Voices for Revival – Study of Minor Prophets (Post-Exilic Period)
– Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi
Book Studies – Malachi
|Introduction – Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, and also marks the beginning of 400 yrs of silence before the New Testament was introduced. At the time of Malachi’s prophetic ministry, more than 100 years had passed since the Babylonian captivity ended. After all these years and few generations changed, the Israelites seemed to have forgotten their immense sufferings. They were living in sin all over again: sins of covetousness, idolatry, mixed marriages with pagan people, abuse of the poor and unrepentant hearts.|
Malachi, a prophet in the days of Nehemiah, lived among his corrupted countrymen. By God’s calling, he warned the people of God’s impending judgment against them. Using the question-and-answer method, Malachi probed deeply into their sins. However, they repeatedly turned a deaf ear to God’s words.
The book of Malachi is pivotal to the arrival of the true Messiah and as what follows are 400 years of silence that ushers in the long-waiting and the great anticipation of a rightful King. This silence was only broken, again through a prophet’s voice that of John the Baptist (Matt 3:1). He brought a hope-filled message, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) when he saw Jesus.
|Author – The only Old Testament mention of Malachi is in chapter 1, verse 1. Nothing is known of Malachi (not even his father’s name).
Background – Just a short recap, Malachi’s ministry started around 432 BC after the 3rd batch of returnees. His contemporary was the governor Nehemiah. By then, the temple was completed for about 100 yrs, and the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt by Nehemiah.
Malachi’s message is similar to that of the other prophets: be faithful to the Mosaic covenant (pls explain) and God will bless them with His promises made. Obedience to the Law was rewarded with blessing in the land of promise. Disobedience, on the other hand, brought forth curse and punishment.
Malachi’s message applied the Mosaic Covenant to the problems of post-exilic Israel. There were: spiritual complacency, outright disobedience, no understanding and respect for God’s covenant, and the loss of hope of the establishment of God’s kingdom. These sins led to widespread unfaithfulness, affecting the people’s worship in the temple and marital relations in their homes. Malachi wanted to renew their faith in God, to re-establish their hope, and to motivate them to become faithful to their covenant. So, he pointed them to God’s past, present, and future dealings with Israel.
Condition of People
Life was not easy. The Jews were under the political dominion of Persia. Harvests were poor and subject to locust damage (Mal 3:11). Most hearts were indifferent or resentful towards God.
Both the priests and the people were not following the Mosaic Law regarding sacrifices, tithes, and offerings. The people’s hope in God’s covenant promises had dimmed, as evidenced by their;
a) intermarriages with pagans,
b) divorces, and
|Key Themes – God had reminded Israel of His continuous love for them because He divinely chose them (Mal 1: 1-5).
God’s sovereign choice of Israel was also echoed in Rom 9 which He uses the analogy of a potter and the clay to silence any protest against His way of choosing. He is God. He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3)
Like God’s advocate, Malachi questioned and answered Israel’s complaint against Him.
Malachi prophesied the day of God’s coming, not only in the near future but also into the future ‘Great Day of God’, the Day of Judgment.