by Ken Cayce

Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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Malachi Explained

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Book of Malachi Explained

Title: The title is derived from the prophecy's author, Malachi. With this last work in the Minor Prophets, God closes the Old Testament canon historically and prophetically.

Author - Date: The name Malachi means "My Messenger". Nothing is known of the personal life of the prophet. This has given rise to a number of theories concerning him. Because the Hebrew language, like Greek, has only one word that can mean either messenger or angel, some of the church fathers suggested that Malachi was really an angel incarnate. Other scholars have taken Malachi to be a pseudonym for Ezra, Nehemiah, or Zerubbabel. Still others have considered Malachi to be merely a general term for an anonymous prophet, and not a personal name at all. But there is no historical basis for any of these suggestions, nor are there any precedents for them in the rest of canonical literature. Some have supposed that since the priesthood occupies such a prominent place in the book, that Malachi must have been a priest. The simplest and best view is to consider Malachi as the name of the last prophet in Israel. The fact that nothing is known of his personal lineage or history is not uncommon among the prophets. Once again, the message to be conveyed is much more important that the messenger. The messenger is obviously adequate for the task committed to him.

The probable place from which the prophecy originated was Jerusalem at a location near the temple. This is even more likely if Malachi was a priest.

The purpose of Malachi is to deliver stern rebukes to the people and priests, to call them to repentance, and to promise future blessing. His theme is God's love for Israel, despite the sins of the priests and people.

Looking solely at internal evidence, the date of the prophecy points (to the late fifth century B.C.), most likely during Nehemiah's return to Persia (ca. 433 - 424 B.C.; compare Neh. 5:14; 13:6). Sacrifices were being made at the second temple (1:7-10; 3:8), which was finished (in 516 B.C.; compare Ezra 6:13-15). Many years had passed since then as the priests had increasingly become complacent and corrupt (1:6 to 2:9). Malachi's reference to "governor" (1:8), speaks of the time of Persian dominance in Judah when Nehemiah was revisiting Persia (Neh. 13:6), while his emphasis on the law (4:4), coincides with a similar focus by Ezra and Nehemiah (compare Ezra 7:14, 25-26; Neh. 8:18). They shared other concerns as well, such as marriages to foreign wives (2:11-15; compare Ezra chapters 9 and 10; Neh. 13:23-27), withholding of tithes (3:8-10; compare Neh. 13:10-14), and social injustice (3:5; compare Neh. 5:1-13). Nehemiah came to Jerusalem (in 445 B.C.), to rebuild the wall, and returned to Persia (in 433 B.C.). He later returned to Israel (ca. 424 B.C.), to deal with the sins Malachi described (Neh. 13:6). So it is likely that Malachi was written during the period of Nehemiah's absence, almost a century after Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy. Similar to (Rev. chapters 2 and 3), in which Christ writes what He thinks about the conditions of the churches, here God writes through Malachi to impress upon Israel His thoughts about the nation.

Historical Setting: Malachi was almost an unknown, except for this book that he penned. He used the expression "Ye say" instead of "Thus saith the Lord". His book shows us a picture of the degradation in the land at the closing of the Old Testament. He also, gives hope for the future in Messiah. He speaks out against the priesthood, as well as against these ungrateful people of God. He prophesied about the time of Nehemiah.

Malachi is later than Haggai and Zechariah. In those books the rebuilding of the temple is the central concern. We know (from 1:7 and 3:10), that not only had the temple been finished in Malachi's day, but it had been in use for some time, and sin was corrupting the worship that took place in it. Further, the book of Malachi must have been written after Nehemiah's first arrival in Jerusalem in the thirty second year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (in 444 B.C.), probably after the walls had been rebuilt around the city, for Malachi addresses the same sins noted in Nehemiah: the divorcing of Jewish wives and marrying heathen women (compare 3:8-10 with Nehemiah 13:10-14).

Nehemiah was recalled to the Persian court (in 433 B.C.), and another governor, who seems to have been a Persian governor, was placed over Palestine (compare 13:6).

Most likely, Malachi was written just before Nehemiah's second return to Jerusalem or during his presence there. Malachi ministered in support of Nehemiah's ministry, just as Haggai and Zechariah had ministered in support of Ezra and Zerubbabel nearly a hundred years earlier. The prophecy was probably written sometime between (433 and 425. B.C.).

"After Malachi, the prophetic voice was silent for some four hundred years. This fact makes it necessary for even the most destructive critic to admit that the hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming of our Lord are what they claim to be, Prophecy, and not the deceitful writing of history in poetical form.

Malachi has been called the Socrates of the prophets because he uses that style specialists in rhetoric call dialectic, "investigation through discussion and reasoning." The dialectic form used in the prophecy became a popular teaching style in later Judaism. The prophecy is a testimony to the graciousness of God in condescending to answer man's foolish and childish statements.

Background - Setting: Only about 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538-536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned (in 458 B.C.), after being back in the land of Palestine for only a century. The ritual of the Jews' religious routine led to hard heartedness toward God's great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest.

As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel's history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God's favor since less that 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.

So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God's message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God's promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, Messiah would be revealed and God's covenant promises would be fulfilled.

There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi's words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:2). Messiah had come.

Historical - Theological Themes: The Lord repeatedly referred to His covenant with Israel reminding them, for His opening words, of the unfaithfulness to His love/marriage relationship with them. God's love for His people pervades the book.

Apparently the promises by the former prophets of the coming Messiah who would bring final deliverance and age-long blessings, and the encouragement from the recent promises of Haggai and Zechariah, had only made the people and their leaders more resolute in their complacency.

They thought that this love relationship could be maintained by formal ritual alone, no matter how they lived. In a penetrating rebuke of both priests and people, the prophet reminds them that the Lord's coming, which they were seeking, would be in judgment to refine, purify and purge.

The Lord not only wanted outward compliance with the law, but an inward acceptance as well. The prophet assaults the corruption, wickedness and false security by directing his judgments at their hypocrisy, infidelity, compromise, divorce, false worship and arrogance.

Malachi set forth his prophecy in the form of a dispute, employing the question and answer method. The Lord's accusations against His people were frequently met by cynical questions from the people. At other times, the prophet presented himself as God's advocate in a lawsuit, posing rhetorical questions to the people based on their defiant criticisms.

Malachi indicted the false priests and the people on at least 6 counts of willful sin:

(1) Repudiating God's love (1:2-5);

(2) Refusing God His due honor (1:6 - 2:9);

(3) Rejecting God's faithfulness (2:10 - 16);

(4) Redefining God's righteousness (2:17 - 3:6);

(5) Robbing God's riches (3:7-12);

(6) Reviling God's grace (3:13-15).

There are three interludes in which Malachi rendered God's judgment:

(1) To the priests, (2:1-9);

(2) To the nation (3:1-6);

(3) To the remnant (3:16 - 4:6).


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Malachi 1
Malachi 2
Malachi 3
Malachi 4

Malachi 1

Malachi Chapter 1

Malachi 1:1 "The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi."

Malachi 1:2 "I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? [Was] not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,"

Malachi 1:3 "And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness."

Malachi 1:4 "Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever."

Malachi 1:5 "And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel."

Malachi 1:6 "A son honoreth [his] father, and a servant his master: if then I [be] a father, where [is] mine honor? and if I [be] a master, where [is] my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?"

Malachi 1:7 "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD [is] contemptible."

Malachi 1:8 "And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 1:9 "And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 1:10 "Who [is there] even among you that would shut the doors [for nought]? neither do ye kindle [fire] on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand."

Malachi 1:11 "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name [shall be] great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense [shall be] offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name [shall be] great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 1:12 "But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD [is] polluted; and the fruit thereof, [even] his meat, [is] contemptible."

Malachi 1:13 "Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness [is it]! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought [that which was] torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD."

Malachi 1:14 "But cursed [be] the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I [am] a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name [is] dreadful among the heathen."

Malachi 2

Malachi Chapter 2

Malachi 2:1 "And now, O ye priests, this commandment [is] for you."

Malachi 2:2 "If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay [it] to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay [it] to heart."

Malachi 2:3 "Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, [even] the dung of your solemn feasts; and [one] shall take you away with it."

Malachi 2:4 "And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 2:5 "My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him [for] the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name."

Malachi 2:6 "The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity."

Malachi 2:7 "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he [is] the messenger of the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 2:8 "But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 2:9 "Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law."

Malachi 2:10 "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?"

Malachi 2:11 "Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god."

Malachi 2:12 "The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 2:13 "And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth [it] with good will at your hand."

Malachi 2:14 "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet [is] she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant."

Malachi 2:15 "And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth."

Malachi 2:16 "For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for [one] covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."

Malachi 2:17 "Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied [him]? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil [is] good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where [is] the God of judgment?"

Malachi 3

Malachi Chapter 3

Malachi 3:1 "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 3:2 "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:"

Malachi 3:3 "And he shall sit [as] a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness."

Malachi 3:4 "Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."

Malachi 3:5 "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in [his] wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger [from his right], and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 3:6 "For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

Malachi 3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

Malachi 3:9 "Ye [are] cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, [even] this whole nation."

Malachi 3:10 "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it]."

Malachi 3:11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 3:12 "And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 3:13 "Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken [so much] against thee?"

Malachi 3:14 "Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what profit [is it] that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?"

Malachi 3:15 "And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are even delivered."

Malachi 3:16 "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name."

Malachi 3:17 "And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."

Malachi 3:18 "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."

Malachi 4

Malachi Chapter 4

Malachi 4:1 "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

Malachi 4:2 "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."

Malachi 4:3 "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts."

Malachi 4:4 "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the statutes and judgments."

Malachi 4:5 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:"

Malachi 4:6 "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."