Malachi 2

1 God speaks again directly to the priests, whom He holds primarily responsible for the degeneration of the worship rituals. This is not a commandment to them, but rather a command to other parties (natural disasters and invading armies) that would significantly impact the priesthood.
2 The conditional "if - then" structure of this verse indicates that there is still time to change things. As with most prophecies, this one is an invitation to repent. God had promised to bless Israel richly if they both listened and obeyed, but if they refused, they would suffer dire consequences (Deu 28). This was part of the nation's covenant with God after Moses led them out of Egypt, and it was still in affect. In fact, the curses had already begun, and if the people did not change their hearts, the curses would all be fulfilled (verse 9).
3 God considered their worship ceremonies as so abhorrent that He likens them to fecal matter. In the sacrificial ceremonies, the animal's waste was carried outside the camp. In a similar manner, the people, covered, as it were, with their odious worship will be led away into captivity covered. This would affect their children, of course, who would suffer the immediate penalty of their parents, while the succeeding generations would endure the residual consequences of rebuilding, being a vassal nation, etc.
4 God was warning them through Malachi, but He knew they would not believe Him until they had been punished. They would think back and remember this prophecy. The future generations would understand and commit to reforming their ways. Even though the Temple would be destroyed, God assures the tribe of Levi that He still intends them to lead Israel in worship.
5 God made a covenant with the tribe of Levi to be a continual priesthood before Him. Among the Levites, God gave Aaron and his descendants special responsibilities and privileges within the priesthood. Their work was to allow the people to have real life through the atonement of their sins and peace with God through a good relationship with Him. In return, the people, and most especially the priests were to have a reverent awe of Him as they worshipped. Aaron and his sons learned this through their mistakes with the golden calf and the burning of unauthorized incense in the tabernacle. After this, we do not see any instances of Aaron or his two remaining sons making irreverent errors before God.
6 The true instruction came directly through the Laws that God had given Moses. They taught and practiced them as they were given to them. They did not dilute or ignore them. They repented of their sins, kept the law, had peaceful and personal relationships with God, and taught others to do the same. This is a very honorable epitaph for Aaron and his sons.
7 The priests were to follow this example, recognizing their positions as messengers for God. Reading materials were scarce then, so people had to rely on the priests to teach them about God. Thus, it was vital that the priests taught accurately by word and deed.
8 However, the priests had begun to ignore important parts of the Law, and by their poor example and false teachings were leading the rest of the people away from proper relationship with, and worship of, God. God had given them the covenant of Levi by inheritance, but these descendants had violated it, making it void.
9 The priests had begun to use the Law for their own purposes. The specific charge here indicates that they did not apply the Law consistently. The implication is that they may have, for instance, granted exceptions for their family and friends, for the rich and powerful, or for anyone who could afford a bribe. From the earlier charge, we can conclude that the priests probably held strictly so some parts of the Law, but ignored the details of other laws. Perhaps their motivation was to gain honor and respect from people by making the Law "easier" to follow. However, this would backfire in at least two ways. Even those with little religious training could likely see the hypocrisy of the priests. While they obviously went along with their teachings, people do not generally respect hypocrites. Secondly, when Judah would fall, the priests would not be treated any better than the common people. They would suffer death, destruction, and exile like everyone else.
10 At this verse the perspective changes. It appears that God is still speaking, but He has switched to third person for the remainder of this chapter. Perhaps He gave Malachi this section to teach word-for-word from the human viewpoint.

Malachi asks the question why the priests or any of the people would deal with each other so treacherously. They were supposed to treat each other as loving family members. On the physical level, most Israelites were descendants of Jacob, but God does not remind them of that. Instead, He reminds them that He is their true Father - spiritually because He is the one God and physically because He created all people - making them all siblings to one another. Others have noted that this verse does not need to be taken in the universal sense because God had a special covenant relationship with Israel, but the same principles are applicable in the Christian Church. God adopts those who have a good relationship with Him, and we are to see our fellow believers as close family, not distant relatives or strangers.

The whole content of the Law is summed up in the phrase, "Love God and people." The details of the Law outline how that is to be lived out. When people dishonor God or wrong others, the Law is violated. The Israelites in particular were selected to be the recipients, holders, and teachers of the Law. Why would they violate that sacred trust by breaking it?

11 God points out a nation-wide problem in Judah: the intermarriage of Jews with practicing pagans. Just as the Israelites where children of God, the Gentiles were sons and daughters of their pagan gods. These intermarriages broke the commanded purity of the nation. The Gentile wives of the Jewish men had not converted to worshiping God and were not being prevented from worshiping their idols. These practices defiled the land (Ezek 36:18). Worse, if the Jewish husbands followed the examples of their wives and joined in worshiping idols, then they were personally defiled and defiled God's Temple when they entered it (Deu 7:3-4). Gentiles were forbidden from the Temple grounds, but even an Israelite would defile the grounds and become abhorrent to God if he worshiped other gods. Idol worship is treachery against God and against anyone who might be led astray by such an example.
12 Malachi calls a curse down upon those who have done this. Since this problem had likely spread into the civil and religious authorities, correction by human means would be impossible. God Himself would have to discipline the numerous individuals who had intermarried with idol worshipers. The meaning of the idiom "awakes and answers" is unknown, but from the tone of the context is appears to indict "everyone" in Judah who is guilty, regardless of whether they bring offerings to God or not.
13 The people realized, to a certain degree, that their sacrifices were not being accepted. The exchange of curses for blessings made life difficult (Mal 2:2).
14 The people had felt that they had not done anything wrong and that there was no reason God should be angry with them. However, God brings another charge against them: divorce. Apparently, divorce was rampant during this time. Many men were breaking their promises of life-long relationships with their wives, and presumably marrying younger or Gentile women. Since women were typically very dependant on having a husband for financial support, divorced women, by necessity, needed to remarry - essentially forcing her to become an adulteress in God's eyes (Mat 5:32). Remarriage would have been more difficult for older women who were no longer virgins. It was likely that the divorced woman and her rejected children would become miserably poor if she could not find another husband. Divorce results in a great number of other hurts that span families and generations, negatively affecting peoples' social and spiritual outlooks. Marriage vows are made before God, so He was a witness against them because of their broken promises to their wives and to Him. Couples were often married in their teenage years, but the vows they made were still binding.
15 The first part of this verse is difficult to translate and interpret, as a review of several commentaries will attest. It is unclear whether God is speaking of monogamous marriages in general producing godly children, or a nation of godly marriages that would be fitting to birth the Messiah. In any event, the gist of the verse is to check one's motivations for divorce and expand one's perspective on the family unit. Marriage and divorce affect more than just the individuals involved. Stable, monogamous marriages are essential for the proper upbringing of children, and even the future of a nation as a whole. The consequences of divorce are damaged lives and nations.
16 God desires that when a man and woman marry that they remain committed to one another for the remainder of their natural lives (Mark 10:4-12). The only ground for divorce was supposed to be marital unfaithfulness (Deu 24:1-4, Mat 19:8-9). It appears that men were divorcing their wives capriciously, using any excuse. Their motives were not to purge their households from evil, but rather to make way for other wives after whom they had been lusting.

God compares divorce to violence. Most people agree that murder is wrong, but they are less likely to see the devastating effects of a killed marriage in the same light. God, however, considers spiritual "violence" is even more serious than physical violence in the larger scheme of things.

"Covering with a garment" is a phrase used to indicate marriage (Ruth 3:9). Divorce covers this "garment" with violence.

God warns people again not to be treacherous. It is for one's own benefit to be watchful over his spirit, to worship only God, and remain faithful to his word - especially his marital vows.

17 Another example of Israel's unfaithfulness is how they looked upon good and evil (see also Psa 73:3-14). Not everyone who prospers financially is evil, but there are the unscrupulously greedy person can generally gain more wealth because of his lack of constraint and morals. Those who were greedy but not wealthy envied the rich man and would long to learn his ways and gain wealth for themselves (1 Tim 6:9-10). The Scripture in places speaks of God blessing the righteous and ruining the wicked (Lev 26), so it was commonly thought that those who were wealthy must be pleasing to God. However, in other places it is shown that wealth is a poor indicator of character, and in some ways, the rich are at a distinct disadvantage because it is easier to put faith in tangible wealth than the spiritual ways of God (Mat 19:24). The rich people here were unquestionably evil, and it is irritating to God to have people credit their success to His blessings when that is not the case at all.

Others would see the wicked prospering and complain that there is no justice. God promises that justice will be served, but it is not guaranteed to occur quickly. Sometimes God exacts punishment on people immediately after they sin, but in other cases, evil people lived out their days unrepentant and died peacefully of natural causes at an old age. People without faith question God's justice, but those who know Him understand and trust that all things will be taken into account on Judgment Day (Eccl 8:11-13).