Malachi is the last prophetic message from God before the close of the Old Testament period. This book captures the essential message of the Old Testament and shows the reader the nature of God and our relationship and responsibility to Him and to others in the covenant community.
Using the question and answer method, Malachi probes deeply into Israel’s problems of hypocrisy, infidelity, mixed marriage, divorce, and false worship, and arrogance. For four hundred years after Malachi’s condemnations, God went silent. Only with the coming of John the Baptist does God again begin communicating with His people through a prophet’s voice.
Verse 1 – The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
Malachi preached after Haggai, Zechariah, and Nehemiah, about 430 B.C. The temple had been rebuilt for almost a hundred years, and the people had turned back to their old ways.
Verse 2 – “I have loved you,” says the LORD, “Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?” “Yet Jacob I have loved;
Verse 3 – but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness.”
The people wanted to know, “In what way have You loved us?” Unfortunately, many people are cynical about God’s love because of their own circumstances. God chose Jacob to head His nation, but he also allowed Esau to father the Edomites, which were one of Israel’s most hated enemies.
Verse 4 – Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places,” thus says the LORD of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.
Although God disciplined Israel time and again, He did not completely destroy them as He had done with Edom.
Verse 5 – Your eyes shall see, and you shall say, ‘The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.’
Verse 6 – “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? says the LORD of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’
Ezra, the priest, had sparked a great revival around 458 B.C. However, by the time Malachi arrives on the scene, the nation’s leaders had once again fallen into complacency. The attitudes and neglect, had spread to the people. The only appropriate response to God’s holiness is wholehearted worship and devotion.
Verse 7 – “You offer defiled food on My altar. But you say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ by saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’
Verse 8 – And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.
God’s law demanded only perfect animals to be used in sacrifices to Him. But the priest had used the sick and lame as offerings and kept the best for themselves. Their method of giving showed their true attitude toward God.
Verse 9 – “But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?” says the LORD of hosts.
Can we give God our “Left-overs” and still expect Him to show us favor?
Verse 10 – “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,” says the LORD of hosts, “Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.
Religious activity not rooted in humble adoration of God as the source of all goodness and authority is not only useless, but is repulsive to Him, because it slanders His character.
Verse 11 – For from the rising of the sun, even to it’s going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” says the LORD of host.
Verse 12 – “But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptibly.’
After the temple had been rebuilt and the walls completed, the people were excited to see prophecies being fulfilled. But as time passed, the prophecies about God’s enemies being completely destroyed and the coming Messiah being fulfilled, did not immediately happen, so they grew complacent. This complacency gradually led to blatant sin.
Verse 13 – You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” says the LORD of hosts. “And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” says the LORD.
Verse 14 – “But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and makes a vow, but sacrifices to the LORD what is blemished – for I am a great King,” says the LORD of hosts, “And MY name is to be feared among the nations.”
Following God’s standards had become a burden to the priest and the people. Too often people think following God should make their life easy and comfortable. The truth is that it often takes hard work and dedication to follow God’s high standards. It’s not easy living the Christian life. We will be mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted, because of our faith. However, whom would you rather spend eternity with, Christ or Satan?