Malachi 2:17
You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, Wherein have we wearied him? When you say, Every one that does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?
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(17) A new section of the prophecy begins with this verse. The prophet now directs his reproofs against the people for their discontent and their want of faith in the promises of God, because the expected manifestation of God’s glory did not take place immediately. Because the doers of evil seem to flourish, the people say that God takes delight in them, “or” i.e., if this be not the case, “Where is the God of judgment?” that He does not interpose to punish them. (Comp. Psalms 73, &c.)

Malachi 2:17. Ye have wearied the Lord with your words — You have tired his patience by your blasphemous speeches, charging his providence with injustice. Yet ye say — Ye persist to say; Wherein have we wearied him? — See on Malachi 1:6. When ye say — When your discourse and reasoning tend to overthrow (if it were possible) all piety and morality; while you affirm, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of God — A repetition of the old objection against providence, taken from the prosperity of the wicked, which implied, as they thought, either that their works were pleasing to God, or else that he disregarded human affairs, and would never call men to account for their actions; and he delighteth in them — As appears, said these atheists, by his prospering them. Or, Where is the God of judgment? — If he is in the world, judging and governing it, why does he not punish these men? 2:10-17 Corrupt practices are the fruit of corrupt principles; and he who is false to his God, will not be true to his fellow mortals. In contempt of the marriage covenant, which God instituted, the Jews put away the wives they had of their own nation, probably to make room for strange wives. They made their lives bitter to them; yet, in the sight of others, they pretend to be tender of them. Consider she is thy wife; thy own; the nearest relation thou hast in the world. The wife is to be looked on, not as a servant, but as a companion to the husband. There is an oath of God between them, which is not to be trifled with. Man and wife should continue to their lives' end, in holy love and peace. Did not God make one, one Eve for one Adam? Yet God could have made another Eve. Wherefore did he make but one woman for one man? It was that the children might be made a seed to serve him. Husbands and wives must live in the fear of God, that their seed may be a godly seed. The God of Israel saith that he hateth putting away. Those who would be kept from sin, must take heed to their spirits, for there all sin begins. Men will find that their wrong conduct in their families springs from selfishness, which disregards the welfare and happiness of others, when opposed to their own passions and fancies. It is wearisome to God to hear people justify themselves in wicked practices. Those who think God can be a friend to sin, affront him, and deceive themselves. The scoffers said, Where is the God of judgement? but the day of the Lord will come.Ye have wearied the Lord with your words - o "By your blasphemous words, full of unbelief and mistrust, you have in a manner wearied God. He speaks of God, after the manner of men, as a man afflicted by the ills of others. Whence also the Lord says in Isaiah Isa 1:14, "I am weary to bear them," and Isaiah 43:24, "thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities." In like way the Apostle says Ephesians 4:30.

With the same contumacy as before, and unconsciousness of sin, they ask, "Wherein?" It is the old temptation at the prosperity of the wicked. "Does God love the wicked? if not, why does He not punish them?" "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." "The people, when returned from Babylon, seeing all the nations around, and the Babylonians themselves, serving idols but abounding in wealth, strong in body, possessing all which is accounted good in this world, and themselves, who had the knowledge of God, overwhelmed with want, hunger, servitude, is scandalized and says, 'There is no providence in human things; all things are borne along by blind chance, and not governed by the judgment of God; nay rather, things evil please Him, things good displease Him; or if God does discriminate all things, where is His equitable and just judgment?' Questions of this sort minds, which believe not in the world to come, daily raise to God, when they see the wicked in power, the saints in low estate; such as Lazarus, whom we read of in the Gospel, who, before the gate of the rich man in his purple, desires to support his hungry soul with the crumbs which are thrown away from the remnants of the table, while the rich man is of such savagery and cruelty, that he had no pity on his fellow-man, to whom the tongues of the dogs showed pity; not understanding the time of judgment, nor that those are the true goods, which are for ever, say, He is pleased with the evil, and, Where is the God of judgment?"

Where is the God of the judgment? - o "i. e., of that judgment, the great, most certain, most exact, clearsighted, omniscient, most just, most free, wherein He regards neither powerful nor rich nor gifts, nor anything but justice? For He is the God of the judgment, to whom it belongs by nature to judge all men and things by an exact judgment: for His nature is equity itself, justice itself, providence itself, and that, most just, most wise. To Him it belongs to be the Judge of all, and to exercise strict judgment upon all; and He will exercise it fully on that decisive and last day of the world, which shall be the horizon between this life and the next, parting off time from eternity, heaven from hell, the blessed from the damned forever, through Christ, whom He constituted Judge of all, quick and dead."

17. wearied … Lord—(Isa 43:24). This verse forms the transition to Mal 3:1, &c. The Jewish skeptics of that day said virtually, God delighteth in evil-doers (inferring this from the prosperity of the surrounding heathen, while they, the Jews, were comparatively not prosperous: forgetting that their attendance to minor and external duties did not make up for their neglect of the weightier duties of the law; for example, the duty they owed their wives, just previously discussed); or (if not) Where (is the proof that He is) the God of judgment? To this the reply (Mal 3:1) is, "The Lord whom ye seek, and whom as messenger of the covenant (that is, divine ratifier of God's covenant with Israel) ye delight in (thinking He will restore Israel to its proper place as first of the nations), shall suddenly come," not as a Restorer of Israel temporally, but as a consuming Judge against Jerusalem (Am 5:18, 19, 20). The "suddenly" implies the unpreparedness of the Jews, who, to the last of the siege, were expecting a temporal deliverer, whereas a destructive judgment was about to destroy them. So skepticism shall be rife before Christ's second coming. He shall suddenly and unexpectedly come then also as a consuming Judge to unbelievers (2Pe 3:3, 4). Then, too, they shall affect to seek His coming, while really denying it (Isa 5:19; Jer 17:15; Eze 12:22, 27). Ye; ye priests and people, slight in your religion toward God. Unfaithful in your covenant with your wives.

Have wearied the Lord (after the manner of man this is spoken of God) with your words; your perverse reasonings, or impious quarrellings against God, among which, one most ungodly and atheistical does come to be remarked on.

When ye say; when your discourse and reasoning is managed to the overthrow (if it were possible) of all morality and goodness.

Every one, not one excepted by these illogical atheists,

that doeth evil is good; that is a wicked man, and doth wickedness, (as you prophets preach to us,) is misrepresented by you; such are good men, and what they do is good. Thus they call evil good: woe then to them!

In the sight of the Lord; in the account and judgment of God.

And he delighteth in them; as appears (say these atheists) by his prospering of them: did he not delight in them, would he so enrich and prosper them? Or,

Where is the God of judgment? or if they be evil, and their ways, designs, and doings be evil, and punishable, where is that God of judgment? or why doth he delay execution of his displeasure against such men and ways? I am apt to think that the irreligious sentiments of the priests, their superficial managing of the solemn worship of God, their adulteries, and multiplying of wives, hitherto unpunished, had brought them either to think there was no such thing as moral goodness or moral viciousness in men’s actions; or that if there were, since no punishment was laid on the vicious, nor any encouragement or present reward bestowed on the virtuous, that God did not, nor ever would, concern himself to judge it; and so by an undue way of arguing, had concluded themselves into atheism, the very height of wickedness. That this is likely enough, our age confirms, in which unpunished enormities are atheists’ arguments against God and his providence; and unless he damn them, they will not believe the being of a God. But such must remember, they shall know and believe it at last, if not too late. Ye have wearied the Lord with your words,.... As well as with their actions; see Isaiah 43:24 this is said after the manner of men, they saying those things which were displeasing and provoking to him, and which he could not bear to hear; or otherwise weariness properly cannot be attributed to God:

Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? as if they were clear and innocent; or, as the Targum, "if ye should say"; though they might not express themselves in words in such an impudent manner; yet should they say so in their hearts, or supposing they should utter such words with their lips, out of the abundance of their evil hearts, the answer is ready:

When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; which they concluded from the prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous; so murmuring at, and complaining of, the providence of God; he acting as if he delighted in wicked men, and as if they that did evil were the most grateful and acceptable to him:

or, if this was not the case,

Where is the God of judgment? why does he not arise and show himself to be a God that judgeth the earth, by taking vengeance on the wicked, and granting prosperity to his people? De Dieu takes these last words to be the words of the prophet, and thinks that is a particle of exclamation, and should be rendered "O"; and that the prophet expresses his wonder at the patience and longsuffering of God in bearing such impiety and blasphemy as before delivered. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are, "where is the God of righteousness?" either God the Father, who is righteous in all his ways, and faithful in the fulfilment of all his promises; or, Christ the Lord our righteousness, who was to come, and is come into this world for judgment, as well as to bring in an everlasting righteousness. This may be considered as a scoff of wicked men at the long delay of the Messiah's coming, when they expected outward prosperity and happiness; just as the scoffers in the last day will mock at the promise of his second coming, 2 Peter 3:3 and so the words, with which the next chapter begins Malachi 3:1, are an answer to these.

Ye have {d} wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth {e} evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of {f} judgment?

(d) You murmur against God, because he did not hear you as soon as you called.

(e) In thinking that God favoured the wicked, and had no respect for those that serve him.

(f) Thus they blasphemed God in condemning his power and justice, because he did not judge according to their imaginings.

Ch. Malachi 2:17 to Malachi 3:6. Rebuke of the people for profane impiety

17. With another abrupt transition the prophet passes to a new though cognate subject. The abuses in connection with Divine worship and the social evils which he has already rebuked culminate in avowed unbelief (with your words), as to the justice of Almighty God and His moral government of the world. Though the righteous Judge be strong and patient, yet is He “wearied”, His longsuffering worn out, by blasphemous charges of favouring and delighting in the wicked, or by the profane challenge to shew Himself, if He be indeed “the God of judgment”.

wearied] Comp. Isaiah 43:23-24.

Where is, &c.] Comp. Isaiah 5:19; 2 Peter 3:4.Verse 17-ch. 4:6. - Part III. THE DAY OF THE LORD. Verse 17-ch. 3:6. - § 1. The faithless people, disheartened by present circumstances, doubted God's providence, and disbelieved his promises; but the prophet announces the coming of the Lord to judgment, preceded by his messenger. He shall refine his people and exterminate sinners. Verse 17. - Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. This is the introduction to the new section. The prophet makes his charge. The faithless multitude have, as it were, worn out God's patience by their murmuring and discontent. Because their expectations of prosperity and glory were not at once fulfilled, they called in question God's justice and holiness, and even the future judgment. The LXX. connects this verse with the preceding, Καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐγκαταλίπητε οἱ παροξύναντες τὸν Θεὸν ἐν τοῖς λόγοις ὑμῶν "And forsake them not, ye who provoked God with your words" But it is best to take this as the beginning of a new subject. Yet ye say. This is the usual sceptical objection. Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord. They complain that, though they are (Jolt's peculiar people, they are left in low estate, while the heathen, men that "do evil," are happy and prosperous (comp. Psalm 37, 73.). He delighteth in them. They choose to consider that the worldly prosperity of the heathen is a sign of God's special favour, or else that he acts unjustly. Where is the God of judgment? (Isaiah 30:18). Why does not God perform his promises to Israel, and execute vengeance on the enemy?

The meaning of this is explained in Zechariah 6:12-15. Zechariah 6:12. "And speak to him, saying, Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold a man, His name is Tsemach (Sprout), and from His place will He sprout up, and build the temple of Jehovah. Zechariah 6:13. And He will build the temple of Jehovah, and He will carry loftiness, and will sit and rule upon His throne, and will be a priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between them both. Zechariah 6:14. And the crown will be to Chelem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedahjah, and the favour of the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of Jehovah. Zechariah 6:15. And they that are far off will come and build at the temple of Jehovah; then will ye know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me to you; and it will come to pass, if ye hearken to the voice of Jehovah your God." Two things are stated in these verses concerning the crown: (1) In Zechariah 6:12 and Zechariah 6:13 the meaning is explained of the setting of the crown upon the head of Joshua the high priest; and (2) in Zechariah 6:14, Zechariah 6:15, an explanation is given of the circumstance, that the crown had been made of silver and gold presented by men of the captivity. The crowning of Joshua the high priest with a royal crown, which did not properly belong to the high priest as such, as his headdress is neither called a crown (‛ătârâh) nor formed part of the insignia of royal dignity and glory, had a typical significance. It pointed to a man who would sit upon his throne as both ruler and priest, that is to say, would combine both royalty and priesthood in his own person and rank. The expression "Speak thou to him" shows that the words of Jehovah are addressed to Joshua, and to him alone (אליו is singular), and therefore that Zerubbabel must not be interpolated into Zechariah 6:11 along with Joshua. The man whom Joshua is to represent or typify, by having a crown placed upon his head, is designated as the Messiah, by the name Tsemach (see at Zechariah 3:8); and this name is explained by the expression מתּחתּיו יצמח. These words must not be taken impersonally, in the sense of "under him will it sprout" (lxx, Luth., Calov., Hitzig, Maurer, and others); for this thought cannot be justified from the usage of the language, to say nothing of its being quite remote from the context, since we have מתּחתּיו, and not תּחתּיו (under him); and moreover, the change of subject in יצמח and וּבנה would be intolerably harsh. In addition to this, according to Jeremiah 33:15, the Messiah is called Tsemach, because Jehovah causes a righteous growth to spring up to David, so that Tsemach is the sprouting one, and not he who makes others or something else to sprout. מתּחתּיו, "from under himself," is equivalent to "from his place" (Exodus 10:23), i.e., from his soil; and is correctly explained by Alting in Hengstenberg thus: "both as to his nation and as to his country, of the house of David, Judah, and Abraham, to whom the promises were made." It also contains an allusion to the fact that He will grow from below upwards, from lowliness to eminence.

This Sprout will build the temple of the Lord. That these words do not refer to the building of the earthly temple of stone and wood, as Ros. and Hitzig with the Rabbins suppose, is so obvious, that even Koehler has given up this view here, and understands the words, as Hengstenberg, Tholuck, and others do, as relating to the spiritual temple, of which the tabernacle and the temples of both Solomon and Zerubbabel were only symbols, the temple which is the church of God itself (Hosea 8:1; 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 3:6; and Ephesians 2:21-22). Zechariah not only speaks of this temple here, but also in Zechariah 4:9, as Haggai had done before him, in Haggai 2:6-9, which puts the correctness of our explanation of these passages beyond the reach of doubt. The repetition of this statement in Zechariah 6:13 is not useless, but serves, as the emphatic והוּא before this and the following sentence shows, to bring the work of the Tsemach into connection with the place He will occupy, in other words, to show the glory of the temple to be built. The two clauses are to be linked together thus: "He who will build the temple, the same will carry eminence." There is no "antithesis to the building of the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel" (Koehler) in והוּא; but this is quite as foreign to the context as another view of the same commentator, viz., that Zechariah 6:13 interrupts the explanation of what the shoot is to be. הוד, eminence, is the true word for regal majesty (cf. Jeremiah 22:18; 1 Chronicles 29:25; Daniel 11:21). In this majesty He will sit upon His throne and rule, also using His regal dignity and power for the good of His people, and will be a Priest upon His throne, i.e., will be at once both Priest and King upon the throne which He assumes. The rendering, "And there will be a priest upon His throne" (Ewald and Hitzig), is precluded by the simple structure of the sentences, and still more by the strangeness of the thought which it expresses; for the calling of a priest in relation to God and the people is not to sit upon a throne, but to stand before Jehovah (cf. Judges 20:28; Deuteronomy 17:12). Even the closing words of this verse, "And a counsel of peace will be between them both," do not compel us to introduce a priest sitting upon the throne into the text by the side of the Tsemach ruling upon His throne. שׁניהם cannot be taken as a neuter in the sense of "between the regal dignity of the Messiah and His priesthood" (Capp., Ros.), and does not even refer to the Tsemach and Jehovah, but to the Mōshēl and Kōhēn, who sit upon the throne, united in one person, in the Tsemach. Between these two there will be ‛ătsath shâlōm. This does not merely mean, "the most perfect harmony will exist" (Hofmann, Umbreit), for that is a matter of course, and does not exhaust the meaning of the words. ‛Atsath shâlōm, counsel of peace, is not merely peaceful, harmonious consultation, but consultation which has peace for its object; and the thought is the following: The Messiah, who unites in Himself royalty and priesthood, will counsel and promote the peace of His people.

This is the typical meaning of the crowning of the high priest Joshua. But another feature is added to this. The crown, which has been placed upon the head of Joshua, to designate him as the type of the Messiah, is to be kept in the temple of the Lord after the performance of this act, as a memorial for those who bring the silver and gold from the exiles in Babel, and לחן בּן־צ, i.e., for the favour or grace of the son of Zephaniah. Chēn is not a proper name, or another name for Josiah, but an appellative in the sense of favour, or a favourable disposition, and refers to the favour which the son of Zephaniah has shown to the emigrants who have come from Babylon, by receiving them hospitably into his house. For a memorial of these men, the crown is to be kept in the temple of Jehovah. The object of this is not merely "to guard it against profanation, and perpetuate the remembrance of the givers" (Kliefoth); but this action has also a symbolical and prophetic meaning, which is given in Zechariah 6:15 in the words, "Strangers will come and build at the temple of the Lord." Those who have come from the far distant Babylon are types of the distant nations who will help to build the temple of the Lord with their possessions and treasures. This symbolical proceeding therefore furnishes a confirmation of the promise in Haggai 2:7, that the Lord will fill His temple with the treasures of all nations. By the realization of what is indicated in this symbolical proceeding, Israel will perceive that the speaker has been sent to them by the Lord of hosts; that is to say, not that Zechariah has spoken by the command of God, but that the Lord has sent the angel of Jehovah. For although in what precedes, only the prophet, and not the angel of Jehovah, has appeared as acting and speaking, we must not change the "sending" into "speaking" here, or take the formula וידעתּם כּי וגו in any other sense here than in Zechariah 2:13, Zechariah 3:2, and Zechariah 4:9. We must therefore assume, that just as the words of the prophet pass imperceptibly into words of Jehovah, so here they pass into the words of the angel of Jehovah, who says concerning himself that Jehovah has sent him. The words conclude with the earnest admonition to the hearers, that they are only to become partakers of the predicted good when they hearken to the voice of their God. The sentence commencing with והיה does not contain any aposiopesis; there is no valid ground for such an assumption as this in the simple announcement, which shows no trace of excitement; but vehâhâh may be connected with the preceding thought, "ye will know," etc., and affirms that they will only discern that the angel of Jehovah has been sent to them when they pay attention to the voice of their God. Now, although the recognition of the sending of the angel of the Lord involves participation in the Messianic salvation, the fact that this recognition is made to depend upon their giving heed to the word of God, by no means implies that the coming of the Messiah, or the participation of the Gentiles in His kingdom, will be bound up with the fidelity of the covenant nation, as Hengstenberg supposes; but the words simply declare that Israel will not come to the knowledge of the Messiah or to His salvation, unless it hearkens to the voice of the Lord. Whoever intentionally closes his eyes, will be unable to see the salvation of God.

The question whether the prophet really carried out the symbolical action enjoined upon him in Zechariah 6:10., externally or not, can neither be answered in the affirmative nor with a decided negative. The statement in Zechariah 6:11, that the prophet who was hardly a goldsmith, was to make the crown, is no more a proof that it was not actually done, than the talmudic notice in Middoth iii., concerning the place where the crown was hung up in the temple, is a proof that it was. For עשׂית in Zechariah 6:11 may also express causing to be made; and the talmudic notice referred to does not affirm that this crown was kept in the temple, but simply states that in the porch of the temple there were beams stretching from one wall to the other, and that golden chains were fastened to them, upon which the priestly candidates climbed up and saw crowns; and the verse before us is then quoted, with the formula שׁנאמר as a confirmation of this.

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