… And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers — Malachi 4:6 (last verse in the Old Testament)
INTRODUCTION TO MALACHI
In the last book of the Old Testament, we have a message from a little-known prophet with some very strong convictions. He speaks in favour of honouring God’s covenantal conditions, criticises automatic and hypocritical worship, idolatry, and divorce. Tithes and offerings are given a strong endorsement as part of faithfulness to God.
By the time of Malachi there was a fully functioning second temple in Jerusalem with all the sacrifices reinstated. Despite this, both priests and people have backslid and are ripe for prophetic rebuke. This sounds familiar: Nehemiah had a similar observation when he came from Persia to visit Jerusalem: corrupt priests, unpaid tithes, intermarriage with heathen people.
Then, in the very last chapter of the book, which is the last chapter of the Old Testament, it takes us to last days prophecy. There is a strong reference to the coming of ‘the great and dreadful day of the Lord’ (4:5). Fire that burns like an oven will consume those who are wicked; they will be as stubble. Yet, for those who fear the Name of the Lord the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.
After referring to the Law of Moses (4:4), comes a note of hope: The prophet Elijah is coming. He will reconcile parents and children, lest the Lord comes and smites the earth with a curse (4:6).
HEBREW NAME OF MALACHI
His name may be more like a title: ‘My Messenger;’ similar to the word for angel. It may be the diminutive of malachiah, ‘messenger of the LORD.’
AUTHOR OF MALACHI
We know next to nothing about him though the rabbis suggest that he may have belonged to the great synagogue. He was a contemporary of Nehemiah and a priest.
PORTRAIT OF CHRIST IN MALACHI
Jesus Christ is the ‘sun of righteousness’ (4:2); purifier & refiner.
THEME OF THE BOOK OF MALACHI
God’s denunciation of lax backslidden post-exilic Judaism, with the reassurance of God’s everlasting love. Sin has to be rebuked, judgement promised, cold routine worship condemned, partnering with God financially promoted, and evil associations discouraged. Elijah is coming and there will be reconciliation between fathers and children.
KEY VERSES OF MALACHI
Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? 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 — (2:17-3:1)
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 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 — (4:5-6)
Next month, we will offer a summary and outline of Malachi
TO BE CONTINUED
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