Malachi 1:1 The message of the word of the Eternal, to Israel, by Malachi.
In the very first verse of this book, we see the following facts:
#1) this was a message from the Eternal God. #2) this message was to Israel. #3) this message was to Israel through Malachi.
Moreover, when we know what Malachi’s name means, we can make a further deduction. Malachi means “My Messenger”. Therefore, Malachi was the messenger of God.
It is important to focus just a bit on the second point. Most who accept the bible as infallible agree that the message is from the Eternal and they agree that Malachi carried the message. However, it is easy to deviate from the fact that the message was to Israel. At the time of the writing of the book, those of Israel who were still worshipping the Eternal were the Jews. Malachi delivered the message to the Jews for their consumption under the Old Covenant. However, the message was such that it projected them toward the time when the Messiah would appear and open the way for the New Covenant.
While there are many applications in this book for us today, we should always keep in mind that the message came to the Jews first and it was at that time primarily for their ears. The message is important to us, as spiritual Jews. We are especially interested in understanding what the Eternal’s message was to the Israelites of Malachi’s day. If we understand the literal message to the Jews, we can more easily see the spiritual message for us today.
Malachi 1:2 “I have loved you” says the Eternal. However, you reply, “In what way have you shown your love for us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Eternal; yet I have loved Jacob (Israel),
What a message! Here the Eternal God of heaven and earth is declaring His love for Israel as His people. Furthermore, as the Jews were a part of Israel and the people to whom Malachi delivered the message, God is opening this message to them with a declaration of love! The people who find so much hate from other people in the world today have a written record that God loves them!
However, the Jews were like the rest of the people of the world in one sense – they were not always grateful for what God had done for them. In addition, God had done more for them than any other people on the earth at that time. They responded to this declaration of love from the Eternal with an attitude of incredulity. “In what way have you shown any love to us?” they asked.
The Eternal then reminds them of Esau, Jacob’s brother. They seem to have forgotten that Jacob received the inheritance even though Esau was the firstborn! The right of the inheritance ordinarily went to the firstborn, but Jacob was born after Esau – and yet Jacob received the inheritance. Why did Esau fail to inherit the blessings – because the Eternal God preferred Jacob in the place of Esau!
Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac [was] threescore years old when she bare them.
Malachi 1:3 And, I have hated Esau, and laid his mountains and heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
The Eternal not only loved Jacob, but He hated Esau! In other words, God was an Enemy to Esau. While God had nourished Israel, He had made Esau’s possession desolate. Esau lived in a desert type place where the wild animals roamed and where there was little vegetation and foods to nourish his body. However, God gave Jacob the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. While Isaac gave Esau a physical type of blessing, Jacob’s blessing came by promise. Esau’s blessing came by his own hard work and his own hand. Jacob’s blessing came because God would see to it that he had the advantage of good land and climate to insure the best of success. Moreover, it was through Jacob that the Messiah would come.
Genesis 27:37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
While it is true that when the message of Malachi came to the Jews they were not at the height of their past glory, yet through this message the Eternal was telling them that He had future plans for them. He reminded them of their promised inheritance and encouraged them to make a comparison between themselves and what had happened to Esau, and to remember that he had been disinherited for their father Jacob. They could have been the ones roaming in the desert. Esau could have been the one who remembered the greatness of a David and a Solomon. However, the history of Israel the glorious one, while Esau’s people were living as nomads in a land of poverty.
Certainly, God could have left the Jews in the Babylonian Captivity! To be sure, God did punish them for their disloyalty to Him. God punishes all of His sons for their good, in order to train them properly. Nevertheless, in His love He brought the Jews back into the land He had originally given to them for an inheritance. Moreover, this inheritance was one that, by birth, would have gone to Esau except for God’s intervention on behalf of Jacob, their father.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Malachi 1:4 Though Edom should say, “We are impoverished, but we will return and rebuild the places that have been laid waste,” Yet the Eternal of hosts says, “They may build, but I will throw down. And they shall be called, ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and, ‘The people with whom the Eternal is angry forever’”.
Not only did the Eternal God disinherit Esau in favor of Jacob, but He also became an Enemy to Esau and his descendants. Esau was nicknamed Edom (Red) because he gave away his birthright for a bowl of red pottage. We have heard stories how some of our ancestors in this country gave away a valley farm for a saddle. Esau gave away the inheritance of all the earth for a bowl of pottage! For, the Messiah is the Son of David, a son of Abraham who will be the King of kings over all the earth! In any case, when you see the name Edom or Edomites you know that you are reading about Esau or his descendants.
Gen 25:29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
The Edomites became bitter enemies against Israel, and brought down God’s wrath upon them for God loved Jacob (Israel). Therefore, God would dash their hopes. When they renewed their hopes and dreams and went about building up the destroyed towns, the Eternal said that He would just tear them down again.
Notice the title, the Eternal of hosts, as used here. This is probably a reference to the armies of the angels of God. By using this title, the Eternal is bringing to mind the fact that He is not just mouthing so many words, but He has the armies of heaven to back up what He says He will do. Moreover, He says that He will be an Enemy to Esau and his descendants <forever>.
The armies of Israel were also the Eternal’s hosts because Israel was God’s nation on earth. However, God won a number of Israel’ s battles with the armies of heaven, unseen to them during the fight. By the time of the message from Malachi, there were no great armies in Judea. Therefore, it is certain that the “hosts” being referred to here are the armies of heaven.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
The Edomites would become a by-word, a proverb, and a reproach. They would be the “land of wickedness” or the “land of evil people” because of the desolation of their land. It would be obvious that the Eternal God had rejected them because of their wickedness, and because He did not bless their land. Moreover, they would be “the people with whom the Eternal is angry forever”.
Malachi 1:5 Your own eyes will see this and you will say, The Eternal is mighty even beyond the Land of Israel!
The Israelites were going to see that the Eternal would always be an Enemy to Edom. They would witness the horrible devastation of the land of Edom from generation to generation and remember this prophecy. Furthermore, through this they would know that the Eternal was great outside the Land of Israel as He had also been inside their land.
For additional prophesy about Edom read the book of Obadiah. It is just 21 verses long, but gives a hair-raising prophecy concerning the descendants of Esau. In the last days the Edomites will once again wrong the descendants of Jacob and God will consume His anger upon them. Esau will be stubble and the house of Esau will cease to exist. There will be no survivors and God will give their land to Israel.
NKJV: Obadiah 1:18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau [shall be] stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall [remain] of the house of Esau," For the LORD has spoken.
In these first five verses, the Eternal has given the Israelites a contrast to think about – His love for them and His hatred for Esau. It could have been the other way around, but because of the Eternal’s love for Jacob He made Esau the tail and Jacob the head.
The Priests have erred !
Malachi 1:6 The Eternal of hosts says to the priests, “A son honors his father, and a servant honors his master. I am your Father, Why do you not honor me? I am your Master, Why do you not respect me?” You despise me, and yet you ask, “How have we despised you?”
At this point, Malachi’s message is specifically from the Eternal to the priests of Israel. The message begins with two statements universally accepted as true. The intention of these statements is not absolute, but to help get a point across. We all know of sons who disrespect their fathers. We all know servants who disrespect their masters (employers). However, most agree that a son honors his father, or that he should. In addition, most agree that a servant should respect and honor his master.
Then the Eternal says to them, “I am your Father, why don’t you honor me? I am your Master, why don’t you respect me?” The Eternal was not their Father in the sense that they were His begotten sons, but in the sense that they were His created sons. They were His creation and owed honor and respect to Him as their Father and Master.
The term <Father> as used here should not be confused with the <Father> of the Messiah – the supreme God. The title as used here refers to the YHWH, the One who became the begotten Son of God in the New Testament. We see this title used elsewhere in reference to the Son of God, as we now know Him. The Messiah is the eternal Father in the sense that it was He who created all things. As the creator of all things and the author of our salvation, the title <Father> is most appropriate. The designation YHWH sometimes refers to the supreme God, the Father of the Messiah. However, the text here refers to the Messiah, the One who created all things.