November 18, 2015

Scripture and Comments, November 15-21

November 15

Zech. 3, Acts 1
Zech. 4 1 Tim. 4

Commentary,

Zechariah 3

God is restoring the Levitical priesthood to Jerusalem.  He has already restored the city, the people, and the Temple.  Now He is officially consecrating and commissioning the priests who minister in the Temple.  This is done for all the priests, using Joshua, the High Priest, as the figurehead and representative of all (8). Taking away his filthy garments symbolises taking away his sin; dressing him in clean, new garments represents God counting Him as righteous (4).  This is followed by an exhortation to walk in the ways of God (7) which is a contrast to the ways of the former priests, who walked in the ways of idolatry and sin.  The priests are being charged to judge and keep the Lord’s house (7).  This, of course, refers to the Temple, where they will officiate in the sacrifices and will instruct the people in the knowledge and keeping of the Scriptures.  In another sense, all of Israel is the house and courts of God, and God is charging the priests with the spiritual care of His people. Their job is to ensure that God’s laws and ordinances are followed, and no new practices or strange fires are admitted into God’s worship (Lev. 10:1).

These men are to be wondered at (8) because they foreshadow the Righteous Branch God will bring forth out of Israel.  The Righteous Branch is Jesus Christ, who ministers in the true Temple and offers the one sacrifice that can take away sin (Jn. 1:29, Heb. 9:24-28).

The stone (9) is an issue of much discussion.  Some, like  the Rev’d.Matthew Henry say it is the Messiah, others say it cannot be the Messiah because the context seems to give Joshua authority over it, and no man has authority over Christ.  It appears to refer to the Temple, for God is charging him with the regulation of His house and the keeping of His courts.

It may include both meanings.  It may represent the Temple, given into the care of the priesthood until the Righteous Branch and Great High Priest arrives.  It may also represent the Messiah, the foundation and cornerstone of the true Temple, who will come forth out of Israel and bring the Kingdom to full maturity in His ministry and Church.

Zechariah 4

The candlestick is a seven-headed, menorah-like lamp that burns olive oil, with an unending flow of oil supplied by two olive trees.  The vision is the word of God to Zerubabel (6).  Its message is that the task of completing the Temple and leading the Jews to abide in the Covenant of God will be accomplished by God’s Spirit, not Zerubabel’s wisdom or abilities.

Zerubabel is of the direct line of David. He led the first group of Jews back to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian Captivity.  He was their king as they struggled to rebuild their city and the Temple.  Progress was very slow, and numerous problems and enemies obstructed the work.  By Zephaniah’s time, it seems to Zerubabel, and all of the people, that the task is impossible.  They have, essentially abandoned it and turned their energies to simply trying to survive. The vision assures Zerubabel that God is with him, and the restoration and preservation of Israel depends on God, not Zerubabel.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (6).  By God’s power, mountains (obstacles) will be leveled (overcome).  The day of small things refers to the smallness and weakness of Jerusalem, the incomplete Temple, and Zerubabel.  None of them seem to have the power or wisdom to accomplish the task God has set before them.  That is exactly the point.  They don’t.  But God does, and, if Zerubabel obeys and trusts God, and leads the people to do the same, the great things God has promised will be accomplished.  

The lamp signifies the Temple, which Zerubabel is struggling to complete. In the broader sense, it refers to the entire work of God in Redeeming His people and establishing His Kingdom. The oil is the power of God given to the Kingdom in unending supply by which the work of the Kingdom is accomplished. The olive trees represent God sending His grace and power into His people and Kingdom.  They probably are the Son and the Spirit of God, standing before the Father.  The vision reinforces the word of God in verse 6, that the Temple, and the Kingdom,  are built by the power of God, which flows in unending supply to His people. 

November 16

Zech. 5, Acts 2
Zech. 6, 1 Tim. 5

Commentary,

Zechariah 5

The scroll is identified in verse 3 as the curse that covers humanity.  It is the curse that applies to all who break the law of God.  In this case, it is especially applied to Israel for her sin and departure from the Covenant relationship with God (Dt. 28:15-68).  The curse consumes the guilty, and Israel is guilty.  Her only hope is for God to somehow remove her guilt.  The woman in the ephah basket (5-11) is a vision of God removing Israel’s guilt.  Guilt is symbolised as a woman, very likely a prostitute, who is placed in a basket.  Two other women (angels) carry the woman in the basket to Shinar, where the tower of Babel was built.  Shinar signifies a place of spiritual darkness and rebellion against God.  The woman in the basket (Israel’s sin) belongs there, not in Jerusalem.

Zechariah 6

Verses 1-8 record the vision of the four chariots.  They represent four spirits of God who cover the earth. These spirits probably refer to angels, rather than the Holy Spirit.  The first two are sent into the north country (6). The third goes into the south.  Since the Mediterranean is on the west side of Israel, and the Arabian desert is on the east side, most of the foreign invaders came into Israel from the north.  Assyrian and Babylon both attacked from the north.  Egypt, a constant threat to Israel, lay to the south.  The chariots sent in these directions, keep the enemies at bay.  Therefore God’s Spirit is at rest, symbolising a time of relative rest for Jerusalem.

The word of the Lord turns to Joshua in verses 9-15.  Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah, are Jews who have recently come to Jerusalem from Babylon with gifts of gold and silver from other Jews who choose to remain in Babylon rather than face the hardships and dangers of Jerusalem.  God tells Zechariah to use the gold and silver to make a crown for Joshua, the High Priest.  He will build the Temple (12), meaning he will have oversight of the worship and sacrifices to God offered in the Temple, and the spiritual care of the people of God (see Zech. 3:7).  Verse 15 promises that more Jews will return to Jerusalem to help with the Temple.

Joshua is a symbol of the Righteous Branch, who builds the spiritual Temple, of which the physical Temple is also a symbol.  The Branch is the Messiah and the Temple is His Church, in which all the promises to humanity through Israel are fulfilled.


November 17

Zech. 7, Acts 3
Zech. 8, 1 Tim 6

Zechariah 7

Zechariah takes us back to the days before the Temple was built, and a time when the construction had ceased due to military threats by the Persian government. His prophetic message comprises two primary points.  First, rebuild the Temple.  This point comes with many encouragements and promises of God, some of which we have looked at in recent comments.  Second, be the People of God.  Return to the Covenant God made with your ancestors.  Return to Him.  Love and honour Him as you are called to do.  This point also comes with promises and encouragements.  We have looked at some of them already, and will do so again soon.  Chapter 7 is about the second point of Zechariah's message; being the people of God.  It is about returning to the Covenant relationship with God.  It is about being His people and loving Him above all else.  God's major concern is not for the Temple.  The Temple is not for Him, it is for the Jews.  It is a symbol of God's presence and providence with them.  It is a symbol of the forgiveness of their sins and their acceptance by God through His grace.  It is the place where they worship God, and where they meet God in worship.  In short, the Temple is the symbol of the Covenant in action.  The Law specifies their Covenant obligations; the Temple is a central part of how they fulfill those obligations in everyday life.

The Law is a primary aspect of the Covenant.  There are three parts of the Law; moral law, civil law, and ceremonial law.  The Jews have a tendency to focus on the ceremonial law because it is the easiest to keep.  The moral law, summarised in the Ten Commandments, is the hardest to keep.  It still is.  It is because of our failure to keep the moral law that we need the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to cover our sins and make us acceptable to God.  The civil law, because it is simply the moral law codified and applied to everyday life, is also very difficult to keep. It, too, still is. Man's natural inclination toward evil causes us to tend to pervert civil law and government for selfish gain.  If a party can gain control of the government and courts, its members can do what they want without fear of human retribution.  It does not take the Jews long to figure this out.  David's false dealing with Uzziah over Bathsheba, and Ahab’s and Jezebel's dealings with Naboth (1 Kings 21:1-16) show some of this abuse, but it is not limited to the palace.  The writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel frequently mention the abuse of power to gain wealth.  Crooked scales, moving property boundaries, and false accusations are well honed and heavily used tools in Judah before the Captivity.  But God called the Jews to live in fellowship and respect, even to love one another.  He did not create a wellfare state; He did create a system of laws, which promoted freedom, justice, and well-being among His people.

Zechariah reminds the people of Jerusalem that their ancestors' abuse of the civil law is a major reason why God allowed the Babylonians to conquer and brutalise them.  They were warned by the former prophets (9-10), but they did not listen.  "Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law" (11).  Because they refused to hear God's call to them through the prophets, God did not listen to their call to Him through prayer when the conquering armies came (12).  He allowed them to be conquered in a brutal war that left vast numbers of their people dead and vast parts of their land ravaged, including Jerusalem and the Temple.  Survivors of the war were forced to live in captivity in foreign lands (13-14).

We may draw many lessons from this short passage.  Law based on the moral law of God provides a sure foundation for liberty and justice, and the nation that has and follows such laws will live in peace and freedom.  The natural sin-inclinations of the human heart are one of the main reasons why we need government.  It exists to protect the God-given rights and freedoms of the people.  But even good government can be perverted and used for evil if people are allowed to control and distort it for personal gain and power.  God desires peace and liberty for all people.  Failure to live in true liberty and peace is great sin, and God is angry at such people.  God is angry at those who pervert justice and use government power for their own gain and goals.  On a higher lever, it is God's plan that His Covenant People live in mutual respect and love according to His moral law.  There is to be a fellowship and unity among us based upon our love for God and one another.  We cannot expect the world and its kingdoms to live up to this standard very well.  But the Church must.

Zechariah 8

God is returned unto Zion (3).  This refers not to His actual presence, for God is present in all places and in all times.  It refers to His presence in grace.  It is His presence in the way we mean when we say, "God be with you, and with thy spirit."  He is present to defend, to lead, to bless, and dwell in peace with His people.  The time of His wrath has ended.  The conquest, the captivity, the scattering of the people of Jerusalem into the surrounding nations is over.  God allowed that to happen because of sin in his people.  The holy city of Jerusalem, and even the Temple itself, had become unbearable in God's eyes because of the sin of the people.  The Temple had been filled with idols.  The worship offered in it was vain and insincere.  The morality of the people was as that of Gentiles who did not know God.  All of this is recorded in the Bible from Genesis to the prophets. So God allowed His people to reap what they had sown and receive what they had sought.  They wanted to be as the Gentiles, so God gave them over to the Gentiles, to be conquered and murdered and dominated by them.  But all of that is over.  God has brought them back to Jerusalem.  God has called them to return to the Covenant, to being the people chosen by God, to being His unique people among all others.  God has returned to them in grace, and calls them to return to Him in faith.

The chapter foretells the glory of Jerusalem filled with such people.  They will not be killed by invaders.  They will live to ripe old age, and the streets will be filled with children.  Thus, the Jews are to "Let your hands be strong" (9), for the work of rebuilding the Temple and the city, but most of all, for rebuilding their faith.

This passage has obvious application to the New Testament Church.  God will bring His people into it from many nations and countries.  It will be a City of Peace, for the peace that passes all understanding, which is not as the world giveth but as Christ only can give, will dwell in it.  God Himself will dwell in this New Zion, and it will be blessed and a blessing.  Therefore, we who dwell in this City of God must let our hands be strong for the work of the Kingdom.  Let them be strong in faith.  Let them build spiritual things now and for generations yet to come.  For we will possess all things.

Zechariah 8:14-23 continues the wondrously good news that God has returned to Zion.  Because the Jewish people had forsaken Him, He withdrew His grace and protection from them, and allowed them to be devoured by their enemies.  But now He has returned in grace to accomplish His purpose for His people.  As He did not turn back from His wrath, He also will not turn back from His mercy (14-15).  As surely as His words of wrath were fulfilled, His words of mercy will also be fulfilled.  He will do good things for Jerusalem and Judah, thus, they can have confidence in Him.  They may draw near to Him in faith, rather than run from Him in fear.

He calls the Jews to return to Him as He has returned to them.  The call is not simply to rebuild a landmark and re-institute religious activity.  The call is to turn their hearts to God as He has turned His to them.  The call is to live in fellowship and peace with one another and with God.  It is a call to come to God with sincerity and truth in worship.  God does not tell them to dispense with liturgy in order to worship Him with their heart.  He tells them to put their heart into the liturgy.  The Temple worship is formal, but it is not dead formalism, and it means nothing if the heart of the people is not in it.  Let the service of God in worship and in everyday life be joy to the house of Judah (8:19).  When the heart is in it, it will be joy to worship God.

This will cause many to want to return to Jerusalem and to the Covenant (20-21).  Many Jews did not return to Jerusalem at the end of the Captivity.  Many found new lives in the lands where they had once been prisoners.  They did not want to return to Jerusalem, a land of poverty, hardship, and danger.  They enjoyed the looser approach to the faith allowed in the Gentile lands.  In short, they had no intention of returning to Jerusalem or making the sacrifices required to become the people of the Covenant again.  The joy of the people in Jerusalem will be an invitation to them to return to God.

It will also induce Gentiles to seek the God of Israel.  "Many people, and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord" (22).  This will be fulfilled in greater glory in the New Jerusalem.  Christ's Church will gather many people and strong nations into it in a way the old Jerusalem could never do.  Verse 23 is also a picture of the day of Christ and the era of fulfillment in which we live.  The first Christians were Jews and through the grace of God working in them, Gentiles have come to their God.  May they also come to us, the spiritual children of Abraham, because they have heard that God is with us.

November 18

Zech. 9, Acts 4:1-22
Zech. 10, 2 Tim. 1

Commentary,

Zechariah 9

Verses 1-8 prophecy judgement on enemies of Jerusalem.  Some are descendants of the ancient Canaanites and Philistines, who have resisted the efforts to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  The Grecians (13) may refer to the future Greek empire forged by Alexander, which will conquer and oppress Judah for many generations.  Verses 9-17 picture God, the true King of Israel entering Jerusalem.  He once came to the city in wrath through the Babylonians.  Here, He comes in peace; not in a chariot leading a conquering army, but on an ass, the symbol of peace and good will.  The time of His wrath against Jerusalem is over.  He is giving her a chance to return to Him and His Covenant, and to reap all the blessings He has promised.  This vision is literally fulfilled in the Triumphal Entry of Christ.  He is God entering Jerusalem with peace and grace for His people.  


Zechariah 10

God reminds the people that the false prophets and idols, to which they turned before the conquest, fed them vanity and lies.  For leading the people into idolatry, the Lord punished the shepherds (religious and civil leaders) of the Jews.  Thus, this passage is a warning to the High Priest and the king, to seek the Lord.  Ask of Him the rains and the blessings.  Rain equals grass  and crops in the fields, which feed the flocks and the people.  The basic necessities of life come from God alone, not wood and stone statues.  The goats (3) are the people who followed the evil shepherds into idolatry and wickedness.  They, too were punished for their sin.

But God is now visiting Judah, in mercy (3, 4) and makes them as a goodly horse in the battle.  A soldier in battle needs to be able to concentrate on the enemy.  A horse that does not obey the commands, requires the chariot driver to divert his attention from the enemy to the horse, making him more vulnerable to the enemy.  Judah is become like a goodly horse that can be counted on to obey and conquer in the day of battle.  Out of Judah came forth the “corner” or cornerstone that is the foundation of a building.  The “nail” may refer to the pole that supports a tent. The “bow” is the most advanced weapon of the era.  Archers in chariots could circle ranks of infantry and fire volley after volley of arrows into them.  Often, the mere appearance of chariots was enough to rout an army of footmen.  “Every oppressor”  refers to the enemies being driven out of the land.  Ultimately, these words are fulfilled by Christ, the Cornerstone of the true Temple, the central pole that supports that Tabernacle, and the Deliverer who drives away the enemies of His Kingdom.  He is the Bow of God who subdues all opposition.

The Jews will be like mighty warriors.  God will give them victory so that even the enemy’s cavalry and chariots will not be able to stand against them.  The rest of the chapter describes the glorious victories of the city of God, first in Jerusalem, then as the Church of the Messiah, and finally in Christ’s full and open reign when He returns and all enemies are put under His feet, and His Church reigns with Him forever.

November 19

Zech. 11, Acts 4:23-37
Zech. 12, 2 Tim. 2

Commentary,

Zechariah 11

The chapter records a vision that looks back to the recent conquest by the Babylonians.  The doors of Lebanon are the mountain passes and roads used by the invaders to move into Judah and Jerusalem.  The possessors who slay the flock (4) are the shepherds of Israel, the prophets, priests, and kings, who neither fed the flock with the word of God, nor defended it from spiritual or human predators.  The shepherds even become predators, buying and selling the flock for personal gain, then thanking God for their prosperity (4).   God says He will feed the flock with slaughter (7) and the shepherds will be cut off  (8) by the conquering Babylonians. But some of the people wait on the Lord in faith (11) and recognise the word of the Lord in His true prophets. Breaking the staffs (10, 14) removes the beauty, or glory of the Lord from Jerusalem, and dissolves the Covenant relationship with Israel and Judah.  All of this was accomplished in the Babylonian conquest, which this vision recalls. 

The vision also looks forward to future failures of Israel.  The Jews will not persevere in the faith, which is being revived in the people of Zechariah’s time.  Even in those days the revival encompassed a minority of the people, leaving the majority in hypocrisy or open unbelief.  Future generations will fall deeper into sin, and will be judged accordingly.  Jerusalem will fall under the dominion of Greece and Rome. By the time of Christ, most of Israel will be unable to recognise the One who is the Saviour of Israel and the Desire of Nations.  Chapter 11 foretells their return to sin, and the fearful consequences which result from it.  Their shepherds will lead the way into this sin.  As Rev. Henry wrote, the foolish shepherds, “instead of preventing, shall complete the ruin [of Israel], and the blind leaders and their blind followers shall fall together into the ditch.”  Most readers will recognise the thirty pieces of silver, and other words and phrases in the chapter, together with their application to our Lord Jesus Christ. (Mt. 27:, 10, Acts 1:18, 19).

Zechariah 12

Chapter 11 recalls the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, but chapter 12 is about the return from Babylon, the reconstruction of the Temple, the Levitical Priesthood, and the Davidic kingship.  Most of all, it is about the return to the Covenant and the renewal of the intention to be God’s Covenant people.  Like Galatians 4, which distinguishes between the physical Jerusalem and the spiritual one, chapters 11 and 12 foreshadow the fall of the physical Jerusalem and the blessing of the spiritual Jerusalem of Christ.  The spiritual Jerusalem has always been, and always will be, a remnant of true believers rather than the physical descendants of Abraham.  The physical Jerusalem will pass away, but the spiritual Jerusalem, consisting of the true believers of both the Old and New Testament eras, will endure forever by God’s grace and power.  This message is constantly repeated throughout the Bible.  As chapter 11 regards the fall of the physical Jerusalem, chapter 12 regards the rise of the spiritual, New Jerusalem of Christ.

God promises to keep the spiritual Jerusalem safe, through all the trials and troubles of earth, and bring her to His eternal glory at last.  God warns that He will punish those who attempt to harm her.  The world is always laying siege to the spiritual Jerusalem (2), and the armies of the world are always aimed at her.  Yet God promises her that tribulations will not destroy her.  Instead, He will destroy all nations that come against her (9).

Verses 7-14, while promising God’s grace to Zerubabel, also look ahead to the Christ and His crucifixion.  Through Him God ultimately pours grace on the house of David.  He is the One the others pierce (Jn. 19:34) and look upon, and because of this, will mourn under the weight of their sin (Rev. 1:7). 

November 20

Zech. 13, Acts 5:1-16
Zech. 14, 2 Tim. 3

Commentary,

Zechariah 13

This chapter tells of the current and future blessings of Jerusalem.  The fountain (1) flows with grace and forgiveness like Christ Himself.  The Jews have sinned, but God has forgiven them and returned them to the Promised Land.  They now have an opportunity to return to God and His Covenant.  In a purified Jerusalem, idolatry will be put out of the land and remembered no more.  False prophets will not live.  Those who have come out of the sins of idolatry and false prophecy will repent (4) and admit that they are herdsmen and workers rather than prophets.  The wounds (6) are probably the scars of sin, but may also be self-inflicted wounds that were part of pagan worship.  The house of friends is the pagan places of worship and the sins, which promised life and happiness, but delivered only sorrow and death.  When they bowed to the idols, the people thought they were honouring gods who were their friends, but all they got from the idols is wounds, both physical and spiritual.  Verses 7- 9 tell of the Lord’s judgement on those who desert the faith, and of His mercy on the third part, which He will keep for Himself.  They are the spiritual Israel.  Those who are outwardly Jews, but do not keep the faith are not the true Israel, and will not dwell in this purified, spiritual Jerusalem.

Zechariah 14

Zechariah closes his book with an apocalyptic vision of the future glory of Jerusalem.  The symbols and their meanings are not easily understood, but  we can see the vision begins with Jerusalem under attack by the Gentiles (2).  This time the attack is not caused by God’s anger and punishment for sin.  It is the result of evil intent and hatred toward Jerusalem by idolatrous and wicked  people.  Thus, the Lord goes forth to fight against the nations (3).  He stands on the Mount of Olives, which exists in the time of Zechariah, more than 500 years before Christ, and still existed in our Lord’s time.  God’s feet crush the mount and form a great valley (4).  The moving earth causes Jerusalem’s enemies to flee, leaving the land for the Jews.  The normal times of day and night are ended, and the city enjoys light, even during the hours once given to darkness.

Verse 10 describes the boundaries of Judah, which are similar to those during David’s reign.  The southern boundary is near Beersheba, the northern boundary is about ten miles north of Jerusalem.  It is a place of safety, never to see utter destruction again.  Former enemies will come to worship God in the city (16-18). Plagues and droughts will punish those who refuse to worship Him.

In battle, horses wore bells to add sound to their actions.  Thousands of archer armed chariots, accompanied by the sound of horses’ feet and the din of their bells  must have terrified infantry soldiers.  But in Jerusalem, the bells will have “Holiness unto the Lord” inscribed on them, and will not be used in battle again (20).  The pots are those used to boil the meat of the sacrifices.  Not all Old Testament sacrifices were completely burned on the altar.  Parts of some were boiled and given to the priests, and some were returned to the people who offered the sacrifice.  But here (21) the sacrifice appears to be offered by the Lord, and given to the people.  Canaanites often sold animals to the Jews for sacrifices.  Since God is the one offering the sacrifice, the Canaanites and their beasts are no longer needed.

Thus, Zechariah ends with Jerusalem in peace, and the Jews living in holiness unto the Lord.  It is not hard to see that the Jerusalem of this chapter is the spiritual Jerusalem as it will exist in the New Testament, and in the time of the fullness of the Day of the Lord, when all things are gathered into Christ.  The language is prosaic rather than literal, since we don’t literally expect to see Christ return as a giant whose foot flattens the Mount of Olives and the surrounding area.  But the image of Christ ruling the earth and bringing the nations into His Kingdom is absolutely consistent with the New Testament image of the Church, in which the distinctions between Jew and Gentile are passed away, and both are one in Christ.  The image of God making the sacrifice calls to mind the sacrificial death of Christ.  God feeding His people with the sacrifice reminds us that we feed on the spiritual food of Christ.  These images, combined with others in the book, many of which were quoted by our Lord Himself, make Zachariah one of the clearest presentations of Christ in the Old Testament.

November 21

Malachi 1, Acts 5:17
Mal. 2, 2 Tim 4

Commentary,

Malachi 1

It has been about a hundred years since the Temple was rebuilt and Zechariah wrote and preached about the glorification of Jerusalem and the destruction of her enemies.  Yet, Jerusalem is weak, impoverished, and ruled by the Persian Empire.  Where is the time of glory promised by Zechariah and the other prophets?  Why isn’t Jerusalem the capital of a world-wide empire, dwelling in wealth and peace?  And where is the era of righteousness?  It seems the Jews have fallen back into their old patterns of sin and unbelief.  They are discouraged, and resentful toward God, if they even believe in Him at all.  When God says, “I have loved you,” the Jews say, “wherein hast thou loved us?”  Where is Your love?  What good have you done for us?  Why are we still in poverty and danger, and why are we still under foreign rule?  They are saying two things here.  First, obviously God does not love them, because He has not given them wealth and security.  Second, if He does love them, His love is worthless, therefore they are justified in  having a casual attitude toward Him, and in looking to other gods for what He does not provide.   Clearly seen in their attitude is a spiritual arrogance that assumes they are entitled to God’s best because they worship Him and keep the ceremonial laws, at least, mostly.

God answers by first showing that He is sovereign in love.  He chooses whom He will love.  Thus, He loved Jacob and not Esau.  Second, the Jews are not worthy of His love, and any good they receive from Him is due to His grace, not their righteousness.  The priests do not honour God (6).  The offerings are polluted (7) because the worship is insincere (8).  Therefore, God is given the rejects and culls of their flocks, rather than the best.  It is possible that, when good animals are brought as sacrifices, the priests take them for themselves, and substitute blemished animals. Verse 10 seems to indicate that the peoples’ offerings and worship are merely attempts to manipulate Him.  They seem to believe their worship, obligates God to bless them with prosperity and preeminence over all other nations.  But God tells them the day is coming when the Gentiles they despise will offer incense and pure offerings that are far better than the Jews’ polluted offerings.  God is God.  He is the great King.  He is owed the very best of the best (14).  Why should He settle for leftovers and rejects?  This is what Israel has offered Him.  Thus, she is unworthy of His love.

Malachi 2

God warns the priests that polluted offerings are not accepted by Him.  Instead of earning His love, they earn His curse, as all sin does (2). He reminds them of His Covenant with Levi, in which they are pledged to serve God faithfully.  “But,” He says in verse 8, “ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant with Levi.”  These words remind us of God’s warnings to the shepherds of Israel through other prophets.  The shepherds misled the people, and God brought curses, rather than blessings on Israel.  God alone directs how He will be worshiped and served.  Men are to follow His directives, not make their own.  In a similar way, God gives His word to us,which we are to trust and obey.  We are not given authority to change it according to our whims and ideas of what God ought to say and do and require of us.

The treachery of the Jews is as active in their interpersonal relationships as in their relationship with God.  This is easily seen in the divorces among them.  Instead of marital fidelity unto death, people have become serial marriers, readily divorcing their wives (or husbands), and often marrying Gentile idolaters (13-16).


When they come to the Temple, and in their daily prayers, they recite the liturgies with precision, yet they neither understand nor care about the meaning of their words.  They say them, and return to their sins and bless evil and evil doers (17).  Since God has mercifully not struck them dead and cast them into hell, they think He does not see or care.  “Where is the God of judgement?” they say, meaning, He will not punish them if they do wicked and abusive things.   Therefore, their words weary the Lord.

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