Criswell Theological Review 2.1 (1987) 39-61

[Copyright © 1987 by Criswell College, cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]









Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201


The path from the "then" of biblical exegesis to the "now" of

biblical preaching always proceeds between borders. On one side

are the times, on the other, timeless principles. The contemporary

preacher must negotiate the path so as to bring the truly universal

teaching of Scripture to bear on conditions similar in some significant

ways to those addressed in Scripture. The path is strewn with debris

from earlier (and sometimes careless) travellers. And we must be sure

we actually remain on the path, lest we find ourselves digressing along

an overgrown trail that leads to a place where nobody lives.

Our plan for this article is to point out some of the significant

landmarks that lie on the path from the prophet Malachi to a genera-

tion approaching the last decade of a phenomenal century. We will

work in two ways. First, we will attempt to mark the path in broad

outline. We will suggest: (a) parallels between the conditions of Mala-

chi's age and those of our own; and (b) major theological themes

addressed to Malachi's audience; and, by application, to us. Second,

we will attempt to develop a preaching program from Malachi.


I. A Practical Theology of Malachi


Malachi and the Malaise of Israel


Most scholars agree that Malachi was written sometime during

the last half of the 5th century B.C. The reader will find extensive

introductory material elsewhere in this Review. The critical point here

is that Malachi's prophecy appears within a strategic nexus of social

and religious realities.




The Social Realities. Just as there were three deportations to

Babylon, there were three returns to Palestine. Zerubbabel returned

with a group of exiles in 536 B.C. After some delay (cf. Haggai and

Zechariah), the people completed the Second Temple in 516 B.C. In

458 B.C., Ezra the Scribe returned with a second group, and labored to

restore the knowledge of the Law (Ezra 7:14, 25-26). In 455 B.C.,

Nehemiah came with a third group. Under his twelve-year governor-

ship, the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt, and numerous reforms

inaugurated (Neh 5:1-13; 13:7-27). If we assume that Malachi dates

from a period following Nehemiah's brief return to Persia (433 B.C.),

then the setting for his ministry is about one century after the end of

the Exile.

During this century of gradual return to the land, several impor-

tant changes occurred in the political environment of Israel. First, the

balance of power in the Near East began to shift from Persia west-

ward toward Greece. The Persians lost the historic Battle of Marathon

in August, 490 B.C. Ten years later they defeated the Spartans at

Thermophylae and briefly occupied Athens; but, Xerxes himself

watched his navy defeated at Salamis in the same year. From that

point on, the Persian government became less and less efficient, and

more and more corrupt and weak, an unnerving experience for Israel.

Second, the people who filled the void left by the deportations

continually frustrated the returning exiles. They evidently taxed the

Jews (Neh 5:4), a burden that lay on top of that imposed by Persia

itself. Some had to borrow money just to buy food and pay taxes

(Neh 5:14-15). These neighbors accused them to the central govern-

ment of Persia (Ezra 4:6; 4:7-23), and physically opposed their work,

so that it had to be done in shifts, with half the men working and half

standing guard (Neh 4:16-18).

The pragmatic realities which awaited the exiles may have proved

more distressing than the political. The situation in Jerusalem was

bleak. The extensive ruins (Neh 4:10), and the inferiority of the

project compared to those of the more glorious past (Ezra 3:12; Hag

2:3), diminished whatever initial enthusiasm may have existed. And

the prospects for a better life seemed no better now. Small wonder

that few in Babylon wanted to return to Israel. Many had grown

accustomed to life there, many knew no other life, and some had


The Religious Realities. The greatest difficulty for Israel lay,

however, in what the Exile and subsequent events did to her identity.

The shattering experience of the Exile raised many questions about

Israel as the people of God. But the post-Exile raised these questions

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        41


in a new way. In the Exile, Israel wondered about the justice of God

in the face of catastrophe. Now she wondered about the presence of

God in the face of life!

Furthermore, the Exile had the advantage of being a trauma.

Traumata summon the reserves of the human spirit. They tend to

purify, to strengthen, even to ennoble. The post-Exile was not trauma;

but, to use the popular description of America's last decade, a "mal-

aise." As G. A. Smith put it, the Jews of Malachi's age were "denied

the stimulus, the purgation, the glory of a great persecution." Instead,

they were "severely left to themselves and to the petty hostilities of

their neighbors."1

Theologically and pragmatically, these were hard realities. After

all, the Jews had returned. They had returned to Yahweh from their

idols. They had returned to Israel from Babylon. They had returned

to build the Temple and the holy city out of its ruin. They had

returned to re-institute the true worship of the true God. It is in this

context of "obedience" that the crisis of God's presence develops.

Once again, Smith is helpful:


[The Jews] entered the period, it is true, with some sense of their

distinction. In exile they had suffered God's anger, and had been purged

by it. But out of discipline often springs pride. . . . The tide of hope,

which rose to flood with [the completion of the Temple], ebbed rapidly

away, and left God's people struggling, like any ordinary tribe of peas-

ants, with bad seasons and the cruelty of their envious neighbors. Their

pride was set on edge. . . . 2


This generation had done the "right things," but God had not re-

ponded in kind.


Malachi and the Crisis in Israel


T. V. Moore pointed out in the last century that whereas "before

the captivity the besetting sins of the Jews were idolatry and supersti-

tion," after the Exile "they were prone to the other extremes of

practical atheism and Epicureanism."3  Israel had indeed lost her dis-

tinctiveness. Out of disappointment and difficulty, she had lost any

sense of the nearness, the power, the glory, the relevance of God. The

irony is that she had thus become essentially pagan--"secularized,"


1 G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets (2 vols; New York: George H,

Doran, n.d.) 2.342.

2 Ibid.,  2.342-43.

3 T. V. Moore, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (1856, reprinted; Philadelphia: Banner

of Truth, 1979) 350.



we might say. In her complaint that her faith did not get her any

advantages, she abdicated her faith. She joined secular culture, then

complained that God did not care! R. Braun puts it finely: "through

[Malachi] God spoke his word to a people sadly disappointed with

the course of events in their time and sorely tempted to give up their

religion as an irrelevant relic from the past."4

The Subtle Crisis of Secularism. Malachi's opening word re-

flects the extraordinary seriousness of this condition. Massa' ("a bur-

den") is rare in the prophets: "It never occurs in the title except when

it is evidently grave and full of weight and labor."5 The "burden"

belongs to Israel: "An oracle (massa): The word of the Lord to Israel.

through Malachi" (1:1). The prophet lays before Israel the reality of a

crisis6 which involves at least three elements.

First, it constitutes a subtle accomodation to the prevailing cul-

ture. G. Campbell Morgan points out in his fine little devotional

commentary that the character of the people was bound up in their

continued defense "wherein?" "Wherein hast Thou loved us," they

asked (1:2), or "despised Thy name" (1:6) and so forth (1:7; 2:17; 3:7;

3:8; 3:13):

They have been boasting themselves in their knowledge of truth, re-

sponding to that knowledge mechanically, technically; .  . . and, when the

prophet tells them what God thinks of them they, with astonishment and

impertinence, look into his face and say, "We don't see this at all!"7


Malachi is a prophet for our age. Certainly Christians suffer

terrible persecution in many parts of the world. But in most of

America and the Western world, the dangers are hidden. Christians

tend to accept dominant cultural values uncritically. Their commit-

ments frequently amount to little more than window dressing. Con-

temporary artist Steve Taylor puts this form of Christianity in the

mouth of his "Christian" politician who proudly declares:


4 R. Braun, "Malachi-A Catechism for Times of Disappointment," Currents in

Theology and Mission 4 (October 1977) 293.

5 Thus Jerome on Hab 1:1. Cited in C. F. Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets

(2 vols.; 1868, reprinted; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 2.3. All Scripture quotations

are NIV unless otherwise indicated.

6 J. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity,

1972) 162.

7 G. Campbell Morgan, Malachi's Message for Today (reprinted; Grand Rapids:

Baker, 1972) 30-31.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        43


I'm devout, I'm sincere, and I'm proud to say,

That it's had exactly no effect on who I am today!8


D. R. Davies has put it more strongly. The sin of our age he

is the enthronement of Man at the centre of life, being and

thought.9 Modern culture seems (quite unconsciously) to assume that

it is within modern man's capacity to erect what is, in effect, a

Christian civilization on a basis of secular belief."10 The real tragedy,

however, is that


Church members are only a degree less secularized in their conscious-

ness than the public that is completely divorced from the Church.

Theoretical appreciation of belief in another world is, of course, stronger

in the Church than in the world. But it is not by any means a dynamic

disturbance in the life of the believer.11


The religion of Israel has ceased to be a "dynamic disturbance." The

danger is universal.


The Relation between Faith and Life. Second, the crisis in

Malachi involves the relation that exists between true faith and real

life. It is a crisis of relevance, that is, of the role God plays in the task

of living. Malachi indicts Judah for leaving God out of life. Their

lifestyles betray a cozy belief that what one did with God on the

Sabbath and what did Sunday through Friday had very little to do

with each other.

Christian psychologist Newton Maloney observes that this sort of

belief permeates contemporary society. He cites the influential "role"

theory of T. R. Sabin who hypothesizes that each individual moves in

five different environments, which together constitute a pattern of

roles leading to identity.12 The five environments are: (1) physical

(including the body and natural environment); (2) situational (one's

cultural life, including work, play and the like); (3) interpersonal (the

people with whom one interacts); (4) idealistic (one's goals, ambi-

tions, values and so forth); and (5) transcendental (one's experience


8 S. Taylor, "It's a Personal Thing" (Waco: Word Records, 1985).

9 D.R. Davies, The Sin of Our Age (New York: Macmillan, 1947) 23.

10 Ibid 12.5

11  Ibid.,61.

12 T. R. Sabin, "A Role Theory Perspective for Community Psychology: The

of Social Identity," Community Psychology and Mental Health (ed. D. Adel-

son and B. L. Kalis; Scranton: Chandler, 1970) 89-113.



of or with God, or the supernatural). Maloney illustrates the

this way:



a combination of one's status in all life roles


           thoughts, words, feelings, and actions leading
                                      to status and satisfaction

Physical    Situational     Interpersonal    Ideal        Transcendental13


Maloney goes on to point out that while Sabin is right to include God

in human identity, he is wrong to make God just one more among


Malachi would emphatically agree. God will not be one among

equals. One may live as though God were irrelevant, but God is still

relevant! Disaster follows the relegation of God to the periphery of

life. The priests may forsake the covenant of Levi, perhaps thinking

they will be more in tune with the times (2:7-8), but it explodes

before their eyes: "So I have caused you to be despised and humili-

ated before all the people"(2:9). And those who accept the pagan

view of marriage and sexuality uncritically (2:11) produce innumer-

able sorrows (2:13), destroy family life (2:15), and degrade themselves

("so guard yourself in your spirit," 2:15; 2:16).

Perhaps we may borrow again from Davies. He points to three

remarkable paradoxes that have ensued from the coronation of man:

(1) The "abolition of other-worldliness" has failed to produce a better

world here and now; (2) The "dissolution of the spirit" of man has

failed to produce a better knowledge of humanity; and (3) The

anthropocentric faith has actually resulted in "the degradation of the

human person."15 Accomodation is a subtle crisis, but a real one. In

trying to be relevant to culture, we make God irrelevant. But God will

never be irrelevant. He is eternally contemporary.


13 H. N. Maloney, "Introduction," Wholeness and Holiness (ed. H. N. Maloney;

Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983) 21.

14 Ibid., 25.

15 Davies, Sin, 58-123.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        45


The Meaning and Value of Covenant. Third, the crisis in Mala-

chi centers on the meaning and value of covenant. The word for

"covenant" (berit) occurs six times in the prophecy (2:4; 2:5; 2:8; 2:10;

2:14; 3:1), but the idea permeates the book.16  And it has immense

homiletical significance.

It is of course well-established that various legal, contractual

agreements were known in the ancient world, and that many of the

essential features of these covenants appear in various biblical con-

texts.17 However, the biblical covenant is not merely a legal device. In

G. Quell's words, it "is a legal transaction for which there is no

analogy in the circle of experience"18 precisely because it is not,

strictly speaking, legal. It is personal and relational, as well as regula-

tive, judicial, normative, and obligatory. Quell seems to struggle put-

ting its exact character into words. He calls it "a regulated form of a

fellowship between God and man or man and God" (and, at times,

man and man as well).19 He also describes it as "a medium in man's

relation to God which is designed to promote reflection"20

These and similar definitions yield three distinctive features of

berit.  First, covenant is a personal relationship: "The Presence of

YHVH is built into the structure" of covenant.21 Second, the covenant

is a committed relationship. This explains why berit and hesed ("loyal

love") are so closely linked, even equated (cf. Deut 7:9). Covenant is

not mere friendliness, compassion, mercy, or benevolence. It is com-

mitted relationship.22 Third, covenant is a responsible relationship,

that is, a relationship which has a norm by which it can be evaluated.

The contemporary implications of these three features of covenant

could be guessed by making a simple comparison. Think, for example,

of the modern notion of "relationship," recurring so frequently in the

media. Now think of Malachi's powerful contention that marriage is a

"covenant" (2:14)--a "personal, committed, responsible relationship!"


16 For example, 1:2 reminds of God's covenant faithfulness; 3:10-12 renews the

covenant promises for renewed faithfulness; the hortatory summary of 4:4 is a charge

to return to the Law around which the covenant was established (cf. Exod 19:5; Exod

7-8). S. L. McKinzie and H. N. Wallace ("Covenant Themes in Malachi," CBQ 45

549) suggest the possibility of interpreting the entire book around the concept.

17 G. E. Mendenhall, "Covenant," IDB 714-21.

18 G. Quell and J. Behm, "diati<qhmi, diaqh<kh," TDNT 2 (1964) 110.

19 Ibid., 109.

20 Ibid., n. 25. The thought is borrowed from J. Wellhausen.

21 J. Jocz, The Covenant: A Theology of Human Destiny (Grand Rapids: Eerd-

mans, 1968) 51.

22 See E. Jacob (Theology of the Old Testament [New York: Harper and Row,

1958] 104- 7) for an excellent discussion of this point.



These implications profoundly shape our applications of the messages

of this book, to which we now turn.


II. A Preaching Program from Malachi


Malachi's prophecy might be summarized as a call to distinctive

and discerning godliness. His message might therefore be themati-

cized as follows: "Do not exchange treasures for trifles, your birthright

for a bowl of soup." This is a crisis of relevance. "Do not suppose,"

the prophet declares, "that a bankrupt and skeptical culture can give

you something God cannot."

Following E. Clendenen's fine structural analysis,23 we may struc-

ture a preaching program developing this central theme from the

specific "problems" pinpointed by Malachi. Taking 1:1-5 as a sum-

mary introduction, each of the problems which appear subsequently

can be thought of as resultant, or consequent, or perhaps concomitant

"crises of secularism." We might envision a preaching program, there-

fore, which grows out of six crises:


1. The Crisis of Identity (1:1-5)

2. The Crisis of Commitment (1:6-9; 2:1-5)

3. The Crisis of Responsibility (1:10-14; 2:6-9)

4. The Crisis of Marriage (2:10-16)

5. The Crisis of Lifestyle (2:17-3:5)

6. The Crisis of Hope (3:6-4:6)


We will take up each of these sections individually. Rather than

simply outline possible sermons, we will suggest a preaching thesis for

each section, while developing some potential homiletical themes.


The Subtle Crisis of Identity (1:1-5)

The opening section of chap. one documents the subtle decline of

Judah into secularism. The literary device by which this takes place is

a tacit juxtaposition of Israel and Edom.24 Edom may boast proudly,

"Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins" (v 4); but

Judah asks cynically, "How have you loved us?" (v 2). Sigmund Freud

once said that religion is harmful because it keeps people from facing

their problems wholeheartedly and head on.25 Religion was to him

more pathetic than wrong. We can sense something of that here. Both


23 Cf. his article in this volume of the Review.

24 For a fine discussion of this curious structure, see C. D. Isbell, Malachi: A Study

Guide Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980) 33-36.

25 S. Freud, The Future of an Illusion (Garden City: Doubleday, 1927) 67-68.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        47


Edom and Judah make God irrelevant--but at least Edom has the

dignity of consistency! Perhaps the only real difference between pure

secularism and apathetic religionism is that one overtly emphasizes

human ability while the other covertly emphasizes God's inability.

These verses point to a sense of God's love as the true character

of Israel's crisis. Herein lies the strength of W. Kaiser's suggestion that

the love of God constitutes the central argument of, and key to, the

prophecy: "God has, and continues, to love us, and no amount of

doubting, objecting, or arguing will remove this fact."26

The loss of the experiential knowledge of the love of God is

really a loss of identity as the people of God. Psychologically speak-

ing, identity is the operative assumption about who one is. As parents

of adolescents know well, identity is a profound accomplishment,

affecting virtually everything that follows. The prophet's opening

thrust, therefore, speaks to all of life: Build your lives on the supreme

fact that God always love you.

J. A. T. Robinson's startling Honest to God of 1963 shows how

critical this foundation is. Robinson, an English bishop, acknowledged

that in many discussions "between a Christian and a humanist, I catch

myself realizing that most of my sympathies are on the humanist's

side."27 He suggested that both an existentialist like Camus and a

thinking Christian share in, and speak to, a humanity "for whom the

consolation of religion, the deus ex machina, the god-hypothesis, are

dead beyond recall."28 In a bold move, Robinson concluded that the

Christian is one who, in that milieu, can still be open to the "divine"

agape "of the universe."29 The Christian determines to love selflessly

simply because love is the ultimate reality.

Robinson was not naive. He knew the implications of these re-

interpretations: "It will condition everything,"30 he declared; and, it

did. A decade later, J. I. Packer wrote a rebuttal. Two trends, he said,

characterize modern Christian minds: (1) That "They have been con-

formed to the modern spirit;" and (2) That "They have been confused

by the modern scepticism." Packer noted that a century ago C. H.

Spurgeon "described the wobblings he then saw among Baptists on

Scripture, atonement and human destiny as 'the down-grade.'" Could

he survey Protestant thinking about God at the present time, Packer

said, "I guess he would speak of 'the nose-dive!' "31 We are courting


26 W. Kaiser, Malachi: God's Unchanging Love (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984) 13.

27 J. A. T. Robinson, Honest to God (London: SCM, 1963) 8.

28 Ibid., 129.

29 Ibid., 130.

30 Ibid., 133.

31 J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973) 7.



disaster, for knowing God is the "most practical project anyone can

engage in." Packer's conclusion offers a fit illustration for the situation

of Malachi's Judah:


As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London,

put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as

one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we

are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing

about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a

strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant

business, for those who do not know about God.32


The Subtle Crisis of Commitment (1:6-9; 2:1-5)


The word "relationship" activates the popular imagination. There

are "open" relationships, "distressed" relationships, "creative," "grow-

ing," and "stagnant" relationships. There is relationship "enhance-

ment," "theory," and "therapy." A dictionary kind of definition

probably expresses the contemporary understanding as well as

any thing--a relationship is just an emotional connection between


As vital as relationships are to human life, Malachi insists that

they are not truly satisfying unless they are qualified in some impor-

tant ways. He frequently uses the concept of covenant to express

these qualifications. As we noted earlier, covenant relationship exists

only in terms of commitment and responsibility. In a very general

way, and without pressing the point, this section from 1:6-2:9 ad-

dresses these two dimensions in order.

"Commitment" is the focal point of Malachi's first indictment

against Israel: "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I

am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is

the respect due me?" (1:6) Interestingly, Malachi charges the people

through the priests. One might have expected them to sustain their

commitment even in troubled times. More importantly, one might

expect that priests need not be reminded of the basic imperative of

obedience. Indeed, this irony yields the point of the section. Obedi-

ence is the primary demand of God on his people. God surely desires

our love; but, first he demands our respect!

Commitment elevates relationships above the merely emotional.

First, commitment acknowledges what is due. Second, commitment

involves the whole self. That is the difference between "interest" and

"commitment." One may nurse an interest in the theological concept

of God's "fatherhood." But commitment makes God "my father."


32 Ibid., 14.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        49


These people retain an attachment to the philosophical system of

Yahweh-religion, but they do "not lay it to heart to give glory to my

name" (2:2). Third, commitment performs. Her inferior and half-

hearted exercises prove that Israel lacks commitment (1:8). Excel-

lence (or lack of it) reflects basic commitment.33

Finally, and perhaps the most sobering thought of all, basic

commitments ultimately constitute character. There are several hints

of this truth.34 But 2:5 is explicit: "My covenant was with him, a

covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for

reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name." In

leaving the commitment to God, the priest left the covenant by which

"life and salvation were guaranteed and granted to him."35 We all

ultimately become our commitments.


The Subtle Crisis of Responsibility (1:10-14; 2:6-9)


Like the obverse and reverse of a coin, commitment and respon-

sibility surround, define and qualify relationships. Commitment is

the subjective, personal dimension of relationships, while responsi-

bilty is the objective, interpersonal dimension. The peculiar subtlety

of this third crisis seems to emerge from Malachi's remarkable use of

irony.  The prophet appears to give two clear examples of Israel's lost

distinctiveness while pointing to broad applications of this loss for

Israel's life.

The first irony consists of a contrast between the worship of

Israel's priests and that of the nations. God rejects the former, then


"My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting

of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to

my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the

Lord Almighty (1:11).


The precise meaning of this verse is disputed. However, unless we

see a reference to overt universalism,36 it makes little difference


33 A fascinating illustration of this elemental truth comes from the best selling

of American business by T. J. Peters and R. H. Waterman, Jr., In Search of

Excellence (New York: Warner, 1982). The authors note that the truly "excellent

have incorporated "the values and practices of . . . great leaders" (p. 26,

added). They succeed because they "are so effective in engendering . . . .com-

mitment (p.55).

34 Cf. 1:10, "I am not pleased with you;" 2:2, "I will curse your blessings" (which

priests treasured as symbols of status and position).

35 Keil, "Malachi," 2.445.

36 Cf. G. A. Smith, Prophets, 359-60.



homiletically whether it refers futuristically to the church's worship,37

to the presence of genuine belief among some Gentiles,38 or to the

unintended worship of God in pagan forms.39 In any of these cases,

the indictment against Israel is the same. They who should affect the

consciousness of the whole world with the knowledge of God lan-

guish in bored semi-consciousness.

There is something profoundly contemporary and convicting

about this scenario. God is God whether anyone believes it or not. But

somehow the loss of wonder and awe at the knowledge of this God

assumes tragic proportions. God has placed in human hands the

responsibility of making himself known. When those people lose the

sense of God's power and nearness, the tragedy is irredeemable.

Malachi's point here is disturbing: God expects his people to impact

culture, not invest in it.

A second irony develops around the priest's specific responsibili-

ties to the people of Israel. The priest was appointed to teach the

truth, live the truth and impart the truth (2:7). But Malachi suggests

not only that the priests failed with their responsibilities, but that they

failed in a particularly unsettling way:


"But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused

many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the

Lord Almighty. "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated

before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have

shown partiality in matters of the Law" (2:8-9).


Perhaps the meaning of this judgment lies in this. In difficult times, the

priests had responded to the questions and doubts of the people not

with courage, hope and confidence in the veracity of God; but with

compromise and neglect. Like parents trying to be "buddies” to their

children, like churches that soft-pedal the gospel, like countless Chris-

tians who compromise their positions, the priests tried to be "rele-

vant." The irony, of course, is that the plan backfires (2:9). Not many

people have the stomach for someone who accommodates, who rides

the fence of commitment, who refuses to stand up for fear of being

counted. The only position of influence is still distinctive, committed



37 J. Packard, "The Book of Malachi," Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (re-

printed ed. J. P. Lange; 12 vols.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960) 7.12. Cf. also Keil,

"Malachi," 2.438.

38 H. Wolf, Haggai, Malachi: Rededication and Renewal (Chicago: Moody, 1976)

72-74. J. Swetnam ("Malachi 1, 11: An Interpretation," CBQ 31 [1969] 200-9) offers a

variation that the reference is to actual cultus in the synagogue.

39 E. Cashdan, "Malachi," The Twelve Prophets (ed. A. Cohen; London/Jeru-

salem: Soncino, 1948) 340-41.



It is an inescapable fact. A position of influence carries a pre-

sumption of responsibility. This is what makes covenant relationships

so significant. Committed, responsible relationships have the potential

for lasting, godly influence.


Subtle Crisis of Marriage (2:10-16)


This dynamic interplay of commitment and responsibility takes

on visible form as Malachi's prophecy shifts from principle to practice

in the second movement (2:10-3:6). Two problems dominate the

movement--marriage (2:10-16) and lifestyle (2:17-3:6).

It is tempting to ask why Malachi chose marriage as the starting

point for application. We are not told, of course. The law prohibited

religious intermarriage (cf. Deut 7:3), and Nehemiah sternly rebuked

the practice (Neh 13:23-27). But there is evidence that Malachi began

with marriage simply because that relationship is the crux for all

others. The home was (and is) the center of human development.

From a sociological point of view, it serves five vital functions, in all


First, the family serves to regulate sexual activity. The sexual

drive demands careful regulation, else a society is thrown into indis-

criminate sexual activity, high incidences of illegitimate birth, and

dehumanization of women as sexual objects. Every culture recognizes

the need to sanction the sexual life of its members and assure respon-

sible parents for its children.

Second, the family serves as the agency of reproduction. All

societies must replenish members who die. Families are thus crucial to

the very survival of the race.

Third, the family socializes the members of a culture. The family

transmits to its children the goals, values, norms, obligations, expecta-

tions, rules, rights, and so on, which characterize life in a given


Fourth, the family provides the most basic and primary form of

companionship and love, which are needed by all persons. Ideally,

husband, wife and children all find their love needs met in the family


            Fifth, the family gives the members of society their identity.

Religious, social, ethnic, and national identity are conferred, first of

all, in and by the family.


40 S. A. Grunlan, Marriage and the Family: A Christian Perspective (Grand Rapids:

1984) 25-26. J. D. Unwin's classic study Sex and Culture (New York:

1934) dramatically illustrates. His massive investigation of the correlation

marital/sexual practice and cultural achievement led him to conclude that:



A crisis involving marriage and the family is therefore a cultural

crisis of the first order. Social life quite simply cannot survive without

the family.

For the people of God, however, the crisis threatens the survival

of their culture, not generic society. The Jews have accommodated

the prevailing cultural view of marriage. And Malachi warns that

such compromise impacts their religion, their relationships, and their

responsibility. His point might be made this way: One's view of

marriage (including sex and the family) is not neutral, it determines

the kind of life and society we will have. We may develop preaching

themes around this idea by examining the prophet's diagnosis and his


The Prevailing View of Marriage. In the ancient Near East, as

in every other culture, marriage was a civil or legal affair. But every

society sanctions and approves marriage at another level. Indeed, the

legal restrictions usually reflect, over time, this more primary view of


The Babylonian, Assyrian and Egyptian cultures surrounding post-

Exilic Judaism countenanced all manner of divorce and remarriage,41

so long as the legal requirements were observed. For these societies,

marriage was a powerful socio-economic institution. Marriages were

frequently arranged or terminated on the basis of economic considera-

tions. Divorces could be granted for numerous reasons, especially

childlessness; but, in all cases the marriage involved carefully detailed

written contracts, and carefully specified legal divorce proceedings

and settlements.

The contemporary view of marriage differs only in particulars.

Tim Stafford has recently exposed the dominant sexual ethos of our

American culture. He calls it the "Ethic of Intimacy." It is, he says,

both a rejection of the out-and-out hedonism of the Playboy philoso-

phy, and a narcissistic attempt at "caring" without long-term commit-

ment. The interesting thing about the Ethic of Intimacy, Stafford goes

on to say, is that it devalues marriage precisely because it elevates this

vague, compatible relationship of intimacy above everything else.42

Under the Ethic of Intimacy, a married man or woman could hardly


"The greatest energy has been displayed by those societies which have reduced their

sexual opportunity to a minimum by the adoption of absolute monogamy" (p. 431).

41 For a good discussion of these practices, see G. A. Barton, "Marriage," Encyclo-

pedia of Religion and Ethics (1921).

42 T. Stafford, "Intimacy: Our Latest Sexual Fantasy," Christianity Today, 31

(January 16, 1987) 21-27.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        53


be faulted for seeking a divorce if the "relationship" proved incom-

patible or unsatisfying, or if the spouse were making demands on

one's personal autonomy.

In the case of ancient Israel or modern America, marriage has

suffered at the hands of the prevailing cultural view. The Israelite may

have sought an exciting foreign wife, or maybe just a wife who could

have children. A contemporary American (maybe a Christian) might

be seeking a happy relationship. But in either case, marriage de-

generates into a convenience.


The Prophetic Message about Marriage. Malachi countered

with three powerful assertions. This subtle crisis of marriage has far-

reaching implications for religion, for relationships, and for responsi-

bility. Put another way, marriage is a covenant43 with God, with each

other, and with our children (and thus the whole world).

First, Malachi stresses that marriage involves a Covenant with

God. The language takes marriage back to creation and to the "cove-

nant of our fathers" (2:10). The exogamous44 marriages of these Israel-

ites were contracted with the daughter of a foreign god" (2:11).45

Malachi calls this "a detestable thing" (2:11). Judah "has desecrated

the sanctuary the Lord loves" (2:11).

Malachi stresses the fact that marriage is not a solitary affair. The

relationship of marriage is uniquely intimate, so that each partner is

profoundly affected by the other as a person. Two persons join

together their personalities melding into one.46 To deny God's in-

volvement in, and authority over, that kind of relationship, amounts


43 See our discussion above on the meaning and value of covenant.

44 "Exogamy" refers to marriage outside one's group; in this case, outside of Israel.

45 J. M. P. Smith (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Malachi

ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912] 49) notes that the phrase may mean only that

"an alliance has practically been made between Judah and some people that does not

worship Yahweh through the common celebration of such marriages." The sin may not

have been marriage to overt idolators, just alliance with idolatry through marriage.

46 Numerous NT passages reflect this dynamic quality of marriage. Consider, e.g.,

1 Cor 6:15-18 where Paul warns that sexual sin not only violates the "one flesh" prin-

it constitutes the only sin against one's own "body" which here likely means "the

place where faith lives and where man surrenders to God's lordship" (E. Schweizer,

"sw?ma," TDNT 7 [1971] 1066). Cf. also Eph 5:32 where Paul labels the husband-wife,

Christ-church analogy a mega musterion. Throughout the Bible, marriage appears

a “social and relational unit of two people who belong to each other in such a way that

without each other they are less than themselves; the unity cannot be broken without

damage to both parents in it" (O. R. Johnston, Who Needs the Family? [Downers

Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979] 64).



to high treason against him. This same sort of thinking clearly under-

lies Paul's prohibition against mixed marriage in 2 Cor 6:14-18. This

constitutes a critical point for contemporary Christians. Our view of

sex, marriage and family must never be detached from our commit-

ment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Christian lives are literally at stake.

Second, Malachi emphasizes that marriage involves a covenant

with each other: "The Lord is acting as the witness between you

and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with

her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage cove-

nant" (2:14). The starting point for any understanding of the Jewish

marriage ideal, according to E. Stauffer, is "the original order of

creation" which casts marriage as "the original form of human fellow-

ship."47 This explains Jesus' own insistence on the inviolability of

marriage, and his observation that "hardness of heart" (Matt 19:8,

sklerokardian) alone accounts for the miseries of divorce. Malachi has

virtually a NT perspective here.

The contemporary value of the prophet's message lies in two

clear principles. First, owing to the very nature of covenant, marriage

demands commitment before intimacy. Someone has well said that

people in our world marry because they "love"; while, biblically,

people ought to love because they are married! Second, when put in

its proper context, marriage offers people God's highest and most

fulfilling kind of life. The idea pervading so much of the history and

literature of marriage seems to suggest that marriage is somehow

necessary, but that it somehow prevents our enjoying life fully.48

Again, Malachi refutes the notion. The wife you are casting away, he

declares, is "your partner" (2:14). The word indicates one who shares

a task, a common life. The Jews were exchanging God's pattern for

life for pleasure, or convenience, or economic considerations. It is a

profound danger for our world-that we may forsake the joy and

beauty of lifelong commitment, growing fellowship, the traditions of

home and family, for the dubious thrills of cheap pleasures and

greener pastures.

Finally, Malachi declares that marriage involves a covenant with

our children and thus with the whole world. In 2:15, a notoriously

difficult Hebrew passage, the prophet links the practices of the Jews


47 E. Stauffer, "game<w, ga<moj," TDNT 1 (1964) 649.

48 Citations could be multiplied. Shakespeare's (All's Well That Ends Well [New

Haven: Yale, 1926] Act II, scene iii, line 315) parasitic Parolles, e.g., counsels young

Bertram to forsake his (arranged) marriage: "A young man married is a man that


Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        55


with "godly offspring."49 Whatever the interpretation, two vital points

are made. First, raising godly children is commended. There is

an implicit warning here against false goals for our children. God

does not commend the desire for "talented," "successful," "educated,"

handsome," "beautiful," or "athletic" children, but, for godly child-

ren.  Second, godly children are clearly seen as the products of godly

marriages.  Couples who "stay together for the sake of the children"

have it all wrong. Families build on the actual marriage relationship.

The quality of that relationship is what establishes the quality of the

family itself. It is pointless to talk of building good, strong families

apart from healthy marriages.


Subtle Crisis of Lifestyle (2:17-3:6)


The fifth of the crises of secularism emerges out of an astonishing

set of ironies. It begins with Malachi's typical question-answer format

which exposes the unbelief of God's people (2:17). God is wearied by

the incessant drone of charges against His justice. At least two impli-

cations derive from these questions.

First, the Jews linked the presence of God with circumstances.

The silly conclusion of Russian cosmonauts in the early sixties that

they had searched the heavens and found no God may be less cul-

pable than this conclusion: "The circumstances are not what we want,

so where is God?" C. S. Lewis once remarked that God is never

localized in circumstances, anymore than Shakespeare is localized in

Falstaff or MacBeth.50 The nearness of God, he said, is after all a

matter of who one is.51

Second, the Jews implied that God failed to make a proper

distinction between the "good" and the "bad." As R. Bailey points out,

the Jews really hinted at two accusations. On the one hand, they

suggested that God no longer took note of "good people." On the

other hand, they implied that they themselves were exempt from


49 There seem to be three broad categories of interpretation: (1) The passage

refers to an exception involving Abraham's ("the one") marriage to Hagar. "He did that

to raise up godly children, you are doing it for lust or convenience"; (2) The passage

refers to the example of Adam and his wife (cf. AV, NIV). "God could have created

more than one (wife for Adam), but he made only one in order to provide optimal

conditions for raising godly children"; and (3) The passage refers to an treacherous

exchange which these Jews attempt to justify, perhaps claiming their wives are barren,

or that marriage is "not a moral or religious issue" (cf. NASV). "How will you raise

godly children if you destroy their homes?"

50 C. S. Lewis, "The Seeing Eye," Christian Reflections (ed. W. Hooper; Grand

Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1967) 167.

51 Ibid., 170.



judgment (and thus deserving of blessing) because they were chosen,

and had already endured their "hell" in Exile.52 But the "benefits" of

being "good" had failed to materialize. Now, like atheists who swear

there is no God, agnostics who are unsure, or deists who regard the

whole matter as irrelevant, the chosen of God ask, "Where is the God

of justice?" (2:17).

It is a tragicomic feature of human nature that people should

actually demand justice. Hardly anyone really wants justice. The

bitter irony of that reality explodes' out of Malachi's answer:


"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before

me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the

messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord

Almighty .

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he

appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap (3:1-2).


Through his prophet, “God Himself takes up the challenge, ‘Where is

the God.'"53 The Lord “whom you seek," he declares, the messenger

of the covenant,54 "in whom you delight,"55 that one is coming, and

"who can endure?"

The people do not realize what they have asked! "This judgment

is threatened," says Keil, “against those who wanted the judgment of

God to come."56 It is, once more, a disturbing thesis: God is not

coming, first of all, to demolish the strongholds of secular culture, but

to expose the pockets of secularism in the sanctuary of God. Like a

fuller employed full-time to wash stains out of the vestments of a

priest,57 like a smelter hired to refine the metal used for Temple

furniture,58 the Lord will remove the profane impurities from Israel.

The graphic metaphors drive home the point which, according to

D. Johnson, Peter later utilized in his "Theology of Suffering" (1 Pet

4:12-19). The judgment Malachi announces reminds God's people of

all ages of "our identity as the temple of God. . . . a token of God's

glorious presence."59 The judgment of eternal salvation ultimately


52 R. W. Bailey, God's Questions and Answers (New York: Seabury, 1977) 67.

53 J. J. Perowne, Malachi (Cambridge: University Press, 1893) 28.

54 Probably a reference to the Lord himself. Cf. Packard, "Malachi," 7.19.

55 Baldwin, Malachi, 243, says this is "probably ironical."

56 Keil, "Malachi," 461.

57 The words for "launderer's soap" bear this peculiar sense. Cf. Isbell, Malachi, 60.

58 For the nuances of the different words for "refine" here, see Wolf, Mala-

chi, 102-3.

59 D. Johnson, "Fire in God's House: Imagery from Malachi 3 in Peter's Theology

of Suffering (I Pet 4:12-19)," 29 (1986) 293-94.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        57


falls on unbelief, but the judgment of present purification "begins

with us" (1 Pet 4:17).

The ironies of this passage reach a climax in 3:5. The people

question God's presence; Malachi says he is coming. The people de-

mand justice; God promises it--to them! And here, God answers the

charge that he cannot, or does not distinguish good and evil. The

people mocked God with the charge that "all who do evil are good in

the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them" (2:17). Malachi

counters with staggering irony: "Those of you who do 'good' (with

half-hearted ceremonies!) are evil in my sight." He warns that:


"I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against

sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of

their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive

aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty (3:5).


William Wordsworth once wrote that the leaders of the French

revolution gradually twisted their motives of conviction into motives

of conquest. They came to live, he said, in "that tempting region. . . .

Where passions have the privilege to work and never hear the sound.

of their own names."60 Such is Malachi's case against Israel. Her

people hide their compromise behind smug religious forms. God is

not pleased. He will not have his people nursing the values, attitudes

and behaviors of the prevailing culture--while calling it "faith," or

"therapy,” or “contemporary,” or “state-of-the-art,” or any of the

names by which compromise is cloaked. He demands a difference.


The Subtle Crisis of Hope (3:7-4:6)


It has been said of Marxists that they dispensed with any hope of

"pie in the sky" and concentrated on the task of getting boiled beef

and carrots here. Such is the nature of secularism. It strips life of its

supernatural character, and shifts the focus of existence to the tem-

poral and tangible. The thesis of Malachi's final message to the world

addresses this pervasive present-mindedness: Hope is what makes life

really liveable.

The crisis of hope dominates the third and final movement of

Malachi. Clendenen locates the problem specifically in 3:13-14:


"You have said harsh things against me, says the Lord. Yet you ask,

'What have we said against you?' You have said, 'It is futile to serve God.

What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like

mourners before the Lord?'"


60 W. Wordsworth, "The Prelude," Bk. XI, line 230.




Such murmuring is characteristic of lost or abandoned hope. In the

OT, the "attitude of expectant and confident hope increasingly ex-

presses the realisation that everything in the earthly present is pro-

visional."61 The crisis of hope, therefore, evolves out of an over-

emphasis on the present. Said another way, the trees of the present

hide the forest of the future. The investment of time, energy, money

and interest solely in the present reduces the hope of eternity to mere


Although at first they appear unrelated, all the sections of this

final movement concern that problem of abandoned hope. They seem

rather naturally to underscore three vital facts about hope.

In the first section (3:7-12), the prophet suggests that hope should

be the operative principle of life. This emphasis can be seen in his

exhortation to "Return to me" (3:7). When the injured innocence of

the people asks, "How are we to return?" (3:7) Malachi answers that

they must return in tithes (3:8-10).

Although apparently unconnected, "tithes" and "hope" stand on

common ground. W. Zimmerli has pointed out that the OT, unlike the

New, lacks an unambiguous term for hope (such as elpis). The con-

cept is clearly present, however, in a number of terms that express

(1) "A waiting, an existence toward that which is to come";62 and

(2) The thought "of trust and refuge in God."63 Hope is, therefore,

oriented toward the future, while secularism is oriented to the present.

It is oriented toward the person of God, while secularism is oriented

to circumstances.

The tithe simply expresses these commitments pragmatically.

The "tithes" (ma'aser, 3:9 [=MT 3:8]) were offerings from the harvest

(Num 18:21) as were the "offerings" (teruma, 3:9 [=MT 3:8]; cf. Num

18:11). When crops are failing (cf. 3:11), such rituals represent hard

choices! They symbolize a genuine conviction that "this," the "here

and now," is not everything.

There may even be a touch of bitterness here that intensifies the

irony for the people. E. Cashdan notes that these tithes and offerings

benefitted the priests and Levites.64 Given what Malachi has said

about the disdain the people have for these unfaithful priests (2:9), the

people might well have rationalized the withholding of tithes.  It

would be easy to excuse when the recipients are so unworthy! But

Malachi will not excuse them. They are robbing God (3:8). The


61 R. Bultmann, "e@lpij," TDNT 2 (1964) 52.3, emphasis added.

62 W. Zimmerli, Man and His Hope in the Old Testament (London: SCM, 1971) 8.

63 Ibid., 9.

64 Cashdan, "Malachi," 351.

Wells: THE SUBTLE CRISES OF SECULARISM                        59


withholding of tithes affronts God personally.65 On the other hand, the

invitation here is to "return to God." The net effect of the exhortation

is that the tithe represents a living, operational hope, for it symbolizes

a commitment to eternal values rather than provisional ones, and a

vital trust in the God who is the Lord of life rather than in the

circumstances which go into making up life.

In the second section (3:13-18), Malachi underscores the fact that

hope elevates life. The emphases which appeared in the first section

reverberate here; but, the prophet adds a new thought. When the

people lament that there is no profit in obedience they muddle the

distinction between belief and unbelief. Religion is irrelevant. Malachi

responds in two ways.

First, he records the fact that some emerged from this mass of

unbelief; "The those who feared the Lord talked with each other"

(3:16). What they said we are not told. Calvin says "they were touched

with repentance" and sought "to unite. . . as many friends as pos-

sible."66 Luther says the reference is to "those who comfort each

other."67 On Calvin's view, they repented of their murmuring and

complaint, turning again to the eternal God of hope. On Luther's, they

supported each other in their commitment to live in hope despite the

prevailing skepticism around them. On either view, they are distin-

guished, separated, demarcated, from the surrounding culture. Their

hope (whether renewed, or sustained) marks them as the true people

of God. The point is very important. It shows that the final judgment

("the day of YHWH") which ultimately separates the believers from

the unbelievers is already taking place. To live in the hope of eternal

life is in some sense already to experience that life!68

Second, Malachi answers these people with a metaphor of God's

constancy; "A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence

concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name" (3:16b).

The "scroll" likely draws on the imagery of the Persian compensation


65 The word for "rob," (qaba' may mean "to circumvent" (BDB, 867); or, more

likely "to take forcibly" (Cashdan, "Malachi," 351). The difference is only one of

degree. Either rendering implies that the people appropriate to themselves the rights

of God.

66 J. Calvin, "Lectures in Malachi," Calvin's Commentaries (24 vols.; Grand

Rapids:  A. P. and A., n.d.) 6.1094.

67 M. Luther, "Lectures on Malachi," Lectures on the Minor Prophets (ed. H. C.

Oswald; Luther's Words 38 vols.; St. Louis: Concordia, 1975) 18.416.

68 Cf. R. Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Cambridge:

University Press, 1977) 157. This concept recurs frequently in the NT (cf. Rom 8:24-25).

As G. E. Ladd has argued so well, the whole idea of the kingdom of God presupposes

the advent of a new life that is, here and now, a real experience of the life of God there

and then! See his Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974).




roll. The Greek historian Herodotus reported that the names of "Royal

Benefactors" were placed on the roll because the government took

special care to insure a proper reward for service.69 Herodotus also

reported, however, that such persons sometimes waited months or

years for their honors.70 If that figure is in view here, it communicates

a profoundly realistic, but comforting message. The life of hope

accepts the responsibility of obedience in uncertain circumstances,

and in skeptical society, even though the reward for doing so is not

immediately apparent. The life of hope is oriented to the long-term,

not the short-term, toward eternal not temporal values, toward God's

will, not self-gratification.

The theme of distinction is also expanded with this thought.

Those who distinguish themselves from the prevailing culture now

(when it is difficult, perhaps dangerous) will finally be distinguished

forever as God's "treasured possession" (3:17). Make no mistake,

Malachi declares, there is a difference between the life of unbelief and

that of belief. A fallen world tends to blur the distinction. Compro-

mise and accommodation on one side, irreligious humanism on the

other may raise doubts for believers. But the difference is radical:

"You will again see the distinction between the righteous and the

wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not" (3:18).

The third and final section of this movement draws this thought

to a climax with two dramatic assertions. The first is that the distinc-

tion made now between those who believe and those who do not

has real and eternal consequences (4:1-3). Pope's famous line that

"hope springs eternal in the human breast"71 expressed a quality of

humanity--a craving, a yearning, a desire for that which God made

us to experience. Malachi assures Israel that such hope will never be


Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;

Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore!

What future bliss, he gives thee not to know,

But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.72


It is sobering to reflect on the fact that we are living, whether we

realize it or not, for eternity. Our lives, our values, our commitments,

our interests, our behaviors--all of it has eternal significance.

Malachi's second assertion here is that while God has given hope

as the essential motivation for life in the present, he has given Law


69 Herodotus, Herodotus, VIII, 85.

70 Herodotus, History, V, II; IX, 107. Cf. also Perowne, Malachi, 35.

71 A. Pope, "An Essay on Man," Epistle I, line 95.

72 Ibid., lines 91-94.



and prophecy as the essential guides for life in the present.73 Despite

J. M. P. Smith's rather brutal remark that this reference to the Law

"makes connection with neither the foregoing nor the following con-

text" being is merely "can isolated marginal note from some later legal-

its,"74 the context suggests a legitimate purpose. The Law looks back

to obligation, the coming of Elijah forward to the promised salvation

of God.75 The Law stands complete, etched in the stone tablets of

Horeb.  Elijah, the first prophet, appears as the next and last prophet,

suggesting that prophecy "is exhausted and her message to Israel

fulfilled."76 The Law reflects the character of God-holiness. Elijah

heralds the Messiah of God--redemption.77

God has not left his people helpless. The Law represents the

norm of life. Commitments, relationships, all the values and activities

of life can be evaluated. The prophet stands for the transformation of

life.  Elijah's coming signals the restoration, not just the diagnosis, of

relationships.78 It is the glorious final appeal of Scripture--return to

the God of hope, to the one who not only enables you to understand

your life, but invites you to experience his!


73 The word is Kaiser's (Malachi, 100).

74 J. M. P. Smith, "Malachi," 81.

75 Baldwin, Malachi, 251-52.

76 G. A. Smith, Prophets, 371.

77 Kaiser, Malachi,106-7.

78 Cashdan, "Malachi," 354.




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