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Malachi chapter 2

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

10Have 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? 11Judah 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. 12The 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. 13And 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. 14Yet 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. 15And 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. 16For 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. 17Ye 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?

What does Malachi chapter 2 mean?

Malachi has a nuanced structure which is easily lost when looking at chapter and verse divisions. There are three main lessons delivered by Malachi, a name which literally means "My messenger." These lessons are divided into two halves. The focus of the first and second half of each lesson are mirror images of each other, so Malachi takes the form of a wave, flowing back and forth through ideas. Malachi is also unique among Old Testament prophets for taking the form of a dialogue, where God accuses Israel of specific sins, and Israel responds with doubt.

Chapter 2 (through verse 9) completes the first of Malachi's three messages, which is directed at the priests. They have been offering diseased, flawed, or unclean animals as sacrifices (Malachi 1:7–8). This is not only against the Old Testament Law, it is profoundly insulting to God. Israel's spiritual leaders know what to do, but they find it too much trouble (Malachi 1:13). As a result, God warns them that He will be honored properly, even by the—supposedly—unclean Gentiles (Malachi 1:11).

This passage completes God's oracle to the priests with a more personal threat. Insulting the name of God through disobedience and arrogance is to slight God Himself. If the priests continue to do as they have done, God will humiliate them in the eyes of the people (Malachi 2:9). He will remove them from office and allow them to be completely defiled by their own attitudes. This is phrased in rather graphic terms, with the metaphor of God smearing animal wastes on their faces (Malachi 2:3).

While this may seem harsh, the true penalty for "profaning" the name of God was supposed to be death (Numbers 18:32). So, even in judgment, God is showing mercy to those who abuse Him. The Old Testament priests were supposed to teach the people about God, as His messengers (Malachi 2:7). So, what Malachi—literally, "My messenger"— warns them about is very serious, indeed.

The second of Malachi's three messages begins in verse 10. As with Malachi's other lessons, this one begins with an accusation. Unlike the other charges, however, Israel gives no particular answer to this claim. Malachi's criticism here is that Israel is being unfaithful, to each other. Israelite men are divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying pagan women (Malachi 2:11,14).

Marrying those who reject God is blasphemy in and of itself. Adding to this national epidemic is the fact that the men of Israel are not only marrying those who worship false gods, they are breaking their commitments to Israelite women in order to do so. In this passage, God expresses absolute hatred for divorce (Malachi 2:16). The Bible is clear that God's laws regarding divorce are in no way a sign of acceptance. Rather, they are a necessity brought on by our own hard hearts (Matthew 19:8).

Sadly, the people of Israel are numb to their own sin. Worse, they blame God for the consequences of their own actions. They break God's laws, then complain that God has not blessed them (Malachi 2:17). They ignore His warnings, and grumble when He does not protect them from their own mistakes. This takes the form of a very arrogant, very dangerous question: "Where is the God of justice?" As Malachi will explain in chapters 3 and 4, God's justice is certainly coming, so Israel ought to be careful what they wish for.
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