We continue our journey through the Bible with another minor prophet—Malachi. The Book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, but it still occurs about 430 years before the birth of Christ.
The coming of John the Baptist is predicted in Malachi 3:1, a forerunner of Christ who will “prepare the way.” This is an excellent book of the Bible to read in December during Advent since it is the closest canonical book of the Old Testament before the birth of Christ. Pay close attention to the prophecies that refer to Christ, and spend extra time meditating on these verses!
The Book of Malachi was written to the people of Judah who returned from Babylonian captivity. By the time of its writing, the second temple had been completed, and the walls protecting Jerusalem had been restored.
This book confronts and exposes the unfaithfulness and impurity of the Levites, the priests who accepted animals that God’s Law disqualified from sacrifice. These priests despised serving God at all the required offerings before the altar.
Malachi also addresses the returned exiles who were grumbling against God. The exiles failed to support the priests and Levites with their tithes and offered blemished animals as sacrifices—animals they themselves didn’t want. They were unfaithful to their God and their Israelite wives, divorcing them to marry heathen foreigners.
God challenges all of them, threatening destruction in order to lead them to repentance so that He may refine, purify, and prepare them for the coming of the promised Savior.
The identity of the author of Malachi is not clear. Malachi can be a name or a description. In Hebrew, it means “my messenger.” This could be the prophet’s given name or a title identifying the unnamed prophet as the Lord’s messenger. Almost the entire message in this book comes directly from God, so Malachi was indeed the Lord’s messenger, even if that wasn’t his given name. Whatever his name, he was likely a member of the Levitical priesthood.
The Book of Malachi exposes the holiness of God, contrasting it with the unholiness of His people. It confronts the ungodly Israelites, urging them to repent and preparing them for the long four hundred years between the close of the Old Testament and the coming of the promised Savior who is prophesied about in this book.
As you read Malachi, pay close attention to the twenty-two rhetorical questions that are asked throughout this prophetic book. Malachi uses these questions to argue against the people of Judah and to show them that they certainly know better than to pursue the sins that were distracting them from true worship.
What is distracting you from true worship? Answer the questions throughout the Book of Malachi honestly in view of the Lord’s commands and promises to you. You’ll be convicted of your sin, but you’ll also be comforted by the Gospel! Rejoice in Malachi 3:1–4, which predicts the Savior, Jesus Christ!
Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.