1. Who is being addressed as this chapter begins?
The priests: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you” (Malachi 2:1).
- The priest were despising the name of the Lord with unacceptable offerings (Malachi 1:6-14).
- The erring priesthood was a recurring problem (I Samuel 2:12-22, Isaiah 28:5-8, Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 5:31, Jeremiah 6:13, Jeremiah 23:11, Hosea 4:6-8, and Zephaniah 3:4).
2. What had changed between the time God made a covenant with the Levites and the time period we are reading about in this chapter?
Then, the Levities were of the truth and without iniquity. Now, they have departed out of the way: “(2) If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. (3) Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. (4) And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. (5) My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. (6) The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. (7) For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. (8) But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. (9) Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:2-9).
- Hear (Isaiah 28:14, Jeremiah 10:1, and Amos 3:1) AND lay it to heart (Deuteronomy 11:18-22 and Ezekiel 3:10) because they had not in the past (Jeremiah 8:9).
- Then a curse (Deuteronomy 27:26, Psalms 81:11-12, and Jeremiah 11:3).
- Cursed seed could apply to planted (Leviticus 26:20-21) or offspring (Exodus 34:7).
- Spread dung on their faces (Jeremiah 51:51).
- They may have ignored the prophets, but when things came to pass they would know a prophet had been among them (Ezekiel 33:30-33).
- He would purge out those that were corrupt to restore His covenant (Ezekiel 20:38-41).
- The covenant with Levi (Deuteronomy 10:8-9).
- The priests were teachers (Deuteronomy 31:9 and Leviticus 10:8-11).
- “BUT”, as we have already noted, they departed out of the way (Ezekiel 22:26).
- They had been “partial” (Deuteronomy 16:19).
3. Why was the Lord going to cut off the master and the scholar?
They were covenant breakers: “(10) Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? (11) Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. (12) The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:10-12).
- One Father (Ephesians 4:6).
- The Creator (Genesis 1:1 and Isaiah 40:28; 43:15).
- So, how could one treat his brother treacherously? We are all relatives (Acts 18:22-28 and James 3:9-10)?
- This is why love thy neighbor is a continual law (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:34-40, and Luke 10:25-37).
- The most special tribe, Judah (Genesis 49:10 and Hebrews 7:14), had also dealt treacherously as a harlot (Jeremiah 3:1-11).
- The cutting off of those that awaken and those that speak (Ezekiel 14:10).
4. What were they covering the altar with?
Tears of the wives they were putting away (vs. 14-16 shows this out fully): “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand” (Malachi 2:13).
- Since they had mistreated their wives (following verses) and lived treacherously, God would not receive their offerings (Proverbs 15:8, Proverbs 21:27, Isaiah 1:10-20, and Amos 5:21-22).
5. How were the men of that time treating their wives?
Treacherously: “(14) Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. (15) And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. (16) For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously” (Malachi 2:14-16).
- God does not favor covenant breakers (Romans 1:18-32).
- They needed to rejoice with the wife of their youth (Proverbs 5:18-21 and Ecclesiastes 9:9).
- God made them one (Genesis 2:19-25).
- While the Law of Moses permitted putting away (Deuteronomy 24:1-4), such was not the desire God had for marriage (Matthew 19:3-12 and I Corinthians 7:1-10).
- You cannot get much clearer than God hating putting away.
6. How had they wearied the Lord?
“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17)?
- God was tired of their words (Isaiah 43:24).
- Their words were that they said everyone that doeth evil is good (Isaiah 5:20).
- They also questioned where God was (Isaiah 29:15 and Ezekiel 8:12).
- Same thing today (II Peter 3:1-14).
- God knows what’s going on (I Chronicles 28:9, II Chronicles 16:9, Psalms 139:1-12, Proverbs 15:3, Jeremiah 23:24, Jeremiah 32:19, Hebrews 4:13, and Revelation 2:18-29).
- The problem is, people think that they are getting away with things because something is not happening immediately (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
© 2022 This study was prepared for a Bible class with the Sunrise Acres church of Christ in El Paso, TX by Brian A. Yeager.