Daily Bible Reading: Malachi 1-2 and Revelation 17-18

Malachi is an eponym – a “name” that is based on a meaning. The word Malachi (Gr.) means “messenger.” The oracle was written sometime between 516 BC, when the Temple was rebuilt, and 330 BC, the end of the Persian period. The content indicates probably written around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. The author is not known according to Lawrence Boadt.           

 

Malachi 1 - God’s people are always challenging God to show how He has loved them. God responds that he showed his love for them in his favoring of Jacob over Esau (eponym for Edomites). Malachi argues that even though Edom may seem to be building up, God will “pull down” (1:4) what they build.

 

God seems concerned here that his people are just not showing Him respect. They “pollute” his table by offering sacrificial animals that are not perfect.

 

Malachi 2 – The priests fall short too. God reminds them of the covenant he made with Levi. It was a covenant that “stood for life and peace,” for “fear and trembling” as well (awe and respect). God looks for the priests to walk with God “in integrity and virtue” (2:7).  

 

But these priests now have strayed from God’s way. They “have caused many to stumble by [their] teaching” (2:8). They have done this by marrying “daughter[s] of an alien god” (2:12), idolaters.

 

“Yahweh stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, the wife with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant” (2:14-15). This “ beloved wife” that the Levitical priests have broken faith with is the “sanctuary.”

 

Revelation 17 – An angel speaks to John about “the famous prostitute” who rules the Fertile Crescent area. Again, as in Daniel, the details are both symbolic and relate directly to a context that was historically vivid to the writer – the time of Nero’s persecution, his [Nero’s] death and the belief that he would indeed come again to rule Rome.

 

The dying, departure and anticipated return of Nero are ironically seen in light of the faith Christians had that Jesus had died, departed and would return (see verse 8).

 

It is true the scarlet beast [Rome? Nero?] “was and now is not (17:8), but this beast will not come again as Christ came except in the way all will come again at the very end of time; then it is true he will be raised “only to go to his destruction” (17:8).

 

While there will be other kings that “go to war against the Lamb” (17:14), the Lamb will eventually “defeat them and they will be defeated by his followers, the called, the chosen, the faithful” (17:14).

 

The waters in the vision are “all the peoples, the populations, the nations and the languages” (17:15) who will also eventually be victorious.

 

Revelation 18 – Another angel announces the demise of Babylon. Kings of the earth who have “fornicated with her” (18:3) will mourn. Traders who have made money from her will mourn too.

 

“A new voice spoke from heaven; I heard it say, ‘Come out, my people, away from her, so that you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear” (18:4). Despite her great powers, the Lord God will condemn her. The kings of the earth will weep for her destruction – the kings and traders or merchants. They too have “fornicated” with her [Babylon/Rome].

 

The “captains and seafaring men, sailors and all those who make a living from the sea” (18:17) will also go down with “her.” They will mourn the loss of “this great city whose lavish living has made a fortune” (18:19) for them.

 

The saints and apostles, however, should celebrate.  A “powerful angel” will throw a great boulder into the sea and say, “That is how the great city of Babylon is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again” (18:21).

 

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