Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Calling of Ephraim

By Dan and Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The prophet Hosea prophesied during the later years of the kingdom of the northern tribes of Israel. Judgment was soon to fall on the kingdom by the hand of the Assyrian Empire. This passage in Hosea opens with God reminding Israel about Jacob’s journeys outside the Promised Land and God’s presence with him during those journeys.
Hosea 12:12-13 NKJV 12 Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse, And for a wife he tended sheep. 13 By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, And by a prophet he was preserved.
The first time Jacob left the Promised Land was when he fled from Esau. This connects us with the Torah portion for this week, Vayetze, Genesis 28:10 through 32:3. While out of the Land, Jacob sought and found a bride or brides, and gained a fortune. When it was time to return to the Promised Land, God delivered him from the wrath of his father-in-law Laban and gave him the new name of Israel. The second time Jacob left the Promised Land was when he was fleeing famine. He sought refuge for his family in Egypt where he was reunited with his son Joseph. After Jacob’s death, God delivered his family from the slavery imposed on them by Pharaoh and made them into the nation Israel.
Why did God remind Israel of these particular events at this time? What message did He want backslidden Israel to take from the words of Hosea? How does this message encourage us today?
By citing these two events, God is reminding Israel of His faithfulness. As Jacob left the Promised Land empty-handed and in fear of his life, God assured him that he would be with him the entire time he was out of the Promised Land. God, also, reassured Jacob, that his exile from the land would not be permanent.
Genesis 28:15 NKJV 15 "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."
When it was time for Jacob to return to the Promised Land, God revealed how he had blessed Jacob. Jacob’s agreement with his father-in-law Laban was that Jacob would serve as his keeper of the flocks in return for receiving the animals born either speckled, streaked or spotted gray. God revealed that He was the one who caused the animals to bear speckled or streaked offspring so that Jacob would be blessed!
Genesis 31:11-12 NKJV 11 "Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob.' And I said, 'Here I am.' 12 "And He said, 'Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
Then again, when Joseph invited Jacob and the rest of the family to join him in Egypt during the famine years, God reassured Jacob that He would once again go with Jacob when he left the Land.
Genesis 46:3-4 NKJV 3 So He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. 4 "I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes."
God was faithful to fulfill His promises to Jacob! He brought Jacob back to the Promised Land richer than when he left. God had proved His faithfulness. But now, after years in the Land, Israel had forgotten God. Instead of being grateful to God for the blessings of the Land, Israel turned to Baal. While God asked for obedience and adherence to a moral code which supported a cohesive community, worship of Baal promised the fulfillment of their own fleshly desires.
After reminding Israel about her past, Hosea returns to the present with a strong indictment of Israel’s behavior. He singles out Ephraim as representative of Israel because the first king of the northern kingdom was Jeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim, and Ephraim remained the largest and most influential tribe in the kingdom of Israel.
Hosea 12:14 NKJV 14 Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly; Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, And return his reproach upon him.
God, then, begins to outline all the ways that Israel or Ephraim sinned and the punishment for that sin. He, then, follows it up with what Israel needed to do to return to God. Both the punishments and the steps to return can be summarized in four particulars. Why four? E. W. Bullinger explains the significance of the number four in his book Number in Scripture.
“Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God in the Trinity, namely, His creative works.”[i]
In other words, the number four represents the fullness of creation and God’s sovereignty over it. In particular, God has sovereignty over His covenant nation Israel.
Hosea opens with the pronouncement of death on Israel because they turned and worshiped idols.
Hosea 13:1-2 NKJV 1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died. 2 Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, "Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!"
This death can be understood on multiple levels. Physical death awaits those in Israel when the brutal armies of Assyria overran the nation of Israel. The siege of its capital city Samaria took three years. The famine within the city was so severe, that mothers began eating their babies! But the death spoken of by Hosea can also be understood to be spiritual or eternal death. When Jeroboam accepted the decision of the ten northern tribes of Israel to become their king instead of accepting Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king, he worried that if the people still worshiped in Jerusalem they would return their allegiance to Rehoboam. To prevent this, Jeroboam set up golden calves for the people to worship in place of God.
1 Kings 12:28-30 NKJV 28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" 29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.
Their worship of the golden calves which they intermingled with Baal worship brought in by Jezebel led to their spiritual death. Their worship of other gods broke the covenant relationship with God leading to covenantal death. This takes us to the second punishment, exile.
Hosea 13:3-4 NKJV 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud And like the early dew that passes away, Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor And like smoke from a chimney. 4 "Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no Savior besides Me.
Jeroboam told the children of Israel that the golden calves were their god that had brought them out of Egypt. God, through the prophet Hosea, corrected that erroneous statement! Because they trusted in idols, they would be dispersed throughout the Assyrian empire. Hosea describes the dispersion with four similes, the morning clouds, the dew, the chaff and smoke from a chimney, each of which quickly disperses!
When Israel broke the covenant, God, Israel’s covenant partner, invoked the curses embedded within the covenant provisions. If Israel broke the covenant, certain consequences would follow.
Hosea 13:7-8 NKJV 7 "So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk; 8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.
In the Hebrew, there is a word play that reveals the instrument God chose for Israel’s punishment. The English phrase “I will lurk” is translated from the Hebrew word “ashhur,” the imperfect future tense of the word “shuwr.” Asshur sounds exactly like the Hebrew word, Asshur, for Assyria! This word play tells us that Assyria will descend down the road to destroy them.
Instead of God helping Israel, He allowed Israel to be destroyed. They had rejected God as their king, and now must rely on the kings that they had demanded God give them to help them. However, their kings could not help them!
Hosea 13:9-11 NKJV 9 "O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me. 10 I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'? 11 I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath.
God gave Saul to be king when the children of Israel demanded a human king. He took him away when Saul’s pride and desire to please the people had him turning away from God. However, God, also, gave the northern tribs of Israel Jeroboam as their first king, but Jeroboam caused Israel to sin. Every king after Jeroboam followed Jeroboam’s sin and continued to cause Israel to sin. Now, God is taking away the king of Israel in His wrath against the nation. The final king of the kingdom of Israel was Hoshea.
2 Kings 17:6 NKJV 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Hoshea, number 1954 in Strong’s Concordance, is a variant of the name Hosea and Oshea. It means deliverer. King Hoshea was unable to deliver Israel from Assyria! The prophet Hosea, who announces the coming destruction, names God as their only true deliverer!
The fourth punishment on Israel was devastation both of the land and the people.
Hosea 13:15-16 NKJV 15 Though he is fruitful among his brethren, An east wind shall come; The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness. Then his spring shall become dry, And his fountain shall be dried up. He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize. 16 Samaria is held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open.
The name Ephraim, number 669 in Strong’s Concordance, means doubly fruitful. Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph that Jacob blessed before his older brother saying that he would be the greater of Joseph’s two sons. Later, when Jacob blessed his sons before he died, he described Joseph as a “fruitful bough.”
Genesis 49:22 NKJV 22 "Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall.
Ephraim did not fulfill his early promise and bear fruit for God! He did not further God’s kingdom by upholding God’s covenant in the sight of the nations. Moses had promised that the nations would see the righteousness of Israel.
Deuteronomy 4:6 NKJV 6 "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
Ephraim’s descendant Jeroboam did not follow God’s commandments, statutes and judgments. Jeroboam did evil and led the children of Israel away from God and His commandments. God sent judgment on the house of Jeroboam during the reign of his son Nadab because of the sins of Jeroboam.
1 Kings 15:29-30 NKJV 29 And it was so, when he (Baasha) became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, 30 because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.
Yeshua tells us that He will prune out any vine in His Father’s vineyard that does not bear fruit.
John 15:5-6 NKJV 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
All four of these punishments came on the northern kingdom of Israel. Yet God still stated that He was their God and their only savior! No other would be able to deliver them. God was not done speaking to Israel! How should Israel respond to the judgments poured out on them? Hosea outlines four steps they are to take to return to God!
Hosea 14:1-2 NKJV 1 O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, And return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
The first thing Israel was to do was to confess their sins and ask God to take away their sins. King David, when confronted with his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba confessed his sins.
Psalms 51:1-3 NKJV 1 <> Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
The apostle John tells us that when we confess our sins we have an advocate with the Father.
1 John 2:1-2 NKJV 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
The second thing they were to do was to change their attitude. Their sacrifices belong to God and only to God. It is to Him they were to thank for the blessings God gave them. Earlier in Hosea, God chastises Israel for giving thanks to their idols instead of Him for the blessings that He brings.
Hosea 2:5 NKJV 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.'
Paul encourages us to come to God with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.
Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The next thing Hosea called on Ephraim to do was to return his trust to God and acknowledge that God alone could save him.
Hosea 14:3 NKJV 3 Assyria shall not save us, We will not ride on horses, Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, 'You are our gods.' For in You the fatherless finds mercy."
They were to acknowledge that salvation did not come from Assyria, and follow that up with action. Action is the fourth step in their return to God. They were to renounce and turn from their worship of idols.
Hosea 14:8 NKJV 8 "Ephraim shall say, 'What have I to do anymore with idols?' I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me."
Yeshua tells us that He is the one sent by the Father to bring salvation and there is no salvation except through His name.
John 3:35-36 NKJV 35 "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
We must follow up our faith with action. Yeshua says that our words are not enough. We can’t just say to Him, “Lord, Lord!” We must change our actions to meet our words.
Matthew 7:21 NKJV 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
John tells us that if we truly know Yeshua, we will follow Him and keep His commandments.
1 John 2:3-6 NKJV 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Hosea brought his words to Israel when they were at the decision point that would determine whether they would be destroyed as a nation. God’s desire was for Israel to repent and turn back to Him! His desire was that they remain a nation set apart for Him. But Israel did not repent and judgment came. However, this was not the end of Hosea’s message. When Israel repents, God will restore her.
Hosea 14:4 NKJV 4 "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him.
God has not turned His back on His covenant people, nor will he ever do so. He continues to call out to Ephraim. We, also, have this assurance. When we turn from sin and fully embrace God, He will heal us from our sins and pour out His love upon us. In fact, He has already done so by sending Yeshua to die for us.
Study Questions:
1. This portion of scripture opens with a five line poem in Hosea 12:12 describing God bringing Jacob and Israel back to the Promised Land. How would Hosea have written about Yeshua’s role in delivering Israel?

2. Jeroboam had set up calves for Israel to worship instead of worshiping in Jerusalem Hosea described those who made idols as saying to Israel “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves” in Hosea 13:2. How does Psalm 2:10-11 respond to this instruction?

3. Read God’s promise to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11:37-38. Compare this promise to God’s promise to David in 1 Chronicles 17:9-14. What was God’s indictment of Jeroboam when Jeroboam’s wife came to the prophet Ahijah when her son was ill in 1 Kings 14:6-16?

4. Yeshua says in Mark 12:30 that loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength is the first and greatest commandment. Compare this to the four steps Hosea outlined for repentance: Confession, Attitude, Trust, and Action.

5. In what way is God calling Ephraim? How does this apply today?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved

[i] Bullinger, E.W. Number in Scripture. Eyre and Spottiswoode. ©1894. Reissued Cosimo, Inc. ©2005. P. 123.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Shabbat Service 11-10-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching (available from our website at and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Messenger of the LORD of Hosts

By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The book of Malachi may be very short, but it is full of prophetic significance.  Malachi may not even be the proper name of the author of this book because the word is often used as a title and is from a root word which means ambassador, angel, king, or messenger.
The prophecies of Malachi were given during a time of relative peace in the land of Israel.  Many of the Jewish people had returned to the land from captivity in Assyria, and then, later in Babylon. Although the people didn’t have complete autonomous rule of their historic homeland of Israel, the temple had been rebuilt, the priesthood was in place once again, and all was looking well… Or was it? The book of Malachi contains some very specific warnings to the priesthood and the people who have again failed to uphold their obligations under the Mosaic Covenant. And, once again we see the curse of Esau rise up as a thorn in the side of the nation of Israel.  We see in the book of Malachi, in yet another generation, we see that the battle and animosity between the twin brothers of Jacob and Esau continues.
Malachi lived in the same general era as Ezra and Nehemiah and probably returned to the land of Israel among the first of many waves of Jews retuning to Israel following the downfall of Babylon. At this time the Temple was rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel.
Ezra 3:8 NKJV 8 Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.
It is widely accepted that Malachi, along with Zachariah and Haggai, form a triumvirate of important post exile prophets of the LORD.  The exact dating of the writings of Malachi are not easy to determine, but were most likely penned around 440 to 430 BCE. During the time Malachi is writing, the rebuilding of the Temple is near completion, sacrifices were being offered as prescribed in the Torah, and Ezra and Nehemiah were in positions of leadership.
The opening verses of Malachi refer to Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac. This week’s Torah reading is titled Toldot from Genesis 25:19-28:9 and contains the story of Esau and Jacob.  Esau was the firstborn and as such would be entitled to the double portion of the inheritance.  But, we know the story, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a single meal.
Genesis 25:27-33 NKJV 27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." 32 And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" 33 Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.
Jacob ended up inheriting the double portion, but also the covenantal promise handed down from Abraham through Isaac.  The Haftarah reading for this week gives some insight into God’s position on this.
Malachi 1:1-3 NKJV 1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 "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; 3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness."
But what is meant when God says that He loves Jacob and hates Esau?  How are we supposed to understand this statement in light of a loving and just God?  Does God really hate Esau and his descendants as we understand the word hate?  Unfortunately, the text of Malachi doesn’t really give us much wiggle room or options.  Let’s look at the Hebrew text.  The word translated as love is #157 Ahav, a primitive root word meaning to have affection for; to be loved or liked.  And counter to that, the word translated as hate is #8130, Sane; meaning to hate, an enemy or foe.
We can take this love and hate in a literal sense and would probably not be wrong in our interpretation.  However, there is a deeper understanding.  God chose to enter into a covenant relationship with Jacob or the nation of Israel and chose not to enter into a covenant relationship with Esau or the nation of Edom. In that sense He loved Jacob and hated Esau. This covenant relationship is on a national level and not an individual level.
From the time of Esau himself, The Edomites had always been a persistent enemy of the nation of Israel and, thus, of God. The enmity began with Amelek, Esau’s grandson.
Genesis 36:12 NKJV 12 Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau's wife.
Israel first fought Amalek in the wilderness at Rephidim.
Exodus 17:8-10, 13 NKJV 8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill… 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Moses warned the Children of Israel that the LORD would battle Amalek in every generation.
Exodus 17:16 NKJV 16 for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
Amalek is not only an enemy of Israel, but also a vehicle of judgment on Israel for their disobedience throughout their generations.  We read of wars with Amalek in Judges, in 1st Samuel, and 1st Chronicles. In each case, God allows Amalek to prevail against Israel because of Israel’s idolatry. The nation of Edom will also be a reminder to Israel of the greatness of God.
Malachi 1:4-5 NKJV 4 Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," 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. 5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, 'The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.'
In these opening verses of Malachi, God is reminding Israel that He had made a covenant with them and had chosen them to be His people and they were not to act like the Edomites.
Malachi then turns his attention to the priesthood. The priesthood was to be the intermediary between God and His people. The priests of Malachi’s time were guilty before God because they were breaking the special covenant that God had with Levi. God had set the Levites, including the sons of Aaron, apart for His service.
Numbers 3:45 NKJV 45 "Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites instead of their livestock. The Levites shall be Mine: I am the LORD.
Malachi points out their dishonor and disobedience of God using the analogy of a father and son as well as master and servant.
Malachi 1:6 NKJV 6 "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?'
Malachi was not introducing a new concept here.  The people were already familiar with God being like a father and a master.
Deuteronomy 32:6 NKJV 6 Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?
The Master Yeshua referred to God as His Father and our Father continually throughout His ministry, even in teaching us how to pray.
Matthew 6:9-10 NKJV 9 "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
In Malachi 1:6 He poses a couple of questions as if God Himself is asking them. First is “Where is my honor?” the word honor is #3519 kavod meaning splendor, glorious or honorable.  The other question was, if God was their Master, where is the reverence due Him?  The word translated as reverence is #4172 mowra, meaning to fear from #3372 Yawray meaning to fear, but also to be held in reverence.  Malachi pointed out that the priesthood was not regarding God in in fear and reverence.  They were taking their duties lightly. He begins by identifying how they fall short.
Malachi 1:7-8 NKJV 7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the LORD is contemptible.' 8 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.
Defiled food would be inferior quality offerings.  Malachi says that they were offering up evil sacrifices by bringing blind, lame and sick animals to the LORD’s altar.  The opening chapters of Leviticus specify the nature of the offerings and sacrifices that are to be brought to the Altar of the LORD. These sacrifices were to be of specific animals without blemish.
Leviticus 1:3 NKJV 3 'If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.
The priests apparently didn’t care or didn’t understand that they were bringing defiled and evil offerings before God. In verse 7 they ask how they have defiled the altar. Malachi seems to say to the priests that if they don’t think their offerings to God are unacceptable, they should try to offer them to the governor! If such offerings were unacceptable to an earthly leader, how much more unacceptable are they to the LORD?  The rebuke of the priesthood really hits hard in verses 9 and 10.
Malachi 1:9-10 NKJV 9 "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. 10 "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.
The LORD, through Malachi, is telling the priests that they should just shut up the temple and walk away.  If they are not willing to repent and turn back to God’s covenant with them, it is better to make no sacrifice at all rather than a defiled one!  In Malachi chapter 2, God says that a curse will be upon them if they continue their evil practices.
Malachi 2:1-3 NKJV 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.
The English “curse” is used twice here in verse 2 but there are two different Hebrew words. The second word translated as curse is #779 Awrar. It is a primitive root meaning to execrate or bitterly curse.  It is a stronger word than just to curse. This is the same Hebrew word used in verse 14 of the previous chapter.
Malachi 1:14 NKJV 14 "But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes 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.
This kind of curse is severe. The same word and concept are used in Deuteronomy chapter 27 where the Levites speak to all the men of Israel, pronouncing curses from Mount Ebal.
Deuteronomy 27:14-15 NKJV 14 "And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel: 15 'Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen!'
The curses of Deuteronomy 27 are or will be the resultant judgment for covenant unfaithfulness. As with the curses of Deuteronomy 27, Malachi’s pronouncements in verse 3 are generational! The priests of Malachi’s day were not only offering the wrong things with the wrong attitude, they were breaking the covenant that God made with the priesthood through Moses and bringing generational curses on Israel.
First Fruits of Zion in their work Torah Club Vol. 3 – The Haftarah summarizes the fallen state of these priests.
“…If they persisted, the priests could only expect to experience some of the promised troubles specified in Deuteronomy to come upon them.  God had no choice but to act with that threat because He was covenantally bound to do so.”[i]
Malachi 2:1 says in part “If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart.” The word hear is sh’ma, a word we know quite well. It is #8085 meaning to hear with intelligence with the implication of attention and obedience.  The priests were the one class of Israelites who would be closest to the Torah of God. They were the keepers of the Torah and teachers to the people, yet these priests chose not to hear with intelligence and obey!
Malachi also points out that the priests were teaching a corrupted Torah.
Malachi 2:4-9 NKJV 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."
The priesthood was failing in its duty as teachers of the law in the time of Malachi.  This is not unlike Yeshua’s day when He continually rebukes the scribes and Pharisees about their misuse of the Torah.  Matthew’s gospel records a series of woes that Yeshua proclaims against the Scribes and Pharisees for essentially the same failure that Malachi pointed out.
Matthew 23:13-14 NKJV 13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.  
Malachi’s prophecies deal with the nations of Israel and with Edom. We get a picture of a sovereign God who choses who He will make covenant with and with whom He will not. God holds those in covenant with him to a higher standard.  The priests and Levites were charged with teaching the people the ways of the LORD and were consequently held to an even higher standard than the people of the other tribes of Israel. The apostle Paul also wrote of these same principles but applied on an individual basis.
Romans 9:22-23 NKJV 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
This Haftarah teaches us that when we enter into covenant with God it is a serious business. We are never to take our responsibilities lightly.  We are always to approach God and our salvation with fear and trembling.  He is a sovereign God, but He is just and faithful to those who are His chosen and to all those who call on the name of the LORD.
Study Questions:
1. Compare Malachi’s instruction in Malachi 1:9-10 with the apostle Paul’s words about bringing false or inappropriate sacrifices before God.  How does Paul’s teaching about a “living sacrifice” apply?

2. The Edomites were a continual thorn in the side of the Israelites from the very beginning, even before they entered the promised land.  How does Edom play a role in the time of Yeshua?

3. The Haftarah portion spoke of the generational curse placed on the descendants of Esau, the Edomites.  Discuss the generational curse described in Exodus 34:6-10 among other places.  How are these curses broken?

4. Malachi 1:10 askes if there is one priest who will recognize the grave sin being perpetrated by the offering of defiled sacrifices on God’s altar and shut the doors of the Temple so that no defiled sacrifice can be made.  The vest verse Malachi 1:11 speaks about God’s name being “great among the Gentiles.” How do the Gentiles make “a pure offering” before God.

5. The name Malachi literally means “My Messenger.”  Read Malachi 3:1 (not covered in this Haftarah)  Discuss how Malachi may be a type of John the Baptist.

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[i] FFOZ Torah Club Volume Three – Toldot, P104

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Shabbat Service 11-3-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching (available from our website at and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty - Part 1

This is part 1 of our study from "Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah - Vol. 4".  The book is available from or from