This week's Haftorah reading is from Malachi 1:1-2:7. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers as he sends out a wake-up call to the people of Israel through the mysterious figure of the Prophet Malachi! Despite Israel's disregard and disobedience toward ADONAI, He is still trying to reach His people for their own benefit. Isn’t He amazing?!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftorah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftorah Portion – Malachi 1:1-2:7
When we look at Malachi, he is a mysterious figure. The name means “my messenger”. Malachi is the last message of prophecy given to Israel prior to 400 years of silence. He is the last of the post-exilic prophets- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. There is no prophetic word heard until the time of Yeshua HaMashiach. Israel’s spiritual condition is horrific. Hosea pictured Israel as prone to failure, but repentant. Later, Ezekiel exposed her blatant rebellion and disobedience. So, by the time of Malachi, Israel has passed into numbness and apathy. Malachi takes the form of a dialogue where Israel responds to accusations as if she has no idea what the prophet is talking about.
However, the people became thirsty to hear a word from Elohim, and when Yeshua came, “…the people were in expectation concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Messiah.” Luke 3:15.
After 400 years had passed, the Angel Gabriel spoke to Zechariah the priest in the Holy Place next to the Altar of Incense, “…make ready for Adonai a people prepared.” Luke 1:17. Malachi’s last word is, “I will send you Elijah the prophet…” (Mal. 4:5). Zechariah’s son, John the Immerser, became the new Elijah. The prophecy continues with Gabriel’s word.
Malachi is built around seven statements from Elohim and Israel’s retorts: I. “I have loved you”- “How have You loved us?” 1:2. II. “You have despised My name.”- “How have we despised Your name?” 1:5. III. “You offered polluted food on My altar.”- “How have we polluted it?” 1:7. IV. “He no longer accepts your offering.”- “Why does He not?” 2:13 V. “You have wearied Adonai…” – “How have we wearied Him?” 2:17. VI. “Will man rob Elohim?” – “How have we robbed You?” 3:8.
VII. “Your words have been stout against Me.” – “How have we spoken against You?” 3:13
Malachi has to deal with a disgruntled and unhappy people, sluggish, dull, and argumentative. Whatever Adonai says through the prophet says is countered with a defensive retort. They respond with indifference and ignorance. This seems to be the same response from Elohim’s people today! They are blinded by their own wants and desires. Disillusioned by the priorities in our lives, we can’t see where we are failing and walking in disobedience. In this day of greasy grace, we accept whatever we do as okay to our forgiving Father. The license to do what we want has been woven with the teaching of the body believing all is acceptable, therefore, all is well. This is a sad state of affairs within His Bride. This message is a wake-up call to the people of Israel!
Elohim loves Israel and His love is challenged. The Israelites do not feel loved. They are not in “the land of milk and honey, everyone beneath His vine and fig-tree, living in peace and unafraid.” (Deut. 8:8; Mic. 4:4). They are at home but in poverty and under the thumb of the Persians. Elohim responds by noting the difference between Jacob preferred and Esau rejected. Love of Israel, like a beautiful canvas, is shown against the rough frame of Adonai’s non-love of Esau. We like the picture, but the frame is limiting and upsetting.
Why were the Edomites, children of Esau, rejected? The easiest explanation is to review the history of Esau and his family lineage. We see that Esau despised his birthright. He planned to kill his brother Jacob when he was swindled out of the birthright, even though he wasn’t swindled at all, he gave it up freely for a bowl of soup. He married two Hittite women who made Rebekah despair. Amalek was the grandson of Esau and a mortal enemy of Israel. Esau’s people (Edom) forced Israel to go around them to get to the Promised Land. There was general hostility between Israel and Edom throughout the monarchy. The Edomites harassed Judah during the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The Herods were of Edomite background, hostile to Yeshua and His followers. Herod tried to kill Yeshua.
Esau is the model of the attractive rebel. Jacob, on the other hand, although a cheater, knew Elohim and clung to Yah. However, that is not the only reason Esau was rejected. Before he was born, it was prophesied that he would serve his younger twin brother. Paul reveals in Romans 9:10-13, that it had nothing to do with good or bad. It was not because of works but because of His call, Rebekah was told “The elder will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Now the issue is reversed. Instead of “I love you” the question is “Do you love Me? Do you honor Me?” The relationship between us and Elohim is always bilateral. They did not fear Elohim. They did not honor Him. The priests were sacrificing blind, lame or sick animals and polluted offerings. If the offering is despised, who would care to receive it? Would the governor or other public official accept such a gift? It would be better to shut the Temple doors than to continue these corrupt practices. To pledge a sacrifice and then deliver a blemished animal is an insult.
If the sacrifices and offerings are defective, the priests must be to blame. It was their responsibility to monitor what was offered. Elohim will curse their blessings, rebuke their offerings and throw dung in their faces as they are dragged from His Presence. Moses ordered the priest to be judge and teacher of the Torah (Deut. 17:8-11, 33:10). So, these sacrifices or offerings actually revealed their bitter and lazy attitude. These are both an insult to Elohim.
How does Elohim respond? His response is a rejection of Israel’s worship. In fact, Adonai says He would rather the priests offer no sacrifice at all, than the improper ones. The same is true for us…a half-hearted, broken down, left-over gift is unacceptable and an insult to us. Why give it at all? The sin of bringing Elohim apathetic, selfish, or profane worship is worse than offering no worship at all.
Israel knew they were the “chosen people” of Adonai and that the Gentiles, all the non-Israelite people, were not. So, when Adonai tells them that He will be worshipped, in purity, by the unclean Gentiles, this is a slap in the face of Israel. A slap that should have alerted and awakened then to their complacency. The priests knew the right things to do…as do we! They are aware of the proper sacrifices and the right way to teach the people. However, they see these standards and commandments as too much trouble.
However, even in this condemnation, Adonai’s mercy is evident! His mercy and grace are extended to us in so many ways, so many times in our lives. As human sin increased, grace “super-increased.” Adonai’s grace abounded even more. This does not give us a license to sin. He expects us to walk in obedience as we grow in Him. Despite their disregard for Him, He is still trying to reach His people for their own benefit. Isn’t He amazing?
What we have exhibited is both sin and hope. The people are faithful or unfaithful, in varying degrees, to Elohim’s covenant with them, and the degree of their faithfulness is immediately apparent in their worship or their neglect to worship. Even in the time of restoration, human sin is never far away. Malachi’s message of actual hope is sent to prepare the way for restoration. Restoration of the religious/social infrastructures of the Temple. A restoration of the environment, and restoration of their economy, including: the produce of their soil” and “their vine in the field.”
In conclusion, we see Adonai’s great love for the nation of Israel, this is the basis upon which the rest of the book of Malachi is built. Because Adonai loves you, Malachi says to Israel, He is calling you to respond in love toward Him, and we will see that Israel was not responding to His great love with love. One day they will repent and respond to Elohim’s love and receive all the blessings promised to them…most importantly Yeshua HaMashiach.
Adonai loves us as well! Elohim in His infinite wisdom chose us to receive all the spiritual blessings in Yeshua. Let’s respond to His love by loving Him with all our heart, soul, and might and by living our lives according to His Word in everything we do, making His Word a part of every part of our lives. Teach it to our children and our children’s children. Talk of Yah’s Word when we sit down and when we rise up and Adonai will be magnified beyond the border of our homes.
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Have a great Sabbath and see you at the altar.