Although the former Babylonian exiles had been home for a hundred years they had grown indifferent to the moral and ceremonial aspects of God’s law. Malachi preached against hypocrisy, adultery, divorce, sorcery, and intermarriage with the heathen. The priesthood was corrupt, worship was superficial, diseased animals were offered as sacrifices, and people refused to tithe. The underlying cause of these sins was Israel’s disregard for God’s laws and prophetic warnings.
Of the fifty-five verses in the book of Malachi, all but eight are spoken by God. The fact that Jehovah still desired to communicate with His people is a powerful testimony to His patience and mercy. The prophet makes it clear that the withdrawal of God’s blessings was not due to His indifference but to Israel’s disobedience. God had sent the prophets, kept His covenant, and fulfilled His promises. Nothing more could be done until the Messiah arrived. The following four centuries brought discouragement and disillusionment. The rise of the Pharisees and Sadducees would inevitably result in national spiritual bankruptcy.
Malachi’s was the last prophetic voice heard in Israel until the end of the intertestamental period. This silence was broken when a prophecy from Malachi was fulfilled. The angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah the priest he would father a son who would herald the arrival of the Messiah (Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6 and Luke 1:13-19).
The Old Testament provides the story of God’s dealings with human beings from creation until the Jews return from exile in Babylon. Although the Old Testament predicts the future restoration of Israel, it is in no sense confined to the Jews. It is the vital foundation upon which the New Testament is built. The unifying, interwoven theme in both testaments is the person and work of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is completed in the New Testament, revealing Jesus as the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy.
1. Summarize the sins of the priests (1:6 – 2:9) and the sins of the people (2:10 – 3:15).
2. What wonderful prediction is found in 3:1-6? What does this prophecy entail?
3. Does the principle of tithing apply today? Read Malachi 3:10, Leviticus 27:30-32, Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and II Corinthians 9:6-7.
Malachi is unique in its use of a particular didactic method. An accusation is made, it is objected to, and a refutation to the objection is made. Malachi 3:7-12 serves as an example:
“You are robbing Me”
“But you ask, “How have we robbed You?”
“In tithes and offerings”
Summarize other examples of this within the book of Malachi:
4. How has God loved us (1:2-5)?
5. How have we despised His name (1:6 – 2:9)?
6. How have we profaned the covenant (2:10-16)?
7. How have we wearied God (2:17 – 3:6)?
8. How have we spoken against Him (3:13 – 4:3)?
9. Compare and contrast the last verse of the Old Testament with the last verse of the New Testament.
10. Briefly summarize three truths that impressed you most during your study of the Old Testament.