Disputation 2: Israel’s begrudging offerings are condemned. Malachi exposes the offenses caused by the people, and then, he rebukes the priests for condoning them and thereby violating the LORD’s covenant with Levi. While in captivity, the actions of the priests harmed Israel.
“Malachi certainly wrote to the people of Judah (Malachi 1:1; 2:11), but the historical setting becomes clearer in Malachi 1:8. Here the prophet used the Persian word for governor, indicating he wrote in a time period between 538–333 BC, when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land. Malachi also wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he likely delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. The prophet’s concerns mirror those of Nehemiah’s, suggesting that Malachi prophesied to the people while Nehemiah left the city for several years, beginning in 432 BC (Nehemiah 13:6). (Source).
Though the Levites were strong and powerful men, it’s helpful to review the final straw that sent Israel into captivity — the wicked practices of Yahwism (the mixing together of the worship of Yahweh with pagan religion, which involved the sacrifice of their own children.)
Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and wife of Jeham, king of Judah. After the death of Ahaziah, her son, Athaliah usurped the throne and reigned for seven years. She massacred all the members of the royal house of Judah (II Kings 11:1–3), except Joash.
11:1 “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were all about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He then remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land” (2 Kings 11:1-3).
The Book of the Law had been lost to Judah for quite some time, since Manasseh’s reign; the loss of the book might explain one reason why Judah had lapsed into such wickedness. The Book of the Law was to be read publicly.
Because the priests had been so careless as to lose the Book of the Law, the Bible, the kings of Israel became increasingly proud and pagan as they neglected the Law and continued to intermarry with this pagan lineage.
By examining 1 and 2 Chronicles alongside 1 and 2 Kings, we are able trace their downfall.
Repeatedly God called them to repentance, but they chose to continue on their downward course, which involved aligning themselves with pagan kings, sacrificing their own children to idols, and subjugating the people in their region into slavery.
Manasseh, the worst king, rebuilt the high places, erected altars to Baal, and made an Asherah, as Ahab had done. He worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He rebuilt the high places, so that idolatry could continue. He used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. Manasseh even burned his own son on the altar as an offering.
The job of priests at that time was to perform all the requirements at the temple, but also to advise the king in how to live, how to choose a spouse, how to father his children, and how to remain morally pure.
Clearly, the priests had failed with this long line of Judaic kings, beginning after righteous Josiah.
When Josiah had reigned, a mere boy, he sought reforms and rebuilding. Workers found The Book of the Law. Imagine the previous pagan kings having lost the Bible!
Finding it turned the nation around to repent. Now they knew what was sin and what wasn’t, from the reading of the scrolls.
But then, of course, attacks, blasphemies, and a slow corruption of Israel’s kings further destroyed Israel, due to the kings intermarrying with the pagan daughters of Joab, the king of Moab. In this way, Athaliah, a pagan, corrupted Israel. This and many other sins, brought the Lord’s condemnation and discipline upon them.
“Athaliah, also spelled Athalia, in the Old Testament, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel and wife of Jeham, king of Judah. After the death of Ahaziah, her son, Athaliah usurped the throne and reigned for seven years. She massacred all the members of the royal house of Judah (II Kings 11:1–3), except Joash. A successful revolution was organized in favour of Joash, and she was killed.” (Britannica).
Read 2 Chronicles 18-36 to see the sweeping panoramic view of the depth and width of Israel’s sin.
We are just like them. Look around at what this world has become.
We have human trafficking of all types, including the sexual exploitation of children, but we seem unable to do anything about it.
In our government, we have corruption at the highest levels. Our borders are leaking, admitting numerous unaccounted for criminals as well as drugs that can kill most of our population. Meanwhile, nothing is done to protect us.
Our current government pushes women toward aborting their babies. As a catalyst, families are first ruined by outrageous pricing of necessities, lying leaders, inafforable housing, and corrupt representatives.
The world has always been full of sinners, but the Lord intervenes by bringing us to the Savior for love and forgiveness in spite of our many sins. Before Christ came, the Lord intervened in the lives of the Jews to save them, so that Messiah might be born to save us all.The world has always been full of sinners, but the Lord intervenes by bringing us to the Savior for love and forgiveness in spite of our many sins. Click To Tweet
At the end of the Jews’ time of decadence, the Babylonians/Persians conquered Israel and took them into a captivity. First they enslaved the best and the brightest young men, sons, and family of kings. This is when Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken into captivity. Yet, they stayed true to the Lord, through it all, even during their persecution.
As kingships grew shorter, additional flawed decisions harmed Israel. Morals and safety both collapsed, and then the Babylonians came back to cart away the rich and educated, who broke treaty after treaty.
In this way the priests failed the people, by not informing them what the Biblical scrolls meant pertaining to their future. The responsibility of the priesthood was to instruct the Jewish nation in how to worship, how to approach God, and how to revere their God.
The priests knew this. They ignored it. They blew it. And then they were all carried off to a foreign land. When they returned, they had not worshiped the LORD in temple worship for more than seventy years, yet the instructions were written down in the Old Testament scrolls.
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 exceed what is clean and what is not clean, what is worthy behavior, and what most decidedly is not.
“Behold I send my Messenger, and He will prepare the way before Me. And the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:1 ESV).
Just as then, we, too, need Messiah now.
Isaiah foretold The Lord’s Chosen Servant, Jesus Messiah
Around 700 BC Isaiah prophesied exactly how Jesus would come into human history:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel“ (Isaiah 7:14 ESV).
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:1-9 ESV)
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