- Mal. 1:1-4:6
The book of Malachi was written sometime between 500-460 B.C. The prophet Malachi receives a message from GOD which is a series of questions and answers given in rebuke of the Jews who have fallen into discouragement and are guilty of simply going through the motions of serving GOD, but their hearts aren't focused upon Him. Despite being a short book, it contains a number of important truths:
- Just because we endure hard times doesn't mean GOD has abandoned us or no longer loves us. He is always there with us.
- GOD deserves and expects us to offer our best to Him. Anything less than our best will not be accepted by GOD. He was so disgusted with the people that He said He would prefer the people just shut the doors of the temple.
- The priests weren't teaching the Law and were causing many to stumble as a result, violating the covenant GOD made with the house of Levi. As a result, GOD had caused the priests to be humiliated and despised among the Jews.
- The Jewish men had married women from foreign nations, which GOD had commanded them not to do.
- Don't divorce your spouse. Divorce was everywhere among the people. GOD hates divorce because it stains a person with violence and lies of a broken marriage covenant.
- The sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who defraud workers of their pay, those who oppressed widows and orphans, those who deprived foreigners of justice, and people who don't fear GOD will be punished and judged accordingly.
- The people weren't tithing or offering as GOD had commanded. As a result, GOD was withholding prosperity from them. He viewed this behavior of the people as "robbery."
GOD reminded the Jews that there was a day of judgment coming where the evil would burn "like a furnace" and the righteous would prevail over the wicked. But before this, the Messiah would come. Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come and turn the hearts of many back to GOD. This was fulfilled in the person of John the Baptist (Luke 1:16-17).
While some of the specifics in Malachi, such as keeping the Law of Moses, do not apply to us today, the principles taught certainly do. GOD is always with us. He expects us to give Him our best in everything we do and have. As His priests today it is our job to teach others His law and truth, in an effort to save their souls from death. GOD still hates divorce today and Jesus taught against divorce for any reason other than unfaithfulness. We are to live righteously, avoiding sorcery and witchcraft, adultery, lying, mistreating people or perverting justice.
Sadly, despite the suffering the Jews endured in captivity, it hasn't taken long for the people to lose their fervor towards GOD and this downward spiral would continue through the days of Jesus and until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Still there will be some bright spots along the way, as with Ezra and Nehemiah, which will be our next reading in the days ahead.