Malachi (Mal)

Book 39 of the OT, having 4 chapters.  Malachi wrote this minor prophetic book about 430 BC. In it  he confronts the people of Jerusalem with their sin and challenges them to restore a close relationship with God. This book, together with those of Haggai and Zechariah, was addressed to the returned exiles. Time to read: 15 mins.

Key people: Malachi, the temple priests.

Outline. The temple rebuilding had been completed over 70 years prior and now their devotion and faithfulness in worshipping God was being neglected. “Where is the honour due to me?” asks God (Mal 1:6). The decline started with the priests who, instead of being spiritual leaders, had become stumbling blocks to the people (Mal 2:7,8). This departure from living uprightly according to God’s Word spread to the people who also willfully disobeyed, with all areas of their lives being affected. Their values were so warped that they said, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord” (Mal 2:17). They continued to intermarry with the heathen Gentile races and worship idols although forbidden to do so. God said, “I don’t change” (Mal 3:6), meaning His conditions and standards remain constant, not open to negotiation or compromise and sin would still incur a penalty.

Main lesson. As always, sin was the reason why the people’s relationship with God was broken, and this would be punished.  However, for those who repented they would receive God’s mercy and blessing. The consequences we ultimately encounter are the result of our lifestyle. We therefore decide whether we will experience His favour or displeasure. The message from God was, “return to me and I will return to You” (Mal 3:7). This promise still holds true today.

Key verses and thoughts. * “I will curse your blessings because you don’t honour me” (Mal 2:2). What should be a delight and joy would become a hardship, disgrace and heartache. The reason for this reversal of outcome was because God was not given His rightful place. They were not obeying the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). Maybe the reason divine blessing and personal satisfaction is lacking in various areas of our lives is because other things have replaced God as our first priority too. What issues do I need to sort out and change?

* “You are robbing me of your tithes and offerings” (Mal 3:8-12). The people were failing in their responsibility and duty to God in the area of financial giving and this brought them under a curse. God challenged them, “Test me in this and see the blessing that will result from living according to my principles”.  Although we are in the day of grace and not under the OT law, there is still the aspect of giving back to God what is rightfully His (Mk 12:17). Do I put myself under divine displeasure and curse because I fail to tithe, acknowledging God as the source of my provision? Our attitude to money and the control it has on us is a good indicator of our relationship with God.

* “I will spare those who honour and serve me – you will see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked” (Mal 3:16-18). Life may be just as difficult for those walking close to the Lord as those who are not but He sees what is going on, the steadfastness and heart attitude of those committed to His cause. There will come a time of reckoning – those who have faithfully observed God’s laws will be rewarded while those who have responded to the dictates of their flesh will suffer the consequences (Mal 4:1-4, Gal 6:7,8).

See also: blessed or cursed, devotion, prophets, stewardship, tithes.