This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Malachi 3:16 ‘Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another, and J

This Week’s Focus Passage: Malachi 3:16

‘Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another, and Jehovah hearkened.’

    Malachi is a very interesting book of the Bible, in its own right, but it is also noteworthy, if not simply for the fact that it is the final book of the Older Testament. Being in that position, it is, we might fairly say, the gateway to the Newer Testament. We take the freedom to employ, as something of a stepping-stone, the introduction that Mathew Henry has left for us, on the book, or prophecy, of Malachi.

    “Let us consider, he begins, 1. The person of the prophet. We have only his name, Malachi, and no account of his country or parentage. Malachi signifies my angel, which has given occasion for a conjecture that the prophet was indeed an angel from heaven, and not a man, as that Judges ii. 1. But there is no just ground for the conjecture. Prophets were messengers, God’s messengers; this prophet was so; his name is the very same with that which we find in the original (ch. iii. 1) for my messenger; and perhaps from that word he might be called Malachi. The Chaldee paraphrase, and some of the Jews, suggest that Malachi was the same with Ezra; but that also is groundless. Ezra was a scribe, but we never read that he was a prophet. Others, yet further from probability, make him to be Mordecai. But we have reason to conclude he was a person whose proper name was that by which he is here called; the tradition of some of the ancients is that he was of the tribe of Zebulun, and that he died young. II. The scope of the prophecy. Haggai and Zechariah were sent to reprove the people for delaying to build the temple; Malachi was sent to reprove them for the neglect of it when it was built, and for their profanation of the temple-service (for from idolatry and superstition they ran into the other extreme of impiety and irreligion), and the sins he witnesses against are the same that we find complain-ed of in Nehemiah’s time, with whom, it is probable, he was contemporary. And now that prophecy was to cease he speaks more clearly of the Messiah, as nigh at hand, than any other of the prophets had done, and concludes with a direction to the people of God to keep in remembrance the law of Moses, while they were in expectation of the gospel of Christ.”  

    Malachi cited in the N.T: Mt 11:10; This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee. Also in Mark 1:2. Mt. 17:12; But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they would. Compare Mark 9:11, 12. 

    One has written that it is a key point that Malachi 3, in their view, makes no mention of a messianic figure. Instead, the focus is on Yahweh’s new-exodus coming and the threat that this means to Israel. What is it that Sirach 48:10 might have to tell us about this matter? Sirach is not any part of the inspired scriptures, but may be consulted from the Apocrypha. “The Apocrypha are the biblical books received by the early church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews from their canon. Thus in Sirach 48:10 Elijah is, “to calm God’s wrath before it breaks out in fury, by turning the heart of the father to the son and by restoring the tribes of Jacob.” Is this, not likely, related to our passage in Malachi 3:2-3;

But who can abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness.  

Jehovah complains about the actions of these people. He describes them, as those whose, words have been stout against me, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, what have we spoken against thee? Ye have said it is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his charge, and that we have walked mournfully before Jehovah?

    These people, like their ancestors that came out of Egypt, seem to be always murmuring, complaining against Jehovah and His servants. Do they not remind us of the language of Asaph, in Psalm 73? Listen to this ‘famous’ murmurer, as he makes his case against trying to walk in the paths of the righteous:

For I was envious at the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride is as a chain about their neck; Violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out in fatness: they have more than heart could wish. vss.3-7. Asaph continues his blasphemous indignations, at v. 13; Surely in vain have I cleansed my heart, and washed my hands in innocency.

It appears that Asaph made himself something of a model griper for these in Malachi. But, suddenly, we read ‘redeeming words of comfort,’ when this Psalmer writes one of those ‘biblical buts,’ saying, in verse 17, Until (or but then), I went into the sanctuary of God, and considered their latter end. This language is quite similar to the language in this week’s text, from Malachi 3:16. Consider, as you read them.  

    Then they that feared Jehovah spake one with another, and Jehovah heark-ened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith Jehovah of hosts, even mine own possession, in the day that I make; and I will spare them, As a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.    

They spoke often with one another; [instead of murmuring to themselves constantly], perhaps frequently sighing and crying over the abominations that were, and are, done [see Ezekiel 9:4], in opposition to the truth, and Him that is the Truth Himself. And that think upon His Name; that think upon the Name of the great I AM, as well as upon His Son, who informed us, in loving words, I AM THE DOOR, I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD; I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE.

The Septuagint renders, that thought upon his name, as, that reverenced his name. 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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