Malachi 3:6
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) For I am the Lord, I change not.—Better, For I Jehovah change not. Because it is the Eternal’s unchangeable will that the sons of Jacob, His chosen people, should not perish as a nation, He will purify them by the eradication of the wicked among them, that the remnant (the superior part; see Note on Malachi 2:15) may return to their allegiance. (Comp. Romans 11) Ewald renders the words: For I, the LORD, have not changed: hut ye sons of Jacob, have ye not altered? But the last verb does not mean “to alter;” and, moreover, the former translation is exactly in accordance with the wording of the prayer in Ezra 9:14-15.

Malachi

THE LAST WORD OF PROPHECY

THE UNCHANGING LORD

Malachi 3:6
.

The scriptural revelations of the divine Name are always the basis of intensely practical admonition. The Bible does not think it worth while to proclaim the Name of God without building on the proclamation promises or commandments. There is no ‘mere theology’ in Scripture; and it does not speak of ‘attributes,’ nor give dry abstractions of infinitude, eternity, omniscience, unchangeableness, but lays stress on the personality of God, which is so apt to escape us in these abstract conceptions, and thus teaches us to think of this personal God our Father, as infinite, eternal, knowing all things, and never changing. There is all the difference in our attitude towards the very same truth if we think of the unchangeableness of God, or if we think that our Father God is unchangeable. In our text the thought of Him as unchanging comes into view as the foundation of the continuance of the unfaithful sons of Jacob in their privileges and in their very lives. ‘I am the Lord,’ Jehovah, the Self-existent, the Eternal whose being is not under the limitations of succession and time. ‘Because I am Jehovah, I change not’; and because Jehovah changes not, therefore our finite and mortal selves abide, and our infinite and sinful selves are still the objects of His steadfast love.

Let us consider, first, the unchangeable God, and second, the unchanging God as the foundation of our changeful lives.

I. The unchangeable God.

In the great covenant-name Jehovah there is revealed an existence which reverses all that we know of finite and progressive being, or finite and mortal being, or finite and variable nature. With us there are mutations arising from physical nature. The material must needs be subject to laws of growth and decadence. Our spiritual nature is subject to changes arising from the advancement in knowledge. Our moral nature is subject to fluctuations; circumstances play upon us, and ‘nothing continueth in one stay.’ Change is the condition of life. It means growth and happiness; it belongs to the perfection of creatures. But the unchangeableness of God is the negation of all imperfection, it is the negation of all dependence on circumstances, it is the negation of all possibility of decay or exhaustion, it is the negation of all caprice. It is the assurance that His is an underived, self-dependent being, and that with Him is the fountain of light; it is the assurance that, raised above the limits of time and the succession of events, He is in the eternal present, where all things that were and are, and are to come, stand naked and open. It is the assurance that the calm might of His eternal will acts, not in spasms of successive volitions preceded by a period of indecision and equilibrium between contending motives, but is one continuous uniform energy, never beginning, never bending, never ending; that the purpose of His will is ‘the eternal purpose which He hath purposed in Himself.’ It is the assurance that the clear vision of His infinite knowledge, from the heat of which nothing is hid, has no stages of advancement, and no events lying nebulous in a dim horizon by reason of distance, or growing in clearness as they draw nearer, but which pierces the mists of futurity and the veils of the past and the infinities of the present, and ‘from the beginning to the end knoweth all things.’ It is the assurance that the mighty stream of love from the heart of God is not contingent on the variations of our character and the fluctuations of our poor hearts, but rises from His deep well, and flows on for ever, ‘the river of God’ which ‘is full of water.’ It is the assurance that round all the majesty and the mercy which He has revealed for our adoration and our trust there is the consecration of permanence, that we might have a rock on which to build and never be confounded. Is there anywhere in the past an act of His power, a word of His lip, a revelation of His heart which has been a strength or a joy or a light to any man? It is valid for me, and is intended for my use. ‘He fainteth not, nor is weary.’ The bush burns and is not consumed. ‘I will not alter the thing that has gone out of my lips.’ ‘By two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we have strong consolation.’

II. The unchanging God as the foundation of our changeful lives.

In the most literal sense our text is true. Because He lives we live also. He is the same for ever, therefore we are not consumed. The foundation of our being lies beyond and beneath all the mutable things from which we are tempted to believe that we draw our lives, and is in God. The true lesson to be drawn from the mutable phenomena of earth is-heaven. The many links in the chain must have a staple. Reason requires that behind all the fleeting shall be the permanent. There must be a basis which does not partake of change. The lesson from all the mutable creation is the immutable God.

Since God changes not, the life of our spirits is not at the mercy of changing events. We look back on a lifetime of changing scenes through which we have passed, and forward to a similar succession, and this mutability is sad to many of us, and in some aspects sad to all, so powerless we are to fix and arrest any of our blessings. Which we shall keep we know not; we only know that, as certainly as buds and blossoms of spring drop, and the fervid summer darkens to November fogs and December frosts, so certainly we shall have to part with much in our passage through life. But if we let God speak to us, the necessary changes that come to us will not be harmful but blessed, for the lesson that the mutability of the mutual is meant to impress upon us is, the permanency of the divine, and our dependence, not on them, but on Him. We may look upon all the world of time and chance and think that He who Himself is unchanging changeth all. The eye of the tempest is a point of rest. The point in the heavens towards which, according to some astronomers, the whole of the solar system is drifting, is a fixed point. If we depend on Him, then change is not all sad; it cannot take God away, but it may bring us nearer to Him. We cannot be desolate as long as we have Him. We know not what shall be on the morrow. Be it so; it will be God’s to-morrow. When the leaves drop we can see the rock on which the trees grow; and when changes strip the world for us of some of its waving beauty and leafy shade, we may discern more clearly the firm foundation on which our hopes rest. All else changes. Be it so; that will not kill us, nor leave us utterly forlorn as long as we hear the voice which says, ‘I am the Lord; I change not; therefore ye are not consumed.’

God’s purposes and promises change not, therefore our faith may rest on Him, notwithstanding our own sins and fluctuations. It is this aspect of the divine immutability which is the thought of our text. God does not turn from His love, nor cancel His promises, nor alter His purposes of mercy because of our sins. If God could have changed, the godless forgetfulness of, and departure from, Him of ‘the Sons of Jacob’ would have driven Him to abandon His purposes; but they still live-living evidences of His long-suffering. And in that preservation of them God would have them see the basis of hope for the future. So this is the confidence with which we should cheer ourselves when we look upon the past, and when we anticipate the future. The sins that have been in our past have deserved that we should have been swept away, but we are here still. Why are we? Why do we yet live? Because we have to do with an unchanging love, with a faithfulness that never departs from its word, with a purpose of blessing that will not be turned aside. So let us look back with this thought and be thankful; let us look forward with it and be of good cheer. Trust yourself, weak and sinful as you are, to that unchanging love. The future will have in it faults and failures, sins and shortcomings, but rise from yourself to God. Look beyond the light and shade of your own characters, or of earthly events to the central light, where there is no glimmering twilight, no night, ‘no variableness nor shadow of turning.’ Let us live in God, and be strong in hope. Forward, not backward, let us look and strive; so our souls, fixed and steadied by faith in Him, will become in a manner partakers of His unchangeableness; and we too in our degree will be able to say, ‘The Lord is at my side; I shall not be moved.’

Malachi 3:6. I am the Lord — Hebrew, Jehovah; I change not — In my nature or perfections there is no change, or shadow of turning, and therefore I have and always must have an unchangeable hatred to all sin: and my long- suffering also changes not, and therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed — Are not destroyed and sent into eternal misery in your sins. God’s wisdom also changes not, but remains the same to dispense rewards to the good, and punishments to the wicked, in the fittest season, and therefore neither the one nor the other are consumed, but preserved to the time appointed of God. Or, the sense may be, Because I am the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, as my name Jehovah imports, and I am true to my former promises, (see Exodus 6:3-6,) therefore you still continue a people, and are not consumed, as your iniquities deserve. And I will still preserve a remnant of you to fulfil to them the promises I made to your fathers: see Romans 11:29.

3:1-6 The first words of this chapter seem an answer to the scoffers of those days. Here is a prophecy of the appearing of John the Baptist. He is Christ's harbinger. He shall prepare the way before him, by calling men to repentance. The Messiah had been long called, He that should come, and now shortly he will come. He is the Messenger of the covenant. Those who seek Jesus, shall find pleasure in him, often when not looked for. The Lord Jesus, prepares the sinner's heart to be his temple, by the ministry of his word and the convictions of his Spirit, and he enters it as the Messenger of peace and consolation. No hypocrite or formalist can endure his doctrine, or stand before his tribunal. Christ came to distinguish men, to separate between the precious and the vile. He shall sit as a Refiner. Christ, by his gospel, shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it, shall regenerate and cleanse souls. He will take away the dross found in them. He will separate their corruptions, which render their faculties worthless and useless. The believer needs not fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Saviour refines his gold. He will take care it is not more intense or longer than is needful for his good; and this trial will end far otherwise than that of the wicked. Christ will, by interceding for them, make them accepted. Where no fear of God is, no good is to be expected. Evil pursues sinners. God is unchangeable. And though the sentence against evil works be not executed speedily, yet it will be executed; the Lord is as much an enemy to sin as ever. We may all apply this to ourselves. Because we have to do with a God that changes not, therefore it is that we are not consumed; because his compassions fail not.I am the Lord, I change not - , better, more concisely, "I, the Lord

I change not - . The proper name of God, "He who Is," involves His unchangeableness. For change implies imperfection; it changes to that which is either more perfect or less perfect: to somewhat which that being, who changes, is not or has not. But God has everything in Himself perfectly. "Thou Alone, O Lord, Art what Thou Art, and Thou Art Who Art. For what is one thing in the whole and another in parts, and wherein is anything subject to change, is not altogether what Is. And what beginneth from not being, and can be conceived, as not being, and only subsisteth through another thing, returns to not-being; and what hath a 'has been,' which now is not, and a 'to be,' which as yet is not, that is not, properly and absolutely. But Thou Art what Thou Art. For whatever Thou Art in any time or "way," that Thou Art wholly and always; and Thou Art, Who Art properly and simply, because Thou hast neither 'to have been' or 'to be about to be;' but only to be present; and canst not be conceived, ever not to have been." "There is only one simple Good, and, therefore, One Alone Unchangeable, which is God."

"Our" life is a "becoming" rather than a simple "being;" it is a continual losing of what we had, and gaining what we had not, for "in as far as any one is not what he was, and is what he was not, so far forth he dieth and ariseth;" dieth to what he was, ariseth to be something otherwise.

"Increase evidences a beginning; decrease, death and destruction. And, therefore, Malachi says, 'I am God, and I change not,' ever retaining His own state of being; because what has no origin cannot be changed."

So the Psalmist says Psalm 102:27, "As a vesture, Thou shalt change them and they shall be changed, but Thou art the Same, and Thy years shall not fail;" and Balaam, controlled by God Numbers 23:19. "God is not a man, that He should lie, or the son of man, that He should repent;" and James 1:17, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Of this unchangeableness of God, His holy ones partake, as far as they fix themselves on God. "The soul of man hangs upon Him, by whom it was made. And because it was made, to desire God Alone, but everything which it desires below is less than He, rightly doth not that suffice it, which is not God. Hence, is it, that the soul is scattered hither and thither, and is repelled from everything, toward which it is borne, through satiety of them. But holy men guard themselves by cautious observation, lest they should be relaxed from their intentness by change, and because they desire to be the same, wisely bind themselves to the thought, whereby they love God. For in the contemplation of the Creator, they will receive this, that they should ever enjoy one stability of mind. No changeableness then dissipates them, because their thought ever perseveres, free from unlikeness to itself. This therefore they now imitate, striving with effort, which hereafter they shall with joy receive as a gift." To which unchangeableness the prophet had bound himself by the power of love, when he said Psalm 27:4, "One thing I required of the Lord, which I will require, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord." To this unity Paul clave intently, when he said, Philippians 3:13-14 : "One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and stretching forth to those things which are before, I press forward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

And ye sons of Jacob are not consumed - Man would often have become weary of man's wickedness and waywardness. We are impatient at one another, readily despair of one another. God might justly have cast off them and us; but He changes not. He abides by the covenant which He made with their fathers; He consumed them not; but with His own unchangeable love awaited their repentance. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God.

6. the Lord—Jehovah: a name implying His immutable faithfulness in fulfilling His promises: the covenant name of God to the Jews (Ex 6:3), called here "the sons of Jacob," in reference to God's covenant with that patriarch.

I change not—Ye are mistaken in inferring that, because I have not yet executed judgment on the wicked, I am changed from what I once was, namely, a God of judgment.

therefore ye … are not consumed—Ye yourselves being "not consumed," as ye have long ago deserved, are a signal proof of My unchangeableness. Ro 11:29: compare the whole chapter, in which God's mercy in store for Israel is made wholly to flow from God's unchanging faithfulness to His own covenant of love. So here, as is implied by the phrase "sons of Jacob" (Ge 28:13; 35:12). They are spared because I am Jehovah, and they sons of Jacob; while I spare them, I will also punish them; and while I punish them, I will not wholly consume them. The unchangeableness of God is the sheet-anchor of the Church. The perseverance of the saints is guaranteed, not by their unchangeable love to God, but by His unchangeable love to them, and His eternal purpose and promise in Christ Jesus [Moore]. He upbraids their ingratitude that they turn His very long-suffering (La 3:22) into a ground for skeptical denial of His coming as a Judge at all (Ps 50:1, 3, 4, 21; Ec 8:11, 12; Isa 57:11; Ro 2:4-10).

This introduceth the final and full confirmation of what hath been foretold in the verses before, the God of judgment will come, &c.

I change not: as he loved righteousness, and hath purposed to defend and reward it, yea, hath promised it shall be well with the righteous, so he now loveth righteousness, and purposeth to deal well with them that love and practise it; these may rejoice, I change not. And so on the other hand, I do, as I ever did, hate wickedness, and will, as I have threatened, punish it; I change not, my mind toward the things or persons that are wicked is the same.

Therefore ye sons of Jacob; either taken for all the natural branches of Jacob, or taken for such as are the sons of Jacob according to the faith, who did indeed fear God.

Are not consumed; since the same hatred of sin and resolution to punish is accompanied with the same longsuffering and patience, that you, sons of Jacob by nature, (but not by imitation,) who have provoked me, and deserve to be destroyed, might yet have time to repent and amend, since my long-suffering changeth not, you are not yet consumed in your sins. So for the good, though they are oppressed and suffer, yet not consumed, for God changeth not, he now doth love as he ever hath loved them, and preserveth them. In brief, God is the same in his wisdom to order the rewards of good and bad in fittest season, and therefore neither the one or other are consumed, but both preserved to the season appointeth of God, the just Judge, and then each shall be dealt with according to what they are.

For I am the Lord,.... Or Jehovah; a name peculiar to the most High, and so a proof of the deity of Christ, who here speaks; and is expressive of his being; of his self-existence; of his purity and simplicity; of his immensity and infinity; and of his eternity and sovereignty:

I change not; being the same today, yesterday, and forever; he changed not in his divine nature and personality by becoming man; he took that into union with him he had not before, but remained the same he ever was; nor did he change in his threatenings of destruction to the Jews, which came upon them according to his word; nor in his promises of his Spirit, and presence, and protection to his people; nor will he ever change in his love and affections to them; nor in the efficacy of his blood, sacrifice, and righteousness; wherefore, as this is introduced to assure the truth and certainty of what is said before, concerning his being a swift witness against the wicked, so also for the comfort of the saints, as follows. The Targum is,

"for I the Lord have not changed my covenant.''

Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed; such who were Israelites indeed, true believers in Christ; these were not consumed when the wicked Jews were, but were directed to leave the city before its destruction, and go to another place, as they did, whereby they were preserved; and so it was, that not one Christian perished in it; See Gill on Matthew 24:13 and so it is owing to the unchangeable love, grace, and power of Christ, that none of his perish internally or eternally, but have everlasting life.

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob {f} are not consumed.

(f) They murmured against God, because they did not see his help which was ever present to defend them: and therefore he accuses them of ingratitude, and shows that in that they are not daily consumed, it is a sign that he still defends them, and so his mercy towards them never changes.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. For I am the Lord, I change not] Rather: For I, the Lord, change not: therefore (lit. and) ye, sons of Jacob, are not consumed. The unchangeableness of Him, whose name, Jehovah, “I am,” is the exponent of His nature, is appealed to as the ground (“for”) of His dealings with Israel. He changes not in His promises and purposes of grace (Romans 11:29); therefore, in spite of their rebellions and provocations, the sons of Jacob are still preserved. It is the same argument that is expanded in Psalm 89:28-37.

Verse 6. - For I am the Lord, I change not; or, Jehovah, I change not. This is to show that God performs his promises, and effectually disposes of the allegation in Malachi 2:17, that he put no difference between the evil and the good. The great principles of right and wrong never alter; they are as everlasting as he who gave them. God here speaks of himself by his covenant name, which expresses his eternal independent being, "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Because God's eternal purpose stands good, and his "gifts and calling are without repentance" (Romans 11:29), therefore the Israelites are indeed chastised and corrected, but not wholly consumed; they have a place and a nation, and the great promises made to their foregathers will all be fulfilled in due time (Jeremiah 30:11; Micah 7:20). He calls them "sons of Jacob," to remind them of the covenant made with their great ancestor, which was the portion of all true Israelites (comp. Jeremiah 33:20, 21). Orelli would read, "Ye have not made an end," i.e. of your sins; so virtually the Septuagint, which joins this clause to the following verse. But the present text is most probably correct. Malachi 3:6Malachi 3:5. "And I will draw near to you to judgment, and will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those who swear for deceit, and those who press down the wages of the hireling, the widow and the orphan, and bow down the foreigner, and fear not me, saith Jehovah of hosts. Malachi 3:6. For I Jehovah, I change not; and ye sons of Israel, ye are not consumed." The refining which the Lord will perform at His coming will not limit itself to the priests, but become a judgment upon all sinners. This judgment is threatened against those who wanted the judgment of God to come, according to Malachi 2:17. To these the Lord will draw near to judgment, and rise up as a swift witness against all the wicked who do not fear Him. The word קרבתּי does not imply that the judgment announced will actually commence at once. The drawing near to judgment takes place in the day of His coming (Malachi 3:2), and this is preceded by the sending of the messenger to prepare the way. The words affirm nothing as to the time of the coming, because this was not revealed to the prophet. Nor is there any intimation on this point in the word ממהר, but simply the announcement that the Lord will come with unexpected rapidity, in contrast with the murmuring of the people at the delay of judgment (Malachi 2:17). ממהר answers substantially to פּתאם in Malachi 3:1. God comes as a practical witness against the wicked, convicting them of their guilt by punishing them. The particular sins mentioned here are such as were grievous sins in the eye of the law, and to some extent were punishable with death. On sorcerers and adulterers see Exodus 22:17; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22. That sorcery was very common among the Jews after the captivity, is evident from such passages as Acts 8:9; Acts 13:6, and from Josephus, Ant. xx. 6, de bell. Jud. ii. 12, 23; and the occurrence of adultery may be inferred from the condemnation of the marriages with heathen wives in Malachi 2:10-16. On false swearing compare Leviticus 19:12. The expression to press the wages of the labourer is unusual, since the only other passage in which עשׁק is construed with a neuter object is Micah 2:2, and in every other case it is applied to persons; for עשׁק שׂכיר compare Leviticus 19:13 and Deuteronomy 24:14-15, to which the reproof refers. אלמנה ויתום are not genitives dependent upon שׂכר, but further objects to עשׁקי. For the fact itself compare Exodus 22:21-23; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19. To מטּי גר we are not to supply משׁפּט, after Deuteronomy 24:17 and Deuteronomy 27:19; but הטּה is used of the person as in Amos 5:12 : to bow down the stranger, i.e., to oppress him unjustly. The words, "and fear not me," point to the source from which all these sins flowed, and refer to all the sinners mentioned before. This threat of judgment is explained in Malachi 3:6 in the double clause: that Jehovah does not change, and the sons of Israel do not perish. Because Jehovah is unchangeable in His purposes, and Israel as the people of God is not to perish, therefore will God exterminate the wicked out of Israel by means of judgment, in order to refine it and shape it according to its true calling. The perfects are used to express established truths. The unchangeableness of God is implied in the name Jehovah, "who is that He is," the absolutely independent and absolutely existing One (see at Genesis 2:4). For the fact itself compare Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; James 1:17. Jehovah is in apposition to 'ănı̄ (I), and not a predicate in the sense of "I am Jehovah" (Luther, Hengstenberg, etc.); this is evident from the parallel ואתּם בּני יעקב (and ye, the sons of Jacob), where no one thinks of taking בני יעק (sons of Jacob) as a predicate. Kâlâh, to come to an end, to be destroyed, as the parallel passage, Jeremiah 30:11, which floated before the prophet's mind, clearly shows. The name "sons of Jacob" (poetical for sons of Israel) is used emphatically, denoting the true members of the people of God, who rightly bear the name of Israel. These do not perish, because their existence rests upon the promise of the unchangeable God (cf. Romans 11:28-29).
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