Malachi Bible Study Guides
Mal | 1
| 2 | 3a | 3b
MALACHI 2:1-16 (kjv)
Warning to the Priests
1 "And now this admonition is for you, O priests.
2 If you do not listen, and
if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD
"I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.
4 And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant
with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty.
Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart
to honor me.
3 "Because of you I will rebuke your descendants;
I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices,
and you will be carried off with it.
5 "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace,
and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me
and stood in awe of my name.
6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found
on his lips.
He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from
7 "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge,
and from his mouth men should seek instruction--
because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many
you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty.
9 "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the
because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality
in matters of the law."
Warning Against Intermarriage with Unbelievers
10 Have we not all one Father?
Did not one God create us?
Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with
11 Judah has broken faith.
A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem:
Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the
daughter of a foreign god.
12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be,
may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob--even though he brings
offerings to the LORD Almighty.
Warning Against Divorce
13 Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears.
You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings
or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.
14 You ask, "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."
It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the
wife of your youth,
because you have broken faith with her,
though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his.
And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.
So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife
of your youth.
16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel,
"and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with
says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not
Matt 6:19-21 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion
hath light with darkness?"
2Cor 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what
do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can
light have with darkness?
1Cor7:39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.
But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he
must belong to the Lord.
Mr 10:11,12 He answered, "And unto the married I command, yet
not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and
if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband:
and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not
the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased
to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an
husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let
her not leave him."
1Cor 7:10-13 To the married I give this command (not I, but the
Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she
must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband
must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If
any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live
with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is
not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce
vs 2 Consider something you have set your heart on. What was the process
you went through in setting your heart on that thing?
How might we set our hearts to honor God's name?
How might Matt 6:19-21 help in this process?
vs 6-9 How would you describe the role of a priest from these verses?
How can you prepare yourself to take up this role?
Have you ever taught something and later found out that you passed on incorrect
information? How might you avoid this? What role does partiality play in
What kind of a person makes you feel uncomfortable about your sin?
What kind of a person makes you feel comfortable about your sin?
vs 10-12 In view of this section and 2Cor 6:14 and 1Cor 7:39, what
should be a Christian's attitude in deciding whether to marry a non-Christian?
vs 13-16 In view of this section and Mark 10:11,12 and 1Cor 7:10-13,
what should a Christian's attitude be towards divorce.
Priests vs 1-9
The Jews would have been quite sensitive to the curse given in vs 3 upon
their descendants and that they would be "carried off" (into captivity
by a foreign nation), for they themselves had been subject to this curse.
Their ancestors had broken faith with God and were carried off to captivity
and they had experience a great deal of hardship because of the sins of
their ancestors. The curse upon the descendants, which is a common theme
in the Old Testament, was not generally due to the sins of the descendants,
but rather the descendants experience the result of their ancestors sins,
as they are the product of their ancestors.
vs 4 Both the priests (descendants of Aaron, Moses brother), and the
Levites (who helped out with the religious duties) were descended from
Levi, one of Jacob's sons. The covenant made with them is covered extensively
in the entire book of Leviticus.
Intermarriage vs 10-12
vs 11 God is not speaking against intermarriage in general, but against
intermarrying with those who worship other gods.
Divorce vs 13-16
Mal 2:14 You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the
witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken
faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage
Might God have been rebuking those who under Ezra's direction divorced
their foreign wives?
Ezra 9:1-3 After these things had been done, the leaders came to
me and said, "The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites,
have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their
detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites,
Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They
have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons,
and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders
and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness." When I heard this,
I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down
Ezra 10:2-5 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants
of Elam, said to Ezra, "We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying
foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is
still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send
away all these women and their children, in accordance with the
counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it
be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We
will support you, so take courage and do it." So Ezra rose up and put the
leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been
suggested. And they took the oath.
Was this really a proper application of the Law of Moses?
Deut 7:1-4 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are
entering to possess and drives out before you many nations-- the
Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites,
seven nations larger and stronger than you-- and when the LORD your God
has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must
destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons
or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away
from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD's anger will burn against
you and will quickly destroy you.
Notice that the Ammonites, Moabites, and Egyptians aren't mentioned, but
Ezra includes them anyhow, besides was it really the race
of the people that God was concerned about, or whether they followed other
Ruth 1:4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah
and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,
Mt 1:5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the
father of Jesse,
2Sa 11:3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man
said, "Isnít this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah
2Sa 24:18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go
up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah
And if their wives did follow other gods and attempted to entice their
husbands to do the same, in the Law of Moses did God say that divorce was
the solution, or something else?
Deut 13:6-9 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or
the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying,
"Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers
have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one
end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show
him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly
him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death,
and then the hands of all the people.
Notice Nehemiah had a similar attitude as Ezra. Was his objection really
based on the Law of Moses?
Neh 13:23-25 Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had
married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children
spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples,
and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked
them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled
out their hair. I made them take an oath in God's name and said: "You are
not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take
their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.
New Testament Revelation
We further note that in 1Corinthians 7 Paul advises believers not to separate
from their unbelieving spouses for the marriage is sanctified before God
and the children of such a marriage reckoned legitimate
A Possible Interpretation: Though they were great
men of God and accomplished great things for God, Nehemiah and Ezra were
guilty of the sin of racism - an attitude which was to be predominant among
the Jews even up to the time of Christ. It was improper for them to encourage
the people to divorce their foreign wives for purely racist reasons.
Differences with the Septuagint
The New Testament authors more commonly quote the Septuagint (LXX) rather
than what we have today as our Old Testament text, namely the Masoretic
text. At times these differ, and at times such differences impact the meaning.
Let us consider verse 15 and verse 16. (The NIV is derived from the Masoretic
NIV vs 15 Has not the
LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because
he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do
not break faith with the wife of your youth.
There are some who justify their divorce based upon the NIV translation
with the idea that they are seeking a more godly spouse for their children.
And while that application is itself questionable from the text, the LXX
says something completely difference. "But you said, 'What does God
seek but a seed.'" The Jews considered the priority in marriage godly
offspring, but God says that such is not the case. The priority in marriage
is the covenant, not the children. Even today when marriage vows are taken,
a covenant is made between husband and wife, children are not even mentioned
in the vows.
LXX vs 15 And did he not do well?
and there was the residue of his spirit. But ye said, What does God seek
but a seed? But take ye heed to your spirit, and forsake not the wife of
NIV vs 16 "I hate divorce,"
says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a manís covering himself with
violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard
yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
Contrary the NIV God is not saying here explicitly that he hates divorce.
He himself divorced Israel as He says in Jeremiah 3:8 "I
gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because
of all her adulteries." The situation he is dealing with
in verse 16 is first of all one who takes action to put away his spouse.
It is not a passive divorce situation. In fact the word "divorce" is not
in the LXX in verse 16, rather the word which literally means "send away"
is used. Although Isaiah correlates the two in Isaiah 50:1 "Where
is your motherís certificate of divorce with which I sent her
away?" But he himself did send away Israel, divorcing
her. But what verse 16 adds is the idea of the divorce being motivated
out of illegitimate hatred. In the case of Ezra and Nehemiah, for example,
they were advocating divorce on the basis of racial hatred. For even though
they invoked the Law of Moses yet they didn't actually examine the behavior
of the wives on an individual basis but simply based on race alone they
universally condemned all foreign wives to be sent away. When divorce is
a result of illegitmate hatred, ones thoughts become covered with ungodliness.
LXX vs 16 But if thou shouldest
hate thy wife and put her away, saith the Lord God of Israel, then ungodliness
shall cover thy thoughts, saith the Lord Almighty: therefore take ye heed
to your spirit, and forsake them not,
The Berean Christian Bible