Friday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Malachi 2:1—3:5 (NKJV)
2:1 “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” Says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. 3 Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it. 4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant with Levi may continue,” Says the LORD of hosts. 5 “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me and was reverent before My name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the LORD of hosts. 9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in the law.”
10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers? 11 Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the LORD’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts! 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” 17 You have wearied the LORD with your words; Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil Is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?”
3:1 “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, as in former years. 5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien—because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts.
Everyone had defiled himself. The priests no longer taught the Law of the Lord as they were charged. They treated their own office with contempt so it is no wonder that the people of Judah treated their office, and the Word of the Lord, with contempt. Husbands were also unfaithful to their wives, dealing treacherously with them and despising marriage. No one, it seemed, took their divinely-instituted vocations seriously. To make matters worse, they wearied God by saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord and He delights in them.” (2:17) It is the way of unrepentant sinners to call evil good so that they may call good evil.
In response to all of this the Lord would send His messenger to preach repentance so that the sins of Israel could be scrubbed away and their guilt be purged. We know this messenger as St. John the Baptizer, whom the Lord sent to prepare the way of the Messiah by preaching repentance. We hear from St. John the Baptizer that we need to repent of our sin of not taking our divinely-instituted vocations seriously and solemnly. We hear from him to repent of unfaithfulness in hearing the Word of God and turning from the heavenly Bridegroom.
Hearing the messenger’s message of condemnation and repentance prepares the way for his second word: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” By faith in this word, the Lord purges our guilt and remits our sins and makes us once again into His people.