The theme of the book of Malachi is love. This is illustrated in the very first verse when God declares, “I have loved you.” Immediately, the people retort, “How have you loved us?” Through the entire book, God’s love for His people Israel is proved repeatedly while Israel questions His love for them.
What is love? How does God demonstrate His love toward His people? God answers this question very specifically. His answer may sound surprising.
In Malachi, God is glorifying Himself through His love, so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.
The author identifies himself as Malachi (Mal. 1:1).
While we don’t know the exact year in which Malachi prophesied, we do know it was after the rebuilding of the temple (516 B.C.) and probably before the fall of the Persian Empire (330 B.C.). It should also be noted that the sins condemned by Malachi are very similar to those addressed by Nehemiah (such as marrying pagan wives).
“ ‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.
Yet you say, “In what way have You loved us?”
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’
Says the Lord.
‘Yet Jacob I have loved;
But Esau I have hated,
And laid waste his mountains and his heritage
For the jackals of the wilderness.’ ”
“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?’
“You offer defiled food on My altar,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ ”
“ ‘Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
“ ‘But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.’ ”
Malachi predicted that a messenger would come and prepare the way for a greater Messenger, “the Messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1–3). The first messenger is revealed in the New Testament to be John the Baptist (Matt. 11:10; Mark 1:2, 4; Luke 7:27), while “the Messenger of the covenant” is clearly a title for Christ Himself.
Malachi prophesied that “The Sun of Righteousness” would arise “with healing in His wings” (Mal. 4:2). This is a picture of what Christ does for the elect. He brings light into their dark lives and heals their wounded souls.
When did Malachi prophesy?
Sometime between 516 and 330 B.C.
What were some of the major sins of the Israelites that Malachi addressed?
What was Israel’s response when God said He loved them?
“In what way have You loved us?” (Mal. 1:2).
Where is Malachi 1:2–3, “Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated,” quoted in the New Testament?
What did the Lord say He would do if Edom tried to “build the desolate places” (Mal. 1:4)?
He would throw it down.
In what ways were the people despising the name of the Lord?
By offering defiled food on His altar (Mal. 1:6–7).
In what way were the people of Israel profaning the offering of the Lord?
By offering stolen, lame, and sick animals (Mal. 1:12–14).
What were the sins of the priests at the time?
They had departed from the way, caused many to stumble at the law, and corrupted the covenant of Levi (Mal. 2:8).
What punishment did the Lord place on the priests?
He made them contemptible and base before all the people (Mal. 2:9).
What abomination did the people of Judah commit?
Intermarriage with idolaters (Mal. 2:11).
What was the second abomination that the people of Judah committed?
Dealing treacherously with their wives (Mal. 2:13–15).
What does the Lord seek?
Godly offspring (Mal. 2:15).
Who does the Lord promise to send to prepare the way before Him?
His messenger (Mal. 3:1).
Who will purify and purge the sons of Levi, like gold and silver?
The Lord, the Messenger of the covenant (Mal. 3:3).
How will the Lord view the people’s offering after the sons of Levi are purified?
It will be pleasant to Him (Mal. 3:4).
In what ways were the people robbing God?
In tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:8).
What will the Lord do to the wicked one day?
He will burn them up (Mal. 4:1).
What does the Lord say will happen to those who fear Him?
They will go out, grow fat like stall-fed calves, and trample the wicked (Mal. 4:2–3).
What is the last prophesy in the Old Testament?
The coming of “Elijah the prophet” (Mal. 4:5–6).