Book of Malachi Chapter 2 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
This chapter is especially for all who are in ministry. As Verse 1 begins, “And now this commandment is for you, O priests." If you have faith in the Lord, but feel you are not in the "ministry," consider 1 Peter 1:9, addressed to all who trust in God—"You are a chosen generation, a holy priesthood, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who call you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Have you placed your trust in the Lord? Are you grateful to Him? Do you praise Him? Do you pray? If you feel you are not His priest, 1 Peter 1:5 & 9 give God's perspective, the one that counts. Male or female, ordained or not, you are God's priest. This chapter in Malachi is a warning and an encouragement to you and me.
As humans we tend to become discouraged, which can poison our spiritual life. If our prayers were seemingly not answered we may pray less—unbelief creeps in. But prayer is not about getting what you want. Read Philippians 4:6-7. We are to pray about "everything," especially about circumstances that make us feel "anxious." God's promised answer is seen in Verse 7 of that chapter: "the peace of God" will be yours. Give God the problem and let it go—TRUST HIM for the outcome and find His peace.
Verse 2 begins with the words, "'if you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,' says the Lord of Hosts..." God charges us with those words in two ways. First, we must "listen" to the Lord. Yes He does expect us to bring our needs to Him, but we are also to hear His counsel though we previously were deaf to the things of the Spirit. If we can't "hear," which is true of all to some degree, we have no defense because we have His Holy written Word, revealing all we need. Second, we must "take it to heart to give honor" to the Name of the Lord. We might attend worship services, sing loudly, tithe from our income and help the needy, but deep in our "heart" is it "to give honor to (His) name?" Verse 2 is very important—"then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.'"
God longs to bless you. He likes to give to us materially and spiritually...to bless our efforts, our work, reputation, finances, health...everything about you is important to Him. But if He has decided to "curse your blessings," to withdraw them from you, it's for a purpose. You can see it in the Book of Job. God loved Job, was delighted by the man's faith and showered blessings upon him—But there was a higher need in relation to Job's life, and so all was taken away. Job's contemporaries and we in the future are to learn there is more to faith, more to God's grace than we have previously understood. The life of a faithful person is not just getting what we want when we want it. The priests in this chapter in Malachi were tired of what they did. They lacked faith in the Lord they ostensibly served. They lost sight of the people in their care and it is important to note that your life is not just about you, and mine is not merely about me. We AFFECT the people around us to a great degree. Often what happens to us may really be for them.
We should be concerned that our attitudes and actions can have an adverse affect on our children. That's how Verse 3 begins: "Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring." One aspect of children is that they are like mirrors, reflecting the souls of their parents. We are supposed to learn from what we see in our little ones. Children are "blessings" as Verse 2 blends into Verse 3, which continues, "and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it." When our children are like curses to us, when they become like dung, like "refuse" in our faces..we are supposed to see our need and repent. The priests were being ENCOURAGED by these words. Look at the animosity between young and older people today in much of the world...Is God speaking to us through the rebellion of our children?
Verse 4 supports that idea, as God continues through the prophet: "Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you." This verse was to give hope to the Levitical priests of the Jewish people, "that My covenant may continue with Levi,' says the Lord of hosts." By calling the priest's sins to their attention, God was not rejecting them. On the contrary, He was offering the continuance of His relationship with them. Verse 5 ends this way: “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name." That was about Levi, the third son of Jacob, a man who displeased God, causing his descendants to not inherit land, but they were blessed with something even better—the right to serve God in His sanctuary.
It's true of you and me also. Our sins place at risk our possibility of inheritance within God's kingdom. Romans 3:23 cautions us—"all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," but Romans 6:23 encourages us: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We were utterly lost, drowning in overt and subtle sins, but He died for us, rescueing those willing to trust in Him and what He has done.
There is a prophecy about Levi the man and Simeon his brother in Genesis 49:5-7 "...I will scatter them in Israel." The suggestion of Malachi 2:6 is that Levi found faith in the Lord and was changed for the good: "True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity." When we come to the Lord in faith, we enter a covenant, a contract with Him. As 1 Peter 5:9 indicates, through trusting in Jesus Christ we become priests in His service—something costly (the life of Jesus Christ) was given and God expects something from us in return. That's what Verse 7 says: "For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." We should hunger to learn all we can about the Lord we love, to the point of helping others learn about Him also.
Levi's descendants drifted away from the simple faith that came to characterize Levi the man. God said in Verse 8: "'But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,' says the Lord of hosts." They exchanged faith in the Lord for human popularity. They no longer taught the people to have faith like Levi's great grandfather Abraham. Instead they said, "all you have to do is attend the feasts, bring sacrifices at the appointed times, do the rituals and you'll be OK." They missed the point and misled others, so God would judge this proud priesthood by bringing them low in the sight of everybody. No one wants to be publically embarrassed, so here in Verse 9 is God's response: "I...have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction."
Israel has a covenant, a contract with God, as do all who have faith in the Lord. It's simply this: We are His people and He is our God. If we mislead ourselves and others, it's foolishness. As Verse 10 concludes, "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?" God has the intelligence, faithfulness, wisdom, resources, perspective and love that we lack. He sees tomorrow and is so far above us that we should always sing, "I need Thee every hour..." Verse 11 comments about the little country of Judah, which can be said about us all: "Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord which He loves and has married the daughter of a foreign god." If we come up with some religious idea different than faith in the Lord, it's idolatry, and we become idolators. God continues through the prophet in Verse 12, "As for the man who does this, may the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to the Lord of hosts."
Have you prayed and didn't receive what you wanted? Verse 13 comments on that very issue: "This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand." If your prayer has not been answered, consider the possibility that God has a reason for withholding it. Is there something about you that needs to change? It may not be the case, but ask the Lord...He sees the center of your being.
Verses 14-16 look at marriage as an example of God's concern about the priests of Judah, and the example is certainly important today: "You say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. 'For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'and him who covers his garment with wrong,' says the Lord of hosts. 'So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.'" God loves marriage, an institution He created, and His words are, "I hate divorce." He created marriage as a lifelong commitment, with the intention that people will enter the world through childbirth, be brought to faith in the Lord and have faithful offspring of their own. The family is to be a place of safety and love for men, women and children. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4)
This was a priesthood that perverted God's holy way of salvation. They looked good on the outside, but God sees the heart. Verse 17 says: "You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, 'How have we wearied Him?' In that you say, 'Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,' or, 'Where is the God of justice?'" They prayed often, but their thoughts and words insulted God. We have sayings today like: "The good die young" and the question often asked through history has been: "Where is the God of justice?" What do YOU think, deep inside?
Jesus spoke of two men praying in the Jerusalem Temple—A Pharisee admired by all, and a tax collector hated by everybody. The Pharisee prayed, "God I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess." The tax collector prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" The Lord said of them: "(the tax collector) went to his house justified, rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:9-14). Look into your heart...Are you the humble tax collector or the proud Pharisee?
Lord, I confess my sin of arrogance. Please forgive me. God be merciful to me a sinner. In Jesus Name. Amen.