This short book may be combined with Zechariah for a one-hour study session.
Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read the entire book. Orientation Malachi is book #39, the final book of the Old Testament, and the 12th and final book of the Minor Prophets. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis The Jews, returned from exile in Babylon, have again lost respect for God. They go through the motions of offering sacrifices, but are choosing them from the bottom of the barrel - last quality (1:8) - and the priests go along with it. God states this is a waste of everyone's time and wishes the door of the temple locked (1:10).
God compares Judah's unfaithfulness to that of a man [Judah] who abandons the wife of his youth [their God] in favor of a new, enticing foreign woman [false gods and idols] (2: 11-15).
God promises he is going to come and clean house. A messenger (3:1) will precede the way before him. The faithful are so worried they make a list of their names (3:16) and God says those on the list will be spared the coming wrath. He promises the time will come when the wicked will be judged (4:1) and those who love him will be blessed. This is last book of scripture the people will have for over 400 years before Jesus comes, and it ends sternly - with the word "curse" (4:6).
Discussion points Malachi clearly states that offerings and sacrifices to God are to be first quality, not the seconds. Compare this with the system of gleanings introduced in Deuteronomy 24:19 and Leviticus 19:9... what was the quality of the gleanings? * How does this instruction relate to our present efforts to feed the hungry?
God's admonitions sound like "Don't make me come down there!" and in fact, they are making Him come down there and clean house. What could have happened if the Jews did remain faithful and God did not have to intervene?
Connections Malachi is the only prophet to predict that Elijah (from 1 Kings) will come as a messenger to prepare the way for Jesus. John the Baptist will fulfill this role, and will be called Elijah (Matthew 11:14, 17:10, Luke 1:17).
Compare Malachi 3:1 with Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:2. This verse is quoted by Jesus in Luke 7:27.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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