This final book of the Old Testament was written by a man named Malachi. This is known to be true because the book itself claims, “the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi” (Verse 1 of chapter 1). Not much is known about this prophet of the Lord other than what is visibly seen in the book itself. Malachi means “My Messenger.” Malachi was a messenger of the Lord. His book deals with the backslidden remnant of Israel. Malachi speaks to their religious decline, their social debasement, their moral defection, and their material dissipation (Geisler 297 – 298). Malachi is assumed to be a contemporary of Nehemiah (Thompson 1615).
Geisler estimates the Book of Malachi was written between 430 – 420 B.C. while the Thompson Chain Notes show about 397 B.C. A look at the book itself reveals important information about the historical setting. According to Chuck Swindoll Malachi uses the Persian word for governor in Malachi 1:8. This shows that the book was most likely written under the Persian rule. The book also refers to the sacrifice corruption among the Jews which was an issue years after the temple was built. For a better idea of the actual timeline, the book was written around 100 years after the Jews returned from Exile. This was either during or immediately after the closing of the book of Nehemiah.
The remnant of Israel was in the land of Palestine and the message centered particularly around the worshippers at the Temple in Jerusalem (Geisler 298).
Malachi is written in a forceful and peculiar manner (Thompson). Jehovah is represented as having a dialogue with his people. “Ye say” is contrasted with “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts” through the first three chapters.
Malachi is the close of the Old Testament history. He shows that great changes were needed to prepare for God’s coming. As well, the dissatisfaction of Israel’s continued sin and ingratitude. The books key verses are potentially 3:8 – 9, “Will a man rob God?” Believers are commanded to God what is rightfully His first, and He will provide for us with the remaining 90%. Israel continually stole from God and expected God’s blessings in their lives. The book is unique in the sense that it offers insight that no other book in the Old Testament offers concerning the hearts of the Jews. This book also reminds of many important attributes of God that are so often forgotten. The Lord will deliver His people, He will do all He can to help his people, and He will honor the promises made generation before.
The entire book is built upon seven questions asked by the Jews directed towards God. Through questions of doubt and shortsightedness, the book reveals the true state the Jews hearts are in. These questions asked what they had done to God, how had they landed His name, how has He loved them.
The personal application of this book to believers lives today shows an important lesson. Our own inability to love God without His grace helping us. We are completely dependent on God for our lives and can not do anything without Him to help and guide us. We just have to be willing to step aside and let Him take control.
I. Dark Side of the Picture
A. Robbing God 1. Failure to respond to Divine Love 1:2 2. Dishonoring God’s Name 1:6 3. Presenting blemished offerings 1:7 – 8 4. Priests, by evil example becoming stumbling-blocks, instead of spiritual leaders 2:1 – 8 5. Honoring sinners 2:17 & 3:15 6. By selfishly withholding tithes 3:8 7. Justifying impiety 3:14 B. Social Sins 1. Treacherous dealings with brethren 2:10 2. Inter-marriage with the heathen 2:11 3. Divorce 2:14 – 16 4. Sorcery, impurity, and oppression 3:5
II. Light Side of the Picture
A. The coming Messenger of the Covenant 3:1 - 4 B. The outpouring of a Great Blessing 3:10 - 12 C. The dawning of a New Day in which righteousness shall triumph 4:2 - 3 D. The appearance of a Spiritual Reformer before the Day of the Lord comes 4:5 - 6
The meaning of the name Mal'aki (“My Messenger”) is probably a shortened form of Mal'akya, “Messenger of Yahweh,” and it is appropriate to the book which speaks of the coming of the “messenger of the covenant” (“messenger” is mentioned three times in 2:7; 3:1). The Septuagint used the title Malachias even though it also translated it “by the hand of the messenger.” The Latin title is Maleachi.
Geisler, Norman. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. Baker Book House,1977.
Thompson, Frank Charles. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co, 1988.
1989 Thomas Nelson Reference Edition King James Version Bible