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17 and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
And it shall be, [that]
whoso will not come up of [all] the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon 18 them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that [have] no [rain ;] there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles; as the Egyptians usually have no rain, this may seem no threatening to them; but shall there not be a plague ? shall not God punish them 19 some way or other, as well as other heathens? This shall be the . punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
20 In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; great piety shall prevail, and God's name be honoured in every circumstance: and the pots in the LORD's house shall be like the bowls before the altar; the meanest utensil in the house of God (see Nehem. x. 39.) shall be as the vessels of silver and gold used in solemn 21 sacrifices. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be Holiness unto the LORD of hosts and all they that sacrifice. shall come and take of them, and seethe therein and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite, or, a trafficker, in the house of the LORD of hosts; the utensils of the Jews shall be treated as holy, and the worshippers shall use them reverently. The idea of preparing food in them, is taken from the custom of feasting after a sacrifice, and no trafficker (see Ezek. xviii. 4.) shall pollute the house of God, as was customary when the Messiah cleansed the temple.
ROM the great encouragement here given, let us pray for the accomplishment of these promises; when the Lord shall be king in all the earth, and all idolatry shall be banished from the world when God's ancient people shall again inhabit their own country, and their own city, and destruction be known no more. Faithful is he who hath promised, and he will accomplish it. Let thy kingdom come, O Lord, and thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.
2. How happy are they that love Sion, for God loves it, and it shall prosper, and be the joy of the whole earth. Amidst the death of ministers, the decline of churches, the decay of piety and zeal, which so often afflicts our hearts, let us cast a longing, believing eye, to those happy times, when God will build up Sion; repair all its breaches, and fill all its waste places: when Christ's king
God here uses figurative expressions, taken from the worship of the Jews at the temple, to express an attendance on christian ordinances. Keeping the feast of tabernacle: may mean, a proper commemoration of divine goodness.
dom shall be universal, and the knowledge of the Lord cover the earth, as the waters do the sea; when princes and magistrates, ministers and people shall be filled with zeal for God, and their very merchandise and hire shall be holiness to the Lord; when there shall be but one Lord, and his name One; when all the na tions that ever rose up against God and his people, shall every one be joined to his church, and pay their grateful tribute of praise to God, as the Jews used to do at their feast of tabernacles. Let this comfort our hearts, and encourage us still to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for they shall prosper that love her. But on the other hand,
3. Learn how much danger there is in opposing God, in being enemies to Christ's kingdom and people. God will make their plagues wonderful; their flesh shall consume away, even while they stand on their feet, and without any visible cause; yea, they shall be dashed to pieces one against another, v. 13. The heavens shall be as brass to them, there shall be no rain; he will take from them their spoil, to enrich those whom they oppress; or bring plagues upon them and their cattle, and upon all that be in their tents. God has ten thousand ways of punishing those who set them. selves against him in this world; and hereafter, the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not his gospel ; who shall be pun. ished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. Let sinners hear, and fear, and do no more wickedly.
MALACHI, the last of the prophets of the Old Testament, lived some time after the rebuilding of the temple, and city, probably about the latter end of the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, when zeal and piety were much decayed, God's worship corrupted, aud many sins prevailed among priests and people. For these the prophet reproves and threatens them; but encourages the godly, who, in such bad times, continued faithful. He then speaks more distinctly of the coming of Christ, and his forerunner John the Baptist ; till which time they were carefully to observe the law, and look for no further succession of prophets.
The Book of the PROPHET
Malachi here complains of Israel's unkindness, and of their irreligion and profaneness.
HE burden, or prophecy, of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi, my messenger. I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us ? [Was] not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I 3 loved Jacob, and gave him great external privileges; And I hated Esau, I showed him less love, by giving him an inferior lot, and now have laid his mountains and his heritage waste for 4 the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indigna5 tion for ever.* And your eyes shall see, the eyes of the Jews in succeeding ages shall see the appearances of divine providence in this respect, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel; or beyond the border of Isract, that is, in other countries.
• The Edomites thought they might be restored, and have a little rest by it; but the ⚫ontrary appeared soon after, for Hircanus brought tenible desolation among them, as that (as Josephus says) scarce an Edomite was left.
6 A son honoureth [his] father, and a servant his master: if then I [be] a father, where [is] mine honour? and if I [be] a master, where [is] my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? I answer, Look at the state of 7 my temple, and then see wherein ye have despised me: Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD [is] contemptible; whatever you profess, you say, by your actions, The table of the Lord is contemptible; and you think any 8 bread good enough for a meat offering. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the 9 LORD of hosts ?* And now, I pray you, humble yourselves, O ye priests, and as ye have been first in your offence, so be first in your repentance, and beseech God that he will be gracious unto us this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts; will he excuse you because you are priests? will he not rather punish you on that account 10 with greater severity? Who [is there] even among you that would shut the doors [for nought ?] neither do ye kindle [fire] on mine altar for nought? I have sufficiently rewarded you for every service you have done for me; or, as some render it, Surely the doors shall be closed against you, neither shall ye kindle the fire on my altar in vain. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. Then follows a prophecy of the conversion of the 11 Gentiles, and as usual, under Jewish images. 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 heathen, 12 saith the LORD of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table, that is, the altar, of the LORD [is] polluted ; and the fruit thereof, [even] his meat, is contemptible; or, as it may be translated, And as to what is offered thereon, its 13 food is despicable.' Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness [is it!] and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; you say that attendance on the altar, and partaking of its sacri fices, are a burdensome task, and ye turn from them with disgust; and ye brought [that which was] torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
Gifts of this nature were customarily made in the east to great persons, and are so so this day.
† Limbarch thinks that this intimates the abolition of the Mosaic law. Mede supposes that this refers to the Lord's supper.
14 But cursed [be] the deceiver, whether of the priests or the pecple, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing, when he hath a better to offer: for I [am] a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name [is] dreadful among the heathen, though they do not particularly know me.
E are here taught not to despise the distinguishing favours of God to us, v. 2. He hath shown us great kindness as a nation, in delivering us from heathenish darkness, from popery, and from surrounding enemies; he hath given us à pleasant and fruitful land; we have good laws, a happy constitution of government, under which our persons and properties are secured; we have civil and religious liberty, and can worship God without being made afraid. Surely then God hath loved us, and distinguished us above many nations. Let us never be unmindful of these benefits, nor ungratefully say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Nothing shows a worse temper, nor indicates a worse character, than ingratitude for past favours, and insensibility of present mercies and comforts. Let us call on our souls to bless the Lord, and not forget any of his benefits; and be often say. ing, Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!
2. Let us maintain a disposition and behaviour toward God, answerable to his character, and the relations in which he stands to us, v. 6. Is he our master? let us think what a wise, good, powerful, honourable, and bountiful master he is, and regard him accordingly. Let us cheerfully obey his orders; let our eyes wait upon him, and our hearts rejoice at every intimation of his will. Like good servants, let us improve our talents, and be faithful to our trust. Let us speak honourably of God; endeavour to promote his interest, and fear his displeasure above all things. Is he a father? let us ever look to him under this endearing character; let us reverence his wisdom, which is infinite; seek direction, counsel, and wisdom from him, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not. Let us rejoice in his affection to us; for, as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. Let us trust his care, esteem ourselves happy in his presence and converse, and in all things approve ourselves his humble, obedient, holy, and happy children; and act in a manner becoming the sons and daughters of the Lord almighty.
3. Let us avoid a mercenary temper in religion, v. 10. and the character of those who would not shut the temple doors, nor light a fire on the altar, for nought. There are too many like these, both among priests and people; who will not take a step in VOL. VI. Bbb