Through Malachi, the Holy Spirit explains even more thoroughly how to honor the LORD:

When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 1:8-9 NIV).

Animals which were blind, lame, or diseased were unacceptable to offer to the LORD. These were in “a ceremonial unclean state and so not acceptable as covenantal behavior…” (Malachi 1:7b+) (Malachi 1:7a, 12+).6. 

With broken heart, the LORD strives to convince Israel of His love for them.

The perfection required of the offering was also a foreshadowing of when Messiah would be sacrificed for us, the final necessary sacrifice. His perfection would far excel this meat market brawl of what is clean and what is not clean, what is worthy behavior, and what most decidedly is not.

On the cross, He shows it.

I have loved you–above other men; nay, even above the other descendants of Abraham and Isaac. Such gratuitous love on My part called for love on yours. But the return you make is sin and dishonor to Me… This which is to be supplied is left unexpressed, expressing sorrow as if it were breaking off the sentence here…. [Menochius], (De 7:8; Ho 11:1).”7.

And yet, Israel still does not understand, for they do not feel loved.

Rather than focusing on all that the LORD had done for them, all the ways He had shown His love since choosing Jacob many centuries earlier, and now the fact that the LORD had made certain that they had made it back from Babylon alive to now live in the Promised Land again.

However, they instead grew more self-centered in their assessment of God’s actions.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved (chosen) Jacobbut Esau I have hated (not chosen), and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” (Malachi 1:2-3 NIV).

Jacob was chosen by God to be Messiah’s progenitor, a great honor, and yet Jacob’s descendants ask:

Wherein hast thou loved us? We don’t see it. Where have You loved us? How? — In painful contrast to the tearful tenderness of God’s love stands their insolent challenge. The root of their sin was insensibility to God’s love, and to their own wickedness. Having had prosperity taken from them, they imply that they have no tokens of God’s love; they look at what God had taken, not at what God had left. God’s love is often least acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer God does not love us because He afflicts us. Men, instead of referring their sufferings to their proper cause, their own sin, impiously accuse God of indifference to their welfare [Moore]. Thus Mal 1:1-4 forms a fit introduction to the whole prophecy.”8.

What were they doing wrong? How were their thoughts selfish? Do we see these reactions in our lives?

God's love is often least acknowledged where it is most manifested. We must not infer that God does not love us because He afflicts us for our good. (Malachi 1:1-4) Click To Tweet

“What is a ”’pure offering‘–not “the blind, the lame, and the sick,” such as ye offer (Mal 1:8). . . In this sense the reference to the Lord’s Supper, maintained by many of the fathers, may be admitted; it, like prayer, is a spiritual offering, accepted through the literal offering of the “Lamb without blemish,” once for all slain.”9.

After 70 years in Babylon, the priests had failed to instruct their people in how to worship the LORD correctly. Now the LORD’s discipline will teach each one, as it did Jacob on his way home from Hebron.

Now they must wrestle the angel who has been sent by God to refine the pridefulness of each one. There they may find a horde of Edomites, Esau’s descendants, ready to fight to the death. To survive, each will need the LORD to whom they have been sacrificing sick and deformed animals.

Will He hear them when they call upon Him?

This easily could have been us, but, through no merit of our own, we have been given Christ as our Mediator, because we believe. Do we understand the enormous blessing of this truth?

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible . . .

Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 1:6-7, 9 NIV).

The LORD’s heart is broken by Israel’s response to His love.

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 1:10-11 NIV).

Here the LORD refers to His coming outreach to Gentiles, non-Jews, “the nations,” when we will be offered salvation since His own people have rejected Him.

“Not one even of the least priestly functions (as shutting the doors, or kindling a fire on the altar) would ye exercise without pay, therefore ye ought to fulfill them faithfully (1 Corinth 9:13)… Better no sacrifice than vain ones (Isaiah 1:11-15). It was the duty of some of the priests to stand at the doors of the court of the altar of burnt offerings, and to have excluded blemished victims [Calvin].”10.

But, the priests didn’t do this. Rather, they failed.

12 But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations” (Malachi 1:12-14 NIV).

“Turning from the people to the priests, Jehovah asks, whereas His love to the people was so great, where was their love toward Him? If the priests, as they profess, regard Him as their Father (Is 63:16) and Master, let them show the reality of their profession by love and reverential fear (Ex 20:23; Lu 6:46). He addresses the priests because they ought to be leaders in piety to the rest of the people, whereas they are foremost in despising His name.”11.

As we examine the work of Malachi after the return from the Babylonian captivity, "What should be questioned here is not God's love for Israel but Israel's love for God" (ESV Study Bible). Click To Tweet

What should be questioned here is not God’s love for Israel but Israel’s love for God.

Now we can consider, how does this impact us, right now in 2023?

In what ways do we resist giving our all to the LORD?

Why do we hold back the giving of ourselves, our loved ones, and all we possess, placing everything into the LORD’s hand, entrusting ourselves to Him?

As stated earlier: “The battle for truth and righteousness had waned . . . Yet this left room for the not-so-obvious enemies — namely, smugness, pride, and compromise. The people in general and the priests in particular had lost their sense of ‘chosen-ness.'”

In what ways does this passage encapsulate the struggle the modern church also faces today?

"The battle for truth and righteousness had waned in ancient Israel. . .Yet this left room for the not-so-obvious enemies, namely, smugness, pride, and compromise. They had lost their sense of "chosen-ness." How like them are we? Click To Tweet


  1. Introduction to Malachi, ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, Illinois, pg. 1771.
  2. Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Abridged Edition, Old Testament, Zondervan, 1994, pg. 1543.
  3. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 736–737). Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  4.  Ibid.
  5.  Swanson, J. (1997). In Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  6. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 736–737). Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, Illinois, pg. 1774.
  10. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 737). Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  11. ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, Illinois, pg. 1774.
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