2). This reveals to us the means, and design of the election in relation to the present time. "Sanctification of spirit" is the means; "obedience and sprinkling of Christ's blood," the end.

Elpis Israel 2.3.

4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith Yahweh of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom Yahweh hath indignation for ever.

Would Yahweh permit the strong will of the Edomites to counter and defeat His own counsel?

"Thus saith Yahweh Sabaoth, they shall build, but I will throw down..."

God had indeed determined that their purpose would be frustrated. He caused them to be dispossessed of their land; so that while Israel had returned and become re-settled in their land, having rebuilt and re-established a society, Edom had never recovered from the fierce onslaught which had cost them so dearly. They were removed from their land, and it was possessed by "dragons"; or, more correctly "jackals" (Roth.), those beasts of the desert who move into areas which have been deserted by human beings.

Yahweh Sabaoth is the militant title of the Deity. It occurs twenty four times in Malachi. It signifies "He Who Will Be Armies". The constant repetition of this title would surely be a reminder to the men of Israel that their God was a "consuming fire", as the Law stated

(Deut. 4:24); and that He therefore had the power and resources to fulfil His purpose. In due time the entire earth will feel, as did the Edomites at this time, the fire of His judgments (4:3);

"for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:35).

The Edomites never regained their power or position among the nations, subsequent to the times of Malachi. Although during the period of the Maccabees they occupied a portion of the area of southern Judea, with Hebron as their capital, Judas Maccabaeus drove them out (circa 164 BC).

Approximately 55 years later, John Hyrcanus conquered them totally and compelled them to face either death or conversion to Judaism. A careful perusal of the prophetic word will reveal that the ancient nation of Edom typifies the gentile powers in their enmity against

Israel through the ages. As with Edom, the gentiles must eventually face the prospect of either being proselyted into "the commonwealth of Israel" or being destroyed.

Bro John Ullman

5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, Yahweh will be magnified from [beyond - RV, Roth] the border of Israel.

The people of Israel were being addressed. They doubted the reality of Yahweh's love for them; but their eyes would verify the truth of his claim. There would be two fulfilments to this prophetic verse: firstly, in the subduing and disintegration of the nation of Edom; and secondly, when God's Son takes up his kingdom to reign upon earth.

In this latter time he will overcome all gentile powers, causing them to become submissive to his will. In due time, all nations will be brought into "the hope of Israel", having cast aside their gentile traditions and philosophies. Gentilism will be eradicated from the earth.

Malachi avows that not only will Israel see the fulfilment of these things, but will confess them openly: "Ye shall say..." But in the days of this prophet they had neither the heart nor the understanding that would cause them to manifest such an attitude. Instead, they said:

"Wherein hast Thou loved us?" The future will bring a change of spirit in Israel (3:18).

Yahweh will give them "one heart and one way" that they may "fear" Him for ever (Jer. 32:39; cp. Jer. 31:31-34). ...In that day they will declare: "Yahweh is mighty beyond the borders of Israel" (JB). The word "from" in the AV has been more correctly rendered "beyond" in a number of versions, including Moff., RV, RSV, and Roth.

A primary fulfilment of this may be applied to the period of the Maccabees; but there can be no doubt that a more far-reaching fulfilment remains for the future. A remarkable prophecy is referred to in the book of Acts which makes it clear that the ancient nation of Edom typified the gentiles. James said:

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my Name is called..." (Acts 15:14-17).

In quoting these words from Amos 9:11-12, James made a significant alteration to the Old Testament prophecy. The words "the residue of men" are substituted for Amos's words: "the remnant of Edom". Edom no longer existed as a nation at the time when James delivered the verdict recorded in Acts 15. It is therefore logical that he should use the prophecy of Amos in its typical sense; and this is clearly what James has done.

In view of the significance of Edom as a type, the coming destruction of gentile power in the day of Messiah's Kingdom gives greater force and purpose to these words. Israel, and all the nations of the earth, will confess that

"Yahweh is mighty beyond the borders of Israel"

as Christ extends his power and authority among the nations, gradually subduing them until peace and unity and truth are established throughout the earth.

Bro John Ullman

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 Yahweh of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

This challenge was directed primarily to the priests, as the men responsible for the wise guidance of Israel in spiritual matters (v. 6,cp. Lev. 10:11; Deut. 17:8-11). And who among them could argue against the foundation upon which these questions were based? The Law of Moses dealt with man's relationship to his God and to his fellow-men. And the Law spoke explicitly concerning the attitude which children should manifest towards parents:

"Honour thy father and thy mother, as Yahweh thy Elohim hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may be well with thee, in the land which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee." (Deut. 5:16; cp. Exod. 20:12).

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, emphasized the importance of this commandment, identifying it as "the first commandment with promise" (Eph. 6:2). Here was a law which was to be respected if the nation was to find lasting unity and peace after gaining an entrance into the land of promise. And surely it was a law which was designed to teach a spiritual lesson in addition to its practical meaning. First

"that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual".

The filial love which children in Israel were to show towards their parents was to be a type of the love they were to exhibit towards their heavenly parent, Yahweh Himself. And if they could not learn to respect and love their earthly parents, how would they ever learn to love their Heavenly Father?

Israel had been designated Yahweh's national "son" (Exod. 4:22; Hos. 11:1,4). And being exalted to such a position placed obligations upon them. First and foremost, they were to be reflections of their Heavenly Father. Moses fully understood what this implied:

"...ascribe ye greatness unto our Elohim. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: El of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of His children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite Yahweh, O foolish people and unwise Is not He thy Father, that hath bought thee?..." (Deut. 32:3-6; cp. vv. 18-20).

The Lord Jesus Christ similarly understood that if Israel claimed to be sons their claim was to be matched by character and action. In his confrontation with the Jews upon the question of their relationship to Abraham, they claimed to be "Abraham's seed", which the Lord did not dispute. But later in the debate, when they alleged that Abraham was their "father" he refused to concede the point.

"If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham" (John 8:33-40).

The Lord was quite prepared to admit their literal descent from Abraham; but refused to accept that they were the children of Abraham, because they did not reflect the mind or character of Abraham.

The principle is beyond dispute: those who claim to have God for their Father can only substantiate that claim if they reflect His likeness, being manifestations of His character. Whenever servants of the Deity address Him in prayer as "Our Father" there is automatically presented to such an individual a challenge as to what manner of person they ought to be (Matt. 6:9-13; Isa. 63:16).

Bro John Ullman

Where is my fear?

...the relationship between God and His people should not only have been one of Father and son, but also of Master and bond-slave.

"If I be a Master, where is my fear?"

Whereas use of the term "Father" spoke of the need to love God, with the respectful love of a son for his father—and also implies relationship to the privileges which would be associated with sonship— the term "Master" draws attention to quite different aspects of

divine worship. The relationship between bond-slave and master is one based upon ownership, obedience, obligation, and duty.

It was a basic human weakness that Israel were always willing to accept the privileges of sonship, and to boast of their national relationship to Yahweh; but they were rarely prepared to accept the responsibilities and obligations which that relationship demanded.

Seldom did they remember that they were bond-slaves to Yahweh as well as sons.

"Yahweh shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants... He will avenge the blood of His servants..." (Deut. 32:36,43; cp. Isa. 43:10; Neh. 1:10).

The Lord Jesus Christ, although the son of God in a literal as well as spiritual sense, "pleased not himself (Rom. 15:3), thus signifying that he considered himself to be in bondage to Yahweh. He "took upon himself the form of a servant"—literally, "bond-slave" (Phil. 2:7) —and therefore confessed:

"My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34).

In like manner, those who acknowledge that Christ has left them "an example" that they should "follow his steps" accept the fact that they are not their "own", and that they have been

"bought with a price" (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).

A servant or bond-slave must, above all else, reverence his master, and he must manifest his reverence in a real and practical way. He must exhibit the qualities of obedience and loyalty. He must be familiar with his obligations and fulfil them. He must understand his duties, and recognize the absolute authority of the one who is his owner. But Israel had lost sight of these principles.

Bro John Ullman

O priests, that despise my name

The priests were singled out, at this stage of Malachi's prophecy, for special indictment. They were, after all, required by divine law to lead the people in the way of righteousness. ...because of the dilatory attitude of the priests towards their obligations, God says that they have "despised" His Name through their dereliction of duty.

The word more correctly signifies to "disesteem". Men will esteem someone if they love, honour, or respect them. The reverse will be the case if those feelings are absent. In the case of these priests they had come to disesteem their God through ignorance of the truth, indifference to their responsibilities, and pursuit of their own selfish aims.

This means that they had lost their understanding concerning the two vital principles which will keep men and women in the way of righteousness: a clear knowledge concerning the holiness of Yahweh; and a realization of the sinfulness of men.

Men come to despise or disesteem Yahweh when there is a lack of understanding upon these matters. True, effective understanding can only come through a clear knowledge of the word of God. There is no other way. Perhaps the most compelling lesson which should be absorbed at this point is that these priests were going about their duties in the Temple services, quite indignant at the thought of any aspersions being cast upon either their worship or their integrity.

...But the assertion that the priests had shown irreverence towards Yahweh did not bring forth a humble enquiry as to how they were offending their God. Instead...they challenged the veracity of God's allegation against them.

"Wherein have we despised Thy Name?" 

This is the second of eight challenges directed against God. Their religious services for far too long had revolved around mere external formalism. They had become unconscious of the fact that true religion is dependent upon the state of the heart (2:2). A true worshipper must love Yahweh and love His truth—and desire to walk humbly before Him in the spirit of the truth.

"To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice" (Prov. 21:3).

Bro John Ullman

7 Ye offer polluted bread [ lechem mego'al (defiled food)] upon Mine altar [mizbe'ach]; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted [defiled] Thee? In that ye say, The table [shulchan] of Yahweh is contemptible.

The word rendered "polluted" (AV) also represents the idea of something defiled or impure (Ges.). The word "bread" has been more correctly rendered "food" (Roth.). This latter word (Heb. lechem) has been used in a general sense to describe sacrifices offered upon the altar (Lev. 3:11; 21:17, 21, 22; Ezek. 44:7). As will be observed from these references, the word has been used for various offerings; and has been used to describe the flesh, the fat and the meal.

The answer, then, to the question as to how they had disesteemed the Name of Yahweh was that they offered Him impure or defiled sacrifices. A vital aspect of sacrifice under the Mosaic Law had been forgotten by these priests: the offering upon the altar was always

intended to represent the offerer. This principle was carefully stressed in the very first reference in Scripture to the offering of sacrifices to God.

"Yahweh had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect" (Gen. 4:4-5).

The word is stating that God looked first at the offerer to examine his heart and his motive, and only then did He look to the actual offering. This principle must apply to every form of sacrifice or worship that men and women may engage upon. If the heart and the motive is not right in the eyes of the Creator, then the service is unacceptable. The wise counsel of Paul should be heeded:

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5).

Because of this necessity David prayed:

"Examine me, O Yahweh, and prove me; try my reins and my heart" (Psa. 26:2).

The Law of Moses required that every sacrifice be carefully examined for any imperfections — which surely emphasized the need for the offerer to examine himself for the same reason —hence, Paul's further counsel:

"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" (1 Cor. 11:28).

Bro John Ullman

Wherein have we defiled Thee?

...again, as on the two previous occasions, Yahweh's people rejected His words.

Significantly, instead of replying concerning the "altar", which God had specifically mentioned, the priests refer to Yahweh personally: "Thee". In this they were quite correct because their reply indicates that they were by no means totally ignorant concerning the

meaning of the symbolism of the Law. It would appear that they correctly understood that the altar represented Yahweh Himself so that if they offered polluted or impure sacrifices upon the altar it was as though they polluted their God as well as His altar (Ezek. 13:19; 20:9; 39:7).How had they polluted Yahweh and His altar?

"Ye say, the table of Yahweh is contemptible."

The altar was sometimes referred to as a "table" (Ezek. 44:16; Psa. 69:22). The most holy action a person may take, in divine worship, is to approach Yahweh through His altar and His priest. For these priests, familiarity had bred a degree of contempt. They had become slovenly. They lacked sound knowledge; they did not walk by faith; they had forgotten the many proofs of Yahweh's past love for them; and they lacked a vision of the future glory which was in store for Israel.

For the believer in this present age, Christ is the altar and the priest (Heb. 13:10; 4:15). He is also the sacrifice (Heb. 7:27; 9:26; 10:26). It is the duty of Christ's brethren to "offer up spiritual sacrifices" which are "acceptable to God" (1 Pet. 2:5) through the means which God has provided. Therefore, the basic principle which Malachi has set forth in these verses has never altered.

In the lives of God's servants there must be evidence of undivided loyalty to Yahweh's word and dedication to a way of life in keeping with the principles of God's truth. Men and women must realize that in dealing with the things of God they are touching sacred things—things which must not be taken lightly or treated with casual indifference.

Bro John Ullman

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 Yahweh of hosts.

Offer your employer a once-a-week, Sunday morning attendance. Offer your employer unfaithful stewardship: squandering his goods on yourself, wasting his paid-for time in self-enjoyment, carelessness of his instructions, leaving the work to someone else, ill will toward other employees, serving his enemies-and see what the result would be.

Bro Growcott - The spirit of Christ in the Law of Moses

If ye offer the lame and sick

The Law stated categoricallythat every sacrifice offered to Yahweh was to be perfect, without spot and without blemish (Lev. 22:21, 22). There was only one exception to this otherwise inflexible rule and that was in the case of the freewill offering.

The overriding principle in the offerings was that Yahweh demanded the best and anything less than that was an affront to His holiness. Why, then, as an exception made in the case of the freewill offering? Because it was an offering made voluntarily, from the heart. No man could approach Yahweh upon that basis without acknowledging his own imperfection and his imperfect walk before his God.

Yet, there was something deeply touching about the freewill offering; for it encouraged the weak in faith and those who were hesitant due to a humble awareness of their own insufficiency. Malachi's charge against the priests, however, asserts that they were offering "corrupt" animals for the vow offering (v. 14).

Such conduct was strictly contrary to the demands of the Law, specific mention being made in the Law concerning the marked difference between vow and freewill offerings (Lev. 22:23).

No doubt the priests had either been slovenly in their study of the Law's requirements in this matter; or else had adduced, with an attitude of careless indifference, that the two offerings were fairly similar and therefore it did not really matter.

Surely the point that Malachi conveys is that God demands obedience to His declared will. The evidence submitted by the prophet in this instance therefore provided unassailable proof of the disregard these priests showed for that vital principle.

Disciples of Christ must also acknowledge the truth and necessity of this principle. All that the sacrificial code taught was embodied in the Lord's words:

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).

Bro John Ullman

Is it not evil?

Ignorance of divine truth can never be condoned, but may not necessarily prove fatal, because ignorant people can be taught if they are willing and of the right spirit. But when ignorance is accompanied by a general attitude of indifference, there is little hope. This was the tragic state of the priests in the times of Malachi.

"When ye bring near the blind as a sacrifice saying, no harm!" (Roth.)—or, "nothing wrong!" (Roth. mg.).

This alternative rendering represents the priests expressing their opinion. To them there was "no harm" in offering to Yahweh these polluted sacrifices. They could see "nothing wrong" in it; which would indicate that they had considered the matter and thereupon given this outrageous verdict.

When men desire to worship God they must always recognize that principles for divine worship are established by God and not by men. And once established by God they are unalterable, unless modified by Yahweh Himself. Moses taught Israel:

"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Yahweh your Elohim which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).

...Yahweh would not accept sacrifices that did not conform to His declared requirements.

Bro John Ullman

Offer it now unto thy governor

The word "governor" has been rendered "pasha" (Roth.) from the Hebrew pechah. The word denotes a Persian official, and provides an apparent link with the book of Nehemiah; for, wherever the word "governor" occurs in Nehemiah it is always this same word.

This statement from the lips of the prophet was intended to be one of heavy irony. Let them take their imperfect sacrifices and offer them to their Persian governor. How would he react? Would he respond favourably to such an act of disrespect and indifference? To ask was to answer.

...Their attitude indicated that they thought God was not really particular, and that He was as indifferent as they were. How tragic that professing worshippers of the Most High should be reduced to such an apathetic state.

Bro John Ullman

9 And now, I pray you, beseech El that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? [with such offerings from your hand, will He receive you? ] saith Yahweh [Tzva'os].

The priests had already been made aware that this would be quite impossible, in view of their present attitude. This, then, was a rather caustic statement, appealing to the priests to examine their intercessory powers on behalf of the people. Such powers had virtually been withdrawn from them. Therefore, these words record Yahweh's strong displeasure at the attitude of His priests and the activities upon which they were engaged.

In times past, when Israel had turned away from the true worship of their Creator, He had ironically called upon them to appeal to the gods they had chosen:

"Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation" (Jud. 10:14).

Needless to say, such an appeal on the part of Israel would be in vain. Now, what were they to do? They were to understand that they had alienated themselves from their God through their own foolishness.

"This hath been by your means", said Yahweh. Or, "At your hands hath this come to pass" (Roth.).

...The priests were not only to represent the people, but also Yahweh. It was as though God asked them: "Do you really believe that you have standing and position in the eyes of God, and that He should acknowledge you as worthy representatives of God and man?" A

deeper question is implied: "What sort of person will Yahweh regard?" Had they consulted their great prophet Isaiah, they would readily have found an answer to this question:

"To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2).

What a person is, morally and spiritually, determines whether or not they are acceptable to God.

Bro John Ullman

10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors [dlatayim Beis Hamikdash] for nought? neither do ye kindle fire [eish] on Mine altar [mizbe'ach] for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith Yahweh of [Tzva'os], neither will I accept an offering [minchah] at your hand.

I have no pleasure in you

Malachi conveyed Yahweh's final warning to the Levitical priests:

"Because even among you the doors shall be shut, and one will not kindle the fire of my altar for nothing, I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands." 1: 10 LXX

Certainly, the AV is most difficult to follow, and it would appear that there are some grounds for accepting this alternative rendering. It is based upon an ancient MSS. which contains "ki" (surely) instead of "mi" (who), which alters the sense of the passage considerably.

It is certain that the verse is prophetic of the events of A.D. 70, when the Temple would be effectively shut against the Levitical priests with the total destruction of the Temple.

Then, a new priesthood would arise, based upon the principles of faith. The priesthood

was to be "changed" (Heb. 7:12). Disciples of Christ have become established as "an holy priesthood... a royal priesthood" (1 Pet. 2:5, 9); and as such they shall "reign on the earth" in the day of Messiah's Kingdom (Rev. 5:9-10).

Who was there among the priests, asked Yahweh, who would prevent the evil practices which were being perpetrated in the Temple services in the Name of Yahweh? In view of the silence with which the question was greeted, the answer appears to have been entirely

negative; there were no priests prepared to listen to the exhortation of the prophet and begin urgent moves towards a spiritual reformation.

Bro John Ullman

I have no pleasure in you

"Yahweh taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope

in His mercy" (Psa. 147:11).

These words beautifully describe a class of humanity who have absolute reverence for Yahweh, and what He represents; and like faithful, obedient children they have positive

confidence in His ability to guide them and lead them to salvation. But if those elements of faith and surrender are absent, Yahweh takes no pleasure in such offerings.

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith Yahweh: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats... And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood" (Isa. 1:11, 15).

Bro John Ullman

Neither will I accept an offering at your hand

An important aspect of Malachi's message is conveyed in this statement. The word rendered "offering" is the Hebrew minchah, which has been termed "a bloodless sacrifice" (Ges.). Whenever Malachi used the word "offering" it was, with only one exception, always the word minchah. The only exception is found in chapter 3, verse 8, where the word is terumah, and signifies the heave offering. Minchah means the meal offering. The heave offering was very similar to the meal offering, in symbolic significance.

The meal offering was compulsorily offered with the burnt offering and the peace offering; the first and last in the sacrificial code; and as such the minchah as an apt sacrifice to represent the entire sacrificial order, from beginning to end. The meal offering always symbolized the work of a man's hands; for he had to carefully and thoroughly prepare the offering, performing the labour himself, using those things which he had produced out of the ground by his personal efforts.

The association of this sacrifice with the burnt and peace offerings was quite important in its symbolic teaching. The burnt offering symbolized a life dedicated to Yahweh—and such was not possible without the personal effort and sacrifices of the one who so desired to

dedicate his life to his God. Similarly, the peace offering symbolized fellowship with God, and by including the minchah, or meal offering, a vital principle was established.

In desiring fellowship with God, an individual must dedicate himself and his labours to that end. Thus, on the question of offerings, the meal offering was the prime issue between the prophet and the priests. ...The meal offering taught that Yahweh required practical actions which would demonstrate personal sacrifice and self-denial on the part of those making their offerings to Him.

Moreover, the meal offering could never be offered in a raw state;it had always to be partially roasted—a reminder that fire is a processor and a purifier. Wheat, the very best of the harvest, was to be used; and used in its most select form: fine flour, which symbolized striving towards perfection of service to Yahweh.

The offering was then to be anointed and permeated with oil; showing that all labours put forth in service to God must be influenced by God's spirit—the spirit-word.

Bro John Ullman

Oil : Also with joy, as Bro Roberts notes in 'The Law of Moses'. [Isa 61: 3]

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 Yahweh of hosts.

The reason of things as they exist?

The Lord Almighty did not form the nations, and set the bounds of their habitations for the behoof of the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, which now possess the rule over them. They are the mere accidents of providence—provisional governments for the time being—until He shall appear in power and great glory on account of whom (dia auton) and for whom (eis auton) they were created.

His purpose, then, is, to aggregate all kingdoms, empires, and republics; and all nations, languages, and people, into one vast dominion under the Lord Jesus as the Imperial Pontiff of the world.

To do this he must bruise the Head of the Serpent-power—machatz rosh al-eretz ravbah, he shall bruise the head over a great land—and subdue the nations under his feet.

"O let the nations be glad, and sing for joy; for he shall judge the people (Israel) righteously, and govern the nations upon earth."

The power of the oppressor will then be broken; and his enemies will lick the dust. In his days will the righteous flourish; and in him will the needy find a friend. All kings shall fall before him; all nations shall serve him, and call him blessed. Happy will the generation be that shall rejoice in these events.

A just code and a righteous government, the administration of Jesus and the Saints, will heal the nations and cause peace and good will to become the rule of society on earth.

A divine socialism will then obtain, characterized by a liberty and fraternity in wisdom, knowledge, and the truth. The refuges of lies which now abuse the world will all be swept away; and

"the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."

What men cannot accomplish, even their own social regeneration, the Lord will have gloriously performed; and in perfecting his work will have wrought out for himself a great name through out all the earth.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, May 1851

Administrative Organisation

The administration of the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven will require untold thousands of agents, for while sacrifices will be offered only at Jerusalem (Zech xiv. 16-19) incense will be offered in every place under the sun. Thus it is written :

From the rising of the sun even to 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 Yahweh Hosts. (Mal. 1: 11)

Now, as an indication of the administration of the kingdom in the age to come we may consult the typical arrangements under the hand of David and Solomon, for God not only gave the pattern of the Temple by the Spirit to David, but He also gave instructions respecting the order of its service thus :

The courses of the sons of Aaron . . . David . . . divided by lot the sons of Aaron (into twenty-four lots under their respective heads) . . . for the governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God. . . . These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the Lord, according to their manner under Aaron their father, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him. (1 Chron. 24: 3-19.)

Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat. And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit of the courts of the house of Yahweh, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of Yahweh, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things :

Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of Yahweh, and for all the vessels of service in the house of Yahweh. (ibid.Chap, XXVIII. 11-13.)

These servitors under their twenty-four heads appeared to have served in sets of twelve (ibid. xxv. 9-31) in monthly rotation, thus we read :

The chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand. (Ibid. xxvu. 1. See also 1 Kings iv. 7).

A set of twenty-four served one month, and then were free to go on other business for the remaining eleven months. The set of twenty-four no doubt provided for service day and night, twelve for each half of the day throughout the month of their service. According to this pattern, twelve sets of twenty-four elders may regulate the affairs of the kingdom when

the Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy is erected. The set of twenty-four will probably include the twelve Apostles, who are to rule the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. xix. 28) and twelve selected Gentiles, as yet unnamed.

All these near the throne form the centre of administration.Just as David dispersed his captains and judges through Israel, so Jesus will appoint His faithful brethren, under their twenty-four heads, to positions of authority and rulership throughout the earth (Luke xix. 12-19 ; Psalm XLV. 16).

The Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy 5.6.8.

My name shall be great among the Gentiles

How would the priests receive such an announcement with their conception of Jewish exclusiveness? Yahweh was looked upon as exclusively a Jewish God.

They gloried in their possession of one place, and only one: the Temple at Jerusalem. To these Jews, it would have been unthinkable that God could manifest Himself in any other place. Yet, had they paused to consider the question, they might have recognized that Yahweh's glory had never been restricted to the four walls of one building. Stephen, in Acts chapter 7, expounded the Scriptures to establish that truth.

There were numerous instances in Israel's history which should have caused them to think deeply upon this matter. Yahweh's glory had not been restricted to the ark (1 Sam. 4); it had not been bound to one family of priests (1 Sam. 2); neither had it been restricted to the tabernacle (Psa. 78:59-64); and the divine presence had certainly not been limited to the Temple (Jer. 7).

The Temple in which these Jews placed their confidence was to be destroyed; the power and authority vested in the Aaronic priesthood was to be abolished; the people of Israel would be bereft of the means of worshipping Yahweh after the traditions which had been established for so long. Yahweh's glory would remain. His purpose would continue to unfold.

Bro John Ullman

13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith Yahweh 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 Yahweh.

Ye said also, Behold, what aweariness is it

Or, "these services are troublesome" (LXX)

Principles for divine worship have been clearly defined by the Most High God of heaven —and they must be conscientiously observed if men and women are to be identified by God as acceptable worshippers.

...They could see little purpose in such exercises. Yahweh, however, had already shown them, they had not really been longsuffering in worshipping their God (vv. 6-8,

10). ...Yahweh was telling them that their hearts were not in what they were offering Him. In fact, their disposition of mind was such that they looked upon divine worship as an almost intolerable burden. Therefore, their attempts at worship were merely mechanical.

The dreadful indictment which had been levelled against the sons of Eli was now repeated upon a later generation:

"And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Wherefore Yahweh Elohim of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now Yahweh saith, be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (1 Sam. 2:28-30; cp. Mic. 6:3; 2 Pet. 3:13-14).

"Ye have snuffed at it, saith Yahweh Sabaoth."

Thus God censured the priests for the contempt they had exhibited towards Him.

Rotherham claims that ancient manuscripts read: "at me" rather than "at it". He maintains that the original wording had been changed by the Sopherim because it had been too derogatory towards Yahweh!

The word rendered "snuffed" more literally means "to puff; to blow hard; to scatter". Thus a further horrifying crime was added to the charges already levelled against the faithless priests: they had flouted Yahweh's goodness and mercy by churlishly "blowing" His kindnesses back into His face.

Bro John Ullman

A wild olive tree. Be not highminded, but fear

...we are not in a scriptural or acceptable attitude before God unless we recognise that we Gentile believers of the gospel have only become conditional fellow-heirs with the approved in Israel, and that apart from a deeply humble and eager observance of the conditions we have no hope at all.

The observance of those conditions is called "continuing in his goodness," because the bestowal of the goodness is predicated upon our continuance in the conditions or in the rendering of that which He requires. It was because Israel had long ceased to render that which He required, that they were cut off.

What was it that He required of them? Moses told them plainly:

"What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?" (Deut. 10:12).

As a nation, they failed to render this thorough and continual service. They did that against which Moses warned them when he told them to beware, when they would have attained to great wealth and plenty in the land to which God was taking them:

"Beware lest thou forget the Lord, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt" (Deut. 6:10-12).

This is just what they did; they forgot God, and they did so because they neglected the precaution which Moses enjoined upon them at the very same time, as the means of preventing forgetfulness:

"These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (verses 6-7).

Neglecting that of which the equivalent, in our day, is the daily reading of the word, they lost all interest in the exercises and institutions related to the service of God - an interest which can only exist where there is a lively recognition and a living interest in God, who requires them. They said:

"Behold, what a weariness is it! And they snuffed at it" (Mal. 1:13).

Their state of mind led them to exclaim,

"When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?" (Amos 8:5).

They did observe the new moon: they did keep the Sabbath, in a way; but they had more interest in temporalities; and what they did, in the way of religious observance, was out of mere conformity to the custom around them. It was not done intelligently and lovingly to God.

Seasons 1.71.

The torn, and the lame, and the sick 

In Malachi's day, the state of these animals reflected accurately the spiritual state of the offerers: they offered the "torn", which symbolized their own spiritually blemished state; they offered the "lame", indicating that they were not walking uprightly in the way of the truth; and they offered the "sick", which inferred that the offerers were in an "unhealthy" spiritual state.

Every servant of the Living God needs to constantly examine his or her life in the light of the sober lessons taught in these verses.

In view of these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that Yahweh should ask:

"Should I accept this of your hand?"

The Law answered in the negative (Lev. 22:20)

... Men and women expect a great deal from their Creator: the forgiveness of their sins; His constant care and protection; and eternal life in His Kingdom. But should He not be entitled to expect something in return?

He asks that His sons and daughters dedicate their lives to Him which is not unreasonable. It is, in fact "your reasonable service", says the apostle Paul (Rom. 12:1).

Bro John Ullman

14 But cursed be the deceiver [accursed is he that defraudeth - Roth] , which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto Yahweh a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith Yahweh of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

The reference is to the vow offering: a sacrifice made in fulfilment of a pledge. It was one of the peace offerings, and therefore represented the offerer as seeking fellowship with Yahweh (Lev. 7:16; 22:23; Num. 30:2, cp. Ecc. 5:4). The vow offering, like other sacrifices, was not to be treated lightly:

"When thou shalt vow a vow unto Yahweh thy Elohim, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for Yahweh thy Elohim will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee" (Deut. 23:21).

...The prophet cited the case of a man who had a male animal in his flock, yet offered a female—which, in this case, would have been an inferior sacrifice and was therefore termed "corrupt" or blemished.

Some authorities render "a corrupt female". The LXX gives "cursed is he who was able and had in his flock a male".

Bro John Ullman

I am a great King 

He demands on this ground to be honoured, and to have the first place in the heart, and the best of all we have to offer. All the ceremonial appointments of the law were intended to teach this lesson. No one was allowed to approach the sanctuary except those appointed, and those only in the appointed way, on pain of death.

No offering was accepted with a blemish, or hurt, or imperfection. All uncleanness required purgation by sacrifice. Holiness and majesty were continually impressed on Israel as appertaining to Him in the highest degree.

The lesson in its individual application is unmistakable. Jesus brings it home in the words

"Thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim with all thy heart and all thy strength and all thy mind."

His own demand is

"My son, give me thine heart."

He demands the highest place in all our affairs, which is His reasonable place. Let us render the service He requires. His word is in our houses. Don't let us insult Him by giving our feeblest moments to the reading of it. Don't let us wait till all our energies are worn out, and our faculties impaired in attending upon the affairs of the natural man.

Don't let us sit down to the Bible when nature is exhausted, and sleep hovers on the eyelids. Let us give the best time of the day. It is a matter of contrivance. There are difficulties, but difficulties can be overcome.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Besides, who knows but our difficulties are God's tests. He may want to prove us—to see and let us see whether we will honour Him or not It is no new thing for God to leave a man that he may see all that is in his heart. Therefore, our increasing business—our growing affairs—may be a part of the machinery by which our probation is accomplished.

If we resist the clamours of the flesh—if, notwithstanding the pressure of worldly affairs, we turn aside daily in reading, prayer and meditation, we overcome; but if on the contrary, we are carried before the stream, and leave God behind, we are overcome, and will awake sooner or later to a sense of our great folly.

The Christadelphian, May 1874