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The Lord is expostulating with Israel in this Chapter, on their ingratitude; and pointing out in his providences and grace, his distinguishing favor to Jacob, and his judgment on Esau.
The title of this prophecy as a burden, is not meant to express a matter grievous in its weight, but blessed in its importance. It is the Lord's burden, and brings with it the Lord's blessing. Burdensome indeed to sinners, but refreshing to saints.
Every word in this address of the Lord is weighty, and deserves the closest attention. Reader, pray observe how the Lord opens his discourse, with referring to his love. Yes! this is the source, the fountain, and cause of all Israel's mercies; and the subject begins in eternity, in the gift of Christ, God's dear Son, and reaches through time to eternity, forever. And observe further, the insensibility of God's people here pointed out by the question, wherein hast thou loved us? Reader! do not in considering the Israel of old, as spoken of in this Chapter, overlook the Israel now. The Lord's Israel are all the same in every age in themselves; ignorant, ungrateful, and for the most part lost to a sense of distinguishing mercies. Romans 3:9 . I beg the Reader, before he goeth further, to turn back to Jeremiah 31:1-4 . And when he hath duly pondered the wonderful subject. I would have him particularly to attend to this doctrine of distinguishing grace, here preached to the Church by the Lord himself The Lord demands concerning the fact, Was not Esau Jacob's brother? Yes! he was, yea, his elder brother, and therefore as such, concerning the right of inheritance, was legally intitled, and by the Lord's own appointment, to the birth-right. But gospelly considered, he was set aside, and by the Lord himself from it, and Jacob preferred. And what tended to confirm this doctrine yet more, and to make it; unanswerably conclusive, was, that this choice of the younger, and rejection of the elder, was in the decree of the Lord, before that either was born. Paul, the Apostle, was commissioned by the Holy Ghost, in the after ages of the Church, to preach on this Sermon of the Lord, and to make this comment upon it; and certainly by that authority, the doctrine is laid down with a firmness of divine decision none can safely dispute. I beg the Reader to turn to the Apostle's subject. Romans 9:6 to the end, and then see the history of this memorable transaction. Genesis 25:20 to the end, and Genesis 27:0 , throughout. And I beg further to call the Reader's attention to this doctrine, from the same scriptural authority, that all these tokens of distinguishing grace, personally to Jacob, was not limited to Jacob, but included all the seed of Jacob. In confirmation, see Genesis 28:1-14 . Hence therefore, the burden of Malachi's prophecy you see is a blessed burden indeed; for it contains Christ in his fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency. The blessings given to Jacob, it is plain, were not temporal, for he no sooner had it, than he was compelled to flee for his life; and few and evil, as he told Pharaoh at the close of his pilgrimage, had been his days. Genesis 47:9 . But the whole of this distinguishing grace and love the Lord had to Jacob and to his seed, as beheld in Christ, and accepted in Christ, was in respect to the blessings of redemption. Reader! what a vast thought is here, in proof of the love of God in Christ, being set forth altogether free, without all motives of good or evil, in the happy receivers of this unspeakable mercy; not only before they have done good or evil, but before they were born! Reader! do not turn hastily away from this subject. Pause over it. How many are there the distinguishing objects of this rich, free mercy in Christ, who through the weakness of their faith, and their inattention to divine things, even after partaking of the sweet effects of it, in regenerating, converting, renewing grace, are frequently without full and clear views of their happy and unspeakably blessed state in Christ, in the enjoyment of it?
The Apostle to the Hebrews explains this account of Esau, who is said to be a fornicator, and a profane person Hebrews 12:16 left to a dissolute mind, being rejected, or as this scripture speaks, hated of God. And so all his race. For, when it is said, as in this scripture, that his mountains and heritages were laid waste, it is meant spiritually so. As the mountain of the Lord's house is put for the Church, Micah 4:1-2 so here is meant by the mountain of Esau, the state of reprobation. Esau, and the seed of Esau, void of grace here, and no part in the glory of Christ hereafter. Mount Seir was a type of desolation inhabited, by Esau and his seed. Genesis 36:8 .
These are very strong expressions of expostulation. God appeals to the common principles and laws of nature. Children and servants do reverence to them that have the rule over them. How much more is due to the Lord, as the common Father of his people. Reader! how heightened is this principle to believers, who are adopted in and through Christ, into the family and household of faith, and are permitted, yea, commanded to cry, Abba, Father! Galatians 4:6 . Holy aggravated the sin to the priests of God; and all believers in Christ are made kings and priests to God and the Father. Revelation 1:6 . I humbly conceive, that there is an eye in this expostulation to the Pharisaical pride and self-righteousness of men, which in after ages manifested itself in opposition to the righteousness of Christ. Everything offered without an eye to Christ is polluted. It is, in the language of the Prophet, a lame and blind sacrifice. And as under the law, whatever was blemished was rejected, so in the Gospel, all offerings but the one perfect offering of the Lord Jesus Christ is blemished and rejected.
This verse comes in as a very affectionate advice after the strong expostulation going before, and which proves what all the other parts of God's holy word declare, that the Lord is very pitiful and gracious, slow to anger, and of great mercy. Isaiah 30:18 .
Here again, the Lord showeth the unworthiness and ungraciousness of man, and his unprofitableness to God. All which, if I mistake not, is introduced with a view to heighten the abundant grace and goodness of God. It is as if the Lord had said, though none of you will so much as open the doors of my house without a reward, yet my love, and the blessings I give are all free, and without restraint, yea, against all undeservings.
This is a most blessed verse, which comes in amidst the charges the Lord had brought against Israel, like some sweet stream, in a dry and barren land, and it is full of grace from beginning to end. I beg the Reader to remark with me, how blessedly it speaks of that glorious kingdom of grace, in the Lord Jesus Christ, which was to be so extensive, and including both Jew and Gentile; evidently therefore alluding to the days of the Gospel. And I beg him further to remark, that the incense here promised to be offered in every place, is expressly said to be a pure offering. Here again, as plainly pointing to Jesus, whose one offering, once offered, perfected forever them that are sanctified. No offering but his could be pure; for even the prayers of the saints can only come up pure before God, in, and through Him, and the censer of his offering. See Revelation 8:4-5 ; Hebrews 10:14 . And I beg to offer one observation more on this delightful verse, which is to remind the Reader, that as a confirmation of the whole, Jehovah twice in it points to his great name, as the cause of all our mercies. So then, from east to west, in the great revolution of the sun's power, through all the varieties of the earth, this blessing is absolutely promised. The North and South are not spoken of indeed, probably because the extremities of both are not habitable; but in every place where the people are, this blessing, and from free sovereign grace alone, shall be given in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed, blessed forever be Jehovah, for Jesus Christ! Lord! hasten thy kingdom, and fulfil this promise! Amen.
It should seem, from the solemn expressions with which the Chapter concludes, and connected with what was said in a preceding part, at the sixth verse, concerning the priests that despised the Lord's name; that the threatenings were particularly and personally directed to them. And how truly awful they are! They are charged with despising the Lord's name; polluting the Altar; profaning the table of the Lord; offering the torn, and the lame for sacrifice, and begrudging their labor, yea, counting it a weary service. And are we the priests of the Lord, who minister in holy things, now free from these solemn charges? It is an awful enquiry! If our services, which we declare with our lips, to be perfect freedom, become irksome and unpleasant to the heart; if we count our attendance a weariness, and wish to avoid it; if we offer ourselves the torn and the lame; I mean our offerings, which are all torn indeed, and lame, instead of the one pure and perfect offering of Christ, as the sole cause of acceptance, or teach our people so; - what shall I say? If we enter upon our ministry for filthy lucre, and when entered, consider the service as a drudgery, and follow it no further than as it brings worldly gain; in either case, or in all these instances, wherein doth the Christian priest, of every rank and character, escape the awful sentence pronounced in these solemn charges on the Jewish? Blessed Lord, manifest the greatness of thy grace, as thou hast here proclaimed thy great name, and put thy fear in our hearts; for indeed thy name is dreadful, even among the heathen, however lightly, regarded by thy people.
Almighty Lord! grant both to Writer and Reader grace, in receiving the message of this prophecy, from thy servant the Prophet, that we may indeed accept the whole of it as the burden of the Lord, bringing to us the great things of thy blessed word. We pray to mark the distinguishing grace of our God, in his choice of Jacob, and rejection of Esau. And we humbly beg the Lord to help our solemn meditations on this subject, with his divine teaching, that under the Holy Ghost's influence, we may give diligence to make our calling and election sure. Oh! for grace, to know thee as our Father; yea, our God and Father in Christ Jesus; and to offer thee that honor, and to worship thee and love thee with that holy fear, as becometh the redeemed of the Lord!
And, oh! thou glorious Lord Jesus! hasten, we beseech thee, the auspicious hour, when from sun rise to sun set thy name shall be adored from shore to shore, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. We long to see the dawn of that blessed day, when all the world shall see the salvation of our God; and the knowledge of Jesus shall cover the earth, as the waters the channel of the great deep. Raise up to thyself, O Lord, faithful disinterested pastors, who will not snuff at thy service, nor count it a weariness and a burden. Oh! for an heart to receive what my Lord hath said, and bow with holy joy and reverence to the revelation. Thou art indeed, O blessed Jesus, a Great King, and thy name is dreadful among the heathen. Prove the greatness of thy sovereignty and power, by reigning in me, and over me, and in all the affections of my heart, the Lord of life and glory. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Malachi 1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany