Summary: The priests of Judah were being dealt with by God through His prophet in this chapter.
MALACHI (my messenger)
THE LAST SNAPSHOT OF JUDAH & A FUTURE HOPE
Place: post return from exile (provincial) Judah and Jerusalem
Time: probably a full generation after Nehemiah’s great work, in other words 435-395 B.C.
Much of the remnant of the people of Judah and Benjamin had returned to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside in the time of Ezra, after 70 years of captivity by the Babylonians.
Jeremiah had prophecied the 70 years exactly. Daniel had recognized from the book of Jeremiah that the time had come, (Daniel Chapter 9) and God had raised up just the right king (Darius the Mede) for the hour.
Babylon had been taken over by the Medes and Persians at that point in time, and that is why Darius was then king in Babylon.
Ezra and Nehemiah had provided godly and skilled leadership in the restoring of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem over the course of the next seventy years or so. Opposition had been overcome, as God had caused successive Medo-Persian kings to look at the Jews in a positive way.
Now, one generation after Nehemiah and the prophets of his day, the people, and the priests of the Jewish people had both become very lax in serving God, and they took Temple worship to be something to do just any old way. This was a major sin, and it was an indicator of their whole backslidden approach to God and to life.
The Torah (the five books of history and law given through Moses), had outlined very clear requirements (not just guidelines) regarding the animal sacrifices. The animals had to be without defects. They had to represent a sacrifice also of the owner’s time, feed, and care. Stolen animals were an abomination to God. Vowing to sacrifice a certain animal, and then substituting an inferior one was not acceptable to God. Many of the people were doing these very things.
The priests had to be scrupulously honest, and they had to prepare themselves to perform the sacrifices in exacting ways. These priests were not measuring up to the “measuring rod” (canon) of YHWH (Yahweh) God’s requirements.
In addition, there were other sins besides robbing God going on. There was marrying of Heathen (again). There was sorcery. There was the divorcing of innocent wives happening.
God sought to reason with the people and priests through Malachi by means of posing a series of questions and answers, while also clearly exposing sin.
Then, extremely clear prophecies about the coming of a future Judgment day; the coming of the Messiah (Jesus); and even the coming of a forerunner to the Messiah (John the Baptist) are included in this little book.
Indeed, as the Veggie Tales version of Jonah sang in the movie, “There is nothing quite as good: a message from the Lord.” Malachi brought a compact but mighty and important message from the Lord to his generation, and to ours, as our faith can be greatly strengthened in considering this book!
pastor Eric Hanson