Malachi is the last book in our arrangement of the Old Testament, the last of the “minor prophets,” and the last time God will talk to His people through them for about 400 years – when he sends His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to fulfill His plan of salvation for us. The name translates to “my messenger” but some believe it may be the shortened form of “Malachiah,” which means “messenger of the Lord.” Since there is some foreshadowing of the arrival of John the Baptist (as in Malachi 3:1, which says “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me”), some consider it word-play on the prophet’s name.
Some estimates of the date are about 460 B.C., making him a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. The temple reconstruction was completed about 516 B.C., and the time was after that, as Malachi 1:10, 3:1, and 3:8-10 clearly allude to an existing temple. But the date may actually be a bit later than that, as the times were somewhat different. The good news is that God’s people finally seem to be rid of the scourge of idolatry here. The bad news is that they are spiritually weak, if not practically dead. They were apathetic toward their worship, and insulted the Lord with their offerings of lame and diseased animals (Malachi 1:6-8).
But that is just the beginning of the things that Malachi points out for which the people need to repent. They are divorcing their wives to marry foreign women – again disregarding the law given against doing so (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). Malachi 3:6-12 speaks of how they are robbing God by not honoring their tithes. And one thing certainly had not changed. The people were still plagued by bad leadership, for the priests were to blame for much of this – and they are certainly addressed and rebuked throughout he book. Malachi’s message from the Lord is that He demands real worship – not simply going through the motions, as they were doing. It was time for God’s people to step up and serve the Lord as their part of the covenant demanded.
Malachi 4:1 warns of the coming judgment for those who continue to show disrespect, indifference, and disregard for the Lord’s will. Both chapter 3 and 4 promise the coming of the Lord’s messenger – named as Elijah the prophet, but clearly a reference to John the Baptist – to “prepare the way.”
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.