What does Malachi 2:1 mean?
ESV: “And now, O priests, this command is for you.
NIV: And now, you priests, this warning is for you.
NASB: And now, this commandment is for you, the priests.
CSB: "Therefore, this decree is for you priests:
NLT: Listen, you priests — this command is for you!
KJV: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
NKJV: “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.
Verse Commentary:
The entire first portion of Malachi has been directed at the priests. These men were supposed to be the messengers and teachers of God's truth to Israel. Instead, they have sneered at the truth and treated proper sacrifices as though they were too much trouble (Malachi 1:13). The situation had deteriorated to the point where priests were sacrificing animals so flawed that other people would not have accepted them (Malachi 1:8). The people were promising one thing and delivering something else (Malachi 1:14). In response, God says that He would prefer they stop offering any sacrifices at all, instead of insulting Him with lazy, arrogant rituals (Malachi 1:10).

This verse adds great emphasis to the fact that God is speaking directly to the priests. What comes after is not a "command," in the sense of a set of directions, but a warning based on their past sins. This warning is meant to be taken as an instruction to correct the situation. The next few verses describe a "curse" God will bring on the priesthood if they do not change their ways. In particular, this threat involves their humiliation, disgrace, and confusion.
Verse Context:
Malachi 1:6—2:9 is directed specifically at the priests of Israel. Despite having knowledge of the Old Testament Law, they are offering improper sacrifices to God. Instead of following the requirements for pure offerings, they are sacrificing animals so defective that a mere politician would not accept them. This shows their apathy and disrespect towards God. In response, God warns that He will be praised properly, even if it's by the Gentiles, even if it's in spite of His own chosen people. This includes a threat to humiliate the priesthood, if they don't lead the people as they have been instructed.
Chapter Summary:
God will humiliate the priests who are insulting Him with improper sacrifices. While the priests are being unfaithful to God, the people of Israel are also being unfaithful to each other. In particular, they are marrying pagans, and committing divorce, which God absolutely despises. God's covenant with Israel included both blessings for obedience, and consequences for disobedience. And yet, as Israel disobeys, they blame God for their hardships. God's people are defying Him, then blaming Him for the end results!
Chapter Context:
Malachi's structure is intricate, but can be divided into three primary messages. The first message is to Israel's priests, and runs from Malachi 1:2 through Malachi 2:9. Chapter 2 begins with a warning, to the priests, that God will humiliate them for their arrogant, apathetic attitudes. The topic then transitions to Malachi's second message, directed to Israel as a whole, accusing them of being unfaithful to each other. This rebuke of infidelity continues through the beginning of chapter 3, before calling Israel to repentance in the final message.
Book Summary:
Malachi is the last message of prophecy given to Israel prior to 400 years of silence. Israel has rebuilt the temple, following the invasions of Babylon, but they are still under foreign oppression. Israel's spiritual condition, however, is dire. Hosea depicted Israel as prone to failure, but repentant. Later, Ezekiel exposed Israel's blatant disobedience. By the time of Malachi, Israel has passed into numbness and apathy. Unlike other Old Testament prophets, Malachi takes the form of a dialogue, where Israel responds to accusations as if unaware that they've occurred. The next prophetic voice from God would not come until the ministry of John the Baptist.
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