An overview of the book of Malachi
THEME: “Encouragement and Prophecies During the Absence of Nehemiah”
INTRODUCTION: The word “Malachi” means “my messenger.” He is the last of the prophets who preached to the restored remnant after the 70-year captivity after Haggai and Zechariah.
Nehemiah had come back to Jerusalem to lead in the rebuilding of the wall. He rebuilt the wall and then went back to Babylon, where he had been for the 70 years prior to his return to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. The wall is finished, and Nehemiah has gone back to Babylon. While he is away, the country goes into deep sin. This state is seen in Nehemiah 13. They leave God. They leave the will of God. They intermarry with the heathen. Eliashib, the high priest, builds a little place for the wicked Samaritan Tobiah to live in the court of the temple. In general, a terrible time takes place.
The leader is gone, and the people go into sin. God raised up Malachi to preach to the people during Nehemiah’s absence. The theme of Malachi’s message is “the love of God for the people” and “the burden for the sins of the people,” especially the sins of the priests.
Malachi preached against the apostasy of the priests and the apathy of the people. The priests did not serve with diligence, love, or sincerity. The priests were more concerned for their financial gain in for the spiritual condition of the people (Isa. 59:9-12; John 11:47-48; 1 Tim. 6:5-10). The sins of the priests were used by the people to justify their own worldliness (1 Sam. 8:1-6; Jer. 5:30-31).
Malachi focused on holiness because the Lord God is going to judge everyone for his or her actions and attitudes (Eccl. 12:13-14; Mal. 1:11; 2:11; 3:3, 16-18). The holy God requires holiness for his children (Lev. 19:2; 1 Thess. 4:1-7; 1 Peter 1:16).
The major doctrine of this book is the second coming of the Lord Jesus and its glorious events. The 39th book of the Old Testament ends with the word curse. As every age the Old Testament ends with depravity, degradation, and devilment. The worst devilment will obviously occur during the Tribulation under the deception and dictatorship of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-4). The good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed man from the curse of the law (Acts 13:39; Gal. 3:13) and the Lord Jesus will set up a glorious kingdom on earth for 1000 years.
Malachi 1:1-2 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
2 I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob,
Self-centered people do not remember the acts of love in the past. They forget about the goodness of God because they are so obsessed with their present selfish desires. They always want to know what has been done lately for them. They expect God to meet their desires as a bellboy or a servant (James 4:1-3). When God does not fulfill their wishes, they complain that God doesn’t love them. These people are to be avoided (1 Tim. 6:3-5).
Malachi 1:3-4 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever.
The scholars reject the truth that God does hate individuals (John 3:36). They attempted to change this truth by the catchy phrase, God hates the sin, but loves the sinner (Rom. 16:18). They foolishly teach that God did not hate Esau as an individual (Heb. 12:16-17), but God only hated the nation of Edom. These fools forget that a nation is people. The hatred of God toward Muslim militants will exceed their desire against the Jews (Psalm 137). God’s fiery acts of hatred toward the Edomites are recorded and Isaiah 34, Ezekiel 35, and Obadiah 10-21. This truth is also repeated by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 9:13; Gal. 4:22-31).
Malachi 1:7-8 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible.
8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 1:12 But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
Under the Mosaic covenant polluted bread was offered when the people did not sacrifice the best of the herd or the flock (Ex. 12:3-5; Lev. 1:3). Polluted bread was also offered when the best sacrifice was given with a complacent or lackadaisical attitude. Polluted bread for the born-again believers can referred to the Alexandrian Bibles because they are perverted words of the word of God (Jer. 23:36; 2 Cor. 2:17). Polluted bread is also offered by declaring the true words of God without sincerity and diligence (Prov. 4:23; Phil. 1:15-20; 2 Peter 1:5-11). The proper motive of service is love for God (1 Cor. 13:1-3) and the proper attitude is the joy in serving the Lord (2 Sam. 6:12; 2 Chron. 29:30; 30:23; Ps. 100:2; Acts 2:46-47; Phil. 4:6-7; Col. 2:6-7). True service and worship from an heart of gratitude glorifies and pleases the Lord Jesus (John 4:24; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; 1 Thess. 4:1-7; Heb. 13:15-16; Rev. 4:11).
Malachi 1:8-9 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
9 And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts.
The end justifies the means is a catchy, but wrong saying (1 Chron. 15; Jeremiah 5:31)
Malachi 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
The worst human deceivers are the professors and revisers of the perverted Alexandrian Bibles (Lev. 5:14-19; 1 Kings 13; Rom. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:17). Members of the Alexandrian cult do not believe there is any pure, written, and final authority that they can get into their hands. They actually believe that their personal opinions or translations are reliable; therefore, they have elevated themselves to be their own gods (Gen. 3:5; Zeph. 2:15). All of the members of the Alexandrian colt used Bibles that they do not believe of the Scriptures. If anyone exposes their lies and challenges them, that person must be eliminated (Mark 15:10; John 11:47-48).
Malachi 1:1-5. It matters not how deep into sin the people of God go, He still loves them and still wants them for Himself. Malachi reminds them that God still loves them. This is very interesting! God always appeals to people first through His love. He eventually will remind them of His wrath and His judgment, and certainly this is a part of God’s way of reaching His people and getting them back to Himself; however, He first starts with His goodness and His love. Of course, even His wrath is prompted by His love, but He starts with goodness, and the foundation of all His dealings with man is love. Even when He spanks us, He loves us. Even when He judges us, He loves us. Even when He leads some prophet to preach hard against us, He loves us. Everything He does is tempered and flavored with love. Hence, all that we do should be tempered and flavored likewise.
Malachi 2:1-2 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
The Levites lost their priest class position (Deut. 33:8-11; 2 Chron. 17:7-9; Ezra 7:6-10) and became equal to all the tribes (Acts 4:36; Rev. 7:7). Every born-again believer is a priest in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:4-5). There is no need for a special counsel, conference, or Congress to rule over the body of Christ. The common man is able to come to the Saviour and receive the common salvation (Mark 12:37; Titus 1:4; Jude 3-4). All denominational and clerical hierarchies are despised and hated by God (Rev. 2:6, 15).
Malachi 2:3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
Wow, what a way to talk about someone’s religious rights! Nowhere in the Scriptures does it command anyone to respect the religious beliefs of another especially when the vain believes are based upon lies and hypocrisy (1 Kings 18:27; Matt. 23:34; 1 Tim. 4:1-6; Titus 1:9-13). No one is commanded to respect a liar or a hypocrite (Mark 7:6-13). God likens false believes and heresies to dung (Phil. 3:8). False religions are like piles of manure! Fancy cathedrals are like fancy commodes! (2 Kings 10:27)
Malachi 2:7-9 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
Apostate priests are held accountable for destroying people’s faith in the Bible. Apostasy in the colleges breeds apathy in the church and anarchy in the country (Prov. 29:18).
Malachi 2:14-15 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
The morals of a society and the manners of the public officials are directly affected by the preaching of the words of God. Noah Webster wisely stated, “The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.” Crime, deceit, divorce, extortion, fraud, and other evils accelerate as the apostate Bibles accelerate.
III. THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE ARE REBUKED. Notice Malachi 2:10-16. He turns to the people now that he has spoken to the priests. He reminds the people that they ought to live for God. He rebukes them because they have not been fair to each other; they have been unjust in their dealings. He rebukes them because they have sinned against their brothers as well as against God. No one can be right with God unless he is right with his brother. The Bible is plain about this. Malachi tries to get the people right with each other.
Malachi 3:5-6 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
The burning bush symbolizes the Israelites and their persecutions throughout history. One of the surest proofs of the Scriptures is the Jews. There is no logical reason why world history revolves around the tiny nation of Israel (Deut. 7:6-7; Zech. 12:3).
HE WARNS THEM AGAINST ROBBING GOD. Read Malachi 3:7-10. Notice in verse 8 how they had robbed God. They had robbed Him in “tithes and offerings.” Notice in verse 10 that we are commanded to bring our tithes into the storehouse, and God promises to bless us.
Malachi 3:8-11 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
The national blessing of tithing was rewarded by national prosperity. This promise may or may not be fulfilled on earth for the NT individual (2 Cor. 9:6-11). It is more likely to occur in a free society, but there are many Christians in communist nations who suffer financially. Many rewards for the born-again believer will be reserved for the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:12-15). True giving expect nothing in return and the true motive is love for God (Matt. 6:33; 1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Malachi 3:13-14 Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?
Carnal people get mad at God when they do not get their way (1 Cor. 3:1-3).
Malachi 4:1-2 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
The Sun of righteousness is clearly the Son of God and his glorious return to earth in his fiery chariot of destruction (Ps. 68:1-24; Isa. 63:1-6; Joel 2:1-11; Hab. 3:12; rev. 19:11-21).
Malachi 4:4-5 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets (Acts 24:14). Moses, Elijah, and the Lord are the only ones to have fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Deut. 9:9; 1 Kings 19:8; Matt. 4:2) in the Scriptures and they appeared together on the mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-6). All three will appear in the Tribulation. Moses and Elijah will be the two witnesses (Zech. 4:14; Rev. 11:3) and the Lord Jesus Will appear in all His glory (Heb. 12:25; Rev. 6:16-17).
Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
The Old Testament ends with a curse, but the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed the believer from the curse of the law (Acts 13:39; gal. 3:13). The 39 books of the Old Testament as the 39 stripes of corporal punishment are the curses of the law and the mathematical perfection of the Lord recorded the redemption of the repentant sinner through the number 13 and it’s triplet multiple. Glory to the Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ!
CONCLUSION: When Nehemiah returned, he found a deplorable condition. It was not the fault of Malachi, however. Nehemiah had been gone for several years. He returns and finds the people away from God, intermarried with the heathen, and yoked up with unbelievers in an ecumenical hodgepodge. Nehemiah was full of furor, anger and judgment. In spite of this fact, Malachi had been faithful. Malachi did not lead the people to revival. He did not cause them to turn, but he was faithful. His was a day like ours. He did not change his people nor his day, but he was faithful. He was in a minority, but he was faithful. He was away from many of his people, but he was faithful. He was willing to stand alone, if needs be, but stand he did! (Teacher, lead the class to realize the sins of this day and to determine that though we perhaps cannot change the day, we can nevertheless be faithful to do what God wants us to do!)