Date Written: 480-430 BC
Malachi's name means "my messenger" or "my angel." He prophesied in
In Malachi's time, the people had returned to the land but were becoming lax and disobedient in the practice of their faith. The prophet reproved them for offering polluted sacrifices, for intermarrying with other people and for withholding their tithes from the Lord. These were the same problems that Nehemiah had to address during his rule of
The Lord emphasizes his love for
The people respond to the prophet's words by pledging their loyalty to the Lord and writing their names in a book (3:16). In the last section, Malachi announces the Day of the Lord, a day of judgment for evildoers, but a day of healing for those who fear the name of the Lord (Mal 4:1-2). The last couple verses announce that Elijah will come before the day of the Lord (4:5-6). The Gospels again understand John the Baptist to fill this role (Matt 11:14, 17:12; Mark 9:13).
Malachi's message is in harmony with the other prophets, but some of his points may be surprising to us. Most of the sins which the prophet brings up are basically ceremonial: impure sacrifices, intermarriage and tithe avoidance. Yet the Lord views these acts as serious offenses against his covenant relationship with his people. What seems trivial is in fact definitive for
Malachi is the last of the prophets before the arrival of John the Baptist. This book concludes the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets and the entire Old Testament canon. It reminds us of God's love for us. It reveals the importance of worshiping him correctly and it causes us to look forward to the "sun of righteousness" who will come with healing in his wings (4:2). While Malachi reproves the people for their sins, his anticipation of the joy of redemption sounds a note of hope at the close of the Old Testament.
By Mark Giszczak