Crocodile tears and coverup

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.

Who was Malachi?

MALACHI -Tenth in a series

A change occurs between verses 9 and 10 of the second chapter of Malachi. Up to verse 10 Malachi's words have been the first person singular (or trinitarian as it were) of the Lord. In verse 10 to the end of Chapter 2, he speaks as Malachi, Malachi himself.

We often see this juxtaposition in the books of prophecy. It is not a great contrast of subject matter or tone, yet it is a great difference of persons. One is the Creator, the other, the created; one is the King and Sovereign, the other, the servant and subject; one is God Almighty, the other, a human, limited in knowledge and wisdom.

God speaks through his prophets, not only in his own words, but in their words as they speak on his behalf, and not simply as he gives them utterance. This may at first sound troubling; after all, is not the whole of Scripture inspired? Are not all of its words God's words? Yes, indeed, but in the course of the narratives, we hear "Thus saith the Lord," and we also hear the messengers confirming his statements in their own words. Thus, two witnesses testify, as is required by the Law. (Deut 19:15; Mat 18:16)

Theologians note that we know nothing about Malachi, not his hometown nor parentage nor work, yet in the last eight verses of Malachi 2, we do gain a clear picture of who he was.

Malachi was an Israelite in whom there was no guile. (Ps 32:2) He was not slack in carrying out duties, nor treacherous or deceitful, and was somewhat childlike in his perceptions.

Let's consider verses 9 and 10 of Chapter 2 where the change in speakers occurs:
Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. (vs 9)
Have 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? (vs 10)

God criticizes the priests in verse 9, and his words are elaborated in Malachi's line of questions in verse 10 in which he identifies with the sinful priests, "Why do we…".

Evidently, distinctions were being drawn and favoritism shown, probably between the richer and poorer, or in other ungodly ways. Malachi does not set himself above the priests but considers that he, too, is an ungodly man.

Brothers with one Father ought to treat each other with evenness and charity in obedience to the Law; otherwise they profane God's covenant with their patriarchal fathers: If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them… I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. (Lev 26:3, 12) …and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

No treachery allowed! We are all brothers. (Mat 23:8)

What sort of person would remind the priests that those they served were their brothers? One with a loving heart who was intent on honoring God and winning back the prodigals who were far from home.

God called and established Malachi to shine a light on sin in the community, lovingly, and to encourage revival and strengthen hearts against the Enemy's assaults as the years drew near for Messiah to come.

Be a Phinehas!

MALACHI -Ninth in a series

Malachi 2:1-3 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. (vs 1)
If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. (vs 2)
Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. (vs 3)

The threatenings of God are never for mere effect or to draw attention to himself, but they are to an end. God is working to accomplish something, and someone or a group is standing in his way.

Four warnings or threats are pronounced by Malachi as a way of provoking change and reform. First, the priests should realize that they are under God's curse and will continue to be until they honor his name.

Second, he will corrupt their seed, that is, their agricultural work would be hindered resulting in famine.*

Third, he will humiliate them by spreading the dung of the sacrificial animals on their faces they will be viewed as filth by the congregation— and fourth, the sense of verse 3 is that they will be consigned to an early death: "…and one shall take you away with it."

Should these warnings not be heeded, all will understand that it is the role of the priests to uphold God's name and to teach the people to walk in his ways:
Malachi 2:4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Early in the organization of Israel, the Levites were appointed by the Lord to take charge of the "hallowed things" (Num 18:8) and to teach God's Word and Law. They would have no inheritance in the land, but God himself would be their portion (Num 18:20), and they would be sustained by the offerings of the people.

Malachi 2:5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
An earnest Levite, Phinehas, Aaron's grandson, stood for righteousness at a critical moment (Num 25:6-8), and was then promised a covenant of peace and of an everlasting priesthood (Num 25:12-13); he was zealous for God and saved the children of Israel from judgment. That is exactly what God expected of the priests confronted by Malachi. God desired to and intended to maintain this covenant with the Levites. After 400 years it would be established afresh in Jesus Christ who would become the great high priest as God worked out his purposes in history. The next verse seems to arc to Christ from Phineas:
Malachi 2:6The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

Therefore, these priests had a job to do to set an example and to teach the Jews to live holy lives. The nation was down to a small number primarily from the tribe of Judah along with the Levites who lived in the Southern Kingdom. Christ must come to this remnant; it must not disappear.

Malachi 2:7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
The priest of God must study God's Word, or he will not be able to teach.

Vows must be honored, covenants must be upheld by both sides, truth must be preached.

Malachi 2:8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

What might be the applications of these passages to the churches and pastorates today? An obvious conclusion. Yet we can be thankful there will always be the remnant.

*Neither priests nor Levites cultivated the soil; yet, since the tithes were assigned to them, the diminution of the harvest affected them. The meal-offering too was a requisite part of the sacrifice. - Albert Barnes

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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