Book of Malachi

Introduction to the Book of Malachi

Book of Malachi
Malachi, painting by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Book of Malachi

As the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi continues the warnings of the earlier prophets, but it also sets the stage for the New Testament, when the Messiah will appear to save God's people.

In Malachi, God says, "I the LORD do not change." (3:6) Comparing the people in this ancient book to today's society, it seems human nature doesn't change either. The problems with divorce, corrupt religious leaders, and spiritual apathy still exist.

That's what makes the book of Malachi sharply relevant today.

The people of Jerusalem had rebuilt the temple as the prophets ordered them, but the promised restoration of the land did not come as quickly as they wanted. They began to doubt God's love. In their worship, they just went through the motions, offering blemished animals for sacrifice. God scolded the priests for improper teaching and rebuked the men for divorcing their wives so they could marry pagan women.

Besides withholding their tithes, the people spoke arrogantly against the LORD, complaining how the wicked prospered. Throughout Malachi, God leveled withering accusations against the Jews then bitterly answered his own questions. Finally, at the end of chapter three, a faithful remnant met, writing a scroll of remembrance to honor the Almighty.

The book of Malachi closes with God's promise to send Elijah, the Old Testament's mightiest prophet.

Indeed, 400 years later at the beginning of the New Testament, John the Baptist arrived near Jerusalem, dressed like Elijah and preaching the same message of repentance. Later in the Gospels, Elijah himself appeared with Moses to give his approval at the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi's prophecy about Elijah.

Malachi serves as a sort of foreshadowing of the prophecies of Christ's second coming, detailed in the book of Revelation. At that time all wrongs will be righted while Satan and the wicked will be destroyed. Jesus will reign forever over the fulfilled kingdom of God

Author of the Book of Malachi

Malachi, one of the minor prophets. His name means "my messenger."

Date Written

About 430 BC.

Written To

The Jews in Jerusalem and all later Bible readers.

Landscape of the Book of Malachi

Judah, Jerusalem, the temple.

Themes in Malachi

  • God remains faithful even when his people do not. God keeps his promises but expects obedience from his followers in return. God upbraided the Jews for questioning his timing. They clearly fell away yet still expected blessing.
  • God values justice. He will punish disobedience and destroy the wicked. In Malachi, God warns that "the day of the Lord" is coming when a great reckoning will occur.
  • Repentance and reformation bring restoration. God is always ready to welcome his people back. His greatest desire is to bless those who return to his way.

Key Characters in the Book of Malachi

Malachi, the priests, disobedient husbands.

Key Verses

Malachi 3:1
"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me." (NIV)

Malachi 3:17-18
"They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not."(NIV)

Malachi 4:2-3
"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)

Outline of the Book of Malachi

  • God affirms his faithful love for Israel (1:1 - 5).
  • God rebukes Israel for its faithlessness toward him (1:6 - 2:16).
  • The LORD announces his coming to judge and reward (2:17 - 4:6).