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The Cure of God's Pure Word (Mal. 2:1-7)

Studies in Malachi  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  50:42
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Keep God’s Word with Purity; Seek God’s Word Personally; Speak God’s Word Powerfully.

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Introduction:

Describe the difficult day in which we try to minister:
2 Timothy 3:1ff KJV 1900
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Main Thought: Let's strive to send out God's Word they way we received it, pure: Keep it with purity; study it personally; speak it with power!
Sub-intro:
Chap. 2. The Lord, by the prophet, in this chapter, addresses a word of rebuke to the priests now, as He had done to the people before. The Spirit awakens a word in the bosom of the prophet, challenging the abominations that were committed in Judah and Jerusalem, the treachery against the nation’s covenant—letting the people know that they were not straitened in the Lord who had provisions for them in the Spirit to fulfil His part in that covenant, but that they had been their own enemies, unfaithful to their conditions in the same covenant. The covenant is spoken of under the figure of a marriage-contract, or marriage vows, according to the style of the prophets generally. And it is such a figure as the Lord’s own words about Himself and His people Israel would warrant and suggest. [J. G. Bellett, The Minor Prophets (Galaxie Software, 2004), 85–86.]
Body:

The LORD's Commandment to the Priests through His Messenger (Mal. 2:1-10).

I. The Promise of the Levitical Covenant Reiterated (Mal. 2:1-7).

A. The Intended Audience: the Levitical Priests (Mal. 2:1).

Malachi 2:1 KJV 1900
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.

B. The Indictment Against them (Mal. 2:2-7).

1. The Curse of Dishonoring God's Name (Mal. 2:2-6).

a. The Caution to Heed (v. 2).

Malachi 2:2 KJV 1900
If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, To give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: Yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Note the importance of protecting your heart for the things of God:
The first matrix of human health represented in the Shema is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your lēbāb.” The term lēbāb, translated “heart,” is more accurately “heart-mind.” In English, the heart is considered the seat of the emotions, whereas in Hebrew the lēbāb is the seat of decision-making, thought, and the will. It is the locus of mental-emotional health, the integration of a person’s passion and intelligence.
When a person’s intellect and passions are at odds, the heart-mind is divided. The integration of one’s intelligence and passions may be used for good or evil, but its integration is the first element of a healthy heart-mind. Resisting God is described as being “hard-hearted” (stubborn) or “fat-hearted” (rebellious) (Exod. 7:13; Ps. 95:8; Mal. 2:2). The Shema and its broader Sinaitic context offer three foci for a healthy lēbāb: learning the instruction given at Sinai, choosing to act on the instruction, and integrity. [James K. Bruckner, “Health,” ed. Joel B. Green, Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 352.]

b. The Consequence of Ignoring It (v. 3).

Malachi 2:3 KJV 1900
Behold, I will corrupt your seed, And spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; And one shall take you away with it.
Note Wiersbe's summary:
In short, God was saying, “You’re treating Me with disrespect, so I’ll treat you like garbage! You don’t value the priestly ministry, so why should you be in office?” [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 147.]
Note the BKC's observation of the Hebrew play of words between "spread" and "seed":
“Spread,” from the verb zārâh, is a pun on the word zera’ (“seed”), the descendants who were the object of God’s rebuke (v. 3). [Craig A. Blaising, “Malachi,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1579.]
Note the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery on "Dung":
Dung is first associated with the sacrificial rites of Israel. Since dung was an unclean substance, God mandated that it needed to be burned outside the encampment and later, outside the gates of Jerusalem (Ex 29:14; Lev 16:27; Neh 3:13, 14). Dung was also used as fertilizer (Lk 13:8). However the metaphorical power of dung’s coarse connotations is found in the various contexts of judgment pronouncements in the OT prophetic and historical books.
For example, in 1 Kings 14:10 dung is a metaphor applied to the ruling family of Jeroboam, where God says he “will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung till it be all gone” (KJV). The corpse of Jezebel is to be scattered like excrement in a field, “so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:37 KJV). In Ezra 6:11 King Darius warns that anyone who interferes with the restoration of Israel’s temple is to have his home turned into an outhouse—destroyed—“made a dunghill” (KJV).
Besides the judgment of dung being pronounced on Israel’s enemies (Ps 83:10; Is 25:10), the majority of dung judgments are assessed against Israel, the very people of God. Graphic examples of these judgments are found in the Prophets (e.g., Jer 9:22; 16:4), but the most extreme metaphor for God’s displeasure with his people relates prophetic judgment to spreading excrement across the faces of apostate Israel (Mal 2:3): “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, [even] the dung of your solemn feasts” (KJV). Such strong language expresses God’s right as Creator of all things-even dung-to use any creature or created substance as a means of expressing his divine will. [Leland Ryken, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 221–222.]
Note on avoiding hypocrisy in our walk with God:
Here is a demonstration of sincerity, from the right performance of the duty set forth by the antithesis in the fifth verse. “But thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” Enter not thy house only, or thy common chamber, but thy closet, the most secret and retired privacy, that others may neither discern thee nor rush in suddenly upon thee. God will answer thee and perform thy request, as a gracious return to thy secret sincerity. God is pleased by promise to make himself a debtor to secret prayer. It brings nothing to God but empty hands and naked hearts; to show that reward in Scripture sense, does not flow in on the streams of merit, but of grace. It is monkish divinity to assert otherwise; for what merit strictly taken can there be in prayer? The mere asking of mercy cannot merit it at the hands of God. Malachi 2:3. Our most sincere petitions are impregnated with sinful mixtures. We halt, like Jacob, both in and after our choicest and strongest wrestlings. But such is the grace of our heavenly Father, who spies that little sincerity of our hearts in secret, that he is pleased to accept us in his beloved, and to smell a sweet savor in the fragrant perfumes and odors of his intercession. [Samuel A. M. Lee, “Secret Prayer Successfully Managed,” in The Bible and the Closet: Or How We May Read the Scriptures with the Most Spiritual Profit; and Secret Prayer Successfully Managed, ed. John Overton Choules (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1842), 54–55.]

c. The Correction in the Warning (Mal. 2:4-6).

i. The Levitical Covenant's Inception (v. 4).
Malachi 2:4 KJV 1900
And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, That my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Note Dr. Phillips' remarks concerning the bravery and dedication of the Levites:
In 2:4 God referred the priests to His original covenant with the tribe of Levi, the tribe chosen by Him to be set apart for His service. We read about that covenant in the Pentateuch: When apostate Israel sinned so grievously in making the golden calf, Moses threw down the gauntlet. “Who is on the Lord’s side?” he demanded (Exodus 32:26). The only ones to respond were “all the sons of Levi.” Rewarding them for this decision, God consecrated the whole tribe of Levi to the ministry (Deuteronomy 10:8–9). [John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:1–4.]
Numbers 6:22–27 KJV 1900
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
ii. The Levitical Covenant's Integrity (v. 5).
Malachi 2:5 KJV 1900
My covenant was with him of life and peace; And I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, And was afraid before my name.
Numbers 18:7–8 KJV 1900
Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given thee the charge of mine heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto thee have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to thy sons, by an ordinance for ever.
Numbers 18:19–21 KJV 1900
All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the LORD, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before the LORD unto thee and to thy seed with thee. And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
iii. The Levitical Covenant's Intent (v. 6).
Malachi 2:6 KJV 1900
The law of truth was in his mouth, And iniquity was not found in his lips: He walked with me in peace and equity, And did turn many away from iniquity.
Note Dr. Phillip's memorable way of describing the influence of the Levites:
Levi was inspired by the fear of the living God and as a result God gave him a threefold ministry: he was an example to all by his words, his walk, and his witness. He was an example by his words in that “the law of truth was in his mouth” (2:6). He upheld the inerrancy, inspiration, and infallibility of the Word of God. Levi was an example by his walk in that “he walked with [God] in peace and equity.” His conduct was such that he enjoyed the constant smile of God’s approval and the conscious sweetness of His presence. Levi was an example by his witness in that he “did turn many away from iniquity.” He did away with apostasy, put the fear of God into the rank and file, defended the faith, and encouraged those who wanted to live for God. [John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Mal 2:5–7.]
Numbers 25:11 KJV 1900
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Note that this (Mal. 2:6) is the verse used in the Title Page of Spurgeon's Autobiography.
Note John Bunyan's treating of Christ's Character:
He is full of truth. Full of grace and truth. Truth, that is, faithfulness in keeping promise, even this of the text, with all other, “I will in no wise cast out” (John 14:6). Hence it is said, that his words be true, and that he is the faithful God, that keepeth covenant. And hence it is also that his promises are called truth: “Thou wilt fulfil thy truth unto Jacob, and thy mercy unto Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” Therefore it is said again, that both himself and words are truth: “I am the truth, the Scripture of truth” (Dan 10:21). “Thy word is truth,” (John 17:17; 2 Sam 7:28); “thy law is truth,” (Psa 119:142); and “my mouth,” saith he, “shall speak truth,” (Prov 8:7); see also Ecclesiastes 12:10; Isaiah 25:1; Malachi 2:6; Acts 26:25, 2 Timothy 2:12, 13. Now, I say, his word is truth, and he is full of truth to fulfil his truth, even to a thousand generations. Coming sinner, he will not deceive thee; come boldly to Jesus Christ. [John Bunyan, Come and Welcome, to Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 297.]
Note Dr. Schreiner's treating the dangers of the liberal and broad understanding of "Torah" as promoted by "sholars" such as Dr. Mark Futato in his course on the Psalms:
The word for law in the Old Testament is torah; ...It is often said that torah in the Old Testament does not refer so much to commands (to the keeping of commandments) as it does to instruction (to teaching). According to this view, the word torah does not focus on admonitions, commands, and requirements. Instead, the word has a more general referent, so that it includes God’s instruction more generally. Hence, if one follows this view, the word torah also includes God’s promises to save his people, his threats if they do not obey, and also narrative accounts that we find, for example, in the Pentateuch. But such a wide definition for the word torah is almost certainly wrong.
Torah usually refers to what human beings are commanded to do.1 In some instances, a broader sense (that goes beyond commands and prescriptions) aptly captures the meaning of torah (e.g., Job 22:22; Ps. 94:12; Prov. 1:8; 4:2; 13:14; Isa. 2:3; 42:4; 51:4; Mal. 2:6–8), although even in some of these passages the instruction probably consisted of what was required by the law. In the vast majority of instances, however, the word torah focuses on doing what is commanded in the law, that is, the commands and requirements that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The emphasis on observing the law and carrying out what it demands is evident from the verbs of which torah is the direct object (see figure 1a).
Other terms that are used with the word torah and are roughly synonymous with it confirm that the term torah focuses on regulations and prescriptions (see figure 1b). All these words convey the idea that Israel must obey what God has required in his law. [1 Cf. Stephen Westerholm, “Torah, nomos, and Law: A Question of ‘Meaning,’ ” SR 15 (1986): 327–36; Douglas J. Moo, “ ‘Law,’ ‘Works of the Law,’ and Legalism in Paul,” WTJ (1983): 73–100. (Thomas R. Schreiner, 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law, ed. Benjamin L. Merkle, 40 Questions Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2010), 19–20.)]
Note the importance of walking with God when it comes to proclaiming His truth to others without pollution:
The precise phrase “walked with God” is used only of Enoch, Noah (Gen. 6:9), and Levi (Mal. 2:6), though some take the latter to represent the priestly tribe of Levi in the spiritual sense of walking.29 It is, of course, entirely possible that each of these men literally walked with God, especially since the Christophany seems to have been God’s primary means of making His will known in the early patriarchal days. [29 Henry Cowles, The Minor Prophets: with Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical (New York: Appleton, 1868), pp. 389–90. But for the literal sense see Edward Bouverie Pusey, The Minor Prophets: A Commentary, 2 vols. (reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950), 2:478–79. (James A. Borland, Christ in the Old Testament (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1999), 77–78.)]

2. The Cure - Deliver God's Word Uncompromisingly (Mal. 2:7).

Malachi 2:7 KJV 1900
For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, And they should seek the law at his mouth: For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

a. Keep God's Knowledge Purely (v. 7a).

b. Seek God's Law Personally (v. 7b).

c. Speak God's Truth Powerfully (v. 7c).

Note J. Vernon McGee's application of the word "messenger" to pastors today:
The priests are to be messengers of the Lord of hosts. The word messenger, as I have pointed out before, is also translated “angel,” and in the Book of Revelation we find the Lord addressing the “angel” of the church of Ephesus, etc. To whom is He speaking? He is addressing the one who is the leader of the church, the one who is teaching the Word of God in the church.
Now let me sum this up by giving my interpretation of this—and you may not agree with it. I believe that the sole duty of the pastor of a church is to teach the Word of God. God have mercy on the church that expects its pastor to be the public relations man, running all over the countryside visiting sick babies and burping them, and expects him to spend his time in the administration of church affairs when he should be studying the Word of God and then teaching it to his people.
Once I had a telephone call from a man back East who was an officer in his church and was dissatisfied with his pastor. He said that his pastor spent his time studying instead of administering the affairs of the church. So I asked him, “Did you tell me that you are a deacon?”
“Yes.”
“Have you yourself been visiting the sick?”
“No, sir, I keep pretty busy.”
“Do you know that that is your business? You are to visit the sick. You are to take charge of the administration of the church. His business is to teach the Word of God. If he is not teaching the Word of God when he gets into the pulpit, that is another story. But if he is spending his time in studying and giving out God’s Word, then he is doing what God has called him to do.”
Remember that a situation like this confronted the apostles in the early church. The Hellenistic Jews were complaining that their widows were being neglected and preference was being given to the native-born widows. The matter was brought before the apostles, and they did a marvelous job of handling it. They told the church to appoint deacons to handle it. They said, “… It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables” (Acts 6:2).
Having completed my ministry in the church, I stand at a great vantage point today. I thank God that I have reached the place where I no longer have to burp babies and, although I have a little to do with administration, that is not how I spend my time. I am currently spending more time in the study of the Word than ever before, and I thank God for it. If I could relive my days as a pastor, I would spend more time studying the Word—some folk thought I spent too much time as it was. But I believe that studying the Word and teaching it is the pastor’s business.
God says that it was Levi’s business, but in Malachi’s day the priests were not doing it. [J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 3 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 1002–1003.]
Deuteronomy 33:10 KJV 1900
They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, And Israel thy law: They shall put incense before thee, And whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
Ephesians 6:6 KJV 1900
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Note Wiersbe's memorable summary:
Verses 6–7 describe the perfect servants of God: truth on their lips, obedience in their walk, fellowship with God, a burden to bring others to the Lord, and a passion to share God’s Word with those who need to hear it. But the priests weren’t following this pattern; they were following their own ways. [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 147.]
Application:
Fellowship of God’s People in Evil Times
“Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels: and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”—Mal. 3:16, 17.
We often hear people complain of the times, and of the low state of religion; but good men will be good men in the worst of times, and that which others make an excuse will to them furnish a motive to speak often one to another. In the Jewish worship, all who were of Abraham’s seed mingled together; yet even then the godly found one another out: “I am a companion of all those that fear God.”
I. Notice the character of these times. The prophet Malachi lived some time after Nehemiah, when the Jews were become very degenerate. 1. Great degeneracy among the priests—sordid despisers of religion. God speaks of what a true priest should be, but charges them with the reverse, chap. 2:5–8. The consequence was, as might be expected, they were despised by the people. 2. Great degeneracy among the common people—profane towards God, and treacherous towards one another—frequent divorces for trivial causes, yet full of excuses. 3. Even the professed worshippers of God had a great deal of hypocrisy. 4. All these things put together proved a stumbling-block to people in general. Wicked men were reckoned happy and promoted, and providence seemed to favour them; hence infidelity and atheism abounded: yet even “then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another.”
II. Observe the character and conduct of the godly in these times. 1. They are characterized as fearing the Lord. The phrase may be more expressive of the Old Testament than the New; but it is characteristic of good men under any dispensation. It denotes that filial reverence of God’s name, and fear of offending or dishonouring him, which a truly good man possesses. 2. They are described as keeping up a close communion with one another. The world was alive, and they were alive. The seed of the serpent leagued, and the seed of the woman communed together. You may be sure their conversation was edifying, or it would not have been recorded. They might have occasion to reprove, to admonish, to counsel, to exhort, to encourage, to instruct. Such a state of things is necessary, especially in evil times. The more wicked the world, the more need of Christian fellowship. 3. Their doing this is called thinking upon God’s name. Thinking here is not opposed to speaking, (for they that speak are the same persons as those who think,) but to forgetting. While others cared not for God’s name, their thoughts were occupied about it. God’s interest lay near their hearts; they grieved for its dishonour, and concerted plans for its promotion. If we love his name, it will occupy our thoughts.
III. The favourable notice taken of this conduct. It seems they were retired from the notice of the multitude; perhaps like the disciples, for fear of the Jews. They might be apprehensive lest any should hearken and hear them. One, however, did so, and took down their conversation too, not literally, for God needs no book but his own mind. This will be brought out at judgment, Matt. 25. They that think of him here will be remembered by him there, and when they have forgotten it. “They shall be mine in that day.” That day shall be a day of general destruction, like that of a tempest to shipping, and then nothing is spared but the most valuable things or persons, as jewels. Cities, nations, sea, land, heaven, earth, all will be one general wreck; or, lest this should not be sufficiently strong, he will spare them as a man spareth his son—as his own son, whose life is bound up with his own.
Which of these characters is ours?
Will our conversation bear writing in a book?
[Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 442–443.]

II. The Priests' Corruption Revealed (Mal. 2:8-10).

A. Their Parting from God's Word Repudiated (Mal. 2:8).

Malachi 2:8 KJV 1900
But ye are departed out of the way; Ye have caused many to stumble at the law; Ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

1. They Departed from His Way (v. 8a).

2. They Deterred Others from His Way (v. 8b).

Note Dr. Gill's comments concerning "stumbling" at the law:
The meaning of these words, agreeably to Dr. Hammond’s sense of them, is said to be this‡: “That the unbelieving Jews, being disobedient to the gospel so clearly revealed, and by so many miracles and distributions of the Holy Ghost confirmed to them, were appointed, as the punishment of that disobedience, to fall and perish; for, so the Hebrew word chasal, and the Greek προσκόμμα and σκανδάλον, import, namely the ruin and the fall of them who stumble at this stone.” But, let it be observed, that the phrase, to stumble at Christ, and the word, is not expressive of their punishment, but of their sin, being disobedient. As, to stumble at the law, Mal. 2:8, is to offend against, break and transgress it; so to stumble at the word, or gospel, is to blaspheme and contradict it, reject and put it away, as the Jews of old did, being disobedient, left and given up to the infidelity and hardness of their hearts. To stumble at the word, and to stumble at Christ, and to be offended in him, or at him, are one and the same thing; and the latter always signifies a crime, and not punishment, Matt. 11:6, and 13:57, Mark 6:3, Luke 7:23. The sin of these persons is expressed by stumbling and falling: and their punishment by being broken; Isa. 8:14, 15, Matt. 21:44. So the Hebrew word כשל, signifies to stumble and fall; that is, to sin; see Prov. 24:17, Hos. 14:1, Mal. 2:8. Hence מכשול עונם, the stumbling-block of their iniquity, that which is the occasion of sin, Ezek. 7:19, and 14:3, 4, 7. So the Greek words προσκόπτω, προσκόμμα, προσκοπή, Rom. 9:32, 33, and 14:20, 21, 2 Cor. 6:3, Σκανδαλίζω and σκανδάλον, Matt. 18:6–9, Rom. 14:13, 21, 1 Cor. 8:13. And, after all, this sense of the words pleaded for, proves a fore-appointment of some to punishment, as the fruit of disobedience; which is that part of reprobation, commonly called predamnation, we contend for. [‡ Ibid. p. 21; ed. 2. 20. See Remonstr. in Act. Synod. circ. art. i. p. 208; and Limborch, p. 355. (John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth, A New Edition. (London; Glasgow; Dublin; Sydney; Hobart Town: Thomas Tegg and Son; R. Griffin and Co.; Tegg and Co.; J. and S. A. Tegg, 1838), 137–138.)]

3. They Debased His Word (v. 8c).

Matthew 23:15 KJV 1900
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Matthew 23:25–28 KJV 1900
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

B. Their Partiality Toward Carnality Rebuked (Mal. 2:9).

Malachi 2:9 KJV 1900
Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, According as ye have not kept my ways, But have been partial in the law.
Note W.B. Riley's application of ceremony without spirit:
Few things are more offensive to God, the Father, than ceremonies when they have no spirit of service in them. Before Malachi’s day the Lord had said by Isaiah’s lips concerning this custom, “This people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men” (Is. 29:13).
And Ezekiel had also declared “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (Eze. 33:31).
One of the most difficult things in the Christian life is to keep form from displacing affection; and ceremony from killing the spirit. It is so much easier to bend the knee than to bow the heart, and to say prayers than to pray; to sing songs than to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”; and to look pious while the offering passes than to part with our substance. Did I say it was much easier? No! It only seems to be! It is much harder! The man whose religion troubles him most is the one whose true spirit amounts to the least. It is better to have none than not enough. The out and out unbelievers of Christ’s time never incited His criticism as did the pious pretenders. [William Bell Riley, The Bible of the Expositor and the Evangelist, Old Testament, Genesis through Malachi, vol. 1–19, The Bible of the Expositor and the Evangelist (Union Gospel Press, 1925–1938), Mal 1:1–4:6.]

1. Their Public Debasement (v. 9a).

Note Edward Dennett's exhorting application:
We see exemplified here the same thing as obtains everywhere in the Scriptures; viz., that responsibility is increased by position and privilege. Thus if the priest or a ruler sinned, he had to bring a larger sacrifice than one of the common people. (Leviticus 4) So in this chapter the priests, being the appointed instructors of the people, are dealt with more severely—with unsparing judgment. Instead of guiding the people aright, as we have seen, they caused many to stumble. Whenever leaders go astray, the consequences are more grave, for they are more influential, both for good and for evil. Many illustrations of this may be found in the history of the Church of God. A private Christian falling into error or immorality exerts an influence only upon his own circle; but if a teacher, prominent in the Church, departs from the way of truth, he oftentimes draws away thousands after him in his own evil path. On the other hand, just as we read here, “I have made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways,” etc., so will it be when such are guilty of glaring inconsistencies. If the walk of those who assume “sacred” offices, or of those who are really gifts to the Church, be not according to godliness, they will soon be despised and regarded as contemptible. Even a man of the world has no respect for those whose lives belie their profession. [Edward Dennett, Malachi: Or the State of Things at the End (Galaxie Software, 2004), 22–23.]

2. God's Impartiality Displayed (v. 9b).

3. Their Bribery Condemned (v. 9c).

Matthew 23:3 KJV 1900
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
Note the mercy of God's dealings with them, not according to their iniquity:
Their teaching … caused many to stumble because they themselves had turned from the way. Saying that defiled sacrifices were accepted violated God’s covenant with Levi (see Num. 18:19, 21).So the priests were despised and humiliated before all the people. This actually was a light sentence, for their penalty should have been death (Num. 18:32). [Craig A. Blaising, “Malachi,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1580.]
Note their condemnation by Wiersbe:
A false minister is an awful weapon in the hands of Satan. “One sinner destroyeth much good” (Eccl. 9:18, KJV). Because they showed partiality in the way they applied God’s truth (Mal. 2:9), they disobeyed God and harmed His people. (See Lev. 19:15; Deut. 24:17; 1 Tim. 5:21.) [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Amazed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 148.]
1 Timothy 5:21 KJV 1900
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

C. Their Profanity of God's Word Rebuked (Mal. 2:10).

Malachi 2:10 KJV 1900
Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, By profaning the covenant of our fathers?
Ephesians 4:25 KJV 1900
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

1. An Honorable Heritage (v. 10a).

1 Corinthians 8:6 KJV 1900
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Deuteronomy 6:4 KJV 1900
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

2. A Dishonorable Household (v. 10b).

Note the progression of their backsliding:
Another thing may be observed as arising out of the connection. The priests had “departed out of the way,” and then they are found dealing treacherously every man against his brother. In the gospel of Matthew we find a very similar thing. The evil servant says in his heart, “My Lord delayeth His coming,” and he immediately begins to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken. In both cases alike, losing all sense of the divine claims and of the nature of their position is followed by evil conduct towards their brethren. The comparison indeed goes further; for as the next thing the evil servant does is “to eat and drink with the drunken,” so here, after the dealing treacherously every man with his brother, we have union with “the daughter of a strange god”—in both cases alliance with the world. And this is ever the moral order: first, relationships with God ignored, then with our brethren, and finally association with the world. There are four terms employed in this passage to indicate this grievous form of the iniquity of God’s people: dealing treacherously (not, as in the preceding verse, with their brethren, but with God—compare Jer. 3:6–10), committing abomination—a frequent expression in the Scriptures for idolatry (see Jer. 4:1; Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15, etc.), profaning the holiness of the Lord which he had loved, and marrying the daughter of a strange god. (v. 11.) [Edward Dennett, Malachi: Or the State of Things at the End (Galaxie Software, 2004), 25–26.]

Conclusion:

2 Corinthians 6:14–16 KJV 1900
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Galatians 6:14 KJV 1900
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Note the importance of handling God's Word with purity:
Because God is holy and wants only the best for us, He demands the best from us. Anything less than our best is insufficient. Excellence is even more critical for the minister of God. Ministers are called to instruct people in the ways of the Lord, to uphold the honor of God’s Name and set an example for God’s people. But if God’s own ministers do not fear and look up to the Lord, if they themselves dishonor the Lord and His Holy Name, what hope is there for the people to live righteous and godly lives? This was the case with Israel and, sadly, it is the case in many church and ministries today. God-fearing and God-honoring ministers have never been more desperately needed. God’s Word is very specific about the attitudes and characteristics God requires of His ministers:
“But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve” (Lu. 22:26).
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Co. 1:17).
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Co. 9:16).
“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Th. 2:4).
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Ti. 2:22–25).
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti. 4:2).
“For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre” (Tit. 1:7).
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pe. 5:2–4).
(See also Ro. 10:14; 1 Co. 1:17; 2 Co. 4:2; 2 Co. 5:18; 2 Co. 6:4–10; 1 Th. 2:9; 1 Th. 5:14; 1 Ti. 2:7; 1 Ti. 3:2; 1 Ti. 4:6; 1 Ti. 4:12; 1 Ti. 6:6–11.) [Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Habakkuk–Malachi, The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2009), 336–337.]
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