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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Malachi

Description : Challenges and Warnings

Author: Malachi (which means ‘my messenger')

Date written : Somewhere about 433BC (probably the last of the minor prophets)

Chapters : 4



Brief Synopsis:


•  Malachi addresses the doubts of the people of God's love (1:2-5), and the faithlessness of both priests and people and also replies to their charge that God is unjust, because he has failed to come in judgment and exalt his people.
•  Malachi answers with an announcement and a warning. The Lord they seek will come "like a refiner's fire" and He will come to judge but He will judge his people first.
•  Malachi reassures and warns his readers that "that great and dreadful day of the LORD, is coming"



Outline :


1:1 Title

1:2-5 Introduction: God's Covenant Love for Israel Affirmed

1:6-2:16 Israel 's Unfaithfulness Rebuked

2:17-4:6 The Lord's Coming Announced

2:17-3:5 The Lord Will Come to Purify the Priests and Judge the People

3:6-18 A Call to Repentance in View of the Lord's Coming

4:1-6 The Day of the Lord Announced



Key Verses:



1:1 An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi


The Lord gives answers to the questions of the people

1:2,6,7 "But you ask, `How have you loved us?'….. "But you ask, `How have we shown contempt for your name?'…… "But you ask, `How have we defiled you?'


The Lord confronts them with their failures

1:6,7,8,10,13 If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name…… You place defiled food on my altar…… When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? ….. Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! …… When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?"


The priests have let the Lord down by failing in their role

2:4-9 you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty. "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty. "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law."


Speaking of John the Baptist

3:1 See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.


Question & answer logic and challenge to faith

3:7-10 Declaration & Challenge: 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.
Question: How
Declaration: you rob me. (implication: stop doing it)
Question: How
Answer: In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me.
Challenge: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.


There will come a time of separating out: discipline & blessing

3:17 – 4:3 . "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession.
•  I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.
•  And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
•  "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
•  But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty.


The Law & the prophets will together prepare Gods people to receive Him

4:4,5 Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.



Concluding Comments


•  Malachi is a short and simple book.
•  Much of it is taken up with imaginary questions and answers between the Lord and His people as He faces them with their shortcomings.
•  In the light of the fact that this comes to the restored people who have returned after the Exile, it is tragic that still sin reveals itself so obviously in the so-called people of God. From beginning to end, the Old Testament reveals the Fall of mankind and its ongoing effects. To bring change to this, something very different must happen. There are little glimmers here in this book that the Lord is yet going to come and bring that change.
•  These will be the last words from heaven for some four hundred years before the new Elijah appears (John the Baptist) and starts to prepare the way to receive the coming Son who ushers in the new kingdom. The old covenant, a material kingdom, may appear to have failed because sin still causes the downfall of God's people, but God has been revealed through it throughout. The new spiritual kingdom will come and will spread throughout the earth, transforming people as it goes. We'll just have to wait a little over four hundred years!


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