- Series: Bible Book Overview
- Scripture: Malachi
Malachi is the 39th book of the Old Testament and Bible. It is the last book of the Old Testament.
Malachi’s name means “my messenger.”
That’s a great name for the guy who gives the final message of the Old Testament!
Malachi’s book is probably around 450 B.C., 70 years after Haggai.
Malachi’s got some serious things to talk to the people about:
They were bringing lame sacrifices: not their best but their leftovers (1:8).
That’s probably a fair indication of where their hearts were.
They were divorcing their wives to marry pagan women (2:11, 14).
They were not tithing, causing the work of the Temple and the priests and their families to suffer 3:14).
Those doing such things could expect God to judge their sin.
But as we have come to expect from the Lord, there is an opportunity to repent of sin and return to the Lord (3:7).
To those who do and fear the Lord Malachi promises that their Messiah is coming (4:2)!
He also predicts John the Baptist’s ministry before Jesus in 3:1.
A Closer Look at Malachi
An Oracle…I love that word!
If prophecy is “foretelling,” oracles are “forthtelling”: making a pronouncement of the way it is and will be because God has already declared it!
In this case, Malachi pronounces that God loves Jacob, and hates Esau.
And once again judgment on Edom is pronounced.
You priests don’t honor me like a father, you don’t obey me like a servant.
What do you mean, Lord?
I have given you clear guidelines about sacrifices, and you violate them!
I am not pleased with you!
Nevertheless, God’s name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting.
In other words, the message about the greatness of Yahweh will reach every part of the earth DESPITE the disobedience of many of God’s people!
I love that verse! Matthew 24:14
2:1-2 If the priests don’t repent they will continue to be cursed
2:4-7 My covenant with Levi will continue DESPITE you!
This paves the way for Psalm 110 and the book of Hebrews to connect what Levi and the sacrifices did through what God had already done with Abraham (Levi’s forefather) through Melchizedek.
2:14-16 Stern words to God’s people about divorce’s effects on the ability to have godly offspring (a sin against posterity)
The point of God’s people marrying God’s people and nurturing godly children is to perpetuate the faith.
Those words are tough, and followed by an even tougher statement:
What is he saying?
Don’t say something is okay when God says it’s not okay!
God’s the judge, not you!
Mixture of words about Christ’s first and second coming!
A call to tithe
Discuss storehouse tithing: Israel versus church.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus weighs in on tithing.
2 Corinthians 8-9 Call to generous giving
In New Testament thinking, the tithe is probably not the end goal, but the starting place.
Deacons praying sometimes say, “Your tithes, and our offerings.”
Bible believing Christians differ over whether all of that first 10 % should go through your local church or not.
Practical observation: most American churches that do a lot of wonderful ministry have a lot of storehouse tithers: I do that! But I don’t judge those who don’t!
Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another!
It says the Lord took notice and listened!
God knows everything that’s going on!
But here it says that when people that fear the Lord have the right kind of conversations with each other, God leans in!
How often is that happening for you?
What does it say He does:
He got some angels to write a book of remembrance before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name!
That’s the book I want to be in!
They will be mine!
A special possession on the day I am preparing!
God says we can see the difference between the one who serves the Lord and the one who doesn’t!
Appropriately enough, the last chapter of the Old Testament predicts the coming of the Messiah.
A time will arise when you’ll feel the sun’s warmth, a time of healing.
You’ll jump playfully!
You’ll see the wicked who don’t repent get judged.
This is talking about the time of Christ’s coming rule on earth!
Elijah will come before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
John the Baptist was a type of Elijah at Jesus’ first coming.
I believe the real Elijah will be one of the 2 witnesses described in Revelation 11, before Jesus’ second coming.
He here is the Messiah, not Elijah.
When Jesus comes, He’ll put families back together (if they’ll let Him!)
That verse has been fulfilled in the restored relationship I have with my dad!
Tom Lilly and his dad; Cecil New and his son!
At the end of the Old Testament could be three words: To Be Continued…
5 Key Events between Malachi and Matthew (the inter-testamental period):
Who was ruling the Jewish people at the end of the Old Testament?
In 331 B.C. Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Empire, and Greece became the ruling empire, in fulfilment of prophecies in the book of Daniel.
Greek Language: Greece takes over from Persia, making Greek the key language Jews lived under.
Greece ruled from 331 to 167 B.C. The Greek language’s effects were felt for even longer!
In Egypt he created Alexandria, and many Jews were moved there. The Septuagint was translated in 250 B.C. (The Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek). The Septuagint re-classified the Old Testament books according to subject matter, which Latin and English translators followed.
God used these things to prepare the world to have wide access to the Greek New Testament.
Greece had split into 4 different sub-kingdoms after Alexander’s death. Israel was under the Ptolemy’s of Egypt, although the Seleucid’s of Syria also wanted Israel and took it back in 198 B.C. This is why Aramaic, a language like Hebrew, was still used widely in Jerusalem at the time of Christ.
The events celebrated at Hanukkah: Antiochus Epihanes desecrates the Temple, and the Maccabean Revolt restores dignity (Hannukkah). Herod expands the Temple.
In 169 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Temple. He offered a pig on the altar, erected an altar to Jupiter, prohibited Temple worship, forbade circumcision, sold thousands of Jews into slavery, destroyed copies of the Scriptures, killed people who had them, and tried to get Jews to renounce their religion through torture.
In 166 B.C. There was the revolt of the Maccabees against this evil. Loyal Jews revolted under a priest named Matthias and his son Judas the Hammer. Jerusalem was recaptured, leading to a hundred year time of quasi-independence under Maccabean rule. Battle after battle was won against incredible odds.
In 165 B.C., the Temple was cleansed on December 25th. This is what is celebrated at the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, each year.
Roman Authority: Rome takes over from Greece, making Roman Law the authority Jews lived under (and Roman roads and peace making widespread travel possible for citizens).
In 63 B.C. Pompey conquered Jerusalem
In 37 B.C. Herod is appointed to govern Jerusalem, and was still ruling when Jesus was born.
In 20 B.C. Herod rebuilt and enlarged the Temple that the disciples later marveled at in front of Jesus
Synagogues: Synagogues become a key force in Jewish life, training Jews to be people of the book (and getting lots of Gentle God-fearers ready to meet Jesus).
They first appeared and continued in the days of the Captivity when Jews were far from Jerusalem. Since they were far from the Temple and included times when there was no Temple, the Jewish religion adapted to be more “Law” and book focused than sacrifice focused. Even when the Temple was re-built, the value of synagogues was still recognized as a place to teach God’s Laws.
The Rise of Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes: The Rise of Pharisees and Sadducees as competing influences in Jewish life.
The school of Pharisees is thought to go back to the 3rd century and was an effort by Jews to resist Greek efforts to Hellenize the Jews. They continued to hold Old Testament teaching firmly while others were “secularized.” In time they added many extra rules in efforts to help obey the basic Old Testament Laws.
The school of Sadducees arose about the same time as the Pharisees, but went the opposite direction. They sought to live in accommodation with first their Greek rulers, and later their Roman ones. They did not take part in the Maccabean revolt. They included many irreligious priests and came to deny much of the Old Testament. They were fewer in number than the Pharisees, but wealthy and influential. They had large numbers on the Sanhedrin, the 70 person ruling body of Israel.
Scribes were copyists of the Old Testament Bible, who also studied it and interpreted it for the people. Because they knew what the Law said well, they were also called lawyers! The decisions of leading scribes on disputable matters became “oral law,” or “tradition.” In time, particularly as Judaism continued after the time of Christ, these “traditions” became as important as the Old Testament itself.
The effect of these things got the world ready for the Son of God to step into time!