Malachi Table of  Contents

Main Table of Contents

Minor Prophets: Major Messages

Chapter One of Malachi
 

Malachi 1:1-2

“The burden [oracle] of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. Yet you say, ‘In what way have you loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ says the Lord. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved…’”

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “The Lord has instituted a church with those who could be in external truth, but who were not in external good.”

Arcana Coelestia (AC) 3322 [11]

  • “In Malachi…1:1-3…‘Esau’ denotes the evil of the natural that does not admit spiritual truth which is ‘Israel’…and what is doctrinal of truth which is ‘Jacob’…and on this account he is vastated, which is being ‘hated’ (that ‘hating’ is nothing else, is manifest from what was adduced above from the Word concerning Esau and Edom in a good sense); but when truth does not suffer itself to be adjoined to good, then evil is on the other hand predicated of Jacob…”

 

Derived Doctrine

“The burden [oracle] of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.”

  • A “burden” signifies infestations from falsities and consequent combats (AC 7109).
  • What is meant by “oracle” is at first somewhat vague, but with some thought and reflection, a meaning begins to take shape. In AE 277, we read that an oracle signifies the inmosts. The inmost of the church? The inmost of the individual? The inmost of the Lord?
  • According to AE 638 [8], an “oracle” signifies where the Lord is.
  • AC 1574 [3] states that an oracle signifies a Divine response. 
  • In II Samuel 16:23, we read about “the oracle of God.” Coronis 25 teaches that this signifies love and wisdom. 
  • So it seems that this reference to the “burden” or “oracle” of the Word of the Lord simply means that the inmost of the Lord, His love and wisdom, was about to make a divine response to the infestations from falsities that had entered Israel and the church.
  • “Israel” signifies the church (AC 3654), the spiritual person (AC 4402), and goods and truths (AC 4502). Israel signifies that people who are of the church should hear the Lord, that is, hear Him in the Word (AC 6340). Israel signifies spiritual good (AC 5595), and it also signifies the quality of the church (AC 6636).
  • Malachi’s name means “My messenger” or “My angel.” AC 4239, when explaining Jacob sending messengers to Esau, gives this representation: “…the subject here treated of is the conjunction of truth Divine of the natural (which is ‘Jacob’) with the good Divine therein (which is ‘Esau’) and therefore the enlightenment of the natural from the Divine…”
  • AC 1925 has a wonderful explanation of “messenger angels.” “They were angels who were sent to men, and who spoke through the prophets; yet what they spoke was not from the angels, but through them, for the state of the latter was then such that they knew not but that they were Jehovah, that is, the Lord; but as soon as they had done speaking, they returned into their former state, and spoke as from themselves.” (emphasis added)

“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.”

  • What is the essence of the Lord’s Love? True Christian Religion (TCR) 43 [5] teaches us that His essence is:

1. To love others outside of Himself.
2. To desire to be one with others.
3. To render others blessed from Himself.

  • Other teachings, too many to quote, state that the Lord’s love is for the salvation of the whole human race and that this love is ardent. See, for example, AC 1820. The Lord’s love is mercy (AC 1870). The Lord’s love toward the universal human race is such that He wills that “not one of them may perish” (AC 2023). “The Lord’s love surpasses all human understanding.” (AC 2077) “The Lord’s love, that is His mercy, is constant and eternal.” (AC 2177)

“Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’”

  • We have here a debate between human beings and the Lord. It’s not the Lord debating. When a negative debate comes from a person, the internals shut down and little or nothing can be seen. Please read in its entirety a passage in AC 3428. Here is the shortened version: “so long as men remain in debate as to whether a thing is, and whether it is so, they can never advance into anything of wisdom.” There are innumerable things they can never see; they are like people who stand outside of the magnificent palace of wisdom and merely knock at the door but never enter. They remain “in complete ignorance of what charity is.”  
  • Can we safely assume this “debating nature” is what kept the children of Israel from seeing or being aware of the manifold ways the Lord loved them?

“‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ says the Lord. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved…’”

  • The story of Esau and Jacob struggling together as brothers, as told in Genesis 25:24-25, is about primacy. It centers on the debate “as to whether good or truth is prior, or what is the same, whether charity which is of good, or truth which is of faith, is prior. From the earliest times there has been much contention in the spiritual church concerning this question… (AC 3289, emphasis added)
  • Esau and Jacob signify, respectively, the truth of good from which is truth in the natural and the good of truth in the natural (AC 3677).
  • Esau, later in our study called the nation of Edom, signifies the (love) good of the natural to which the doctrinal things of truth have been conjoined. In the opposite sense, Esau signifies the evil of self-love adding itself to the (love) good of the natural (AC 3322). In AC 3322 [8], we read further that Esau in the opposite sense signifies the evils of the natural person from the love of self, which despises and rejects all truth.
  • Why does this verse say that the Lord loved Jacob and hated Esau? Esau, representative of the external love of the church, would not allow or permit truth (Jacob) to enter the church and be adjoined to good. When love becomes corrupted, it is a more serious offense than when truth becomes corrupted. Truth is more correctable because it is in the external realm of our being. A corrupted love has many more pathways connected to internal deceits. Therefore, when the Lord’s zeal seeks to bring together a corrective love and wisdom, the corrupted love perceives the Lord’s actions as “angry” when, in fact, they are acts of deep divine love seeking to lift the soul.

 

Putting It All Together

Our ability to pull these verses together hinges on our understanding of the information found in P&P: “The Lord has instituted a church with those who could be in external truth, but who were not in external good.”

The external church became embroiled in infestations from falsities. Their mental and spiritual combats were not conducive to regeneration; instead, they prevented the people from progressing toward a love of truth. Can you picture great debates occurring within the church about the meaning and application of the Word? The “tradition of the elders,” the rabbinical exposition of the Law of Moses, was hardened and without an openness to find and live a life based on a charitable love for the Lord and neighbor. The Lord noted this tendency in the church when He stated: “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6) Tradition supplanted the Word of the Lord. The external church was filled with intellectual pride and self-love, which prevented the Lord from illustrating truths so as to show the way and warmth of His love.

When the Word of the Lord says “I have loved you…” and the reply from the church is “In what way have You loved us?”, we can sense how far the hardness of their hearts had moved the children of Israel from the Lord. They couldn’t name one loving act from the Lord. They felt that the Lord’s presence was gone from their lives. To Israel, He was invisible, untouchable, and they did not appreciate Him. It would appear that they believed all of the benefactions of life were self-derived, with nothing attributable to the Lord’s constant Love. Can we say the words of Israel again without feeling a sense of sadness? “In what way have You Loved us?” Do we not hear the spirit of negative debate keeping them outside the door of the temple of wisdom?

When the church argues about the primacy of good and truth, it errs greatly. The Lord directs the orderly progress and timing, or primacy, of good and truth in our lives. The story of Esau and Jacob illustrates this well. We need to visit this lesson when we hear such arguments in the church. The Writings teach that truth is first in time, but love is first in end. Truth must lead for a time, but love is to reign in the end. Both have a use. One is not more important than the other. However, in our text, self-love blocked the way of truth coming into the church. The blockage of truth was not by accident or from a state of ignorance. It was a hindrance of choice, a choice of serious spiritual consequences. So the Lord’s Word illustrated this mistake with words that appear, or sound, like Divine favoritism: “Yet Jacob, I have loved…”

Why would the Lord love Jacob and hate Esau? Let’s answer this question by reflecting on the example Jeremiah was given at the potter’s house. When clay, the good of love in the mind, is hardened, when clay bakes in the oven of self-love, it cannot be reshaped by the Potter. In contrast, the clay of truth, unbaked, can be reshaped. The imperfections can be removed by the Potter and the clay made into new vessels.

The Love of Jacob and the Hate of Esau are not the lesson to be learned. Being grateful, amiable, malleable, in the hands of the Lord is what is prized. This then is the opening message of Malachi’s “burden” or oracle to Israel. Good is to welcome and draw in the truths of the Word. The heart of the external church is to seek ardently the truths of the Lord. This is what makes for a healthy, growing church. This is what the Lord wants for His church.

 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:1-2.

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Have you ever participated in a discussion about the primacy of love or truth? What side would you favor in such a debate? If you argued this point, was there any satisfaction about the outcome?
  • Israel’s debate with the Lord is sad. Do you recall talking with people who were bitter about the way the Lord was not doing anything favorable for their life? Did they express an anger that seemed to keep them from being interested in hearing about the love of the Lord?
  • How well do you feel you could explain why the Lord said He loved Jacob? Do you have any examples that would clarify the meaning of this love in the spiritual sense?
  • How well do you understand the meaning of Malachi’s “burden” or “oracle”?
  • Malachi’s name means “My messenger.” It also could mean “My angel.” Does AC 1925, in the Derived Doctrine section, help picture the duties of a messenger of the Lord?

 


Malachi 1:3-4 (a)

“…But Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness. Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places…’”

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “All external good has been destroyed and hence also external truth.”

AC 7293 [5]

  • “In these passages ‘serpents’ denote falsities from which are reasonings. The same are also signified by ‘dragons;’ but ‘dragons’ denote reasonings from the loves of self and of the world, thus from the cupidities of evil, which pervert not only truths, but also goods. These reasonings come forth from those who in heart deny the truths and goods of faith, but in mouth confess them for the sake of the lust of exercising command and of making profit…” Malachi 1:3 is cited.

Apocalypse Revealed (AR) 537

  • “…falsities devastate the church, since they take away its truths and goods, therefore they were represented by ‘a dragon.’ The reason is, because by ‘a dragon,’ in the Word, is signified the devastation of the church, as may appear from the following passages…Malachi 1:3…”

AR 546

  • “That by ‘a wilderness’ is signified the church devastated, or in which all truths of the Word are falsified…” Malachi 1:3 is cited.

AE 714 [25]

  • “In Malachi…1:3…‘Esau’ means such as are in good in respect to the natural man, here such as are in evil…therefore it is said, ‘Esau I hated;’ that the goods of love of the natural man will be destroyed is signified by ‘I made his mountains a waste;’ and that the truths of that good will be destroyed by the falsities of the sensual man is signified by ‘I gave his heritage to the dragons of the wilderness.’”

AE 730 [21]

  • “In Malachi…1:3…‘Esau’ signifies the love of the natural man; ‘his mountains’ signify the evils from that love, and ‘his heritage’ signifies the falsities from those evils, and ‘the dragons of the desert’ signify mere falsifications from which these come.”

 

Derived Doctrine

“…But Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.”

  • The meaning of hating Esau was covered in the previous section. In essence, this statement refers to the signification of Esau being a spoiled or falsified love of the natural person.
  • “Mountains” signify the extension of worship within the heart. In the positive sense, a mountain represents where love to the Lord and the worship of Him prevails in the church (AE 734 [2]). In the negative sense, a mountain signifies the height or magnitude of evils that spring from the love of self and of the world (AE 411).
  • A mountain being “laid waste” signifies the work of the Lord vastating the evil and falsities of the heart so that good and truth may return to the church. AC 6141 defines being “laid waste” as being without truth that is visible.
  • Note: the King James translation of the Word uses the wording “dragons of the wilderness” and the New King James translation “the jackals of the wilderness.” Is there a conflict of meaning here in the spiritual sense? In the Writings, Swedenborg uses “IIM,” “IJIM,” “OCHIM,” and “ZIIM,” which are the Latin transliterations of the Hebrew words meaning wild beasts of the desert, howling creatures, hyenas, jackals, and dragons. Essentially, all of these animals signify adulterated and profaned truths and goods.

“Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places…’”

  • “But in the opposite sense by ‘Esau’ and ‘Edom’ are represented those who turn aside from good through the fact that they altogether despise truth, and are unwilling that anything of the truth of faith should be adjoined, which is chiefly owing to the love of self…This evil of the love of self, which is of such a nature as not to admit the truths of faith, thus neither the doctrinal things of truth, is described in various passages of the Word by ‘Esau’ and ‘Edom’…” (AC 3322 [7])
  • AC 775 explains the meaning of “impoverished” by showing “how almost non-existent human wisdom is, in that it hardly knows of the existence of spiritual good and truth, let alone what these may be.”
  • Is Edom’s promise to return and build the desolate places a boast that it will restore the dwellings of self-love, or is it a promise to restore order to the Lord’s external church? If it means the positive restoration of order, then Edom must change and allow the truths of faith and the doctrinal things to enter the heart and mind of the church. But if it is a selfish boast, then Edom intends to rebuild a life of pretense and sham. Malachi 1:5 leaves no doubt as to what the answer is to our question. 

Putting It All Together

The Writings help to explain what kind of spiritual disorder Israel had within its heart and mind when Malachi prophesied on behalf of the Lord. The problem exposed by the Lord was something only He could know with certainty. There were those in the church who spoke with what appeared to be sound “reasonings.” What kind of reasoning did they use? The reasonings “come forth from those who in heart deny the truths and goods of faith…” “They confess them for the sake of the lust of exercising command and of making profit…” (AC 7293 [5]) We also have a quote from AC 3322 [7] that tells us they (Edom) “turn aside from good through the fact that they altogether despise truth, and are unwilling that anything of the truth of faith should be adjoined…owing to the love of self…” We now can see why P&P sums up the church’s problems with these words: “All external good has been destroyed and hence also external truth.”

The impoverishment Edom admits to is interesting in that, unwittingly, Edom was revealing what kind of spiritual state it was in. For “impoverishment” signifies “how almost non-existent human wisdom is, in that it hardly knows of the existence of spiritual good and truth, let alone what these may be.” And yet, in spite of this impoverishment, Edom foolishly believes that it can return and build once again, by its own power, in desolate places. The illusions of spiritual insanity are grandiose and without substance to fulfill their unrealistic promises. How sad and empty Edom is as portrayed in this prophetical lesson.

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:3-4 (a).

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Looking back at the first verse of Malachi, can we now see why the people of Israel felt the Lord didn’t love them? Their choices rebuffed all the love the Lord wanted to give them. Their rejection of the Lord blocked the entrance of His benefactions.
  • The “serpent” or “jackals of the wilderness” are not from the Lord. Instead, they represent the devastation of the church brought about by the false reasonings of self-love within the people.
  • Did you get a clear picture of what “impoverishment” represents? Isn’t that quote from the Arcana Coelestia a great one to illustrate how human prudence fails to get the full picture of the Divine plan?
  • What examples can we think of that show self-love boasting of its ability to build in desolate places?
  • What kind of mountains have we built in our lifetime? Mountains of self-love or mountains of exalted love and worship for the Lord? Or can we see some of both kinds? 

 

Malachi 1: 4 (b) -6

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the territory of wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever. Your eyes shall see, and you shall say, “The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.” A son honors his father and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, “In what way have we despised Your name?”’”

 

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “Although the church is there, yet they do not acknowledge the Lord.”

AC 3703 [10]

  • “In Malachi…1:5, 6…‘father’ denotes those who are in the good of the church; and ‘master,’ those who are in the truth of the church; ‘father’ manifestly denoting the Lord as to Divine good; and ‘master,’ or ‘lord,’ as to Divine truth.”

AC 4973 [7]

  • “Good is called a ‘lord’ relatively to a servant, and it is called a ‘father’ relatively to a son—as in Malachi…1:6…”

AR 527

  • “…he who loves evils also loves to do evil to the Lord, yea to crucify Him. This lies inmostly hid in all evil, even among those who confess Him with their lips in the world…That ‘to fear God’ signifies to love the things which are of God, by doing them, and by not willing to do those which are against Him, appears from these passages…Malachi 1:5…”

AE 696 [15]

  • “In Malachi…1:6…The terms ‘honor’ and ‘fear’ are used because ‘honor’ is predicated of the worship from good, and ‘fear’ of the worship by means of truths…therefore, ‘honor’ is also predicated of Father, and ‘fear’ of Lord, for Jehovah is called ‘Father’ from Divine good, and ‘Lord’ here from Divine truth.”

Derived Doctrine

“They may build, but I will throw down…”

  • To “build” signifies to form doctrinal things (AC 1187, 1302). Where will Edom rebuild in the future? On the rock or on the sand? In a place of abundance or a place of desolation?
  • To “throw” or cast signifies to be among falsities (AC 4728).
  • The “downfall” of any nation signifies what occurs to those who do good for the sake of personal profit or reward in heaven (AC 8002 [5]).

“…they shall be called the territory of wickedness...”

  • “Call” signifies to have a given quality (AC 3421).
  • The “territory of wickedness” signifies the realm or residence of all the falsities of evil, a place where there is a unified wish for the destruction of the Lord’s good and truth. Here are a few passages to consider when thinking about the “territory of wickedness.” AC 374: Hatred is the source of all wickedness. AC 1076: Those without a conscience rush into all wickedness. AC 1080: Hatred lurks in every word spoken by the wicked. AC 1182: Wickedness residing in hatred and deceit makes worship unholy.

“…and the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.”

  • Does the Lord really have “indignation” toward anyone? No! To the wicked, it appears so. They project the indignation they feel toward the Lord as the indignation they imagine the Lord has for them. They totally miss the quality of His love. Read AC 963 for a description of the indignation of the evil.
  • AC 3839 has this explanation for the Lord’s “indignation”: “It is not of anger, but of zeal, in which there is nothing of evil, and which is far removed from hatred and revenge…indignation springs from good…”
  • AC 3909 defines the “indignation” of the Lord toward evil as a “certain sadness that is attended with a prayerful wish that it be not so…”
  • Thus, we may conclude that the Lord’s love or “indignation” toward evil will be “forever.” He is not happy over the loss of one sheep.

“Your eyes shall see, and you shall say, ‘The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.’”

  • “Eyes,” in the positive sense, signify the perception of the understanding and the intelligence given (AC 2701).
  • To “see,” in the positive sense, signifies to perceive the truths that are in the Word from the Lord and, through them, to know and acknowledge Him (AR 938).
  • To “say” sometimes signifies to perceive and sometimes to think because “saying” involves both perception and thought (AC 2619).
  • Webster’s New College Dictionary (1956 edition) defines “magnify” as “to exalt; to enlarge; to make something stand high; to call something great; to declare something as being all glorious.”
  • When anyone seeks to “magnify” the Lord, they must do so from a state of humility from the affection of good. To “magnify” the Lord is to acknowledge His omnipotence (AC 8280).
  • “Beyond the border of Israel” offers an interesting lesson for us to reflect on. The words “beyond the border (boundaries)” teach us that the things of the Lord are beyond, or exceed, the external forms of worship. External worship is dead in comparison to the things of the Lord and His celestial and spiritual truths. The Lord is Infinite. External worship is finite. The Lord is “beyond the border,” or boundaries, of our finite comprehension. See AC 1212, 1866, and 2973.

“A son honors his father…”

  • AC 5515 tells us that “sons of our father” signifies truths that are derived from good and so from one origin, “moreover, all truths are from one good.” A son, in the positive sense, represents truths that have their origin in genuine truths.
  • To “honor” signifies to worship the Lord’s Divine Good (AR 373).
  • “Father” signifies divine good from the Lord “…by whom is everywhere meant Jehovah, from Whom He was, and Who was in Him, and never any Divine separate from Him…” (AR 170)

“…and a servant his master.”

  • A “servant” signifies external memory-knowledges serving the internal person (AC 1486). “Servants” signify things in the external that must render obedience to the interior person (AC 1713). Interestingly, AC 3975 states that “serving” signifies “labor and study.” “Servants” signify being kept constantly in truths from the Lord (AR 380).
  • “Master” signifies the internal person whom the external person is to serve (AE 409 [8]). A reference in AC 2921 notes that the “name ‘Lord’” is used as to good and the “name ‘Master’” as to truth.

“If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?”

  • To understand the fuller meaning of the Lord’s questions, we need to draw from what was learned above to make a summary for ourselves of what is being asked in the spiritual sense. To accommodate the eye, the spiritual sense is in the darker print.
  • If I am the Father – If I am the one origin of good
  • Where is My honor? – Where is the holy worship of My Divine Good?
  • If I am a Master – If the external is to serve the internal
  • Where is My reverence? – Where is the worship from holy fear? Where is the worship from charity? Where is the shunning of evils as sins against God? Where have you refrained from committing them?
  • Information about the meaning of “reverence” may be found in AC 355, 5459, and Divine Providence (DP) 20.

“Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name.”

  • Lord of hostssignifies the Lord as to all goods and truths fighting against falsities and evils (AE 453 [6]). “Jehovah of hosts” signifies the church in its whole complex by which the Lord removes the hells in general and with everyone in particular (AE 734 [8]).
  • “Priests,” in the positive sense, represent the Lord as to the Divine Good as to the work of salvation (AC 9809). “Priests” are to teach the goods and truths of life (AE 235 [7], 624 [17]). But the priests the Lord mentions in this text did not do these things. They cared little for the feeding of souls within the church.
  • To “despise” signifies to look with contempt on the things of the Lord and to lightly esteem the conjunction of truth and good (AC 1911). “Despise” also signifies to consider the good of life, as a priority, to be of no account (AC 3336).

“Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’”

  • Is there a degree of softness in their question? Is there a spirit of willing self-reflection? Are the priests open to hearing a Divine “review” of their work on His behalf? Or do we hear a spirit of rebellion and debate? Are these priests talking back as if the Lord was a “peer” of theirs?
  • It would seem self-love wants no review from the Lord. With a casual wave of the hand, the questioners make light or little of the Lord’s words.
  • The Lord, in His infinite Love, will now take time to answer them. Will they listen, or will they once again answer with a question laden with rejection? Read AC 963 to learn about evil’s indignation with the Lord’s truth.

 

Putting It All Together

“Although the church is there, yet they do not acknowledge the Lord.” (P&P)

The church was there. The services were being held as usual. There were priests, and there were people. Buildings were going up, nice-looking facades, too. Wasn’t that a good sign that the job of the church was being done?

Not in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord had important things to say regarding the spiritual quality of the church. The Lord said that He would throw down the edifice of respectability self-love had constructed. He promised to expose the falsities of the external church. The Lord likened the church to a “territory of wickedness.” Why did the Lord use such strong terms to describe the church? He wanted to point out the source of their wickedness. Lies and hatred lurked in every word they uttered. The church harbored indignation toward the Lord. The church didn’t have as its propriety a wholesome mission of uniting love and wisdom in the hearts and minds of the congregation. Instead, the people of the church went out of their way to block such a union.

In a usual way of defeating an opponent, the church accused the Lord of having indignation toward them. The Lord harbored no such indignation toward the church. Instead, He had a “certain sadness that is attended with a prayerful wish that it [evil in the church] be not so…”

To awaken in the church a degree of self-examination, the Lord asks them a series of questions. The heart of the questions is His intent to help them to focus on the source of their faith. Am I your Father?, He asks. Where is My honor? If I am Your Master, where is My reverence? As we outlined above, these questions were intended to get the people to see the Lord as the one and only source of good. The Lord wanted His church to worship that good. He wanted to help them bring their externals into order so as to strengthen their internals. The Lord wanted them to shun evils as sins against Him. The Lord wanted a committed and dedicated priesthood to care for the souls of the people and to teach and preach the goods and truths of the Word, so that lives might be amended in the process of regeneration.

Would the people listen? Would they change from a territory of wickedness to a territory of goodness? No; instead, they asked the question, “In what way have we despised Your name?” They issued a challenge to the Lord’s perception and assessment of the quality of spirituality within the external church. With such an arrogant attitude, is it not logical for the Lord to say of them, “Although the church is there, yet they do not acknowledge the Lord”?  

 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:4 (b) -6.

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Can you think of a way to illustrate the external signs of growth exhibited by something that lacks a solid and moral foundation for spiritual growth?
  • Were you able to follow the series of questions the Lord asked regarding a father and son, a master and servant, and reverence? What did you take from this teaching?
  • What is it about our proprium that thinks it can treat the Lord as a peer? Why is it unwilling to listen to the Lord’s call for change?
  • The quote from AC 3909 regarding the Lord’s “indignation” shows that He is soft, loving, and quite helpful. Doesn’t this description remove from our minds the feeling that the Lord is a stern taskmaster? Doesn’t it convey the message that He is sorry for our mistakes and that He wishes that it be not so with us?
  • What did you learn from the Putting It All Together section to add to your understanding of the summary given in P&P?

 

Malachi 1:7-8

“You offer defiled food on My altar. But you say, In what way have we defiled You? By saying, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably? says the Lord of hosts.” 

 

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “They worship the Lord from evil and not from good.”

AC 2165 [2]

  • “Now as ‘bread’ means all kinds of food in general, it therefore signifies in the internal sense all those things which are called celestial foods, as may be still more evident from the burnt offerings and sacrifices that were made of lambs, sheep, she-goats, kids, he-goats, heifers, and oxen, which were called in one word the ‘bread of the offering’…In Malachi…1:7…the hallowed things of the sacrifices, which they ate, were called ‘bread’…”

The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 221

  • “That the burnt-offerings and sacrifices, which consisted of lambs, she-goats, sheep, kids, he-goats, and bullocks, were in one word called ‘Bread,’ is evident from the following passages…Malachi 1:7…”

TCR 707

  • “To eat of the holy things was to eat of the flesh of the sacrifices, which is here called ‘bread,’ as well as in Malachi 1:7…”

AC 2383 [5]

  • “As what is blind signified what is false, therefore in the representative Jewish Church it was forbidden to sacrifice anything that was blind (Lev. 22:22; Deut. 15:21; Malachi 1:8). It was also forbidden that any one of the priests who was blind should draw near to offer upon the altar…”

AR 48

  • “By ‘eye’…is not meant the eye, but the understanding of truth. Since by ‘eye’ is signified the understanding of truth, therefore it was among the statutes of the sons of Israel…” Malachi 1:8 is cited.

AE 152 [14]

  • “Because the ‘eye’ signified the understanding it was among the statues pertaining to the sons of Israel…” Malachi 1:8 is cited.

AC 4302 [7]

  • “By the ‘lame’ in the Word are…signified those who are in no good, and thence in no truth…And because such are signified by the ‘lame,’ it was forbidden to sacrifice anything that was lame…Malachi 1:8…”

 

Derived Doctrine

“You offer defiled food on My altar.”

  • In the positive sense, Abel’s “offering” signifies worship grounded in charity (AC 350). In the negative sense, Cain’s “offering” represented the works of faith without charity (AC 346). “That by ‘offerings’ in general is meant worship, is evident in the Prophets throughout, as in Malachi…” (AC 349)
  • “Defiled” signifies a conjunction that is not legitimate (AC 4439). “Defile” signifies the profanation of spiritual good in the natural. When faith is separated from the good of charity, it is either dissipated or initiated into and conjoined with what is evil and false (AC 6348).
  • The construction of an “altar,” “My altar,” was quite specific. Its dimensions, namely “the height, breadth, and length, signified in general good, truth, and the holy thence derived…the stones…signified lower truths…the brass…signified natural good…the horns signified the power of truth from good…the fire upon the altar signified love…the sacrifices and burnt offerings signified celestial and spiritual things according to their various species…Hence it is evident that internal things were contained within these external ones…” (AC 4489)  
  • It appears that the priests became careless with the specifics of the offerings and their representations.

“By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’”

  • AC 9527 tells us that a “table” signifies “a receptacle for celestial things, thus heaven in respect to the reception of such things as are from the Lord.” This passage describes the things on the Lord’s Table as the source of “consequent blessedness and happiness.” 
  • To understand the meaning of “contemptible,” let’s look at what it means to despise something. To despise signifies those who turn aside from good by utterly despising truth (AC 3322 [7]).

“And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?”

  • We read above that the “blind” signified what was false and thus meant a blind understanding. “Lame” signifies one who is not in genuine good because of not having been taught what is good and true (AE 518 [4]). “Lame” signifies, in the opposite sense, those who are in natural good into which spiritual truths cannot flow because the fallacies of the senses will not admit truths (AC 4302 [8]).
  • The Lord asks the people whether offering these flawed things is an evil act. Didn’t they know the code of sacrificing? Did they do these things in spite of the spiritual directives?

“‘Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of hosts.”

  • “Governors” signify “generals in which and under which are particulars.” (AC 5290) The Lord asked the people if they would be satisfied if “general gifts” were given to them. He knew that because of their care for themselves, they would have wanted the very best “particular gifts.” What a great question by the Lord. He got to the core of their ruling love and what quality it was. Love of self was of greater importance than love of the Lord.
  • “The Lord of hosts” is used again to signify His zeal to remove the hells from every person and from the church to clean up its worship of His good and truth.

 

Putting It All Together

“They [the church] worship the Lord from evil and not from good.” (P&P)

Offerings to the Lord that should have been the very best were compromised. Flawed sacrifices were routinely being put on the altar, or table, of the Lord. Careless attitudes were employed in the temple. Ritual, tradition, required the people to offer sacrifices, but theirs were vain oblations and were not sacrifices of willing hearts.

Those who acted in the priestly role cared more for themselves than for the Lord. They worried more about what others thought of them than about what the Lord thought of them. Worship was so empty that, within their hearts, they found the Lord’s Table “contemptible.” The Lord instituted the sacrifice of “breads” so that the people might find it a “source of consequent blessedness and happiness” (AC 9527). The Lord told the people that the table and altar were a source of empty and sad worship. The ruling love of the people drove them to take the best for themselves and leave the rejects for the Lord.

What did Joseph tell his brothers when he revealed himself to them? “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20) The Lord meant for the church to find goodness, blessedness, and happiness, but they meant to perform acts of evil against Him.

How do the people once again flaunt their contempt for the Lord? “In what way have we defiled you?” “The table of the Lord is contemptible.” How sad this is, and how needy they are of the Lord’s benefactions. Will they come to see the folly of their worship?


Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:7-8.

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • In the face of Israel’s persistent defiance, are you impressed with how patient the Lord is with them? If the comments made to the Lord were made to us by our children, would we be able to remain as calm?
  • How about the custom of giving the Lord second best? Do we do the same thing today?
  • Do we still worry more about what other people think of us than we worry about what the Lord thinks of us?
  • How about the table of the Lord? We come to the table of Holy Supper periodically. Is our heart in the service? Do we leave the table with a sense of wonderment? Do we think, “What have I just partaken of? What was I supposed to get out of it spiritually?” Has the Holy Supper been a source of “consequent blessedness and happiness”?
  • I couldn’t bring myself to say the words “the Lord’s Table is contemptible.” Would you imagine there are some today who might say this about the Lord’s Table? What brings a person to this attitude?
  • I yearn that this might not be said, but I do have a feeling there are some who would say that the things of the Lord have no worth for them. Do you hear anything that would lead you to concur with my fear?
  • What can we, as a church, do to invite a heavenly sphere into our worship in which we feel the conjunction of the Lord and all of His hosts with us?

 

Malachi 1:9-10

“But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably? says the Lord of hosts. Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from your hands.”

 

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “Therefore their worship is not accepted.”

AR 939

  • “That by ‘seeing the face of the Lord’ is not meant to see His face, but to know and acknowledge Him as He is as to His Divine attributes, which are many; and that they who are conjoined with Him by love know Him, and thus see His face, may be evident from the following passages…Malachi 1:9…”

AE 412 [11]

  • “‘In Malachi…1:9...‘faces of Jehovah,’ ‘of God,’ or ‘of the Lord,’ mean in the interiors of the church, of the Word, and of worship, because Divine good and Divine truth, thus the Lord Himself, are in these interiors, and from them in externals; but are not in externals, namely, of the church, of the Word, and of worship apart from these.”

AC 8989 [4]

  • “In Malachi…1:9, 10…‘to shut the doors’ denotes not to communicate with holy or Divine things.”

 

Derived Doctrine

“But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us.”

  • AC 7391 tells us that to “entreat” or to “supplicate” signifies humiliation, and to pray signifies entering a state of humiliation and seeking intercession. The reason supplication involves humiliation is that the angels do not attend to the supplication but to humiliation.
  • “Favor” or “grace” signifies to seek comfort and relieve with hope in states of temptations (AC 5043).
  • To be “gracious to us” is a petition to find the Lord’s unfailing care. Those who “are in humiliation of thought beseech His grace: ‘grace’ relates to spiritual things, which are of faith, or the understanding…and ‘mercy’ relates to celestial things which are of love or of the will…” (AC 598 [3])

“‘While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of hosts.”

  • In the positive sense, “hands” signify ability and power and the confidence that attends them (AC 878). But in this verse, it appears that this power, ability, and confidence are mostly from self. Otherwise, why would there be a question about the Lord accepting the work favorably?
  • What leads me to view this from the negative perspective is the added phrase “the Lord of hosts.” This phrase signifies the Lord’s goods and truths fighting against falsities and evils to remove the hells from everyone.

“Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain?”

  • To “shut the doors” is to not communicate with holy or Divine things. “Doors” signify what introduces either to good or to truth or to the Lord (AC 2356). “Doors” signify admission to the arcana (secrets) of heaven (AE 260 [1/2]).
  • “Kindle” in the positive sense signifies that nothing of self-love ought to appear in the things in a person from the Lord (AC 10732). In the negative sense, “kindle” signifies indignation on the part of natural good (AC 3909). So which is it? Is it a positive kindling or a negative kindling? The answer seems clear from the statement about closing the door and kindling “in vain.” If the door is closed and communication with holy things is cut off, how can anyone kindle a genuine holy fire on the Lord’s altar?  

“‘I have no pleasure in you,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘nor will I accept an offering from your hands.’”

  • “Pleasure,” in the positive sense, signifies the acceptance of love. It also means to allow love to enrich with Divine truth the life of all who receive life from Him. See AE 295 [4] regarding what is meant by the Lord’s “good pleasure.” In the negative sense, we can see that the Lord wants no part of their evil and false hearts. The presence of these evil loves will not permit the Lord to enrich them with truth and life. “I have no pleasure in you” sounds hard and so final.
  • The offering of their hands is unworthy and unacceptable. The ability, power, and confidence of their hands are tarnished, unacceptable gifts of self-love. If you heard the Lord say these things to you, wouldn’t you be in tears or in a state of fright and be anxious to change? 

 

Putting It All Together

“Therefore their worship is not accepted.” (P&P)

What brought the church to the point of not being accepted? The people closed the doors. They didn’t let good and truth flow in, so the heavenly secrets of the Lord were not present in their worship. The fire on the altar was a vain thing. The work of their hands was to serve themselves and not to perform acts of charity. Thus, the pleasures of the Lord were not able to come to them. He couldn’t accept their love, nor could He enrich their lives. This is the short summary. It is a sad commentary. It is not one that the Lord’s New Church will ever have to listen to because the Word says the walls of the holy city have no gates. The doors are wide open, and they face the four quarters so that everyone who approaches the Lord may enter through His open gates with praise and thanksgiving.

 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:9-10.

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • In the text above, I asked a question: If the Lord spoke these things to us, would we be in tears or in a state of fear? The judgment of the Lord comes from a true picture of what our motives are like. He sees through the shams of pretense. So if He declares that doors are shut and our fires are in vain, it must be so. This realization must be accompanied by some sense of urgency. But Israel doesn’t react that way at all. Why?
  • I still shudder when I read the words “I have no pleasure in you...nor will I accept an offering from your hands.” The answer to this dilemma is not far from Israel’s reach. Do you recall the opening? “Now entreat God’s favor” that “He may be gracious to us.” Without sounding like a born-again preacher, can we accept the urgency of getting straight with the Lord? Can we redouble our efforts to find ways to open doors?
  • Prayer, humiliation, and supplicating the Lord are ways to find what? Grace and mercy. Grace for the understanding and mercy for the will.

 

Malachi 1:11

“‘For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

 

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “Those who are outside of the church worship the Lord…”

AC 10137 [5]

  • “That in [Malachi 1:10-11] by a ‘meat-offering’ is not meant a meat offering, nor by ‘incense’ incense, is plain, for the subject treated of is the church among the nations (with whom however there was no meat-offering); for it is said, ‘from the rising of the sun to its going down the name of Jehovah shall be great among the nations, and in every place is a clean meat-offering and incense’ (that ‘incense’ denotes adoration from the good of faith…”

AR 778

  • “That the meal-offerings, which were of fine flour of wheat, were offered upon the altar together with the sacrifices…Malachi 1:10, 11…”

AC 2009 [5]

  • “In Malachi…1:11…where by ‘name’ is not signified the name, but the worship; which is the quality of Jehovah or the Lord, by reason of which He wills to be adored.”

AC 6674 [5-7]

  • “That the ‘name’ of the Lord is everything of faith and love by which the Lord is to be worshiped, is still more plain from the following passages…” Malachi 1:11 is cited.

AC 9475 [4]

  • “The reason why such things [as belong to the faith that is from the good of love and charity] are signified by ‘incense’ is that they belong to the thought and thence to the mouth; but the things which belong to affection, and thence to the heart, are signified by the ‘meat-offering’ in Malachi…1:11…”

AC 10177 [8]

  • “In Malachi…1:11…‘a clean meat-offering’ is added, because by it is signified the good of love…”

AR 277

  • “…worship by incense was worship from spiritual good. Whether you call it worship or confession, it is the same thing, for all worship is confession…Worship from spiritual good is signified by ‘incense’ in the following passages…Malachi 1:11…”

AE 102 [4]

  • “The ‘name of the Lord,’ in the New Testament means the like as the ‘name of Jehovah’ in the Old, because the Lord there is Jehovah.” Malachi 1:11 is cited.

AE 324 [11]

  • “In Malachi…1:11…‘From the rising of the sun even unto its going down My name shall be great among the nations’ signifies that the church and worship of the Lord shall be everywhere with those who are in good; ‘from the rising of the sun to its going down’ signifying every place where there is good; ‘My name shall be great’ signifying the acknowledgment and worship of the Lord; and ‘nations’ signifying those who are in good; ‘incense shall be offered unto My name, and a clean meal-offering,’ signifies the worship of the Lord from spiritual good, which is the good of charity towards the neighbor, and from celestial good, which is the good of love to the Lord; worship from spiritual good is signified by ‘incense-offering,’ and from celestial good by ‘meal-offering.’”

AE 401 [28]

  • “In Malachi…1:11…‘From the rising of the sun unto its going down’ signifies all, from the first to the last, who are in the good of love to the Lord, because all in heaven dwell according to quarters. Those who are in the good of love to the Lord dwell from the east to the west; those who dwell in the east are those who are in a clear good of love, and those who dwell in the west are those who are in obscure good of love. This is why ‘from the rising of the sun unto its going down’ signifies all, from the first to the last, who are in the good of love.”

AE 422 [6]

  • “In many passages the words ‘from east to west,’…are mentioned…these quarters involve the two others, because all who are in good are also in truths, for good and truth everywhere act as one…the same is true of the following passages. In Malachi…1:11…”

AE 491 [3]

  • “‘Burnt-offering’ also signifies worship from the good of celestial love, and ‘sacrifice’ worship from the good of spiritual love; these two goods are signified also by ‘meal-offering and frankincense.’ The like is true of ‘meal-offering and incense-offering,’ for the incense-offering was chiefly of frankincense. In Malachi…1:11…”

AR 81

  • “…by His ‘name’ is meant the all of doctrine, and, in the universal sense, the all of religion. The reason why these things are meant by ‘the name’ of Jehovah is because in heaven no other names are given but what involve the quality of any one, and the quality of God is all that by which He is worshiped…He that keeps in mind, therefore, this signification of the ‘name of Jehovah,’ wherever it occurs in the Word, will understand…what is signified by it in the following places…Malachi 1:11-13…”

TCR 298

  • “In the spiritual sense, the name of God means everything which the church teaches from the Word, and by which the Lord is invoked and worshiped…That the Word and whatever the church has from it, and thus all worship, is the name of God, can be seen from the following passages…Malachi 1:11-13…”

 

Derived Doctrine

“For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles...”

  • Consider this teaching in AC 9031 about the rising and setting of the sun: “…the Sun of heaven, which is the Lord, concerning which it is said that it ‘rises,’ but in hearts, when man is being regenerated; and also when he is in the good of love and faith; and that it ‘sets’ when man is in evil and in the consequent falsity. And yet the Lord is continually in His rising, from which also He is called the ‘Sunrise,’ or ‘East,’ and He is never in any setting; nor does He turn Himself away from man, but man turns himself away from Him. From this arises the appearance that the Lord turns away His face and also brings evil…”
  • “My name shall be great” is not a bragging statement from the Lord. Egotism is not part of His Divine character. Instead, what is being communicated in the spiritual sense is the following: “great” signifies glory (AC 1415); “great” signifies a semblance of humiliation from the affection of good (AC 2421 and 2423); “great” signifies successive increase or abundance (AC 3403); “great” signifies infinity (AC 4645); “great” signifies that truth from good shall increase (AC 6286); and “great” signifies that truths and goods are joined (AC 6521). The Lord is talking about the growth of His new church and the wholeness and strength of its spiritual foundations.
  • Why would the Lord establish His new church among the “Gentiles”? AE 447 gives us a valuable clue: “‘Gentiles’ signify the establishment of the church with those who are in the good of life and receive the truths and are thus in the conjunction thereof, and in combat against evil and falsity.”

“…in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering…”

  • “Incense” signifies “a representative of the grateful hearing and reception by the Lord of all things of worship which are from love and charity.” (AC 10176) “…‘incense’ signifies confession, adorations, and prayers which proceed through the mouth from thought.” (AC 10295) “‘Incense’ signifies the uplifting of worship through prayers.” (AC 10198)
  • A “pure” (clean) meat “offering” signifies “the worship of the Lord from spiritual good, which is the good of charity towards the neighbor, and from celestial good, which is the good of love to the Lord.” (AE 324)

“‘…for My name shall be great among the nations’, says the Lord of hosts.”

  • We looked at the signification of “My name” as being a promise of the increase of good and truth. His name has reference to His infinity. The use of the word “nations” has significance when we read AC 409: “The church rarely, if ever, remains with those who when vastated have truths among them…but is transferred to those who know nothing at all of truths, for these embrace the faith much more easily than the former.”
  • The “Lord of hosts” signifies the Lord’s zeal to remove the hells from everyone and the church to clean up the worship of His good and truth (AE 734 [8]).

 

Putting It All Together

How hard must it have been for the people of Israel to hear the words of Malachi telling them that the Lord was going to establish His church outside of their nation? Would the Lord transfer His care to the Gentiles? What about Israel being the chosen people?

In all likelihood, the children of Israel scoffed at this prophecy. Gentiles were hated and shunned by Israel. Didn’t Israel have scripture that told them to not take unto themselves strange wives from the Gentile nations? The tradition of Israel regarding the Gentiles was well formed. Gentiles were not to have the things of Israel’s religion. The people must have reasoned among themselves that the Lord couldn’t and wouldn’t go against the long-standing dictates of their spiritual heritage. Israel, in effect, tried to put the Lord in a finite box, to limit Him. Israel believed they were chosen. The Lord’s favoring them was guaranteed. He wouldn’t abandon them for a bunch of Gentile nations. However, this was a wrong move on the part of the children of Israel.

Let’s bring the internal sense into this discussion. P&P sums up this verse with these words: “Those who are outside of the church worship the Lord.”

What substantial reasons are we given that support this statement?

  1. The Lord is continually “rising” in the minds and hearts of those who love Him. Israel let the Lord’s Sun “set.” The Lord never turns Himself from a person, but people turn themselves away from the Lord. This turning is called the “setting of the sun.”
  2. The Lord wanted to make His name great in the church. His love and wisdom were not, in the church of Israel, being kept in a state of conjunction. Wholeness of doctrine was compromised. Genuine worship and the inquisitive need to know and discover the truths of the Lord were gone.
  3. So the Lord called unto Him the “Gentile” nations where the hearing and reception of His Word would begin anew. In the Gentile nations, the “incense” of confession, adoration, and prayers had the potential to be an acceptable gift in the sight of the Lord. The gentile newness would bring clean or pure meal-offerings. 
  4. AE 324 teaches that the Gentiles had within them the “good of charity towards the neighbor…and the good of love toward the Lord.” AE 447 teaches that the Gentiles had a desire to receive the good of life and truths so as to enter into “combat against evil and falsities.” The Gentile nations would have a spiritual inquisitiveness and a desire to fight evil and falsity.

Israel’s days of wanting to fulfill the goals of the Lord were over. This church was being vastated, and the work of the Lord was moving on to people and nations that would allow His name to be great. The Gentiles were being readied to accept the “Lord of hosts.” Their hearts were ready to receive His zeal to remove the hells from everyone and the church. Good and truth needed to be conjoined in life so that love to the neighbor and love to the Lord would once again thrive in His church.

 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:11.

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • Can you think of personal examples of your experiences with the rising and setting of the sun of the Lord? The Lord never “sets.” He is always “rising.” Moments of disappointment or tragedy cause people to allow the setting of the Lord’s sun in their lives. In such moments, the light seems to be going down or out. What does it take to have a new dawn after this personal darkness?
  • Israel’s obstinacy is remarkable in some ways. Their traditional teachings were firm about their “favored nation” status. Can you identify with them? How would you feel if it ever came to us that the Lord was going to bring the New Church to Gentiles? To make it a little more personal, would we be ready, and open, to hear this message?
  • Since coming into the organized New Church, I have heard people say, “We need to allow ‘Gentiles’ to find us.” We are somewhat cautious about “outsiders” and with some justification. We need to be slow with our evangelism so that a genuine sense of spiritual discovery comes with the newcomer. We don’t want lip service or a joining for the wrong reasons. There have been those who say they are interested in the church but really wanted the benefits of school and its tuition breaks.
  • Please consider the meaning of a pure (clean) offering and incense. The lack of these brought the Jewish church down. Do we have our acts of worship in better shape?
  • I’m still feeling somewhat sorry for the church of Israel. I’m sorry that they didn’t listen. I’m sorry that they didn’t want to change. And I am sorry they drifted away from the Lord. But why do I feel sorry for them? I guess the sorrow has its base in the worry that I too get into patterns where I tend to become careless with matters of faith. Are there any ways we can inspire each other to offer the incense of prayer, confession, and adoration that will stay fresh and sincere?
  • Again, I offer a personal feeling: Does a study of the Lord’s Word, such as this one, give us a means to keep the “sun rising” and to make the name of the Lord great? 
  • Study is hard. There will be times when we find the application of the Word escaping our grasp. But experience shows that a steady plodding will pay dividends. Our study will give Spiritual IRAs that pay eternal dividends. What are Spiritual IRA’s? Instruction, Reflection, and Application of the Word to the good of life.  
  • If you find this kind of study guide useful, will you encourage others to use it as well?

 

Malachi 1:12-14

“‘But you profane it, in that you say, “The table of the Lord is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.” You also say, “Oh, what a weariness!” And you sneer at it,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?’ says the Lord. ‘But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and makes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—for I am a great King,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and My name is to be feared among the nations.’”

 

Passages From The Writings

P&P

  • “…those who are within the church profane worship, and do not worship the Lord.”

AE 725 [11]

  • “In Malachi…1:14…‘A male in the flock’ signifies the genuine truth of doctrine from the Word; ‘a corrupted thing’ signifies what is falsified; and ‘to vow and sacrifice’ signifies to worship, thus from things falsified when truth is known; that this worship being fraudulent is infernal is signified by ‘cursed be the defrauder.’”

 

Derived Doctrine

“But you profane it [My name] in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled…’”

  • To “profane” “signifies to be led by one’s self and one’s own loves and not by the Lord.” (AC 10362) To “profane” signifies to defile holy truths (AC 5044 [7]).
  • A “table” of the Lord signifies a receptacle. A table signifies “the reception of such things as are from the Lord, which are the good of love and the good of faith, and the consequent blessedness and happiness” (AC 9527).
  • “Defile” signifies the effect of impure worship (AC 1292 [3]).

“…and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.”

  • “Fruit” signifies good. Essentially, it signifies the good of life (AE 48).
  • “Food” signifies things of use to a person’s soul (AC 5293).
  • “Contemptible,” or contempt, signifies those who turn from good by utterly despising truth (AC 3322 [7]).

“‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at [the fruit and food on the Lord’s Table]…”

  • “Weary,” in the positive sense, signifies to be in distress because there are no truths (AC 8568 [9]). The negative sense would be to be in distress because of the presence of truth.
  • “Sneering” has an interesting description in DP 318 [7]. This number draws attention to the fact that there is nothing that cannot be confirmed and that “falsity is confirmed more readily than the truth.” Those who confirm themselves in falsity “sneer” at those who allow the “inflowing light of day” to dispel falsity. Is this not what is going on in this verse? Sneering at the fruit and food on the Lord’s Table is profane, but the people who are sneering won’t listen to the Lord’s warning.

“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick…Should I accept this from your hand?”

  • “Stolen” signifies to attribute to oneself what belongs only to the Lord, namely good and truth (AC 4002 [2]).
  • “Lame” signifies those not in good, and so not in truth (AC 4302 [8]).
  • “Sick” signifies those who are distressed by evils and falsities but don’t want to be healed by the Lord. See Conjugial Love (CL) 4586 for the positive meaning.
  • Should the Lord accept these inferior offerings? We know the answer from the literal sense. He will not. Nor will He acknowledge the self-power (hand) that brought them.

“But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished…”

  • Please note that most of this verse is explained in AE 725 [11], as quoted above. We need just a few points to round out the correspondences.
  • “Cursed” signifies the sensuous nature that averted “itself from that which is heavenly, turned itself to that of the body, and thus cursed itself…” (AC 245)
  • A “deceiver” is someone who denies the presence of the Lord for the purpose of claiming self-merit (AC 4077 [3]).
  • A “vow” in the positive sense signifies a willingness to acknowledge the Lord’s providence and allow Him to provide essentials. This is not the case with the deceiver. Deceivers give lip-service that is nothing but a sham.
  • How do we know this? The Lord refuses to accept a deceiver’s “blemished” sacrifices. The Writings use the term “fraudulent” worship (AE 725 [11]).
  • “Flock” signifies the church and those who are in the truths of simple good (AC 6828). “Flock” signifies an interior natural good (AC 4244).
  • “Male” signifies, in the positive sense, the genuine doctrine of the Word (AC 7829 and AE 710 [33]). Therefore, we can see why the Lord exposed this deceiver among the flock. The deceiver put on the face of genuine doctrine but wanted to offer fraudulent, blemished sacrifices that were not acceptable to the Lord.

“…for I am a great King…and My name is to be feared among the nations.”

  • A “king” signifies one who is in truth from affection for what is good (AR 440). Our verse uses the capital K for “King,” signifying the Lord who is Divine Truth and Divine Love.
  • As for His name being feared among the nations, we know from doctrine that the word “fear” signifies having adoration, a deep humility, a holy love of the Lord (AR 56)

 


Putting It All Together

The Lord, preparing the disciples for the day when they would have to go out and preach and teach without Him, warned them that they would be like sheep in the midst of wolves. He warned them to beware of wolves that put on sheep’s clothing. He illustrated what their role should be in their ministry. They were to remember that a disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant above his master. And where would they find the enemy? “A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36)

What has this to do with our summation? The cursed, the deceiver, the one with a “male in the flock” taking a vow, had little interest in the care of the flock. He put on the clothing of sheep. He came looking like he was making a sacrifice to the Lord, but instead, he brought defective goods to the altar. Love wasn’t there. He made a sacrifice to the Lord for show and not for the furtherance of genuine doctrine. The “male” averted himself from that which was heavenly. Instead, his real interest was to turn all things to the body. The “male” deceiver, in his heart, denied the presence of the Lord for the purpose of claiming self-merit. Such profane worship wearied the Lord. He noted the inward sneer in the deceiver’s heart. Yes, the enemy was really in the household of the external church. And so the summation in P&P makes sense:

“…those who are within the church profane worship, and do not worship the Lord.”

The cursed, the deceiver, the pretenders would not prevail. The Lord announced that He was a great King and His name would elicit a holy fear based on adoration, deep humility, and a genuine love of His great Kingship. Can you hear Isaiah 9:6 being sung in the “Messiah” chorus? “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”

And the people shall say “Amen.”

 

Read and Review

Read the selection from P&P.

Read Malachi 1:12-14.

 

Questions to Stimulate Reflection

  • At what point of pulling together the doctrine and derived doctrine did the spiritual sense of this passage begin to unfold for you?
  • Did you experience a kind of inner light?
  • Could you picture the cursed, the deceiver, and his profane offering of a blemished gift instead of the good gift that he could have given; are these images illustrating things for you in tangible ways?
  • What stands out in your memory that helps you get the feeling that the Lord is a great King? Is it looking back over your life to see how His providence has guided us over the years? Is it reading the Word to see how He wins out over evil? Does it occur with an act of kindness or the gentle sphere of innocence?
  • What does it mean to you that the Lord said He was wearied with the sacrifices of the evil?
  • Do you think your moment of reflection would be helped if you played a portion of the “Messiah” chorus? Music stirs the soul to feel the majesty and glory of our Lord. If you don’t have the music, read Isaiah 9 with the tune in your mind.

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