VII. Reasons Why Jehovah Will Restore His People. The prophet opens with a declaration that Jerusalem’s period of forced service is over, that she has paid double for the sins of the past, and that Jehovah is about to remove all obstacles and restore and exalt his oppressed people. He then gives the reasons for his strong conviction: (1) Jehovah is incomparably superior to the forces of nature, to the nations that hold Israel in bondage, and to the heathen gods whose images are shaped by the hand of man. All the powers of heaven and earth are under his control. He is the creator and supreme ruler of the universe, able to remove all obstacles and to give strength and might to those who put their trust in him. (2) Through his leadership of his people in the past, through their victories over their powerful foes, and in all the experiences of their national life he has shown his power to guide and deliver. (3) Toward Israel, his servant, he stands in a unique relation, for he has chosen and trained his people for a great service in behalf of all the world. Therefore he who is able and eager to deliver will not fail his people in their hour of need. (4) Their present affliction is but a part of that training which is essential before they can perform their task as Jehovah’s servant; that task is tenderly to espouse the cause of those who are crushed, to open eyes that are blind, to bring captives out of their confinement, and, as a faithful teacher, to inspire all mankind with love for Israel’s God.
The prophet’s aim was clearly to encourage his despondent people, to show them the deeper meaning of their present afflictions, to open their eyes to Jehovah’s gracious purpose, to give to the entire race a goal for which to live and strive, and, above all, to arouse them to effective action. Doubtless the prophet thought only of the problems of the men of his day, but in his interpretation of Jehovah’s worldwide purpose and in the faith and devotion which his words inspire he gave to all mankind a universal, undying message.
Section XCVII. CONDITIONS AND PROBLEMS WITHIN THE JUDEAN COMMUNITY
[Sidenote: Mal. 1:6-9]
A son honoreth his father, and a servant feareth his master;
If then I am a father, where is mine honor?
And if I am a master, where is the one who fears me?
Saith Jehovah to you, O ye priests, who despise my name.
But ye say, ‘Wherein have we despised thy name?’
Ye offer upon mine altar bread that is polluted
And ye say, ‘Wherein have we polluted it?’
In that ye say, ‘The table of Jehovah is contemptible.’
And that when ye offer the blind for sacrifice, ‘It is no harm!’
And that when ye offer the lame and the sick, ‘It is no harm!’
Present it now to thy governor; will he be pleased with it?
Or will he receive thee favorably? saith Jehovah of hosts.
And now entreat the favor of God with such an offering, that he may be
gracious to us,
Would I receive any of you favorably? saith Jehovah of hosts.