Malachi Lesson 1
OUTLINE TO MALACHI
“THE MESSENGER OF THE LORD”
KEY VERSE: Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
DATE: Approximately 420 B.C. The temple at Jerusalem had been completed when the book of Malachi was written. The altar was in existence and sacrifices were being presented to the Lord (1:7-10; 3:8). The book was composed later than Haggai and Zechariah, who pleaded for the completion of the building of the temple. It is probable, therefore, that Malachi wrote his message in the days of Nehemiah, while the wall was being built. In that case, Malachi was written about 420 B.C.
THEME: Against a backdrop of God’s love toward Israel, the people had begun to neglect the house of God and had become lax and degenerate. Their sacrifices were inferior, the tithes were being neglected, divorce had become common, and the people had reverted to the old practice of intermarrying idolatrous neighbors.
WRITER: The Holy Spirit, writing through Malachi. Malachi means “My Messenger,” or “Messenger of Jehovah.” He gives us a message to condemn the social evils of the day. Some think that the Hebrew word “Malakiyah” (Malachi) is simply a title of an anonymous prophet who penned the words. Since all of the other eleven minor prophets have their own names, we believe this one is no exception. We know little about Malachi, except that he was a faithful and courageous mouthpiece of God to an extremely wicked nation.
WRITTEN: The book of Malachi was written after Israel’s seventy years of captivity was complete. They had returned to Palestine, rebuilt the temple under Zerubbabel and the governor and Joshua, the high priest. Haggai and Zechariah had gotten behind the people and pressed them into completing the work. Ezra had come later and led another group to re-establish the temple worship and re-institute sound legislation. Nehemiah had then come to be governor of Jerusalem and rebuilt the city walls. After completing the walls in fifty-two days, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to continue his work as the king’s cupbearer. During his absence, dreadful moral abuses appeared among the remnant. When he returned, he took drastic action. It was during this time and setting that Malachi prophesied. Probably his messages were written while Nehemiah was back in Babylon.
THE BOOK: Number in Bible: 39th of 66 books of the Bible. Number of chapters: 4. Number of verses: 55. Number in order of writing: 12th and final book of the minor prophets.
PURPOSE: There is a three-fold purpose in the writing of Malachi: 1. To condemn the social evils of the time. 2. To show that God is the moral ruler of the world and that it is wise to serve Him. 3. To foretell the coming of John the Baptist before Christ and that of Elijah before the second coming of Christ.
DIVISIONS: The prophesy of Malachi is divided into six sections: 1. Jehovah’s love for His people 1:1-5. 2. The rebuke of the priest 1:6-2:9. 3. The rebuke of the social conditions 2:10-16. 4. Announcement of the messenger and the Day of the LORD 3:1-6. 5. The rebuke for defrauding of the LORD 3:7-15. 6. The remnant and the concluding prophecy 3:16-4:6.
FACTS: Malachi prophesied probably one hundred years later than Haggai and Zechariah. Everything was in a state of religious and moral decline. The religious attitude was characterized by sacrilege and profanity. Prevailing moral sins of witchcraft, adultery, perjury, fraud, and oppression were common. Social conditions were highlighted by disregard of family responsibilities. Gross materialism of the age was reflected by “robbing God.” The people reflected an attitude of sneering self-defense. Skepticism and formality are seen in full bloom and is carried over into the Phariseeism and Sadduceeism in the time of Christ. Malachi set out to catalog the sins of the nation. Malachi pointed back to Moses, the great representative of the law, and to Elijah, the great representative of the prophets. He then foretold the coming again of Elijah, which would be fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist. It is interesting that the last word of the book of Malachi and the last word of the Old Testament is the word “curse.”
OUTLINE: I. Introduction (The word “burden” here means judgment. 1:1) II. God’s love for Israel. 1:2-8 A. God’s love stated 1:2a. B. God’s love questioned 1:2b. C. God’s love proven 1:2b-4. D. God’s love to be perceived 1:5. III. God’s indictment of the priests 2:6-9. A. The indictment 2:6a. B. The indictment questioned 2:6b. C. The indictment proven 2:7-9. D. The indictment’s penalty 1:14; 2:9. E. The indictment’s consequences 2:8-9. IV. God’s indictment of the unfaithfulness of the people 2:10-4:3. A. The treachery of the people 2:11-16. B. Their questioning the goodness of God 2:17. V. God’s final Old Testament words to Israel 4:4-6. A. Remembering the Law of Moses 4:4. B. The promise of Elijah 4:5.
MISCELLANEOUS: Seven questions asked by the people of Israel: 1. “In what way has thou loved us?” 1:2. 2. “In what way have we despised thy name?” 1:6. 3. “In what way have we polluted thee?” 1:7. 4. “In what way have we wearied Him?” 2:17. 5. “In what way shall we return?” 3:7. 6. “How have we robbed thee?” 3:8. 7. “What have we spoken so much against thee?” 3:13. Some have noted that Malachi could be looked upon as a miniature summary of the Old Testament. He covers five key truths found in other books. They are: 1. The selection of Israel by God 1:2, 2:4-6, 10. 2. The transgression of Israel against God 1:6; 2:11-17. 3. The manifestation of the Messiah 3:1; 4:2. 4. The tribulation upon the nations 4:1. 5. The purification of Israel, at last 3:2-4, 12, 16-18; 4:2-6. Malachi compared to Moses. 1. Moses gives us the first Old Testament prophesy concerning the Messiah Gen. 3:15. 2. Malachi lists the last Old Testament prophesy concerning the Messiah Malachi 4:2. The love of God was scorned by the people in at least six ways. 1. Through their inequalities 2:10. 2. Through their intermarriages 2:11 3. Through their immoralities 2:14. 4. Through their insincerity 2:17. 5. Through their indebtedness 3:10. 6. Through their incrimination 3:13-15.
CONCERNING JOHN THE BAPTIST: Dr. J. Vernon McGee writes, “Malachi announced the coming of John the Baptist as “My Messenger”. John was the Malachi of the New Testament and began where Malachi of the Old Testament left off. Malachi was the first radio announcer who said, “The next voice you hear will be that of the Lord’s messenger.”
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