Background Information-Book of Malachi 

AUTHOR:

The identity of the author of Malachi (Hebrews, lit. “my messenger” or “my angel”) is uncertain. The author’s identity revolves around whether Malachi is a proper name or a common noun used as a title. The book offers no biographical information about the prophet.   Therefore, some scholars believe that Malachi is not the personal name of the prophet. If the name of the prophet is unknown, Malachi would be the only “anonymous” book in the prophetic section. Tradition suggests that Malachi refers to Ezra the scribe. However, Ezra was never called a “prophet” or “messenger.” A fourth century A.D. Jewish writing conjectures that Malachi was the name of a prophet who might have been from a place called Sopha. After reviewing the evidence, the best conclusion is that the prophet named Malachi was the author of this book.

 

DATE:

The Book of Malachi deals with the destruction of the Edomite Empire, impure sacrifices, a corrupt priesthood, and intermarriages with pagans. Malachi also used Persian terms such as pehah (governor). The language and concerns of the book are similar to those of Nehemiah (see Malachi 3:5, note). Therefore, the majority of scholars date Malachi from the first half of the fifth century B.C., after the Jews had returned to Jerusalem from the Exile and the temple had been rebuilt.

SETTING:

Although a remnant had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon and had rebuilt the temple, God’s people were in a state of spiritual apathy. With the exception of Sabbath-breaking, Malachi spoke against the same sins as did Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:6-31). Foreigners had been received into the community without conversion, mixed marriages and divorces were prevalent, and the temple offerings were being neglected. These sins were precisely what the people had promised not to commit when they had rededicated the temple and renewed the covenant (Nehemiah10:28-39). The people expected God to reward them for half-hearted religious performances and to disregard their unfaithfulness.

PURPOSE:

God’s people were directed to return to Him and to renew their faithfulness to the covenant.

AUDIENCE:

Malachi prophesied to postexilic Israel. However, his message is relevant for any believer whose commitment is half-hearted.

LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS:

The book was composed in prose, using prophetic dialogue. In this series of dialogues, each begins with “yet you say.” Most of the fifty-five verses are in the first person, with the Lord Himself directly addressing His people.   This offers a vividness of personal encounter with the Lord.

THEMES:

There are four major themes in Malachi:

  • God’s love for His people, despite their unfaithfulness and hypocrisy.
  • The importance of serving God in the proper manner and with the right attitude.
  • The importance of protecting and maintaining the sacred vows of marriage.
  • The coming of the Messiah, His forerunner, and the day of the Lord.

 

Malachi 1 

The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.

Israel Beloved of God

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?”
Says the Lord.
“Yet Jacob I have loved;
But Esau I have hated,
And laid waste his mountains and his heritage
For the jackals of the wilderness.”

Even though Edom has said,
“We have been impoverished,
But we will return and build the desolate places,”

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“They may build, but I will throw down;
They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness,
And the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.
Your eyes shall see,
And you shall say,
‘The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.’

Polluted Offerings

“A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

“You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

“But now entreat God’s favor,
That He may be gracious to us.
While this is being done by your hands,
Will He accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.
10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors,
So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain?
I have no pleasure in you,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.
11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

12 “But you profane it,
In that you say,
‘The table of the Lord is defiled;
And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’
13 You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the Lord.
14 “But cursed be the deceiver
Who has in his flock a male,
And takes a vow,
But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—
For I am a great King,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations.

February 4 Devotional Malachi 1 

1.  In the first few verses of the chapter, what does the Lord tell Israel?

How has God shown His love for you?

2. What attitude did God accuse the priests of having in verse 13?

3.  How is your attitude toward service to God? Read Psalm 100 and write out verse 2.

Psalm 100:  Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Verse 2:  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

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