“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:6-7 ESV
The book of Malachi is one of the final books to be written in the Old Testament. By the time this prophetic book was written, the Jews had been exiled to Babylon for a number of years and finally allowed to return to Jerusalem. They had rebuilt the temple of God as commanded in Haggai and Zechariah and had obeyed the commands of the other prophets. They had done all of these things fully expecting great things to take place afterwards. The Messiah that was prophesied in Genesis, Isaiah and Psalms The Kingdom of God that is to follow the four great kingdoms described in Daniel. The divine war against all of their enemies. But none of that happened. None of the fantastical things the prophets predicted came to pass.
And when they eagerly expected these things but never received them what happened? Indifference. Disobedience. Why continue to obey when God did not deliver? So they looked to other things like “presenting the blind for sacrifice.. or [presenting] the lame of the sick…”(Malachi 1:8). They “[marry] the daughter of a foreign god” (Malachi 2:11). The priests were misleading the people, “[causing] many to stumble” and “[corrupting] the covenant of Levi” (Malachi 2:8). And then they robbed God. They withheld tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8).
But God does not repay in kind. We are reminded that God is unchanging in nature; He is the same yesterday and today and forever. He never goes back on His word. One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is this: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)
Throughout the book we see Malachi saying to the people things to the effect of “This is what you have done, yet you say, ‘How have we done this?'” The people have become so alienated from God that they can no longer comprehend God’s nature. They doubt His love for them (Malachi 1:2) and proclaim the futility of serving God (Malachi 3:13–14). They do this because they cannot understand, even when Malachi plainly states how God sees things.
Thankfully, not all harden themselves. There are still some Jews who still fear and esteem the Lord. Together they write their names in a book and God declares they are His. And on that day God will punish the wicked and spare the righteous.
Here’s the breakdown of Malachi (spoiler alert for Raymond’s Focus Ministry):
1. God’s love for Jacob and the Jewish people (Malachi 1:1-5)
2. God’s discipline for the following reasons:
- The sins of the priests (Malachi 1:6)
- The intermarriages with pagans (Malachi 2:10-12)
- The unfaithfulness of the husbands (Malachi 2:13-17)
3. God’s purification of His children (Malachi 3:1-15)
4. The book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16-18)
5. God’s charge (Malachi 4)
Malachi is also a really important book because before God promises to purify them He promises to send a future messenger (Malachi 3:1-6). This prophecy reveals an important detail concerning the coming Messiah: that His arrival will be preceded by this messenger that will clear the way. If this sounds familiar to you then that’s good. You’ve been paying attention in Flock Groups (Mark 1:2-4).
Malachi 4:5 further reveals that this special messenger will be Elijah the prophet. And we know this prophesied messenger to be John the Baptist.
“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Matthew 11:13-14 ESV