Malachi pictures Christ as, “The Sun of Righteousness” and “The Messenger of the Covenant.” A messenger would be sent from the Lord that shall prepare the way for the Lord to come, as we see in Malachi 3:1, to which, He shall suddenly come to His Temple. He was pictured as coming once the messenger comes before Him to present the way before Him!
We see Ezra come from Babylon and bringing new recruits, but little info is given of the people. Not much is known between the dedication of the Temple to the coming of Nehemiah. During these years, the Persians fought with the Greeks for supremacy of the world – to which, the Greek made their memorable stand at Thermopylae and the mighty Persian fleet was destroyed at Salamis. We saw the beginning of the golden age of Greek culture, when Socrates was born, the Roman Republic founded, and Europe was ready to succeed Asia as an arbiter in world affairs.
In Jerusalem, the situation was grim, and then Nehemiah became a valued member of the court of Artaxerxes and was sent to rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. The walls were completed in the midst of such opposition, and Nehemiah welded the people into a strong bonded group. Crops were poor nonetheless, parasites ruining plants, and fruit was disappointing. The priests were corrupt and immoral, and a spirit of skepticism encompassed the entire population. People complained about God, complaining about their predicament, refusing to pay tithes & offerings, and were guilty of social injustice; mixing themselves with the heathens of the land. Divorce became common and God’s Covenant had been forgotten. Worship was degenerated into empty and formalism. God called, then, the Prophet Malachi – His fearless servant.
In this first chapter, we see that Malachi is complaining at Israel’s unkindness, and this was his burden/call from the Lord. People pride themselves that they’re God’s People, but yet, they displease Him through their own pleasures. Malachi learns through experience that when such described people are rebuked, they’re usually offended. Malachi just quotes their complaints, and instructs them that they should not blame God, but rather, blame themselves. The main complaint that people post is that God doesn’t love them. If He does, they argue, and want proof through comfort and prosperity – instead of hardship or poverty. Malachi would show them the reasons of their troubles, but he wants to first let them know that they have clear proof of His Love.
One of the examples was the God chose Jacob, instead of Esau, though there as nothing in Jacob that made him more loving than Esau. Jacob’s descendants, Israel, have been punished, however, they are now back in their homeland. Esau’s descendants, however, who were known as Edom, have suffered a judgment from which their nation will not ever recover. The destruction throughout Edom’s homeland will be a reminder to the people of future generations that Edom has incurable wickedness. Israel should honor Him as their father and reverence Him as master, but rather, they just insult them. It would be better for them to close the Temple and have no sacrifices at all than to worship Him with foul things.
In the second chapter, the priests are to blame, as we see, for the poor spiritual condition of Israel. If they don’t quickly reform their ways, God will punish them; reducing income from the people’s offerings, and bring disgrace upon them. He then speaks about what priests have done wrong, what they have done right, what they haven’t done, and what they should be doing for God – to bring more glory to Him, especially in their everyday affairs (for the Temple). Many have failed to uphold God’s standards, and therefore, punishment could be looming for them. People are having divorces and mixed marriages; breaking marriage covenants and the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai. God designed the covenant to promote family and unity to all people. His idea of the family was to bring people closer, not break people up. Anyway, he changes gears to talk about when the Jews would see surrounding nations prosper while they suffered hardship, they would complain to God that it wasn’t just. Other nations didn’t keep His Law, and yet, Israel was His People – so why couldn’t they be most blessed? That was their questioning.
As the third chapter opens, it recaps slightly on the second chapter and continues on with the questioning of why God doesn’t bless His People most. God would intervene then, in human affairs, and bless His People as they wish, however, He would have to first cleanse them of all uncleanness, rebellion, and social injustice. Those who resist the cleansing and continue in sin would be punished. If people want to be out of the hardship they are under, they should be asking for mercy, not justice. Because of all of the hardship, they have poor crops – and they blame God for sending all of such disasters. In their selfishness, they didn’t bring their offerings to Him, and therefore, they must change their ways and be honest unto Him! After that, God would bless them with good rains and good crops. The result of their generosity would bring great, prosperous things for the people. However, many people just continued in their murmurings and complaints against God, to which, they complain that it’s useless trying to please Him, because hardships will still come. Nevertheless, they continue to encourage each other to be faithful to Him, believing that He would never forsake them.
The fourth chapter comes, and this is a short one, which we see that God would take action in destroying the wicked in the day of judgment. Malachi pictures the way things will compare to in this day – a farm scene. However, in view of their coming salvation, the righteous should remain faithful to God’s Law and look expecting the coming of the Messiah’s forerunner, which was symbolized as “Elijah.” If the people would respond to the preaching of this “Elijah” that was coming, they would be united in one spirit with their believing forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, if they had refused to repent, they would meet divine judgment. We know the symbolic Elijah to be was John the Baptist.
- Come back to God… 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” This is very similar to the exhortation that Zechariah makes in his book (1:3), to which, the Lord tells them to return to Him and He would return to them – He would accept them, establish them, bless them, transform them, and help them overall. Forget such evil that drove you away from Him and repent, and then come back to Him!
- Quit Robbing God… 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” People have failed to bring their tithes and offerings, and Malachi speaks that they are robbing God and then instructs them to bring their tithes and offerings to the storehouse – and in doing so, He would pour out a huge blessing; innumerable for their sake.
Scriptures of tremendous value
- 1:2, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob.”
- 1:5, “And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.”
- 1:6, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
- 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”
- 2:5, “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.”
- 2:16, “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
- 3:1, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
- 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”
- 3:8-10, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
- 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
- 4:3, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
- 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
Lessons of value from Malachi
- God loves a pure, clean, and happy home.
- The low ideals of God’s Priests affect the people in the pew.
- Beware of robbing God.
- Impatience leads to false accusations of God.
- One who lives in willful sin cannot hope to please God by costly sacrifices.
- Insincerity in worship is an insult to God!