Malachi: The Last Prophet

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The Last Prophet

Sins of the priests, Sins of the people, Promises for the future.

Background: The last prophet condemned prevalent sin in Judah. Four hundred years of silence followed his messages (432-425 BC)
Theme: Cynical and Empty Worship of God
Outline: Sins of the Priests and People and Promises for the Future
Key Verse: "'See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the LORD Almighty." (Mal 3:1, NIV)

The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol I, Old Testament) is an excellent resource and is referred to as the BKC.

Introduction: One important feature of this book is that it shows the moral quality of post-exilic Israel. As the people have returned settled back in after the Babylonian Exile, we may wonder why God did not institute an everlasting kingdom of peace for the Jews. In Malachi we clearly see that the people did not faithfully follow the LORD, which is a condition for the promises of the Mosaic Covenant. We would have expected the people to have learned their lesson from the exile, and to be the faithful remnant. Such was not the case, although the use of idols was apparently abolished. We still look forward, then, to a future time when a faithful remnant will inherit the land of Israel and receive the promised blessings.

I. Introduction: The Burden of Malachi (1:1)

II. First Oracle: Response to God's Love (1:2-5)

III. Second Oracle: Honor God (1:6-2:9)

IV. Third Oracle: Be Faithful as God's Covenant People (2:10-16)

V. Fourth Oracle: Hope in God (2:17-3:6)

VI. Fifth Oracle: Obey God (3:7-12)

3:10-12 BKC 2 Mr. Blaising gives a balanced caution on the application of these verses today. It is worth re-reading. We are not under the Law which required tithing, but we are encouraged (in the New Testament) to be generous. Indeed, we are to dedicate our whole life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), which implies that we would not hold back our wallet or any other possession.

VII. Sixth Oracle: Fear God (3:12-4:3)

VIII: Conclusion: Be Prepared for God's Coming (4:4-6)

Concluding remarks: Over 400 years will pass before the coming of John the Baptist. During this time the Jews will be subjected to many trials, including severe oppression under one of four kingdoms developing out of the empire of Alexander the Great. For a time the Jews will win liberty through a revolution, but eventually come under Roman rule due to intrigue and political division within Jerusalem.

Several religious and historical books were written during this period (probably in Greek) and give us useful information about these times. They were not part of the Hebrew Scriptures used by Jesus, but are included in some Bibles today as the Apocrypha (doubtful writings). They are not Scripture, as you can probably determine for yourself by seeing the occaisional blatant factual errors and contradictions in them. They are of interest as historical sources.

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Updated March 2012

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