Opening Prayer

Gracious Father, I pray today for your presence and guidance, your patience and love, your forgiveness and grace.


1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.[a]

Israel Doubts God’s Love

“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 Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Breaking Covenant Through Blemished Sacrifices

“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. 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.

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.

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.


  1. Malachi 1:1 Malachi means my messenger.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


 ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’1

Think Further

Malachi’s first disputation sets the theme of the book: God’s love for Israel. Jacob, a scheming cheat, did not merit God’s love. Neither did his descendants,2 but he made them his chosen people. After their repeated disobedience, God disciplined them through exile in Babylon. Now God had brought them home, and Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt. God refers to Esau and his descendants the Edomites because Esau, Jacob’s older twin brother, had sold his birthright to him. When Jerusalem was destroyed the Edomites exploited the situation, increasing the Judaeans’ suffering.3 Probably around Malachi’s time, the Nabatean Arabs drove the Edomites out of their own land into the Negev desert, where they settled. Malachi declares that there will be no restoration for Edom. In exaggerated language, a feature of Hebrew speech, Malachi points to this difference as evidence of God’s faithful love for Israel. If we feel that God doesn’t love us, we only need to ponder John’s words (above) to see that we have far greater evidence that God does love us. Malachi’s hearers were so self-pitying that they failed to see the bigger picture. We must avoid that error.

The second disputation begins by accusing the priests of condoning sacrifices that violated the covenant law,4 treating God with contempt. Since their prayers and sacrifices were unacceptable to God they might as well close the Temple! Not just the priests are condemned – the people bringing such offerings are cursed (v 14), since their offerings reflect their spiritual state. There is a challenge here to assess the acceptability of our worship today.

Malachi uses three pictures of the covenantal love relationship: father–son, master–servant, king–subject. The Judaeans were failing on each count.


Thank God for loving you and consider how to respond to him as a child, a servant, and a subject in your daily life.

Closing prayer

Mighty One, you are a covenant-keeping God! You are faithful, but I can be so fickle. Lord, please increase my faith and faithfulness.

1 John 4:10 Deut 7:7,8; 10:14,15 Ezek 35; Obad 10–14 Lev 22:18–25; Deut 15:21

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Last Updated on November 30, 2022 by kingstar

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