MALACHI - THE MESSENGER

Jason Birkin continued our series in the Minor Prophets

Malachi – The messenger. Not much is known about him. But what is important is the message, not the messenger.

There is no definite information available telling us who he was or where he came from. There are traditional ideas. However, he was God’s mouthpiece to the nation of Israel

It has been pointed out that Malachi is well named "My messenger" or "messenger of Jehovah," because in these four short chapters, the prophet describes three messengers—the priest of the Lord (Mal_2:2); John the Baptist (Mal_3:1 a); and our Lord Himself (Mal_3:16).

Malachi paints a stunning picture of Israel's unfaithfulness that clearly shows the people to be worthy of punishment. But, woven throughout this message, is hope—the possibility of forgiveness.

As you read Malachi, we need to see ourselves as the recipient of this word of God to his people.

Evaluate the depth of our commitment, the sincerity of our worship, and the direction of our lives. Then allow God to restore your relationship with Him through His love and forgiveness.

Where in the Bible is the book of Malachi situated? The book of Malachi forms a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. This book of the Bible is the last book of the Old Testament section. But Malachi is not the last of the Old Testament prophets. John the Baptist was the last.

We need to read and understand this book in light of the whole story. The Bible itself is laid out in a narrative, from Genesis through the book of Acts, telling one story but having a number of themes.

The different sections of the Old Testament are placed within that narrative and are to be interpreted within the context of the big story. The book of Malachi comes under the group of the 12 minor prophets: there are 5 major prophets, 5 books of poetry and wisdom, 12 Historical books and 5 books of the law.

Instead of trying to pull out of the Bible a message we can apply to our lives to give us some encouragement or something to do to make us better, let’s try and enter into the message of the whole Bible and be swallowed up by it, forgetting ourselves for the moment.

Malachi ministered in the fifth century B.C., about 100 years after the Persian King Cyrus had issued the decree in 538 B.C. which permitted Jews to return from exile to Judah. In response to the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah, the repatriated Jews had rebuilt the temple, completing it in 515 B.C. Houses had been reconstructed. Most likely in Malachi’s day the wall of Jerusalem was being rebuilt or had been completed (by Nehemiah’s crew).

Life was not easy. The Jews were under the political dominion of Persia (peḥâh, “governor,” Mal_1:8, was a Persian title, also used in Ezr_5:3, Ezr_5:6, Ezr_5:14; Ezr_6:6-7, Ezr_6:13; Dan_3:2-3, Dan_3:27; Dan_6:7).

Harvests were poor and subject to locust damage (Mal_3:11). By the time of Malachi, they had been back in the land for more than a hundred years and were looking for the blessings they expected to receive when they returned. The Kingdom. Though the temple had been rebuilt, the fervor of those early returning Israelites gave way to a thorough apathy for the things of God. This led to rampant corruption among the priesthood and a spiritual lethargy among the people.

Compared to 40 – 50 years ago, our own society, which was established on God’s Word, has greatly deteriorated. Society today is facing many issues which are a direct result of people not passing on to their children the truth they have. The churches in NZ and around the world have leaders who mirror the priests back in Malachi’s time.

The Jews had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. They’d obeyed the messages of God from the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They’d rebuilt the temple of God.

Their expectations had not been met. They were disappointed with God. They had done what they thought God wanted, but still God hadn’t come up with the goods. No Messiah, no great divine war against Israel’s enemies, no worldwide kingdom of God—none of the good things those prophets said would come about had happened.

Their expectations of God were selfish. There was not a personal deep relationship with God as God desired.

Our relationship with God is what is important. Not our doing church or behaving like Christians are expected to. God was not pleased with them. Our expectations of God are often selfish and when we can’t get from God what we want, we start doubting. We doubt His love for us. We don’t see things from God’s perspective.

Most hearts were indifferent or resentful toward God. Both the priests and the people were violating the stipulations of the Mosaic Law regarding sacrifices, tithes, and offerings. The people’s hope in God’s covenant promises had dimmed, as evidenced by their (a) intermarriages with pagans, (b) divorces, and (c)general moral ambivalence.

So the people grew indifferent. They offered faulty sacrifices (Mal 1:8,13), married pagan women (Mal 2:11), were unfaithful to their wives (Mal 2:14), and withheld tithes and offerings (Mal 3:8). Furthermore, the priests of God were misleading the people and disrespecting the God who had called them to ministry (Mal 2:8). Spiritual decline.

When people seem to live according to Christian customs and behaviour, but then abandon them, it is obvious that they never lived by conviction, but more by fleeting religious beliefs.

They stop listening to the Lord and listen to the evil one and listen to the world and their own selfish desires. Signs of a lacking relationship with God. Same as in a marriage. No love, quarrels and hatefulness, broken marriage vows.

The Jews had been redeemed from 70 years of captivity and miraculously restored to their own land. How could they doubt the love of God? Satan’s plan from the beginning has been to get us to doubt God’s love for us.

The tactic...

As long as the mind holds to God’s truth, Satan cannot win; but once the mind doubts God’s Word, there is room for the devil’s lies to move in. Satan questioned God’s Word (Gen 3:1), denied God’s Word (Gen_3:4), and then substituted his own lies (Gen_3:5).

Note that Satan seeks to undermine our faith in the goodness of God — he suggested to Eve that God was “holding out on them” by keeping them from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When we question God’s goodness and doubt His love, we are playing right into the hands of Satan.

But that’s exactly how the Jews in Malachi’s day, and the church today, treat the love of God all the time. We want Him to continually prove His love for us by giving us more stuff or by spoiling us more. “Come on God, if You really loved me You would do this or give me that or change this situation.” Such was the state of Israel when Malachi arrives on the scene with the message from God

Malachi’s message is similar to that of the other prophets: covenant blessing requires covenant faithfulness. As people in each generation obeyed the requirements of the Mosaic Covenant, they participated in the blessings founded in the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant.

Obedience to the Law was rewarded with blessing in the land of promise. Disobedience, on the other hand, brought a curse on the people and eventually exile. This covenant regulated Israel’s relationship with God throughout the old dispensation. The blessings and the curses in Deuteronomy 28.

Since the fall of Adam our ancestor, mankind all the way down through history is shown to be sinners who have no thought for God.

Even today, as believers, we still struggle with temptation and struggle to maintain our relationship with God. We get taken up with the things of the world, our job, our entertainment, pursuing the things of this life. We have a bent towards ignoring God. God knows this and that is why there is so many reminders through the Epistles to keep focused on Him and all that He has prepared for us.

Faith is the Art of Holding on to Things in spite of your Changing Moods and Circumstances

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.

Like the Israelites who thought they were okay because they thought they fulfilled God’s laws and that was enough, we too can do church and talk Christian and yet our hearts are far from Him.