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 — Malachi 3:1
Yes, God will send His messenger and indeed, he has already come. His name is Malachi, which literally means ‘my messenger.’ This last prophet of the Old Testament may actually be anonymous and his title has become his name.
While this book deals with issues of the day, it speaks about modern things like tithing (3:8-12). It is not an exaggeration to say that you can tell the direction of a person’s heart by where their money goes. In places where Christians are an oppressed minority, you can tell who the infiltrator or ‘fake Christian’ is during the church service because they steadfastly refuse to give money when it is offering time. As always, Jesus said it best ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ – Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34
SUMMARY OF MALACHI
The Hebrew people, soon to be called ‘Jews,’ were back in their land after the 70 year Babylonian exile. Though the religious life had returned to its familiar routine, there was spiritual lukewarmness. People were not tithing and intermarriage with heathen peoples was common. It was time to ‘wake up the sleepers’ and Malachi did precisely that.
He offers six oracles where 1. God speaks of His great love for His people; 2. His people dishonoured him; 3. Their offerings were rejected; 4. The sending of His messenger before the Lord’s sudden coming; 5. A call to return to the Lord; and 6. Addressing Israel’s unwarranted comments about God. There are 23 questions back and forth between God and Israel. The end of the prophecy – and the Old Testament – gives a solid warning and forecasts the long-anticipated ‘day of the Lord’ (Chapter 4).
Malachi mixes the Law (Moses – 4:4) with the prophets (Elijah 4:5), both whom appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. After Malachi there is the 400 years called the inter-testament period that ended with the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist and the Gospel of Matthew. Daniel 11 is a prophecy about that period.
Malachi is quoted in Romans 9:13 regarding God’s love (1:2-3); the coming messenger (3:1) is quoted by Jesus Himself regarding John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-15); finally, the prophecy of sending Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (4:5) is interpreted as John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14; 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13). Revelation 11:3-6 speaks of the spirit of Elijah.
God does not want to see marriage or any other commitment as merely a contract, which has legal and financial implications but nothing more. No, marriage and relating to God is a covenant, a binding agreement. When covenant is honoured, there are great rewards; when broken, there are dire consequences. Covenantal faithfulness should be seen in marriage and family life.
Tithing, giving the first 10th of your income increase to God, is part of that too. Tithing settles the ownership question since everything belongs to God. Those who tithe acknowledge that principle. The prophet gives a challenge: if you pay your tithe, the windows of heaven will open and shower so much blessing that there is no room to contain it. In addition, God will rebuke the devourer for your sake. Finally, worship should be of the heart
The last chapter of Malachi and the Old Testament solidly focus on the future ‘Day of the Lord.’ It is likened to fire that burns up the stubble until there is nothing left. Yet, for those who ‘fear the Lord,’ you have a bright future because the Sun of righteousness is coming with healing in his wings. Instead of being judged, you will be an implement of judgement by treading down the wicked.
The faithful are to remember the law of Moses, given on Horeb, before the promise of the coming of Elijah, who will reconcile fathers to children and vice versa. Without this reconciliation, the Lord personally will come and smite the earth with a curse.
Yes, it’s true – the last word of the Old Testament is ‘curse.’ Understand that the Old Testament is a blessing, yet failure to obey God brings judgement. Remember the last words of the New Testament are The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen — Revelation 22:21. Thus, we go from ‘curse’ to ‘grace’ thanks to the gospel of Christ.
OUTLINE OF MALACHI
I .Oracles of the Lord (Contemporary scene – 1:2-3:18)
A. Oracle One: God’s Love for Israel (1:2-5) – Israel: How have you loved us? (1:2)
B. Oracle Two: Israel’s disobedience (1:6-2:9) – Israel: How did we despise your name? (1:6); How have we polluted you? (1:7);
C. Oracle Three: God rejects Israel’s offerings (2:10-16) – Israel: Why? (2:14)
D. Oracle Four: The Lord will come quickly (2:17-3:6) – Israel: How have we wearied You and Where is God’s justice? (2:17)
E. Oracle Five: Return to the Lord (3:7-12) – Israel: How do we return? (3:7) & How have we robbed you? (3:8)
F. Oracle Six: Israel’s uncalled for statements about God (3:13-18). Israel – What have we spoken against you (3:13)? What did our obedience gain? (3:14)
The Day of the Lord (Future – 4:1-6)
A. A day of judgment against the proud and wicked (4:1)
B. Day of victory for the righteous (4:2-3)
C. Fathers and children restored to each other (4:4-6)