Tag Archives: Malachi

The Minor Prophets: Malachi

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // MALACHI

I. Historical background

    A. Around 450 B.C. (Coffman); 445-432 B.C. (Hailey); 460-425 B.C. (Waddey)
    B. “The time in which Malachi prophesied is determined by material within the book rather than from the opening lines of the book as has been true with earlier prophets. It is a time of careless priests (Mal. 1:6-2:9), skepticism (Mal. 3:14; 2:17), and of inter-marriage (Mal. 2:11-16). The temple is evidently completed and sacrifices are being offered (Mal. 1:7-10). Judah is under a governor (Mal. 1:8). Edom has been destroyed (Mal. 1:1-5).” (Lewis)
    C. “The book itself does not give the date of its writing. However, most scholars agree that the writer of the book dealt with much the same problems as were prevalent during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah….The Temple was rebuilt about 520-516 B.C. Then about 60 years later (around 456 B.C.) Ezra had come home from Babylon to Jerusalem to help encourage and reorganize the nation. Then, about 13 years later (around 444 B.C.), Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and directed the rebuilding of the wall. This seems to have been close to the time of the conditions and events described in Malachi. Thus it seems that the Jews had been home about 100 years in Malachi’s time.” (Warren)
    D. “For a full picture of the conditions in Judea during the period one should read Ezra 7-10 and the complete Book of Nehemiah.” (Hailey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Nothing is known of the life of the author of this book. Some scholars even doubt that we know his name. They contend that since ‘Malachi,’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘my messenger,’ appears nowhere else as a proper name it should not be considered to be one in connection with this book.” (Warren)
    B. Some object to the supposed anonymity of the book, including Coffman and Hailey. “No other OT prophecy is anonymous, nor may we reasonably supposed Malachi to be an exception.” (Coffman)
    C. Malachi “might have meant My Angel or Messenger, or it may be taken as an adjective Angelicus. Either of these meaning would form a natural name for a Jewish child, and a very suitable one for a prophet.” (Smith)

III. Lessons for today

    A. God hates divorce (2:16)

      1. Hatred is a strong emotion, but it is applied to several specific sinful attitudes and actions (Proverbs 6:16-19; Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
      2. “Such a vigorous warning and exhortation from the Lord in a former decadent and permissive age should not be silenced; its principle should be heralded to the ends of the earth in our own time.” (Hailey)
      3. Single Christians should take great care in choosing a mate, since God’s intention for marriage is a life-long commitment (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-13)
      4. “Disregard for marriage vows is disastrous for the individual, society and the nation.” (Waddey)

    B. “God is never satisfied with partial, or incomplete, service.” (Woods)

      1. “Malachi teaches that although ritual may be important in religion, it is not an end in itself. Ritual is only of value when it expresses a deep and sincere spiritual worship unto God.” (Hailey)
      2. The people of Malachi’s day were not doing all that they should or could in giving back to God (1:8; 3:8-10; cf. Leviticus 22:18-20)
      3. “Notice that they were not robbing God in the sense that they were taking money, but they simply were not giving as they had been commanded!” (Warren)
      4. “Every spiritually minded person who ever lived instinctively accepted the principle that, to God one must give the very best….The reprobate priesthood of Malachi’s times were accepting the sick, the lame, and the blind, and doing many other things forbidden.” (Coffman)
      5. Does God expect more us to do or give than we are able? No, but neither should we underestimate how much we are able to do or give! (2 Corinthians 8:9-15)
      6. When we commit to something, we must be sure to follow through once we have the ability (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

    C. Our attitude toward correction should be one of repentance (3:16)

      1. Malachi preached against the sins of the people, resulting in a change of heart and life in “those who feared the Lord”
      2. “Malachi foresees the repentance of some, though not all the people. They would speak with one another. No doubt their speaking would concern the need for repentance, for genuine worship. As always, the fear of Jehovah would prove the beginning of wisdom for Jehovah would hear and remember.” (Gill)
      3. Today, we must listen to the preaching of the Word, even when it is uncomfortable to hear (2 Timothy 4:2), and respond appropriately (James 1:21-25)

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1983). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 4: Zechariah and Malachi. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/malachi.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Smith, George Adam. (1906). The Book of Twelve Prophets, Vol. II. New York, NY: A.C. Armstrong and Son. [Online at https://archive.org/stream/bookoftwelveprop028005mbp]

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Warren, Lindsey D. “The Living Message of Zechariah.”(1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Woods, Guy N. (1957). Adult Gospel Quarterly: January, February, March 1958. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company.

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period

On Sunday morning, we completed a five-lesson study of the book of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period in our high school class. A number of resources were utilized in the completion of this study; a list of those resources can be found on pages 22 and 23 of the file below. I offer my notes here as a study aid, and encourage you to search the Scriptures and discover the rich lessons available in the prophecies of Malachi.

Click here to download A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Class notes compiled by Jason T. Carter (PDF format).

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: The Inter-Testamental Period

THE INTER-TESTAMENTAL PERIOD

The Medo-Persian Empire (538-332 BC)
In control when Malachi prophesied (middle of 5th century BC)
The “kingdom inferior” to Babylon with “chest and arms of silver” (Daniel 2:39; 2:32)

The Greek Empire (332-167 BC)
“Belly and thighs of bronze…which shall rule over all the earth” (Daniel 2:32; 2:39).
Alexander the Great ruled until his death, 323 BC
Ptolemies and Seleucids fought for Palestine
Attempt to Hellenize Jewish worship; “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31)

The Maccabean Revolt and Jewish Independence (167-63 BC)
Key people: Mattathias, Judas, Jonathan, Simon, John Hyrcanus
The fighting between Pharisees and Sadducees led to the downfall of Jewish independence

The Roman Empire (63 BC-70 AD)
“Legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (Daniel 2:33)
Civil war between Hyrcanus II and Aristobulus II from 69-63 BC
Julius Caesar took control of Rome in 48 BC
It was “in the days of these kings” that God established His church, “a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44)

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 4

MALACHI 4

4:1 – “There’s a Great Day Coming”
“Sad day” – warning to the proud and wicked (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 3:12; 25:41; 2 Peter 3:7)

4:2-3 – “Bright day” for the faithful
Wickedness or righteousness is based on one’s response to the same message
“The Sun of Righteousness” is a Messianic prophecy
“Healing in His wings” (cf. Isaiah 53:5; Mark 2:17)

4:4 – Remember the Law of Moses
Blessings of the Word: keep one undefiled, upright, and upheld (Psalm 119:1,7,116)
Provides divine direction (Psalm 119:105)
Served as a shadow or type of the better covenant to come

4:5-6 – The promise of Elijah
Not in person (John 1:21), but in spirit (Matthew 17:11-13)
John’s purpose: “reconciliation of those present at his coming with the covenant faith of their fathers” (Clinton R. Gill)
Between Malachi and John – approximately 400 years – there were no other inspired prophets

Review and thought questions

1. What imagery is used to describe the eternal punishment of the wicked in the Scriptures?

2. What is said of the faithful?

3. How do we know Malachi is not referring to Elijah the Tishbite in 4:5?

4. What was the purpose of Elijah/John according to 3:1 and 4:6?

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 3

MALACHI 3

3:1-6 – An answer to Malachi 2:17: “The God of justice” is coming Himself!
His messenger (John the Baptist) would first come to prepare the way (cf. Malachi 4:5-6; Isaiah 40:3-5; Matthew 3:3; 11:10, 14; 17:12-13; Mark 1:3; Luke 1:17; 3:4; John 1:23)
The divine Christ would then arrive as “the Messenger of the covenant”
God’s justice starts with those in charge, then against the wicked

3:7-12 – Will a man rob God?
“God is never satisfied with a partial, or incomplete, service” (Guy N. Woods)
He challenges them to follow Him fully, and He would bless them beyond measure

3:13-15 – “Your words have been harsh against Me”
They questioned His moral government among men
Israel was shortsighted, looking only at the rewards of this life

3:16-18 – There was a remnant of “those who feared the Lord”
Contrast verse 9, “this whole nation,” with verse 17, “shall be Mine”
Each individual must decide into which category he wishes to be placed, and live accordingly

Review and thought questions

1. Considering all the accusations being brought against Israel, how do you think they would have responded to the message that God was coming?

2. In what ways might Christians “rob God” today?

3. Should we expect recognition for doing the right thing in this life? What does Christ say about doing charitable deeds, or praying, or fasting, in order to be seen by men? Read Matthew 6:1, 5, 16.

4. What are some things upon which the people of God should meditate? Read Psalm 1:1-2; Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:8-9.

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 2

MALACHI 2

2:1-4 – Just as God’s promises are sure for the faithful, His punishments are certain for the disobedient
Isaiah prophesied about the hardening of Israel’s hearts (Isaiah 6:9-10)
The dung/refuse of the sacrifice was to be taken out of the camp (Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:12; 16:27)
Shows the priests were unfit for the service of the Lord

2:5-9 – Contrast between original intent of Levi and what it became
Instead of walking with God “in peace and equity,” they had “departed from the way.” Instead of keeping knowledge and directing the people who sought the law, they “caused many to stumble at the law.” In short, the priests of Malachi’s day had “corrupted the covenant of Levi,” bringing to an end God’s blessings.

2:10-16 – God prohibited marriages with foreign/pagan women (Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Ezra 9:10-15; Nehemiah 13:23-27)
The intent was to keep the nation pure and dedicated to God until the Messiah arrived
These prohibited marriages were often done at the expense of Israelite women
God hates divorce
“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6)
Exception: fornication (NKJV and other translations as “sexual immorality” is too broad; only fornication is in view in Matthew 19:9)

2:17 – Murmuring wearies God
The sun rises on evil and good; rain falls on just and unjust (Matthew 5:45)
Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it

Review and thought questions

1. How far-reaching is “the curse” of God? Read Deuteronomy 28:15-19.

2. Under the Old Law, the tribe of Levi served as priests for the people of God. Who are the priests today? Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. How must the royal priesthood keep themselves fit for service to the Lord?

3. In what three ways had the priests of Malachi’s day violated the covenant God made with Levi? How can we, as a royal priesthood, avoid the same mistakes under the law of Christ?

4. How careful should one be in choosing a spouse? What spiritual characteristics should be considered?

A Study of Malachi and the Inter-Testamental Period: Malachi 1

“Malachi” means “My messenger”
Written in the middle of the fifth century BC

Timeline:
536 BC – remnant returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild nation
520-515 BC – God’s temple rebuilt under Zerubbabel (governor) and Joshua (high priest), encouraged by of Haggai and Zechariah
458 BC – Ezra reorganizes and reestablishes nation’s worship
445 BC – Nehemiah leads Hebrews in rebuilding walls of city
432 BC – Nehemiah’s second visit to Jerusalem

MALACHI 1

1:1-5 – God declares His love
Egypt, wilderness, other enemies, even when under foreign rule (cf. Daniel 1:19; Esther 2:17; Nehemiah 1:11)
Edom opposed God and His people (cf. Obadiah 10-18; Amos 1:11-12; Jeremiah 49:7-10; 25:9,21)
Chaldeans, Nabataeans, Maccabees, and Romans all captured Edom

1:6-8 – Israel despised God’s name
Defiled food/bread, specifically blind, lame, and sick sacrifices, in opposition to Law (Leviticus 22:17-25)

1:9-10 – Sarcasm and irony
God desires zeal in His people

1:11-13 – God will be honored by Gentiles, despite Israel’s irreverence
Israel expressed weariness in worship
“If people are only going through the motions without the heart being in it, such will only be endured rather than enjoyed. That which should have been a blessing has become a burden to them. Where they should have seen themselves as a blessed people with the opportunity to be a light in the nations around them, they see themselves burdened.” (J. Winfred Clark)

1:14 – “Cursed be the deceiver”
God’s name is “to be feared” (NKJV), “dreadful” (KJV), “terrible” (ASV)

Review and thought questions

1. Edom confidently asserted, “We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places” (1:4). Is there anything wrong with such determination in the face of despair? Consider Psalm 127:1 and James 4:13-16 as you answer.

2. Identify some of the parallels between the religious people of Malachi’s day and the religious people of today.

3. How important is appropriate worship? What did Jesus say in Matthew 15:8-9?

4. How would you respond to someone who complains that “church is boring”? How can you guard yourself against developing a similar attitude?

5. Should a person make a vow if he has no intention of following through? What does Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 say?