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THE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS OF MALACHI
The last book of the OT is Malachi, whose name can be translated, "My messenger,"
messenger being the same word as "angel" (Malach) in Hebrew. The book is largely
composed of rhetorical questions and also answers to those questions. The style of
the book reminds one of children arguing on the school ground with questions, like,
"Why are you so stupid?" Then in reply, "Why does your breath stink?" I say this with
the exception that what pertains to the Lord is not silly and snide like brats on the
playground. Yet Israel does appear like a brat asking impertinent and ignorant
questions, questions which the Lord has no problem in answering.
The following is most of Malachi with editorial headings to emphasize the Q & A of the
book. “YHWH = God’s Name in Hebrew (rendered Yahweh or Jehovah or The LORD).
MALACHI: BOOK OF RHETORICAL Q & A
Q 1 BY ISRAEL TO YHWH: WHEN HAVE YOU LOVED US?
1:2 I have loved you, says YHWH. Yet you* say,
Wherein have you loved us?
Q 2 BY YHWH TO ISRAEL & ANSWER TO Q 1: WAS NOT ESAU JACOB’S
Was not Esau Jacob's brother? says YHWH.
Yet I loved Jacob, 1:3
but Esau I hated
and made his mountains a desolation,
and [gave] his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness. 1:4
Whereas Edom says,
We are beaten down, but
we will return and build the waste places;
thus says YHWH of Hosts,
They shall build, but
I will throw down; and
men shall call them
The border of wickedness, and
The people against whom YHWH hath indignation for ever. 1:5
And your eyes shall see,
and you* shall say, YHWH be magnified beyond the border of Israel.
Israel was privileged to have special promises and covenants with the Lord,
promisess that other nations, like Edom, never got. Israel was singled out for
special love from the Lord.
Of course the special privileges of Christians, far outstrip anything that Israel
enjoyed. Yet we may sulk at times and feel like God does not love us. But the Lord
chose us before the foundation of the earth to be forever beside Him in love
(Ephesians 1). And we are specially privileged to have the Holy Spirit permanently
indwell us, even if we grieve Him. And the Lord Jesus desires to dwell in our
hearts as we trust Him (Ephesians 3). We are established as members of Christ’s
body, destined to be with Him forever, in a state of undiminished joy.
Q 3 BY YHWH TO PRIESTS OF ISRAEL: “WHERE IS MY HONOR? WHERE IS
A son honors his father, and
a servant his master.
If then I am a father, where is my honor? And
if I am a master, where is my fear?
says YHWH of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name.
We are called to honor our Lord as our Father. He created us, called us, and
transformed us to become His children. In return we are to address the Lord in this
manner: “You are my Lord and God, I have no good beyond you.” We are to
delight in His presence and approval. We are to hold Him in awe.
“And I stand, I stand, in awe of You,
I stand, I stand, in awe of You,
Holy God to Whom all praise is due,
I stand in awe of You.”
In our minds is the knowledge that in His love our Father is quite capable of
chastizing us, and in ways that seem grievous. Our God is a consuming fire. We
dare not trifle with Him Who shrank not from placing His Son on the cross when it
satisfied His purpose.
Q 4 BY PRIESTS OF ISRAEL TO YHWH: WHEREIN HAVE WE DESPISED YOUR
And you* say, Wherein have we despised your name?
As it says in “The Lord’s Prayer,” hallowed by Thy name.” If we give the Lord a
piece of junk and say, “Here is my present to you, Lord,” we would be despising
His name. A great deal of the book of Malachi has to do with what we give to or
present to the Lord. Our Lord is a great Lord and His requests of us are great.
Actually of the Christian He asks us to give all.
ANSWER BY YHWH: YOU HAVE OFFERED POLLUTED BREAD
1:7 You* offer polluted bread upon my altar,
Q 5 BY PRIESTS TO YHWH: WHEREIN HAVE WE POLLUTED YOU?
and you* say, Wherein have we polluted you?
ANSWER BY YHWH: YOU HAVE OFFERED SICK ANIMALS AS SACRIFICES
In that you* say, The table of YHWH is contemptible. 1:8 And when you* offer the
blind for sacrifice, it is no evil! and when you* offer the lame and sick, it is no evil!
Q 6 BY YHWH TO THE PRIESTS OF ISRAEL: WILL YOUR GOVERNOR BE
PLEASED WITH YOU OR WILL HE ACCEPT YOUR PERSON?
Present it now unto your^ governor; will he be pleased with you or will he accept your
person? says YHWH of hosts.
Q 7 BY YHWH TO THE PRIESTS OF ISRAEL: WILL GOD ACCEPT ANY OF YOUR
1:9 And now, I pray you, entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious unto us;
this has been by your means. Will he accept any of your persons? says YHWH of
The priests were offering up defective sacrifices to the Lord: polluted bread; blind,
lame and sick animals. Of course no fellow in his right mind would give a girl
wilted flowers. If the President came to visit, we would not set out sandwiches
made of rotten tuna fish and stale bread! But I have heard of some sending
missionaries used tea bags. No doubt some have sent used clothes.
What are we giving to the Lord? Do we have only a few minutes for Him each
day? Do we struggle to fit Him into our schedules? And how much of His own
church building are we willing to put into His service?
We recall the man who was afraid that he might lose the talent that his master gave
him and so hid it in the ground. Are we afraid that putting the Lord’s church
building into His service might interfer with the existing pitifully few minutes per
week of current activities so that we would bury the rest of the building into the
ground and give over a major wing to Christless education”? Are we afraid that
new persons would be seen all over the building and these might somehow defile
the property? And so the solution is to neglect the employment of the resources the
Lord has given us?
Q 8 BY YHWH TO THE PRIESTS: SHOULD I ACCEPT THIS AT YOUR HAND?
1:10 Oh that there were one among you that would shut the doors, that you* might not
kindle [fire on] My altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says YHWH of Hosts,
neither will I accept an offering at your hand. 1:11
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same
my name [shall be] great among the Gentiles,
and in every place
incense [shall be] offered unto my name and
a pure offering.
For my name [shall be] great among the Gentiles, says YHWH of hosts. 1:12 But
you* profane it, in that you* say,
The table of YHWH is polluted, and
the fruit thereof, even
its food, is contemptible. 1:13
You* say also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And
you* have snuffed at it, says YHWH of Hosts; and
you* have brought
that which was taken by violence and
and the sick.
Thus you* bring the offering. Should I accept this at your hand? says YHWH. 1:14
But cursed be the deceiver, who
has in his flock a male and
sacrifices unto the Lord a blemished thing.
For I am a great King, says YHWH of hosts,
and my name is terrible among the Gentiles.
Q9: BY MALACHI TO THE PEOPLE:
DON’T WE ALL HAVE ONE FATHER-CREATOR?
WHY DO WE
DEAL TREACHEROUSLY EVERY MAN AGAINST HIS BROTHER,
PROFANING THE COVENANT OF OUR FATHERS?
Have we not all one father?
Has not one God created us?
Why do we
deal treacherously every man against his brother,
profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Q10: BY JUDAH TO YHWH: WHY? WHY DOESN’T YHWH REGARD OUR
2:11 Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in
Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of YHWH which he loves, and
has married the daughter of a foreign god. 2:12 YHWH will cut off, to the man that
him that wakes and
him that answers, out of the tents of Jacob, and
him that offers an offering unto YHWH of hosts.
2:13 And this again you* do:
You* cover the altar of YHWH
with weeping, and
insomuch that he regards not the offering any more,
neither receives it with good will at your hand. 2:14
Yet you* say, Why?
Malachi has already given one reason why the Lord does not accept sacrifices,
namely, the sacrifices were yucky. Now another reason is given: the persons who
offer the sacrifices have married foreign wives, which is analogous to Christians
marrying unsaved persons. The union of saved and unsaved is called “being
Churches do this all the time; persons present for membership who are unsaved, but
religious. Too often no sufficient investigation is made as to a person’s salvation.
Some Baptists worry too much about who baptized a person and too little about
whether or not a prospective member is born again. Sometimes a prospective
member wants to transfer in from another church in the same denomination. But
that person has never been saved. Yet such a person may be quickly voted in with a
smile. Then after a church is polluted with unregenerate members and becomes low
in fruit-bearing, members may ask, “Why?”
Now another reason why the Lord rejects sacrifices is given in Malchi’s immediate
answer to the “Why?”
ANSWER BY MALACHI: YOU HAVE DIVORCED YOUR WIVES
Because YHWH hath been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against
whom thou hast dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of
Q11: BY MALACHI: DID NOT THE LORD MAKE [TWO PERSONS] ONE?
2:15 And did he not make one, although he had the residue of the Spirit?
Q12: BY MALACHI: WHY [DID HE MAKE 2 PERSONS] ONE?
And why one?
ANSWER BY MALACHI: THE LORD SOUGHT GODLY OFFSPRING
He sought a godly seed. Therefore
take heed to your spirit, and
let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. 2:16
For I hate
putting away, says YHWH, the God of Israel, and
him who covers his garment with violence, says YHWH of hosts:
therefore take heed to your spirit, that you* do not deal treacherously.
The next reason why the Lord refuses sacrifices is that of divorce. The person who
brings the offering is has dealt treacherously with his wife and divorced her.
When a man stands before the Lord and vows “’Till death do us part” “For better or
for worse,” and all the rest; that man has solemnly promised the Lord to stay with
his wife and not put her away.
Persons who might divorce their wives are exhorted to “take heed to your spirit.”
The Word tells us to keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues
of life.” [Check quote] Divorce was permitted under the law because of the
hardness of a man’s heart. Diligent attention should be given to keeping one’s heart
tender, soft, and receptive to the what the Lord would write on our hearts with the
Holy Spirit. The daughter of King Saul, Michal (pronouce it MEEhall), one day
looked out the window at King David, her husband, saw him dancing in the streets,
and despised him in her heart. This led to a rift in the marriage. Love must be
nurtured in the heart and not spite. Husbands are exhorted not to be embittered vs.
their wives. Older women are given the task of teaching younger women to be fond
of their husbands (“fond of” is a translation of the verb phileo, not agapao, which is
not in the passage). If you can not longer speak to your mate in such words as are
found in the Song of Solomon, there is very likely a loss of fondness and a hardness
In addition to divorce, there is another matter aroses the Lord against a man who
brings sacrifices: wife-beating. The Lord says here, “I hate . . . him who covers his
garment with violence,” or “covers violence with his garment.” A man may give
the appearance (his garment) of being a nice guy, while he abuses his wife in secret.
Solemn words are in the text: “I hate . . . him . . . .”
Q 13: BY PEOPLE TO YHWH: WHAT HAVE WE DONE THAT WEARIES YHWH?
2:17 You* have wearied YHWH with your words. Yet you* say, Wherein have we
ANSWER OF MALACHI: YOU CHARGE GOD WITH INJUSTICE TOWARDS THE
In that you* say,
Every one that does evil is good in the sight of YHWH, and
He delights in them; or,
Where is the God of justice?
Q14: BY PEOPLE: WHERE IS THE GOD OF JUSTICE?
ANSWER BY YHWH: JUST JUDGMENT IS COMING FOR SINNERS
One is reminded of the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3: “Because you are
neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth.” It is possible to be neither
hot and stimulating (like a cup of tea) nor cold and refreshing (like a bottle of soda
pop). Could our church just bore the Lord? Do we bore the Lord? Is He weary
with us? [One is reminded of the OT King of Hebron, “Hoham,” the boring king.]
The people wearied the Lord by charging Him with being unjust. Sometimes we
may think that the Lord is unfair, until we remember that while we were yet sinners
Christ died for us and that He has promised us sinners, just for trusting Christ, to
freely give us all things (end of Romans . The Lord is not boring. Let us beware
of boring Him. Let us not bore Him with our thoughts or our acts. Let us not do
our Christian service in a way that bores the Lord. Is the Lord bored by us?
If persons see us in action do they tend to fall asleep? One thing that the Apostle
Paul cannot be charged with is being boring. Why he could go to a town and in a
matter of weeks get thrown out. And when the Lord Jesus went to the temple, there
was not boredom. He got out the whips and went to work on the money-changers.
Q 15: BY YHWH: WHO CAN ABIDE THE DAY OF THE MESSENGER’S COMING
AND WHO SHALL STAND WHEN HE [THE LORD JESUS] APPEARS?
I send my messenger, and
He shall prepare the way before Me; and
the Lord, whom you* seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and
The Messenger of the Covenant, whom you* desire, behold,
he comes, says YHWH of hosts. 3:2
But who can abide the day of his coming?
And who shall stand when he appears?
For he is
like a refiner's fire and
like fuller's soap. 3:3 And
he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and
he will purify the sons of Levi
and refine them as gold and silver;
and they shall offer unto YHWH offerings in Righteousness. 3:4
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto YHWH,
as in the days of old and
as in ancient years. 3:5
And I will come near to you to judgment,
and I will be a swift witness
against the sorcerers and
against the adulterers and
against the false swearers and
the hireling in his wages,
the widow, and
the fatherless, and
that turn aside the sojourner [from his right]
and fear not me, says YHWH of hosts.
3:6 For I, YHWH, change not; therefore you*, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
Q 16: BY ISRAEL TO YHWH: WHEREIN SHALL WE RETURN?
3:7 From the days of your fathers
you* have turned aside from my ordinances,
and have not kept them.
Return unto me, and
I will return unto you, says YHWH of hosts.
But you* say, Wherein shall we return?
Again one is reminded of the Church of Laodicea. They did not realize their
condition and were offered eye-salve to cure their spiritual blindness. May the Lord
deliver us from spiritual blindness and sin denied, then unrecognized, and never
Q 17 (& ANSWER) BY YHWH TO ISRAEL: WILL A MAN ROB GOD?
3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet you* rob me.
Q 18: BY ISRAEL TO GOD: WHEREIN HAVE WE ROBBED YOU?
But you* say, Wherein have we robbed you?
ANSWER BY GOD: IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS
In tithes and offerings. 3:9 You* are cursed with the curse; for you* rob me, even this
whole nation. 3:10 Bring* the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food
in my house, and prove me now herewith, says YHWH of Hosts,
if I will not
open you the windows of heaven and
pour you out a blessing,
that there shall not be room enough [to receive it]. 3:11
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
and he shall not destroy the fruits of our ground;
neither shall your vine cast its fruit before the time in the field, says YHWH of hosts.
And all nations shall call you happy;
for you* shall be a delightsome land, says YHWH of hosts.
Talk about being “non-boring.” Here is the prospect of being delightsome.
Israel was charged with delivering a tithe to the Levites, who in turn gave a tithe to
the priests. Now how do Christians rob the Lord today? We are told that “we are
not our own,” but “bought with a price” (the blood of Jesus). We are exhorted to
present ourselves to the Lord as alive from the dead and our members as servants to
the Lord. We are present ourselves to the Lord as a living sacrifice. As the song
“There is only one thing, that you alone can bring
There is only one gift that will please:
All He wants is you,
Nothing else will do,
Not just a part,
He wants all of your heart
All he wants is you.”
Q 19: BY ISRAEL TO YHWH: WHAT HAVE WE SPOKEN AGAINST YOU?
Your words have been stout against Me,
Yet you* say,
What have we spoken against You?
ANSWER BY YHWH AND
Q20: BY ISRAEL TO YHWH: WHAT PROFIT IS IT THAT WE HAVE KEPT GOD’S
CHARGE & THAT WE HAVE WALKED MOURNFULLY BEFORE YHWH?
3:14 You* have said,
It is vain to serve God, and,
What profit is it
that we have kept his charge and
that we have walked mournfully before YHWH of hosts?
3:15 And now we call
the proud happy; yea,
they that work wickedness are built up; yea,
they tempt God, and escape.
The people had charged the Lord with being unjust in failing to judge the wicked.
Now again they question the Lord’s judgment -- this time with respect to rewarding
the righteous. What profit is it to serve the Lord?
In times of discouragement we may forget that our labor is not in vain. In addition
to promising to freely give us all things, the Lord also offers rewards, symbolized as
crowns, five being listed in the New Testament. “Crown” in this context is a
victor’s wreath, not a diadem or ruler’s crown. In Heaven in Revelation 4 we see
the “24 Elders” casting down their golden crowns around a glassy sea. It is proper
that the saints should cast down their victor’s wreaths at the feet of the Lord to
acknowledge that whatever we accomplished, it was by His grace.
In the following text of Malachi a great expansion upon the blessings or rewards of
fearing the Lord. One of these, as we know, is going to Heaven and not having to
enter the Lake of Fire. The Lord is just, and the destinies of the saved and lost are
ANSWER BY YHWH: THOSE WHO FEAR YHWH
WILL BE THE LORD’S POSSESSION &
SPARED THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
Then they that feared YHWH spoke one with another;
and YHWH hearkened and heard,
and a book of remembrance was written before him,
who feared YHWH and
who thought upon his name. 3:17
And they shall be mine, says YHWH of hosts,
[even] my own possession, in the day that I make;
and I will spare them,
as a man spares his own son that serves him. 3:18
Then shall you return and discern
between the righteous and the wicked,
between him who serves God and him who does not serve Him.
4:1 For, behold,
the day comes,
it burns as a furnace;
and all the proud
and all that work wickedness,
shall be stubble. And
the day that comes
shall burn them up, says YHWH of hosts, that it
shall leave them neither root nor branch.
4:2 But unto you who fear my name
the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in its wings; and
go forth, and
gambol as calves of the stall. 4:3 And
tread down the wicked; for
they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in
the day that I make, says YHWH of hosts.
4:4 Remember* the Law of Moses my servant,
which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel,
even statutes and ordinances.
4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of
YHWH come. 4:6 And he shall turn the
heart of the fathers to the children and
the heart of the children to their fathers;
lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.