Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel - o "The word of the Lord is heavy, because it is called a burden, yet it hath something of consolation, because it is not 'against,' but to Israel. For it is one thing when we write to this or that person; another, when we write 'against' this or that person; the one being the part of friendship, the other, the open admission of enmity."
"By the hand of Malachi;" through him, as the instrument of God, deposited with him; as Paul speaks of Co1 9:17; Tit 1:3, "the dispensation of the Gospel Co2 5:19, the Lord of reconciliation; Gal 2:7, the Gospel of the uncircumcision, being committed to him."
I have loved you, saith the Lord - What a volume of God's relations to us in two simple words, "I-have-loved you" . So would not God speak, unless He still loved. "I have loved and do love you," is the force of the words. When? And since when? In all eternity God loved; in all our past, God loved. Tokens of His love, past or present, in good or seeming ill, are but an effluence of that everlasting love. He, the Unchangeable, ever loved, as the apostle of love says Jo1 4:19, "we love Him, because He first loved us." The deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the making them His Rom 9:4, "special people, the adoption, the covenant, the giving of the Law, the service of God and His promises," all the several mercies involved in these, the feeding with manna, the deliverance from their enemies whenever they returned to Him, their recent restoration, the gift of the prophets, were so many single pulses of God's everlasting love, uniform in itself, manifold in its manifestations. But it is more than a declaration of His everlasting love. "I have loved you;" God would say; with "a special love, a more than ordinary love, with greater tokens of love, than to others." So God brings to the penitent soul the thought of its ingratitude: I have loved "you:" I, you. And ye have said, "Wherein hast Thou loved us?" It is a characteristic of Malachi to exhibit in all its nakedness man's ingratitude. This is the one voice of all people's complaints, ignoring all God's past and present mercies, in view of the one thing which He withholds, though they dare not put it into words: "Wherein hast Thou loved us Psa 78:11? Within a while they forgot His works, and the wonders that He had showed them Psa 106:13 : they made haste, they forgot His works."
"Was not Esau Jacob's brother! saith the Lord: and I loved Jacob, and Esau have I hated." "While they were yet in their mother's womb, before any good or evil deserts of either, God said to their mother Gen 25:23, The older shall serve the younger. The hatred was not a proper and formed hatred (for God could not hate Esau before he sinned) but only a lesser love," which, in comparison to the great love for Jacob, seemed as if it were not love. "So he says Gen 29:31. The Lord saw that Leah was hated; where Jacob's neglect of Leah, and lesser love than for Rachel, is called 'hatred;' yet Jacob did not literally hate Leah, whom he loved and cared for as his wife." This greater love was shown in preferring the Jews to the Edomites, giving to the Jews His law, Church, temple, prophets, and subjecting Edom to them; and especially in the recent deliverance "He does not speak directly of predestination, but of pre-election, to temporal goods." God gave both nations alike over to the Chaldees for the punishment of their sins; but the Jews He brought back, Edom He left unrestored.
And I made his mountains a waste, and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness - o
Malachi attests the first stage of fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Joe 3:19, vol. i. pp. 214, 215), "Edom shall be a desolate wilderness." In temporal things, Esau's blessing was identical with Jacob's; "the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven from above;" and the rich soil on the terraces of its mountain-sides, though yielding nothing now except a wild beautiful vegetation, and its deep glens, attest what they once must have been, when artificially watered and cultivated. The first desolation must have been through Nebuchadnezzar , in his expedition against Egypt, when he subdued Moab and Ammon; and Edom lay in his way, as Jeremiah had foretold Jer 25:9, Jer 25:21.
Whereas Edom saith - o.
We are impoverished - o, ידשׁשׁ.), or, more probably, "we were crushed." Either gives an adequate sense. Human self-confidence will admit anything, as to the past; nay, will even exaggerate past evil to itself, "Crush us how they may, we will arise and repair our losses." So Ephraim said of old Isa 9:9-10, "in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn-stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars." It is the one language of what calls itself, "indomitable;" in other words, "untameable," conquerors or every other gambler; "we will repair our losses." All is again staked and lost.
"They shall call them the border of wickedness." Formerly, it had its own proper name, "the border of Edom," as other countries Exo 10:14, Exo 10:19, "all the border of Egypt Deu 2:18, the border of Moab Sa1 11:3, Sa1 11:7; Sa1 27:1; Ch1 21:12, the whole border of Israel Ch2 11:13, the border of Israel Jdg 11:22, the whole border of the Amorite." Henceforth, it should be known no more by its own name; but as "the border of wickedness," where wickedness formerly dwelt, and, hence, the judgment of God and desolation from Him came upon it, "an accursed land." In a similar manner, Jeremiah says somewhat of Jerusalem (Jer 22:8-9. Compare Deu 29:23-28.) "Many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say, every man to his neighbor, Wherfore hath the Lord done this unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them." Only Israel would retain its name, as it has; Edom should be blotted out wholly and forever.
And your eyes shall see - Malicious pleasure in looking on at the misery of Judaea and Jerusalem, had been a special sin of Edom: now God would show Judah the fruit of its reversal, and His goodness toward themselves. , "Ye have assurance of His love toward you and providence over you, when ye see that ye are returned to your own land, and can inhabit it, but they cannot do this: but "they build and I throw down," and ye, therefore, praise and magnify My name for this, and ye shall say, "The Lord shall be magnified on the border of Israel, i. e., His greatness shall be always manifest upon you;" high above and exalted over the border of Israel which shall retain its name, while Edom shall have ceased to be. Wickedness gives its name to Edom's border, as in Zechariah's vision it was removed and settled in Babylon Zac 5:8, Zac 5:11.
A son honoreth his father, and a slave his lord - Having spoken of the love of God, he turns to the thanklessness of man. God appeals to the first feelings of the human heart, the relation of parent and child, or, failing this, to the natural self-interest of those dependent on their fellow-men. A "son" by the instinct of nature, by the unwritten law written in the heart, "honoreth his father." If he fails to do so, he is counted to have broken the law of nature, to be an unnatural son. If he is, what by nature he ought to be, he does really honor him. He does not even speak of love, as to which they might deceive themselves. He speaks of "honor," outward reverence only; which whoso showeth not, would openly condemn himself as an unnatural son, a bad slave. "Of course," the Jews would say, "children honor parents, and slaves their masters, but what is that to us?" God turns to them their own mental admission.
"If I am a Father." "Although, before ye were born, I began to love you in Jacob as sons, yet choose by what title ye will name Me: I am either your Father or your Lord. If a Father, render me the honor due to a father, and offer the piety worthy of a parent. If a Lord, why despise ye Me? Why fear ye not your Lord?" God was their Father by creation, as He is Father of all, as Creator of all. He had come to be their Father in a nearer way, by temporal redemption and adoption as His special people, creating them to be a nation to His glory. This they were taught to confess in their psalmody Psa 100:3, "He hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture." This title God had given them in sight of the Egyptians Exo 4:22, "Israel is My son, My firstborn:" of this Hosea reminded them; Hos 11:1, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt;" and Jeremiah reassured them Jer 31:9, "I am a Father to Israel and Ephraim is My firstborn:" this, Isaiah had pleaded to God Isa 63:16, "Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer, Thy name is from everlasting Isa 64:8. And now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all, the work of Thy hands." God had impressed this His relation of Father, in Moses' prophetic warning; Deu 32:6, "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? hath He not made thee and established thee?" "God is the Father of the faithful:
1) by creation;
2) by preservation and governance;
3) by alimony;
4) by fatherly care and providence;
5) by faith and grace, whereby He justifies and adopts us as sons and heirs of His kingdom."
"If I am a Father." He does not throw doubt, that He is our Father; but, by disobedience, we in deeds deny it. Our life denies what we in words profess. "Where is My honor?" "Why obey ye not My precepts, nor honor Me with acts of adoration; praying, praising, giving thanks, sacrificing, and reverently fulfilling every work of God? For Jer 48:10. cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully."
"And if I am your Lord, as I certainly am, and specially by singular providence." "He is our Lord by the same titles, that He is our Father, and by others, as that He has redeemed us, and purchased us to Himself by the Blood of His Son; that He is the Supreme Majesty, whom all creation is bound to serve; that, setting before us the reward of eternal glory, He has hired us as servants and laborers into His vineyard." God Alone is Lord through universal sovereignty, underived authority, and original source of laws, precepts, rights; and all other lords are but as ministers and instruments, compared to Him, the Lord and original Doer of all. Hence, He says Isa 42:8, "I am the Lord; that is My Name, and My glory will I not give to another."
"Where is My fear?" which ought to be shown to Me. "If thou art a servant, render to the Lord the service of fear; if a son, show to thy Father the feeling of piety. But thou renderest not thanks, neither lovest nor fearest God. Thou art then either a contumacious servant or a proud son." "Fear includes reverence, adoration, sacrifice, the whole worship of God." "Whoso feareth is not over-curious, but adores; is not inquisitive, but praises, and glorifies."
"Fear is twofold; servile, whereby punishment, not fault, is dreaded; filial, by which fault is feared. In like way service is twofold. A servant with a service of fear, purely servile, does not deserve to be called a son of God, nor is in a state of salvation, not having love. Whence Christ, distinguishing such a servant from a son of God by adoption, saith Joh 8:35, "The servant abideth not in the house forever, but the son abideth ever: and again Joh 15:15, The servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth." But a servant, whose service is of pure and filial love, is also a son, of whom the Saviour saith, Mat 25:21, Mat 25:23, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." But since a distinction is made here between the son and the servant, he seems to be speaking of servile fear, which, although it doth not good well and meritoriously, i. e., with a right intention and from love, yet withdraws from ill, and is the beginning of wisdom, because it disposeth to grace. Whence it is written (Ecclesiasticus 1:21), 'The fear of the Lord driveth away sins,' and again Scripture saith Pro 16:6, "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil."
"God requireth to be feared as a Lord, honored as a Father, loved as a Husband. Which is chiefest of these? Love. Without this, fear has torment, honor has no grace. Fear, when not enfreed by love, is servile. Honor, which cometh not from love, is not honor, but adulation. Honor and glory belong to God Alone; but neither of them will God accept, unless seasoned with the honey of love."
"Saith the Lord unto you, O priests, who despise My Name," literally "despisers of My Name," habitually beyond others. The contempt of God came especially from those bound most to honor him. priests, as consecrated to God, belonged especially to God . "Malachi begins his prophecy and correction by the correction of the priests; because the reformation of the state and of the laity hangs upon the reformation of the clergy and the priest, for Hos 4:9, "as is the priest, such also is the people?" He turns, with a suddenness which must have been startling to them, to them as the center of the offending.
"And ye say, Wherein have we despised Thy Name?" Before, it was ignorance of God's love: now it is ignorance of self and of sin. They affect to themselves innocence and are unconscious of any sin. They said to themselves doubtless (as many do now) "we cannot help it; we do the best we can, under the circumstances." Without some knowledge of God's love, there can be no sense of sin; without some sense of sin, no knowledge of His love. They take the defensive, they are simply surprised, like Cain, Gen 4:9, "Am I my brother's keeper?" or many of the lost in the day of judgment Mat 7:22-23, "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? And in Thy Name have cast out devils? And in Thy Name done many wonderful works?" and yet were all the while "workers of iniquity," to whom He will say, "I never knew you." And Mat 25:44, Mat 25:46 says: "Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?" And yet they "shall go away into everlasting punishment."
Offering polluted bread upon Mine altar - This, continuing on the words, "despisers of My Name," , is the answer to their question, "Wherein have we despised Thy Name?" "Bread" might stand, in itself, either for the showbread, or for the מנחה minchāh, meal-offering, which was the necessary accompaniment of sacrifices and sometimes the whole.
But here the "polluted bread" cannot be the showbread, since this was not put upon the altar, but upon its own table; and although the altar is, as here, also called "a table" , in regard to the sacrifice hereon consumed, "the table" of the showbread is nowhere called "altar." The prophet then means by "bread," either the meal-offering, as representing the sacrifice, or the offerings by fire altogether, as in Ezekiel Eze 44:7, "When ye offer My bread, the fat and the blood;" and in Leviticus "the offerings of the Lord, made by fire, the bread of their God, do they offer;" and of the "peace-offering Lev 3:11, the priest shall burn it upon the altar; the bread of the offering made by fire unto the Lord:" and specifically, of animals with blemish, as these, it is forbidden Lev 22:25, "Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these, because their corruption is in them, blemishes in them: they shall not be accepted for you." It was, as it were, a feast of God with man, and what was withdrawn from the use of man by fire, was, as it were, consumed by God, to whom it was offered.
It was "polluted," in that it was contrary to the law of God which forbade to sacrifice any animal, "lame or blind" or with "any ill blemish," as being inconsistent with the typical perfection of the sacrifice. Even the Gentiles were careful about the perfection of their sacrifices.
"Blind is the sacrifice of the soul, which is not illumined by the light of Christ. Lame is his sacrifice of prayer, who comes with a double mind to entreat the Lord." "He offereth one weak, whose heart is not established in the grace of God, nor by the anchor of hope fixed in Christ. These words are also uttered against those who, being rich, offer to the Creator the cheaper and least things, and give small alms."
"And ye say, Wherewith have we polluted Thee?" It is a bold expression. Yet a word, to which we are but too ill-accustomed, which expresses what most have done, "dishonor God," comes to the same. Though less bold in expression, they are yet like in meaning Eze 13:19. "Will ye pollute Me anymore among My people?" or Eze 20:9, Eze 20:14, Eze 20:22, "that My Name should not be polluted before the pagan Eze 43:7. My holy Name shall Israel no more defile Eze 39:7, "I will not let them pollute My Name anymore." "Much more in the new law, in which the Sacrifice is Christ Himself our God, whence the Apostle says expressly Co1 11:27, "Whoso eateth this bread and drinketh this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." "For when the sacraments are violated, Himself, whose sacraments they are, is violated." God speaks of our acts with an unveiled plainness, which we should not dare to use. "As we are said to sanctify God, when we minister to Him in holiness and righteousness, and so, as far as in us lies, show that He is holy; so we are said to pollute Him, when we conduct ourselves irreverently and viciously before Him, especially in His worship, and thereby, as far as in us lies, show that He is not holy and is to be dishonored."
"In that ye say, the table of the Lord is contemptible," literally "contemptible is it," , and so any contemptible thing might be offered on it. They said this probably, not in words, but in deeds. Or, if in words, in plausible words. "God doth not require the ornamenting of the altar, but the devotion of the offerers." "What good is it, if we offer the best? Be what we offer, what it may, it is all to be consumed by fire." "The pretext at once of avarice and gluttony!" And so they kept the best for themselves. They were poor, on their return from the captivity. Anyhow, the sacrifices were offered. What could it matter to God? And so they dispensed with God's law.
"So at this day we see some priests and prelates, splendid in their tables and feasts, sordid in the altar and temple; on the table are costly napkins and wine; on the altar torn linen and wine-mace rather than wine." "We pollute the bread, that is, the Body of Christ, when we approach the altar unworthily, and, being defiled, drink that pure Blood, and say, 'The table of the Lord is contemptible;' not that anyone dareth to say this, but the deeds of sinners pour contempt on the table of God."
And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? - Others, "it is not evil," as we should say, "there is no harm in it." Both imply, alike, an utter unconsciousness on the part of the offerer, that it was evil: the one, in irony, that this was always their answer, "there is nothing amiss;" the other is an indignant question, "is there indeed nought amiss?" And this seems the most natural.
The sacrifice of the "blind" and "lame" was expressly forbidden in the law Deu 15:21, and the sick in manifold varieties of animal disease. "Whatever hath a blemish ye shall not offer Lev 22:22, blind or with limb broken, or wounded or mangy or scabby or scurfy." Perfectness was an essential principle of sacrifice; whether, as in the daily sacrifice, or the sin or trespass-offerings, typical of the all-perfect Sacrifice, or in the whole-burnt-offering, of the entire self-oblation. But these knew better than God, what was fit for Him and them. His law was to be modified by circumstances. He would not be so particular (as people now say so often.)
Is it then fit to offer to God what under the very same circumstances man would not offer to man? Against these idle, ungrateful, covetous thoughts God saith,
"Offer it now unto thy governor." He appeals to our own instinctive thought of propriety to our fellow creature, which may so often be a test to us. No one would think of acting to a fellow-creature, as they do to Almighty God. Who would make diligent preparation to receive any great one of the earth, and turn his back upon him, when come? Yet what else is the behavior of most Christians after holy communion? If thou wouldest not do this to a mortal man, who is but dust and ashes, how much less to God Almighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords! "The words are a reproof to those most negligent persons, who go through their prayers to God without fear, attention, reverence or feeling; but if they have to speak to some great man, prelate or prince, approach him with great reverence, speak carefully and distinctly and are in awe of him. Do not thou prefer the creature to the Creator, man to God, the servant to the Lord, and that Lord, so exalted and so Infinite."
And now entreat, I pray you, God o that He will be gracious unto you - This is not a call to repentance, for he assumes that God would not accept them. It is rather irony; "go now, seek the favor of God, as ye would not that of your governor." "From your hand," not from your fathers, not from aliens, "hath this been: will He accept persons from you?" The unusual construction seems to imply a difference of meaning; as if he would say, that it consisted not with the justice of God, that He should be an "accepter of persons," (which He declares that He is not) which yet He would be, were He to accept them, while acting thus.
Who is there even among you? - This stinginess in God's service was not confined to those offices which cost something, as the sacrifices. Not even services absolutely costless, which required only a little trouble, as that of closing the folding-doors of the temple or the outer court, or bringing the fire to consume the sacrifices, would they do without some special hire. All was mercenary and hireling service. Others have rendered it as a wish, "who is there among you!" i. e., would that there were one among you, who would close the doors altogether; so shall ye not kindle fire on Mine altar for nought, i. e., fruitlessly! But apart from the difficulty of the construction, it is not God's way to "quench the smouldering flax." He who bids, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost," accepts any imperfect service rather than none. He does not break off the last link, which binds man to Himself. Then, if or when God willed His service to surcease, He would do it Himself, as He did by the destruction of the temple before the captivity, or finally by the Romans. It would have been an ungodly act (such as was only done by Ahaz, perhaps the most ungodly king of Israel) Ch2 28:24, and one which especially called down His wrath Ch2 29:8, to close the doors, and therewith to break off all sacrifice. Manasseh carried the worship of false gods into the temple itself; Ahaz, as far as in him lay, abolished the service of God. A prophet of God could not express a wish, that pious Israelites (for it is presupposed that they would do this out of zeal for God's honor) should bring the service of God to an end.
He sums up with an entire rejection of them, present and future. "I have no pleasure in you;" it is a term of repudiation , sometimes of disgust "neither will I accept an offering at your hands." He says not simply Jer 6:20, "your burnt-offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto Me, but, I will not accept it." Such as they were, such they would be hereafter. God would not accept their sacrifices, but would replace them.
For - The form of words does not express whether this declaration relates to the present or the future. It is a vivid present, such as is often used to describe the future. But the things spoken of show it to be future. The Jewish sacrifices had defects, partly incidental, partly inherent. Incidental were those, with which the prophet had upbraided them; inherent (apart from their mere typical character) that they never could be the religion of the world, since they were locally fixed at Jerusalem. Malachi tells them of a new sacrifice, which should be offered throughout the then pagan world, grounded on His new revelation of Himself to them. "For great shall be My Name among the pagan." The prophet anticipates an objection which the Jews might make to him. Jos 7:9, "what then will God do unto His great Name?" Those by which He would replace them, would be more worthy of God in two ways:
1) in themselves,
2) in their universality.
"Then," whatsoever the pagan worshiped, even if some worshiped an "unknown God," His "Name" was not known to them, nor "great among them." Those who knew of Him, knew of Him, not as the Lord of heaven and earth, but as the God of the Jews only; their "offerings" were not "pure," but manifoldly defiled. A Hebrew prophet could not be an apologist for pagan idolatry amidst its abominations, or set it on a level with the worship which God had, for the time, appointed; much less could he set it forth as the true acceptable service of God. Malachi himself speaks of it, as an aggravation of cruelty in their divorcing of their wives, that they Mal 2:11 "married the daughter of a strange god."
The worship of those Jews, who remained, out of secular interests, in foreign countries, could not be represented as "the pure offering;" for they made no offerings: then as now, these being forbidden out of Jerusalem; nor would the worship of such Jews, as were scattered in the large empire of Persia, be contrasted with that at Jerusalem, as "the" pure worship; else why should the Jews have returned? It would have been an abolition of the law before its time. Malachi prophesies then, as had Micah, Isaiah, Zephaniah Zep 2:11, of a new revelation of God, when, and in which, people should "worship Him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the pagan."
Our Lord Himself explains and expands it in His words to the Samaritan woman; Joh 4:21, Joh 4:23-24, "Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth," and declared the rejection of the Jews, sealing their own sentence against themselves Mat 21:41, Mat 21:43, "I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof;" and before Mat 8:11-12, "Many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, and the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness."
"Incense shall be offered unto My name," literally I think, "there shall be incense, oblation made unto My name" (this is a mere question of construction) , "and a pure oblation."
This sacrifice, which should be offered, is designated by the special name of "meal-offering." (Lev 2:7 (Lev 2:14 in English) and the verses following.) God would not accept it from the Jews; He would, from the Pagan. It was a special sacrifice, offered by itself as an unbloody sacrifice, or together with the bloody sacrifice. (Lev 6:17 (Lev 6:10 in Hebrew)), "It is most holy, as the sin-offering and as the trespass-offering." In the daily sacrifice it was offered morning and evening, with the lamb. Since this was typical of the precious blood-shedding of the "Lamb without spot" upon the cross, so was the meal-offering which accompanied it, of the holy eucharist.
The early Christians saw the force of the prediction, that sacrifice was contrasted with sacrifice, the bloody sacrifices which were ended by the "One full perfect and sufficient sacrifice oblation and satisfaction" made by our Lord "on the altar of the cross for the sins of the whole world," and those sacrifices which He commanded to be made on our altars, as a memorial of Him. So Justin, who was converted probably 133 a.d., within 30 years from the death of John, says "God has, therefore, beforehand declared, that all who through this name offer those sacrifices, which Jesus, who is the Christ, commanded to be offered, that is to say, in the eucharist of the bread and of the cup, which are offered in every part of the world by us Christians, are well-pleasing to Him. But those sacrifices, which are offered by you and through those priests of yours, He wholly rejects, saying, "And I will not accept your offerings at your hands. For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, My Name is glorified among the Gentiles; but ye profane it."
He points out further the failure of the Jewish explanation as to "their" sacrifices, in that the Church was everywhere, not so the Jews. "You and your teachers deceive yourselves, when you interpret this passage of Scripture of those of your nation who were in the dispersion and say that it speaks of their prayers and sacrifices made in every place, as pure and well-pleasing, and know that you speak falsely, and endeavor in every way to impose upon yourselves; first, because your people are not found, even now, from the rising to the setting of the sun, but there are nations, in which none of your race have ever dwelt: while there is not one nation of people, whether Barbarians, or Greeks, or by whatsoever name distinguished, whether of those (nomads) who live in wagons, or of those who have no houses, or those pastoral people that dwell in tents, among whom prayers and thanksgivings are not offered to the Father and Creator of all things, through the name of the crucified Jesus. And you know that at the time when the prophet Malachi said this, the dispersion of you through the whole world, in which you now are, had not yet taken place; as is also shown by Scripture."
Irenaeus in the same century "He took that which is part of the creation, namely, bread, and gave thanks, saying, 'This is My body.' And the cup likewise, which is of the creation which pertains unto us, He professed to be His own blood, and taught people the new oblation of the New Testament; which the Church receiving from the apostles offers unto God in the world: unto Him who giveth us nourishment, the firstfruits of His own gifts, in the New Testament; of which in the twelve prophets Malachi gave beforehand this intimation (quoting Mal 1:10-11); most evidently intimating hereby, that while the former people should cease to make offerings to God, in every place sacrifice should be offered unto Him, and that in pureness; His Name also is glorified among the Gentiles. Now what other name is there, which is glorified among the Gentiles, than that which belongs to our Lord, by whom the Father is glorified, and man is glorified?
And because man belongs to His Own Son, and is made by Him, He calls him His Own. And as if some King were himself to paint an image of his own son, he justly calls it his own image, on both accounts, first that it is his son's, next, that he himself made it: so also the Name of Jesus Christ, which is glorified in the Church throughout the whole world, the Father professes to be His own, both because it is His Son's, and because He Himself wrote and gave it for the salvation of men. Because, therefore, the Name of the Son properly belongs to the Father, and in God Almighty through Jesus Christ the Church makes her offering, well saith He on both accounts, 'And in every place incense is offered unto My Name, and a pure sacrifice.' And incense, John in the Apocalypse declares to be the prayers of the saints. Therefore, the offering of the Church, which the Lord hath taught to be offered in the whole world, is accounted with God as a pure sacrifice, and accepted of Him."
Tertullian contrasts the "sacerdotal law through Moses, in Leviticus, prescribing to the people of Israel, that sacrifices should in no other place be offered to God than in the land of promise, which the Lord God was about to give to the people Israel and to their brethren, in order that on Israel's introduction thither, there should be there celebrated sacrifices and holocausts, as well for sins as for souls, and nowhere else but in the holy land Lev 17:1-6; Deu 12:5-14, Deu 12:26-27, and this subsequent prediction of the Spirit through the prophets, that in every place and in every land there should be offered sacrifices to God. As He says through the angel Malachi, one of the twelve prophets (citing the place)."
Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus, 220 a.d. martyr, in a commentary on Daniel, says that "when Anti-Christ cometh, the sacrifice and libation will be taken away, which is now in every place offered by the Gentiles to God." The terms "Sacrifice offered in every place" are terms of Malachi.
So Cyprian, in his Testimonies against the Jews, sums up the teaching of the passage under this head , "That the old sacrifice was to be made void, and a new sacrifice instituted."
In the "apostolic Constitutions," the prophecy is quoted as "said by God of His ecumenical Church."
Eusebius says , "The truth bears witness to the prophetic word, whereby God, rejecting the Mosaic sacrifices, foretells that which shall be among us. 'For from the rising of the sun' etc. We sacrifice then to the supreme God the sacrifice of praise; we sacrifice the divine, reverend and holy oblation: we sacrifice, in a new way according to the New Testament, the pure sacrifice. The broken heart is also called a sacrifice to God - We sacrifice also the memory of that great Sacrifice, performing it according to the mysteries which have been transmitted by Him."
Cyril of Jerusalem speaks of it only as prophesying the rejection of the Jews and the adoption of the Gentiles.
In the liturgy of Mark , it is naturally quoted, only, as fulfilled "in the reasonable and unbloody sacrifice, which all nations offer to Thee, O Lord, from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof," not in reference to the cessation of Jewish sacrifices.
Chrysostom dwells on its special force, coming from so late a prophet. "Hear Malachi, who came after the other prophets. For I adduce, for the time, no testimony either of Isaiah or Jeremiah or any other before the captivity, lest thou shouldest say that the terrible things which he foretold were exhausted in the captivity. But I adduce a prophet, after the return from Babylon and the restoration of your city, prophesying clearly about you. For when they had returned, and recovered their city, and rebuilt the temple and performed the sacrifices, foretelling this present desolation then future, and the taking away of the sacrifice, Malachi thus speaks in the Person of God (Mal 1:10 (end) and Mal 1:12 (beginning)). When, oh Jew, happened all this? When was incense offered to God in every place? when a pure sacrifice? Thou couldest not name any other time, than this, after the coming of Christ. If the prophet foretelleth not this time and our sacrifice, but the Jewish, the prophecy will be against the law.
For if, when Moses commandeth that sacrifice should be offered in no other place than the Lord God should choose, and shutteth up those sacrifices in one place, the prophet says that incense should be offered in every place and a pure sacrifice, he opposeth and contradicteth Moses. But there is no strife nor contention. For Moses speaketh of one sacrifice, and Malachi of another. Where doth this appear? (From the place, not Judaea only; from the mode, that it should be pure; from the offerers, not Israel, but the nations), from East to West, showing that whatever of earth the sun surveys, the preaching will embrace. He calls the former sacrifice impure, not in its own nature but in the mind of the offerers; if one compares the sacrifice itself, there is such a boundless distance, that this (that offered by Christians) might in comparison be called 'pure. '"
Even the cold, but clear, Theodoret has "Foretelling to the Jews the cessation of the legal priesthood, he announces the pure and unbloody sacrifice of the Gentiles. And first he says to the Jews, 'I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands.' Then he foreshows the piety of the Gentiles, 'For from the rising of the sun' etc. Mal 1:11, you then I will wholly reject, for I detest altogether what you do. Wherefore also I reject the sacrifice offered by you; but instead of you, I have the whole world to worship Me. For the dwellers in the whole earth, which the rising and setting sun illumines, will everywhere both offer to Me incense, and will sacrifice to Me the pure sacrifice, which I love. For they shall know My name and My will, and shall offer to Me reverence due. So the Lord said to the Samaritan woman, 'Woman, believe Me, that the hour cometh and now is, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem shall ye worship the Father.' The blessed Paul, being instructed in this, says Ti1 2:8, 'I will that men pray everywhere' etc., and the divine Malachi clearly taught us in this place the worship now used, for the circumscribed worship of the priests is brought to an end, and every place is accounted fit for the worship of God, and the sacrifice of irrational victims is ended, and He, our spotless Lamb, Who taketh away the sin of the world, is sacrificed."
Lastly, Augustine , "Malachi, prophesying of the Church which we see propagated through Christ, says most plainly to the Jews in the person of God, 'I have no pleasure in you, and will not receive an offering at your hands. For from the rising of the sun' etc. Since we see this sacrifice through the priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchizedek, now offered to God in every place from the rising of the sun to its setting; but the sacrifice of the Jews, of which it is said, 'I have no pleasure in you, neither will I accept an offering from your hands,' they cannot deny to have ceased; why do they yet expect another Christ, since what they read as prophesied and see fulfilled, could not be fulfilled, except through Him?"
And ye have profaned - o (are habitually profaning it), in that ye say It was the daily result of their daily lives and acts. "It is probable that the priests did not use such words, but that by their very deeds, they proclaimed this aloud: as in the, 'The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.' For in that he is seen to be a despiser, though he say it not in words, yet, by their very deeds and by the crookedness of their lives, they all but cry out, There is no God. For they who live as though God beheld not, and do all things recklessly and unholily, by their own deeds and works deny God. So they who are not earnest to preserve to the holy altar the reverence becoming to it, by the very things which they do, say,
The table of the Lord is despised - Not the "table of showbread," since it is so called in reference to the sacrifice offered thereon. Ezekiel had probably so called the altar, which he saw in his vision of the new temple. Eze 44:16. It is what was before called "the altar;" an altar, in regard to the sacrifices offered to God; a "table," in regard to the food of the sacrifice therefrom received. Both names, "altar" Mat 5:23; Heb 13:10. and "table" Co1 10:21. being received in the New Testament, both were received in the early Church. For each represented one side of the great eucharistic action, as it is a Sacrifice and a sacrament. But the title "altar" was the earliest.
It may be here a different profaneness of the priests. They connived at the sin of the people in sacrificing the maimed animals which they brought, and yet, since they had their food from the sacrifices, and such animals are likely to have been neglected and ill-conditioned, they may very probably have complained of the poverty of their lot, and despised the whole service. For the words used, "its produce, the eating thereof is contemptible" belong to their portion, not to what was consumed by fire. With this agrees their cry.
What a weariness! - What an onerous service it is! The service of God is its own reward. If not, it becomes a greater toil, with less reward from this earth, than the things of this earth. Our only choice is between love and weariness.
And ye have snuffed - (puffed) at it , i. e., at the altar; as a thing contemptible. "Ye, have brought that which was taken by violence." In despising any positive law of God, they despised the lawgiver; and so, from contempt of the ceremonial law, they went on to break the moral law. It were indeed a mockery of God, to break a law whereby He bound man to man, and therefrom to seek to appease Himself. Yet in rough times, people, even in Christianity, have made their account with their souls, by giving to the poor a portion of what they had taken from the rich. "God," it was said to such an one, "rejects the gifts obtained by violence and robbery. He loves mercy, justice and humanity, and by the lovers of these only will He be worshiped." (Ecclesiasticus 34:18-20.) "He that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten, his offering is ridiculous, and the gifts of unjust men are not accepted. The Most High is not pleased with the offerings of the wicked, neither is He pacified for sin by the multitude of sacrifices. Whoso bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor doeth as one that killeth the son before the father's eyes."
Cursed is the deceiver - o "The fraudulent, hypocritical, false or deceitful dealer, who makes a show of one thing, and doth or intends another, nor doth to his power what he would make a show of doing; as if he could deceive God in doing in His service otherwise than He required, and yet be accepted by Him." The whole habit of these men was not to break with God, but to keep well with Him on as easy terms as they could. They even went beyond what the law required in making vows, probably for some temporal end, and then substituted for that which had typical perfection, the less valuable animal, the ewe and that, diseased. It was probably, to prevent self-deceit, that the law commanded that the oblation for a vow should be Lev 22:19, Lev 22:21, "a male without blemish, perfect;" lest (which may be a temptation in impulsive vows) repenting of their vow, they should persuade themselves, that they had vowed less than they had. Ordinarily, then, it would not have been allowed to one, who had not the best to offer, to vow at all. But, in their alleged poverty, the prophet supposes that God would so far dispense with His own law, and accept the best which anyone had, although it did not come up to that law. Hence the clause, "which hath in his flock a male." "If thou hast not a male, that curse in no wise injureth thee. But saying this, he showeth, that they have what is best, and offer what is bad."
They sinned, not against religion only, but against justice also. "For as a merchant, who offers his goods at a certain price, if he supply them afterward adulterated and corrupted, is guilty of fraud and is unjust, so he who promised to God a sacrifice worthy of God, and, according to the law, perfect and sound, is fraudulent and sins against justice, if he afterward gives one, defective, mutilated, vitiated, and is guilty of theft in a sacred thing, and so of sacrilege."
Clergy or "all who have vowed, should learn hence, that what they have vowed should be given to God, entire, manly, perfect, the best. For, reverence for the Supreme and Divine Majesty to whom they consecrate themselves demandeth this, that they should offer Him the highest, best and most perfect, making themselves a whole-burnt-offering to God."
, "They who abandon all things of the world, and kindle their whole mind with the fire of divine love, these become a sacrifice and a whole-burnt-offering to Almighty God." , "Man himself, consecrated and devoted in the name of God, is a sacrifice." He then offers a corrupt thing who, like Ananias, keeps back "part of the price," and is the more guilty, because, while it was his own, it was in his own power.
I am a great King - o "As God is Alone Lord through His universal Providence and His intrinsic authority, so He Alone is King, and a King so great, that of His greatness or dignity and perfection there is no end."
My Name is dreadful among the pagan - Absence of any awe of God was a central defect of these Jews. They treated Him, as they would not a fellow-creature, for whom they had any respect or awe or fear. Some remaining instinct kept them from parting with Him; but they yielded a cold, wearisome, heartless service. Malachi points to the root of the evil, the ignorance, how awful God is. This is the root of so much irreverence in people's theories, thoughts, conversations, systems, acts, of the present day also. They know neither God or themselves. The relation is summed up in those words to a saint , "Knowest thou well, Who I am, and who thou art? I am He Who Is, and thou art she who is not." So Job says in the presence of God Job 42:5-6, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee: wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." To correct this, God, from the beginning, insists on the title which He gives Himself. (Deu 10:16-17; Deu 7:21. Nehemiah uses it in his prayers Neh 1:5; Neh 9:32 and Daniel Dan 9:4. It occurs also Neh 4:8 (14 English) Psa 47:3; 68:36; Psa 89:8; Psa 96:4; Psa 99:3; Psa 111:9; Zep 2:11. "Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts and be no more stiff-necked: for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty and the terrible;" and in warning Deu 28:58-59, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord thy God, then the Lord thy God will make thy plagues wonderful" etc.