The difficult day of Yahweh (Mal 3:2-3:2)

“But who can endure

The day of his coming?

Who can stand

when he appears?

Yahweh is

Like a refiner’s fire,

Like fullers’ soap.”

The day of Yahweh would be difficult for everyone.  Who could endure it?  Who would be able to stand up when it happened.  This day of Yahweh was going to be like the fire that refined precious metals.  This day was going to be like being rubbed with fuller’s soap.  A fuller was someone who made clothes white.  He used some kind of alkali, like a lye soap or a modern-day bleach.  This fuller soap was very strong.

The messenger to prepare the way (Mal 3:1-3:1)

“‘See!

I am sending

My messenger

To prepare the way

Before me.

Yahweh,

Whom you seek,

Will suddenly come

To his temple.

The messenger of the covenant,

In whom you delight,

Indeed,

He is coming.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11, applied this text along with Isaiah, chapter 40, to John the Baptist.  Just as Yahweh was sending his messenger to prepare his way, so too John the Baptist would prepare the way for Jesus the Christ.  Yahweh was sending his messenger to prepare his way for his re-entrance into his Temple.  Yahweh would suddenly come, because the messenger of the delightful covenant had prepared things for him.

Yahweh is weary of evil doers and mere words (Mal 2:17-2:17)

“You have wearied Yahweh

With your words.

Yet you say.

‘How have we wearied him?’

By saying.

‘All who do evil

Are good

In the sight of Yahweh.

He delights in them.’

Or by asking.

‘Where is the God of justice?’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was weary of mere words.  The Israelites wanted to know how they had wearied Yahweh.  He responded that they seemed to say that evil doers were okay in the sight of Yahweh and that Yahweh delighted in evil.  Or they may have asked Yahweh where his justice was.  Yahweh wanted to set the record straight.

Yahweh hates divorces (Mal 2:14-2:16)

“You ask.

‘Why does he not?’

Because Yahweh was

A witness

Between you

And the wife of your youth.

You have been faithless

To her.

She is your companion.

She is your wife by covenant.

Did not one God make her?

Both flesh and spirit are his.

What does the one God desire?

Godly offspring.

Thus,

Look to yourselves

Do not let anyone

Be faithless

To the wife of his youth!

I hate divorce.’

Says Yahweh,

The God of Israel.

‘Do not cover

One’s garment

With violence!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Thus,

Take heed to yourselves!

Do not be faithless!’”

Yahweh warned them that he was a witness to the marriage of an Israelite to the bride of his youth.  If he was not faithful to her, Yahweh would not accept his sacrifices.  The bride of his youth was his companion and wife, since God made her, both flesh and spirit.  God’s desire was offspring.  He reminded the Israelites to look at themselves.  They should be faithful to the bride of their youth.  Yahweh hated divorce.  They should not cover their garment or wife in violence.  They were to remain faithful to God and their wife.

Yahweh will no longer accept their sacrifices (Mal 2:13-2:13)

“Thus,

You do as well.

You cover Yahweh’s altar

With tears,

With weeping,

With groaning,

Because he no longer regards

The offering.

He no longer accepts it

With favor

At your hand.”

Yahweh will no longer accept the sacrifices of these foreign worshippers, even though they cover his altar with tears, weeping, and groaning.  He no longer regards these sacrificial offerings with favor.

Judah has been unfaithful (Mal 2:11-2:12)

“Judah has been faithless.

An abomination

Has been committed

In Israel,

As well as in Jerusalem.

Judah has profaned

The sanctuary of Yahweh

That he loves.

He has married

The daughter of a foreign god.

May Yahweh cut off

From the tents of Jacob

Anyone who does this!

May Yahweh cut off

Anyone who witnesses,

Who answers,

Who brings an offering

To Yahweh of hosts!”

Yahweh, via Malachi, noted that Judah had not been faithful.  There was an abomination in Jerusalem itself.  Judah had profaned the sanctuary of Yahweh.  Judah had married the daughter of a foreign god.  Perhaps this indicates a non-Jewish woman.  Thus, Yahweh was going to cut them off from the tents of Jacob.  Anyone involved in any kind of false worship of a foreign god would be cut off from being a witness or bringing offerings to Yahweh.  They should be excommunicated.

The priests are now despised (Mal 2:8-2:9)

“‘But you have turned aside

From the way.

You have caused many

To stumble

By your instruction.

You have corrupted

The covenant of Levi,’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Thus,

I make you despised.

I make you abased

Before all the people.

Inasmuch as you have not kept

My ways.

But you have shown partiality

In your instruction.’”

Instead of the lofty goals as just mentioned, the current Levite priests had turned away from the correct way.  They were causing many people to stumble.  They were corrupting people with their instructions.  They had ruined the covenant of Yahweh of hosts.  Thus, these priests would be despised and abased before all the people.  They had not kept the ways of Yahweh.  They had shown partiality or incompleteness in their instructions.

The good Levite priest (Mal 2:6-2:7)

“True instruction was

In his mouth.

No wrong was

Found on his lips.

He walked with me

In integrity,

In uprightness.

He turned many

From iniquity.

The lips of a priest

Should guard knowledge.

People should seek instruction

From his mouth.

He is the messenger

Of Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, explained what a good Levite priest should be.  The good Levite priests would have true instruction on their lips.  They would walk with Yahweh in integrity and uprightness.  They would turn many people away from iniquity.  Their lips would guard knowledge.  The people would seek instruction from them.  Their mouths were the messengers of Yahweh.

The covenant with Levi (Mal 2:4-2:5)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Know!

That I have sent this command

To you.

My covenant with Levi

May hold.

My covenant with him

Was a covenant

Of life,

Of well-being.

I gave him

This covenant.

This called for reverence.

He revered me.

He stood in awe of my name.’”

Yahweh had a special covenant with the tribe of Levi, the priests.  Yahweh had set up his life-long covenant with a command to Levi that he would bring well-being to the Levites.  Yahweh had called for reverence.  Thus, the Levies had revered and stood in awe of Yahweh’s name.