Malachi 3

CHAPTER III

In allusion to the custom of sending pioneers to prepare the

way for the march of an eastern monarch, the coming of

Christ's forerunner is described, and then the coming of

Christ himself, 1;

with the terrible judgments which were to accompany that event,

in order to refine and purify his people and his priests, 2-6.

The following verses reprehend them for withholding the legal

tithes and offerings, with large promises in case of their

repentance and amendments, 7-12.

The prophet expostulates with the people for their hard and

profane speeches against the conduct of Providence, and

declares God will one day make a fearful and final distinction

between the righteous and the wicked, whose different

characters are in the mean time carefully recorded, 13-18.

NOTES ON CHAP. III

Verse 1. Behold, I will send my messenger] Malachi, the

very name of the prophet. But this speaks of John the Baptist. I,

the Messiah, the Seed of God, mentioned above, will send my

messenger, John the Baptist.

He shall prepare the way] Be as a pioneer before me; a corrector

of civil abuses, and a preacher of righteousness.

And the Lord, whom ye seek] The Messiah, whom ye expect, from

the account given by the prophet Daniel, in his seventy weeks,

Da 9:24.

Shall suddenly come to his temple] Shall soon be presented

before the Lord in his temple; cleanse it from its defilement, and

fill it with his teaching and his glory.

The Messenger of the covenant] He that comes to fulfil the great

design, in reference to the covenant made with Abram, that in his

seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. See the

parallel texts in the margin, and the notes on them.

Verse 2. But who may abide the day of his coming?] Only they who

shall believe on his name; for they that will not, shall be

blinded, and the unbelieving nations shall be destroyed by the

Romans.

Like fuller's soap] keborith, from barar, to

cleanse, any thing that deterges. Kali, or fern ashes, or such

things. I doubt whether the composition which we call soap, was

known in ancient times.

Verse 3. He shall sit as a refiner] Alluding to the case of a

refiner of metals, sitting at his fire; increasing it when he sees

necessary, and watching the process of his work.

The sons of Levi] Those who minister in their stead under the

NEW covenant, for the OLD Levitical institutions shall be

abolished; yet, under the preaching of our Lord, a great number of

the priests became obedient to the faith, Ac 6:7; and, as to the

others that did not believe, this great Refiner threw them as

dross into the Roman fire, that consumed both Jerusalem and the

temple.

Verse 5. I will come near to you to judgment] And what fearful

cases does he get to judge! Sorcerers, adulterers, false swearers,

defrauders of the wages of the hireling, oppressors of widows and

orphans, and perverters of the stranger and such as do not

fear the Lord: a horrible crew; and the land at that time was full

of them. Several were converted under the preaching of Christ and

his apostles, and the rest the Romans destroyed or carried into

captivity.

Verse 6. I am the Lord, I change not] The new dispensation of

grace and goodness, which is now about to be introduced, is not

the effect of any change in my counsels; it is, on the contrary,

the fulfilment of my everlasting purposes; as is also the throwing

aside of the Mosaic ritual, which was only intended to introduce

the great and glorious Gospel of my Son.

And because of this ancient covenant, ye Jews are not totally

consumed; but ye are now, and shall be still, preserved as a

distinct people-monuments both of my justice and mercy.

Verse 7. Gone away from mine ordinances] Never acting according

to their spirit and design.

Return unto me] There is still space to repent.

Wherein shall we return?] Their consciences were seared, and

they knew not that they were sinners.

Verse 8. Will a man rob God?] Here is one point on which ye are

guilty; ye withhold the tithes and offerings from the temple of

God, so that the Divine worship is neglected.

Verse 9. Ye are cursed with a curse] The whole nation is under

my displeasure. The curse of God is upon you.

Verse 10. Bring ye all the tithes] They had so withheld these

that the priests had not food enough to support life, and the

sacred service was interrupted. See Ne 13:10.

And prove me now herewith] What ye give to God shall never

lessen your store. Give as ye should, and see whether I will not

so increase your store by opening the windows of heaven-giving you

rain and fruitful seasons-that your barns and granaries

shall not be able to contain the abundance of your harvests and

vintage.

Verse 11. I will rebuke the devourer] The locusts, &c., shall

not come on your crops; and those that are in the country I will

disperse and destroy.

Neither shall your vine cast her fruit] Every blossom shall bear

fruit, and every bunch of grapes come to maturity.

Verse 12. All nations shall call you blessed] They shall see

that a peculiar blessing of God rests upon you, and your land

shall be delightsome; like Paradise, the garden of the Lord.

Verse 13. Your words have been stout against me] He speaks here

to open infidels and revilers.

What have we spoken] They are ready either to deny the whole, or

impudently to maintain and defend what they had spoken!

Verse 14. Ye have said, It is vain to serve God] They strove to

destroy the Divine worship; they asserted that it was vanity;

that, if they performed acts of worship, they should be nothing

the better; and if they abstained, they should be nothing the

worse. This was their teaching to the people.

Walked mournfully] Even repentance they have declared to be

useless. This was a high pitch of ungodliness; but see what

follows; behold the general conclusions of these reprobates-

Verse 15. And now we call the proud happy] Proud and insolent

men are the only happy people, for they domineer everywhere, and

none dares to resist them.

They that work wickedness are set up] The humble and holy are

depressed and miserable; the proud and wicked are in places of

trust and profit. Too often it is so.

They that tempt God are even delivered.] Even those who despise

God, and insult his justice and providence, are preserved in and

from dangers; while the righteous fall by them.

Verse 16. They that feared the Lord] There were a few godly in

the land, who, hearing the language and seeing the profligacy of

the rebels above, concluded that some signal mark of God's

vengeance must fall upon them; they, therefore, as the corruption

increased, cleaved the closer to their Maker. There are three

characteristics given of this people, viz.:-

1. They feared the Lord. They had that reverence for Jehovah

that caused them to depart from evil, and to keep his ordinances.

2. They spake often one to another. They kept up the communion

of saints. By mutual exhortation they strengthened each other's

hands in the Lord.

3. They thought on his name. His name was sacred to them; it was

a fruitful source of profound and edifying meditation. The name of

God is God himself in the plenitude of his power, omniscience,

justice, goodness, mercy, and truth. What a source for thinking

and contemplation! See how God treats such persons: The Lord

hearkened to their conversation, heard the meditations of their

hearts; and so approved of the whole that a book of remembrance

was written before the Lord-all their names were carefully

registered in heaven. Here is an allusion to records kept by

kings, Es 6:1, of such as had performed signal services, and who

should be the first to be rewarded.

Verse 17. They shall be mine] I will acknowledge them as my

subjects and followers; in the day, especially, when I come to

punish the wicked and reward the righteous.

When I make up my jewels] segullah, my peculium, my

proper treasure; that which is a man's own, and most prized by

him. Not jewels; for in no part of the Bible does the word mean a

gem or precious stone of any kind. The interpretations frequently

given of the word in this verse, comparing saints to jewels, are

forced and false.

I will spare them] When I come to visit the wicked, I will take

care of them. I will act towards them as a tender father would act

towards his most loving and obedient son.

Verse 18. Then shall ye return] To your senses, when perhaps too

late; and discern-see the difference which God makes, between the

righteous and the wicked, which will be most marked and awful.

Between him that serveth God] Your obedience to whom, ye said,

would be unprofitable to you.

And him that serveth him not.] Of whom ye said, his disobedience

would be no prejudice to him. You will find the former received

into the kingdom of glory; and the latter, with yourselves, thrust

down into the bitter pains of an eternal death. Reader, ponder

these things.

In the great day of the Lord, at least, if not long before, it

will be fully discovered who have been the truly wise people;

those who took up their cross and followed Christ; or those who

satisfied the flesh, with its affections and desires, following a

multitude to do evil.

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