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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Malachi 1:9

9. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.

9. Et nunc deprecamini quaeso faciem Dei, et miserabitur nostri; (e manu vestra factum est hoc;) an suscipiet ex vobis faciem, dicit Iehova exercituum.

He wounds here the priests more grievously, -- because they had so degenerated as to be wholly unworthy of their honorable office and title; |Go,| he says, |and entreat the face of God.| All this is ironical; for interpreters are much mistaken who think that the Prophet here exhorts the priests humbly to ask pardon from God, both for themselves and for the people. On the contrary, he addresses them, as I have said, ironically, while telling them to be intercessors and mediators between God and the people; and yet they were profane men, who on their part polluted the whole worship of God, and thus subverted the whole of religion: go thou and entreat, he says, the face of God. This duty, we know, was enjoined on the priests; they were to draw nigh to the sanctuary and present themselves before God as though they were advocates pleading the cause of the people, or at least intercessors to pacify God. Since then they were in this respect the types of Christ, it behoved them to strive themselves to be holy; and though the people abandoned themselves to all kinds of wickedness, it yet became the priests to devote themselves with all reverence to the duties of their calling; and as God had preferred them to their brethren, they ought especially to have consecrated themselves to him with all fear; for the more excellent their condition was, the more eminent ought to have been their piety and holiness. Justly then does the Prophet here inveigh so severely against them, because they did not consider that they were honored with the priesthood, that they might entreat God, and thus pacify his wrath, and reconcile to him miserable men: Go, he says, and entreat the face of God; forsooth! he will accept your face. We now understand the real meaning of the Prophet.

And now, he says, he will have mercy on us. Here also the Prophet derides them, because they boasted that they could prevail through their own high dignity to render God propitious; forsooth! he says, he will have mercy on us. But this is done by your hand, i.e., by you. |Do ye raise up your hands to God? and will he on seeing you be pacified towards you? As then ye are polluted, ye are unworthy of the honor and office, in which ye so proudly glory.|

He does not however, as we have already said, extenuate the fault of the people, and much less does he exempt them from guilt who were implicated in the same crimes; but he shows that the state of things was wholly desperate; for the common people disregarded God, and the priests, neglecting to make any distinctions, received every sort of victims, only that they might not be in want: he shows them that the state of the people was extremely bad, as there was no one who could, according to what his office required, pacify God. Will he then receive your face? The Prophet seems to allude to the person of the Mediator; for as Christ had not as yet appeared, when the priest presented himself before the altar, it was the same as though God looked on the face of one, and became thus propitious to all. On this account he says, that the priests were not worthy that God should look on them, since they had polluted his sanctuary and corrupted his whole service. For the same purpose he subjoins --

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