MALACHI -Eleventh in a series
Malachi 2:11-12 Judah 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.
The 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.
In verse 11 of Malachi 2, Malachi gives credit to the Jews for loving God; at least there was some record of this in their past. But now they married foreign women, profaning his holiness (Lev 21:14). This was a sin both of those who held positions of leadership, the masters— the priests, and their underlings, the scholars who learned their ways.
Both would be cut off for this practice. God is no respecter of persons.
The next verse is interpreted in varying ways by commentators:
Malachi 2:13 And 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.
One interpretation is that the priests invited the wronged wives to cry out to God and their tears figuratively covered the altar of the temple. Their tears were regarded, but the offerings of the priests were not.
The other idea is that the priests cried out for answers to prayers with profuse tears, because God did not regard their offerings nor answer their prayers for the people. In this view, the tears were "crocodile tears."
Do crocs really cry? A bit of lore, to explain the phrase:
The 16th Century slaver John Hawkins and his crew observed crocodiles in the Carribbean and reported that they would "cry and sobbe like a Christian body". In doing this, it was claimed, they would lure sympathetic victims into range, before surprising them and devouring them. The imagery behind the story is so powerful that belief in it continued well into the 18th and 19th Century. (ref)
The weeping priests were insincere, attracting attention of the dupes who believed them to be in agony.
This latter explanation seems on target as we continue to the next verse:
Malachi 2:14 Yet 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.
The priests protested they did not "get it"— Wherefore? Malachi thus points them to the truth of Scripture, that the wife each took in pledge when young was the companion approved by the Lord. This is elaborated in the next verse:
Malachi 2:15 And 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.
Malachi reminds the priests that God created man (humankind), Adam and Eve, from one substance (Gen 1:26-27; 2:23-24). They were a unity by design, which Jesus also refers to as he teaches the meaning of adultery (Mat 19:4-6). Importantly, man— both the husband and the wife, Adam and Eve, had the "residue of the spirit." The word "residue" means something left or parceled from a larger base of the same substance or type. The mode of creation reflects the purpose of God in joining only one man with only one woman, namely that they would rear godly children by the help of the Spirit.
Going further, Take heed to your spirit is repeated for warning and emphasis:
Malachi 2:16 For 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.
John Calvin states that the men thought they might cover their violent treatment of their wives by retaining them in the home while adding new ones. Such treachery was cruel and filthy.
Nevertheless, they pretend not to understand the Lord's accusations:
Malachi 2:17 Ye 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?
Now we turn to apply the last half of Malachi 2 to Christians today. In the same way as the 5th century Hebrews were indifferent about their sin, even going so far as to believe God accepted their practice of divorce or polygamy since he had not exiled them from their land as he had in the past, do we believe God is lax in judgment? Are we comfortable in sin because he is long suffering?
What would Malachi say about the Supreme Court decision to permit homosexual marriage?
How long will it be before three can get a marriage license or two from the same family, or child and adult? Not long, for the slippery slope cannot be maneuvered; it can only serve as a chute.