Malachi was the last of the prophets, and is supposed to have prophesied B.C. 420. He reproves the priests and the people for the evil practices into which they had fallen, and invites them to repentance and reformation, with promises of the blessings to be bestowed at the coming of the Messiah. And now that prophecy was too cease, he speaks clearly of the Messiah, as nigh at hand, and directs the people of God to keep in remembrance the law of Moses, while they were in expectation of the gospel of Christ. (Matthew Henry)
This week we turn to another of those books of the Bible that don’t always get a lot reading time, this one in the Old Testament, Malachi. This book contains four chapters and a staggering total of fifty-five verses, 1781 words packed into four chapters. Malachi is the final book in the collection of the Twelve Prophets. There is a dynamic dialog between the people, the priests and the oracle contained in this book. For the purpose of simplicity an oracle is biblically speaking a message from God. Malachi is the messenger. What does the name Malachi mean? The name Malachi is a boy’s name of Hebrew origin meaning “my messenger”. He was the last of the twelve Hebrew prophets, who foretold the coming of Christ. There is the question of, is Malachi a personal name or a title? For our purposes we will view it as a person named Malachi who is the messenger of divine prophecies from God. Verse one is a superscription outside the discourse of the book itself. One last point about the name Malachi. Early Christian writings (5 Esdras) ends with “Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who is also called a “messenger of the Lord.”
As a layman there are different mountains to climb when our interests take us into an area rich in theological reasoning. Such is the case for me and this Book of Malachi. We should all be thankful for this digital age of information and the wisdom of those scholars whose writings carry us over these mountains. Most of the information I share with you today is based on my reading of The New Interpreter’s Bible, volume 7. There are six units of discourse the first being chapter 1: 2-5.
We are greeted with the words “I have Loved you” in verse 1. This is not so much a statement of the past as it is a reassurance that whatever happens, be it accusation, judgement or promise, this divine statement of love will apply. We see the establishing of the pattern of statement, question and then response that is repeated as the book goes forth, with some slight modifications. In this first unit there is no accusation or charge of wrongdoing against the people. The writer in NIB points out that Malachi is much harsher than the Genesis version of God having chosen Jacob and not Esau. The language “but I have hated Esau” is attributed to God speaking here in Malachi. There are difficult questions asked, such as, “How have you loved us?” Difficult questions are answered in this book of Malachi. The advantages or spiritual gifts are the result of the love freely given us by God. It is clear that all those who sin, only fear being held accountable for their sins. What hope and comforts they receive are from the mercy of the Lord, this mercy they did not merit, it was given freely. God chose his people that they may be Holy, like Him and if we love him it is because He loved us first. It is remarkable that we all are prone to undervalue the mercies of God, choosing to excuse our own offenses.
I hope you join me in the Pew next week as we have a look at some who should have known better but didn’t act so.
Life is Good