Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament in our English Bibles. In the Hebrew Bible, it is the concluding book of the prophets. One way or another, Malachi has a final say.
Unlike most of the prophets, there is nothing in Malachi to give us a notion of its date. There are echoes here of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah – particularly in the use of the name for God: “Lord Almighty” – which leads us to our main observation about the book: It is the message of a deeply offended God.
In Malachi, God is offended because of the things His people have said:
* God doesn’t love us.
* The rituals of our religion are ‘beneath’ us: We don’t like that ‘old time religion’ of our forefathers.
* There is no ‘one way,’ no ‘right or wrong.’
* God won’t do anything to us – good or bad.
* Serving God isn’t to our advantage.
In Malachi God is offended because His people have not treated Him with honor.
Malachi promises a day of reckoning. A messenger from the Lord will come to herald the arrival of God Himself. It will not, according to Malachi, be a welcome sight.
Malachi also promises a day of blessing, but before it comes, the lives of his people must change: ‘the hearts of the fathers must turn to their children.’ If they don’t, the day of blessing will be a day accursed.
The arrival of John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Jesus, is often cited in the New Testament as a fulfillment of God’s promises through Malachi, but that is surely not all the book is about. It speaks of honoring God with our lives and in our worship, and interestingly, the prophet focuses on our giving to the Lord as an example of the honor we show Him.
Giving to God is not charity. Giving to God is not showing our support for ‘worthy’ causes. Giving to God is a means of demonstrating respect toward the Lord.
As the people of God, we cannot divorce the way we live from our relationship with God. If we live sorry lives that evidence dishonor, as people of God or not, we stand “cursed” by the Lord.
Malachi ends, and the voice of God is still. It will stay still for four hundred years until the messenger of God proclaims the coming of Jesus. But the message of Malachi is for all time: God is watching and listening. He longs to bless, but is far too often offended. A final trumpet will sound, and a day of reckoning is will arrive, just as God “announced to his servants the prophets” (Revelation 10:7). Readiness is in order.