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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Malachi 2

Verses 1-9

MALACHI - CHAPTER 2

MESSAGE TO THE PRIESTS, CONT.,

Verses 1-9:

Priests Further Reprimanded

Verse 1 is a direct address from the Lord, to the priests, an address of grave judgment warning, to be respected by the priestly leaders of the restored remnant of the nation of Israel, Malachi 4:4. For "if the blind lead the blind," both fall into the ditch. Ministers cannot sin or suffer alone. They drag others down with them, if they fall, Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39.

Verse 2 warns that a Divine curse will be sent upon the priests if they will not "to hear" or to give glory to the name of the Lord. The curse is pronounced upon their blessings; Even physical prosperity will be taken away, their very livelihood, as forewarned Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Deuteronomy 28:3-35; Psalms 106:15.

Verse 3 further warns the priests that for their willful disobedience to the Lord He will corrupt their seed; cause it to rot in the field, or mould in the bag, to their hurt, Joel 1:17; Haggai 1:11. He would cause the dung in the maw of the sacrifice to be spread on their faces, as a sign of shame. You will get the dung, instead of the maw for your pay, wherever you go, Deuteronomy 18:3; 1 Kings 14:10; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 22:19; Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 16:27.

Verse 4 advised the priests that in judgment they will be made to realize, recognize, or acknowledge that the Lord had sent His commandment to them, that His covenant might exist with Levi. By bitter experience they would come to know this, Numbers 25:11-13.

Verse 5 asserts that the Lord gave to Levi and his tribe the covenant of life and peace, because of Levi’s reverential fear of Him, for His name’s sake, Numbers 23:12; Deuteronomy 33:8; Isaiah 8:12-13. His was a covenant of an "everlasting priesthood," which Levi of old had respected. The keeping of the law of the Lord is (exists as) life and peace; For obedience to it has its own rewards, Psalms 19:11.

Verse 6 reports that in ancient days of Levi, or his priesthood, he was true to God in teaching the people the law of the Lord and walking according to it themselves, as expounders of the Law, Deuteronomy 17:8-9; Deuteronomy 19:17. He walked in equity and did, in such, turn many from iniquity or lawless ways, Jeremiah 2:23; Daniel 12:3; Luke 1:16-17; James 5:10. Levi did not walk in crooked ways in olden days and God blessed him.

Verse 7 concluded that the priest’s lips should keep or guard, safeguard, knowledge of the law, of its positive and negative precepts, and of its doctrines, Leviticus 10:10-11; Deuteronomy 24:8; Jeremiah 18:18; Haggai 2:11. And the people should seek to understand and to obey the law at his direction, and interpretation, as he obeyed God, Haggai 1:13. Even as the pastors or overseers of the seven churches of Asia are called as "Ambassadors" or "messengers", Galatians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Revelation ch. 2, 3.

Verse 8 reminds the priests of that day, v. 1, that they had departed or gone aside, apostatized out of the way of the Law of the Lord of hosts. They have caused many to stumble, scandalously be offended, and go astray from God and His law, 1 Samuel 2:17; Jeremiah 18:15; Matthew 18:6; Luke 17:1. They are charged with personally corrupting the covenant of Levi, of their own office; They had used it as a license for sin, Zechariah 11:10. They had defiled the priesthood of the Lord.

Verse 9 further concludes that the Lord has made, or caused the priesthood to be, despised as base and contemptible to both the masses of Israel and to the heathen. It was because they had been carnally covetous and partial in their ministration of the religious phase of the law that was committed to them, Leviticus 15:15; James 4:17. They had respected the faces or persons of some while abusing the faces or persons of others, a contemptible thing. See also 1 Timothy 5:21; James 2:4; James 3:17.

Verse 10

Treachery Of Every Man

Verse 10:

Sins Of Brother Against Brother

Verse 10 raises to rhetoric question, "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" to which the answer to both is "yes," God is the Father of all, in the sense that He is or (exists as) the one creator of all men. He is not the father (spiritual father) of those who are lost, Ephesians 2:3; John 8:44. Malachi then inquires why the masses of the returned remnant is profaning the covenant of their fathers? The particular treachery He introduces, in covenant breaking toward God and their forefathers, was that of putting aside their Jewish wives, buying and living with strangers, Gentiles, or heathen, as their first tent wives, an abomination to God. Integration of the races, in marriage, from the days of Noah, seems to be a sin against God and His will for men, until today. The greatest degree of peace and service to God, and one’s fellowman, may be achieved and rendered in single marriages, and that within ones own race, v. 11, 14; Ezra 9:1-9. See also Leviticus 20:24-26; Deuteronomy 7:3. Though no direct command came from Jesus on this matter, He sanctioned its principle.

The making of marriages with the nations, heathens, or Gentiles, was specifically and definitely forbidden of the Lord to all Israel, under the Law, and blessed when it was obeyed and followed. It brought heartache, trouble, and sorrow to all Israel when it was disregarded, as recounted in the lives of Samson, David, Solomon, and the pre-exile era of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. See also Joshua 23:11-13; 1 Kings 11:1-11; Even the Philistines became more righteous than Samson, who had married another Philistine, an heathen, woman in Timnath of the Philistines, who betrayed him to her own people; She was burned alive; both she and her father by her own people, Judges 14:15; Judges 15:6. Samson then married another Philistine, a heathen, forbidden in the law. This led to his loss of power with God, his being blinded, and his eventual suicide, Judges 16:1-31. Marriage with other races led Israel into idolatry and many other sins of compromise with the devil. It appears that such is true today. The greatest degree of honor and service to God and tranquillity in family and domestic life may yet be found in marriage within ones’ own race. See also Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 24:8; Deuteronomy 14:2.

Verses 11-16

Sins Against God In Family Life

Verses 11-16:

Treachery Of Racial Intermarriage

Verse 11 charges that Judah and the whole nation of Israel and , the city of Jerusalem had dealt treacherously (deceitfully) with God, trying to cover up or justify their intermarriage with heathen, Gentiles, or other races, even divorcing their Jewish wives to do so; This is declared to be an unholy abomination, (as sin abhorred by the Lord) though Israel had tried to justify it with pious platitudes and sanctimonious tears, v. 13. Judah is accused of marrying the daughter of a strange god, literally marrying Gentiles who worshipped heathen gods, rejecting the true God, a thing forbidden in God’s law, op. cit., and Exodus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 7:3.

Verse 12 warns that the Lord will "cut off" the man (any man) or every man who dealt treacherously with his Jewish wife, putting’ her aside, or in an outer tent, while taking another wife, an heathen Gentile wife. The Lord would disapprove such intermarriage breaches of infidelity toward their covenant with God, whether they were master or scholar, teacher or pupil, priest or one of the common people of the nation of Israel. The phrase "out of the tabernacles of Jacob" seems to reinforce the idea that His judgment would fall upon His chosen people for their breach of covenant with the nation of Israel, not associated directly with the tabernacle worship. His offering of a sacrifice would not erase His guilt, Isaiah 1:11-15.

Verse 13 relates that efforts of priests and laymen to atone for or justify their open marital infidelity by making spectacular sacrifices upon the altar of the Lord with tears, weeping, and crying, while still living treacherously with heathen wives, was not received of the Lord. Such sacrificial gifts would not buy God’s sanction of their moral wrong and breach of His covenant through their extra-marital and inter-marriage, in taking to themselves strange wives, heathen, or Gentile wives; Their sins were sure to "find them out," Numbers 32:23; Deuteronomy 7:3-4. This was a second lapse into marriage infidelity. It had been corrected under Ezra once before, Nehemiah 13:23-30; Ezra 9; Ezra 1-10; Nehemiah 13:5-6.

Verse 14 cites the questions of the apostate priests, in protest against the Lord’s disapproval of the intermarriage treachery of the priests and laity of the nation of Israel, in setting aside their Jewish wives of their youth in sensual, carnal, seizure of heathen wives to satisfy their carnal lusts, Proverbs 2:17. In doing this they committed two major sins: First, single marital partners or monogamy was the primary will of God from the beginning. This they were disregarding, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6; 1 Corinthians 7; 1 Corinthians 10. They were often married as young as 13 years of age for the male, and the wife younger, Genesis 31:49-50; Proverbs 5:18; Isaiah 54:6. Second, God had specifically forbidden them from going in unto, or marrying the Philistines, Gentiles, or heathen races; In putting their covenant’ wives, companions of their youth away, for "strange wives," they offended God, Leviticus 20:24; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Ezra 9:1-10; Nehemiah 13:23-30.

Verse 15 rhetorically asks did not God make one? He did make Adam and Eve to be one flesh, didn’t He? Matthew 19:6. And did not that same God elect or call Israel to be one nation or race for a kingly lineage through the tribe of Judah, Genesis 49:10? He did! And did not God call Israel, as an holy, sanctified, and chosen nation to walk uprightly in personal and marital relations, as He directed, to bear His message and administer His house of worship until the Messiah should come? He did. Israel had, held, or possessed the residue of the spirit in leading her and protecting her, from Egypt’s post-passover journey until the redeemer came, appearing in the cloud of fire by day and by night, and in the shekinah light of the tabernacle and the temple, Exodus 14:19;1 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; Romans 8:14-15. The verse ends by calling upon the priests and people of Israel to take heed or take control of their spirit (their attitude or disposition) of their behavior, and let not one among them with the covenant or sacred pledge with her or his God disobey, by setting her aside and taking a "strange wife," an heathen wife, or wife of another race.

Verse 16 again quotes the Lord as stating that He "hateth," continually hates or despises, one’s putting away the covenant-­wife of his youth, one’s divorcing her, or setting her off as a slave, in a side tent, like heathen polygamists did. To "cover ones violence with his garment" is described as being a thing the Lord disapproves. It appears that the Jewish priesthood had tried to justify their marital infidelity, and that of many of Israel’s remnant who were intermarrying with the Gentiles, by saying that Moses their great law-giver sanctioned it. Yet, the Lord did not sanction it as a priority of His will, but as a permitted thing only, Deuteronomy 24:1; Matthew 19:6-9; See also Deuteronomy 22:30; Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8.

They are called upon to "take heed" or be on guard toward their spirit, attitude, or disposition in order that they deal not treacherously against either God or their own national family members.

Verse 17

The Sin Of Insincere Religious Profession

Verse 17:

Verse 17 directly charges the priests (v. 1) with having wearied the Lord with their words, empty and vain words, Isaiah 43:24. With pious faces they asked wherein they had wearied the Lord. To this He replied that they had wearied Him in saying that everyone that repeatedly did evil was good in the sight of the Lord and that the Lord continually delighted in them, Proverbs 17:13; Isaiah 5:20. They even posed the argument that God was pleased with what they were doing, else He would have already judged them. This verse serves as a transition to chapter three.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Malachi 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/malachi-2.html. 1985.