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Malachi 1:1-3:5, Psalm 125

Malachi warns against some of the Israel’s familiar problems like spiritual adultery, injustice and priests dishonoring the name of Levi. Malachi presents two unique problems in Israel, at least unique among the Old Testament prophets. I first mention Malachi’s denunciation of divorce. Though other prophets certainly would have been against this practice, it isn’t mentioned in those books. Notably in Malachi, God’s anger at divorce is leveled while discussing Israel’s men marrying foreign woman and living in infidelity towards God. These two, spiritual adultery and divorce go hand in hand. Secondly, God also addresses the wickedness of Israel’s giving defective sacrifices, their worst animals, to God. As noted in former reflections, there has been this developing tension surrounding sacrifices. We are told elsewhere that God doesn’t desire sacrifice but other virtues (Psalm 40:6, Psalm 51:6). So why make such a big deal out of these sacrifices. God is not opposed to sacrifices as Malachi makes plain, for they are part of the Lord’s covenant with Israel. Rather, God is opposed to sacrifices devoid of faith, trust, and love. In Malachi, both the faith, trust, and love along with the appropriate sacrifices are missing. Due this evil, God warns against the day when a messenger will arrive to purify the Levites like silver and gold and make Israel’s offering acceptable (Malachi 3:1-4). We know that this messenger is none other than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10). Israel was incapable of returning to and maintaining adequate fidelity and sacrifice. So when John the Baptist arrives proclaiming the coming of Jesus the messiah we know that God is purifying Israel and making her whole.

Jeremiah Vaught