Final Old Testament Message
to a Disobedient Nation
Malachi's exact date is not known. It is generally accepted that, he lived nearly 100 years after Haggai and Zechariah; and that he was associated with Ezra and Nehemiah in their reforms. His date is placed approximately at 450 B.C.
A Remnant had returned from Captivity (536 B.C.). Under leadership of Haggai and Zechariah they had rebuilt the Temple (520-516 B.C.). Then 60 years later (457 B.C.) , Ezra came to help reestablish the nation. Then, 13 years later (444 B.C.) , Nehemiah came, and rebuilt the wall.
Thus, in Malachi's time, the Jews had been home from Babylon about 100 years, curd, by the Captivity, of their idolatry, but prone to neglect the House of God. The priests had become lax and degenerate, Sacrifices were inferior. Tithes were neglected. The people had reverted to their old practice of intermarrying with idolatrous
neighbors (see on Ezra, 9).
So, the Jews, favored of God above all nations, .discouraged by their weakness, and wedded to their sins, had settled down, in a lethargic state of mind, to await the coming of the Promised Messiah. Malachi assured them that the Messiah will would come, but that it would mean judgment for such as they.
Chapter 1. Contempt for Temple Sacrifices
Verses 2-3 are quoted in Romans 9: 10- 13 as applying to God's choice of Jacob instead of Esau (Genesis 25:22-34). Malachi uses the language as referring to the two nations that sprang from Jacob and Esau, Israelites and Edomites. Both had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Israel had been restored, but Edom was still a desolation.
Their offering of diseased and blemished animals, which they would not have dared to offer to their governor (8), was in reality an insult to God. Against this Malachi envisions the day when the God whom his own nation thus despises will become the beloved God of the whole earth (11) .
Chapter 2. Marriages with Heathen Neighbors
Priests, who had been ordained of God to lead the people in righteousness (5-7), were responsible for the deplorable situation. They had become so debased, mercenary and corrupt that the name 'priest" had become a word of contempt among the people.
Loose Marriage Morals (10-16) . Jews were divorcing their wives to marry heathen women. This was a double sin, which was disastrous to proper rearing of children.
Skepticism was at the root of their religious indifference and their low morals. Noticing that wicked nations were more prosperous, the people were commonly saying, What is the use of serving God? (see under 3: 13-18.)
Chapter 3:1-6. The Coming Day of the Lord
Malachi's reply to their skepticism: the Coming Day of Judgment will answer their taunts, and show whether it pays to serve God (5. See under 3: 13-18).
Chapter 3:7 -12. Tithes
Another abrupt change of subject. Withholding tithes is called "robbing God"; for by the Mosaic constitution the tithe was God's property, to which the donor had no more right than he had to another man's property. Note God's promise of prosperity to faithful tithers, and the challenge to test Him on the promise.
Chapter 3: 13- 18. National Skepticism Again
They did not believe God's promise about tithes. They considered that money and effort offered to God were wasted. Malachi's answer: Wait and see; the end will show (16-17). This beautiful passage pictures the faithful few, in a time of general apostasy and God recording their names for recognition in "that day."
Chapter 4. The Coming Day of the Lord
Four times Malachi sweeps forward to "The Dry of the Lord" (1:11; 3:1-6, 16-18; 4:1-6). He calls it "The Day" (3:2, 17; 4:1, 3, 5). It seems to mean the whole Christian era, with special application to the time of the end.
Closing Old Testament admonition: Remember the Law of Moses (4).
Its closing prediction: Elijah will usher in the "Day of the Lord" (5). He did, 400 years later, in the person of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12; 11:14).
Its last-mentioned virtue: Parental and filial love (6) , including, as quoted in Luke 1: 17 , regard for ideals of forefathers.
Its last word: "Curse," meaning that the plight of mankind would be hopeless should the Lord fail to come.
Thus closes the Old Testament. 400 years elapsed. Then came the Messiah, whom the Hebrew nation had been born to bring forth. As through the centuries they had rejected the prophets of God, so when the Messiah arrived, they rejected Him. Since which time Jews have been homeless wanderers over the earth, the tragedy end
miracle of the ages.