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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Malachi

Introduction

  • The book of Malachi is revealed to us during the time period after the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland of Judah under the rule of the Medo-Persian Empire.

  •  Also, the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple was already complete when these prophecies were revealed to Malachi.

The Words Of Malachi Are The Words Of God

  • The Word of God is revealed to the Jews by God, Himself (Malachi 1:1). 

  • Thus, the Words of Malachi are literally the Words of God.

God Proclaims His Love For A Doubting People

  • God proclaims His love to a doubting people (Malachi 1:2). 

  • The Jews doubted that God really loved them. 

  • He shows them His love by comparing His treatment of Edom with the treatment of the Jews (Malachi 1:2-5).

  • Esau was the ancestor of the children of Edom and the brother of Jacob.

  • Jacob, of course, was the ancestor of the Jews (Genesis 25:21-26, 30; 32:3; 35:9-15; 1 Chronicles 16:13-18; Acts 7:8) (Nave, 1995). 

  • Prior to this prophecy from Malachi, Edom was conquered by Babylon just like the Jews of Judah. 

  • This conquest of Edom was due to their sins (Obadiah 1:8, 10-14; Jeremiah 27:1-10) (Easton, n.d.). 

  • God says the following Words concerning His treatment of Edom after the Babylonian conquest and destruction of the land of Edom, “2 “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. “2 Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 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. 5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, ‘The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel . . .” (Malachi 1:2-5 New King James Version). 

  • These Words from God in Malachi 1:2-5 should be very convicting to the Jews of Judah. 

  • These Jews were back in their homeland after being released from Babylonian captivity by the Medo-Persians. 

  • They had rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple at this point unlike the events of Zechariah that we have been blessed to study previously. 

  • Remember, back in the book of Zechariah that the Jews of Judah were still in the process of rebuilding the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, but in the time of Malachi, this work was completed (Tenney,

  • 1967). 

  • God was showing these Jews of Judah that there was a spirit of ungratefulness in them. 

  • God was showing them that unlike the nation of Edom that was also destroyed, at least, the Jews were able to rebuild and inhabit their land again. 

  • This would not be the blessing that Edom would get, because they would also try to rebuild their ruins, but God would not be with them. 

  • In fact, God would be actually against their rebuilding and restoration by fighting against their efforts Himself! 

  • They would build up, but God, Himself, would tear their cities right back down. 

  • The Jews were much more loved than their cousins in Edom. 

  • Most importantly, there are several lessons in this short passage of Scripture from Malachi that apply to the modern-day Christian. 

  • First, we, as Christians, should give thanks in every thing that we are allowed to do or receive from God, because He did not have to bless us (James 1:17).

  • He blesses us, because He loves us. 

  • Second, Christians may not possess all of their wants and dreams in this earthly life, but our situations could be far worse. 

  • All that we have to do is look around at our world and find out that there are probably thousands, if not millions, of people, that are worse off than we are! 

  • For that, we should give thanks! 

  • Third, this shows us, as Christians, that it takes God being with us to accomplish things. 

  • He is still Sovereign over us and any nation of the world. 

  • If God does not want something to prosper, then it surely will not prosper. 

  • This is why we should pray that God would bless our plans to do anything, because every thing that we do is at the mercy of God’s Will (1 John 5:14-15; James 4:13-15).

The Jewish People’s Low Regard Of God

  • Malachi 1:6-14 is a very sad commentary regarding how far the Jews of Judah had fallen regarding 

  • their opinion of the value of God, Himself, during Malachi’s days. 

  • They did not hold God in high regard, because they were giving Him their worst in acts of worship. 

  • This is obviously the root cause of “going through the motions” when it comes to religion.

  • If one does not think highly of God, then he/she will not give God the honor that He deserves.

  • Even Christians today can be the same way as they attend worship services out of tradition, but at heart, they really do not want to be there. 

  • We, as Christians, worship God, because we love Him (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).

  • Our love for Him makes Him our prize to cherish forever as our Father, Master, and King (Malachi 1:6, 14) (Arnold & Beyer, 1999). 

  • Our love for Him causes us to deny our own selfish desires in order to fulfill His desires (Matthew 7:21; Luke 9:23).

  • Thus, it is easy to be religious and not connected to God at all!

  • What a dilemma to be in! 

  • Give God the honor that He deserves by making one’s whole lifestyle a sacrifice to God through continued faith and obedience to the Lord (Romans 12:1).

The Jewish Leaders And People Were Offering Unacceptable Worship To God

  • Returning to the Jews of Malachi’s time, the religious leaders themselves had become displeasing to God. 

  • The priests were told by God that they despised (i.e. did not put a high value upon) the name of God, they offered polluted bread upon the altar, and they thought the table of the Lord was contemptible (Malachi 1:6-7). 

  • Although God singled out the priests in Malachi 1:6-10, it is obvious that God meant that the Jewish people of the time were guilty of not honoring God’s name as well, because the priests were offering defective animals for sacrifice at the Temple due to the fact that these were the animals given to them as tithes from the people (Deuteronomy 12:6) (Torrey, 1880). 

  • Thus, God had a right to be upset with the priests due to the fact that the priests should have rejected these awful, unacceptable sacrifices from the people instead of allowing them to be used in the worship of God. 

  • God’s dissatisfaction with these awful sacrifices again proves that God wants us to give Him our best in all that we give and do for Him! 

  • He does not want our worse or our scraps.

  • Thus, if we are stingy with our giving, then God will be stingy with His blessings toward us (2 Corinthians 9:6).

The Attitude Of Children Of Israel Made Their Sacrifices Unacceptable To God

  • One more thing needs to be pointed out regarding the sacrifices given by the priests is in Malachi 1:7, which reads according to the New International Version, “ . . . You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible.”

  •  The Lord’s table is actually the altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament days at the Jewish Temple (Coffman, 1989a). 

  • Thus, God was saying that their attitude toward worship in sacrifice made their offerings polluted; meaning unacceptable to the Lord. 

  • In other words, the whole act of worship in sacrifice was a carefree, nonchalant thing to them. 

  • If we are nonchalant about any act of worship in the Christian system of worship, such as praying, hearing the Word of God, taking the Lord’s Supper, giving, and singing, then none of these things are acceptable to God because we are not sincere about it (John 4:24; Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 4:2; Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; 9:6-9; 13-15; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13) (Clevenger, 2001). 

  • So in a nutshell, God was upset with the Jews of Malachi’s day for their attitude toward worship and how they worshipped (i.e. giving defective offerings) as well. 

  • He is the same with Christians today, because He tells the Christian church how we must worship with the Words of John 4:24, which read, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

  • Christians must worship in the spirit, which means from the inside as we devote our thoughts, will, and desires toward pleasing God through our worship of Him.

  • Furthermore, Christians must worship according to the truth, which means that they must worship according to the way laid out in the New Testament of the Bible. 

  • At this point, God tells them bluntly that He is not accepting their irreverent sacrifices (Malachi 1:10).

  • In fact, God wishes that someone would shut the Temple doors so that insincere, irreverent worshippers could not offer these awful sacrifices.

  •  He does not want false worship period.

God Foretells The Inclusion Of The Non-Jewish People As The Children Of God

  • Malachi 1:11 is foretelling the inclusion of non-Jews as the people of God. 

  • This is referring to the time of the Christian church many centuries after the life of Malachi. 

  • God is showing us that incense would be given to God from every where. 

  • At the time of Malachi, literal incense was offered by the priests at the Temple (Numbers 16:40) (Torrey, 1880). 

  • But at the time of the Christian church, which is now, spiritual incense (i.e. the prayers of the Christians around the world) will be offered up. 

  • As a result, incense is symbolic of Christian prayers (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8) (Torrey, 1880).

  • As the Scripture says, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were shadows of things to come, which means they were symbolic of the Christian era (Hebrews 10:1). 

  • Lastly, before moving on, the Word of God says that the people of God will offer a pure sacrifice. 

  • This is nothing, but making one’s life a living sacrifice (i.e. obedience) as we studied before, which includes praising God as well (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15). 

  • Material things donated to the furtherance of God’s work (i.e. preaching support) in spreading the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ is another sacrifice that God wants (Philippians 4:15-19). 

  • Furthermore, obeying God and giving to all in need are sacrifices that Christians offer that are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16) (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, 2004).

God Would Curse The Priests If They Do Not Repent

  • Malachi 2:1-9 is where God addressed the priests. 

  • God would curse the priests if they did not change their sinful ways. 

  • God would curse their blessings. 

  • In fact, these blessings were already cursed.

  • God would further decrease the blessings of the priests if they did not repent (Malachi 2:2). 

  • Of particular note, God promises to embarrass the wicked priests and take them off into captivity, if they did not change (Malachi 2:3). 

  • This is important, because they obviously had been taken away hundreds of years later when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and burned down Herod’s Temple.

  • It was common for Romans to take slaves and disperse them around the empire which spanned many nations. 

  • God continues to remind the priests of Malachi’s time that their ancestor Levi (including his descendants) was chosen to be the priesthood, because he initially obeyed the Word of God. 

  • God said that Levi’s character was that he was truthful (i.e. not deceitful) and righteous (Malachi 2:4-6).

  • In fact, Levi was one that turned many away from sinful behavior (Malachi 2:6). 

  • Thus, God was pleased with the Levitical priesthood at first, but by the time of Malachi, they degenerated into immoral people in God’s sight. 

  • God tells the priests that they should retain the knowledge of God’s Word and that the Jewish people should seek it at the mouth of the priests (Malachi 2:7).

  • Isn’t it the same today for church leaders of all types? 

  • Christian ministers and elders (also known as Bishops) should be wells of knowledge of which the Christian members should be able to find a cool drink of the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2; 2 Peter 1:5; Acts 20:28). 

  • Thus, they must be good students of the Bible themselves. 

  • God is not happy with lazy church leaders. 

  • But God’s anger with the priests of Malachi’s day and is expressed in Malachi 2:8, which reads, “But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.” 

  • Unfortunately, due to the false teachings of the priests and hypocritical lifestyle of the same, they caused the people to live sinfully as well. 

  • This is why Christian church leaders must not only teach the truth, but be examples of clean, Christian behavior as well. 

  • Otherwise, God will judge the Christian church leader for not teaching the truth and/or living in hypocrisy. 

  • Remember, through either false teachings or hypocritical living, church leaders have an influence over the people and God holds church leaders responsible for being bad influences. 

  • Remember, Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, then they both fall in the ditch (Matthew 15:14). 

  • Bad church leaders will lose their salvation and cause the members that they mislead to have the same fate.

God’s Curse Upon The Priests

  • Unfortunately for the hypocritical priests of Malachi’s day, a curse of God fell upon them, because God said the following Words to them, “ . . . So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law . . .” (Malachi 2:9 New International Version). 

  • Isn’t this the same fate shared by many of our so called “Christian television evangelists?” 

  • Do not many of these so called “evangelists” suffer public shame and humiliation to come upon them when their secret affairs, materialistic embezzlement, and trickery comes to the forefront?! 

  • This is why church leaders cannot be hypocrites, because God just may end up exposing their secret hypocritical life causing these hypocrites to suffer shame and unfortunately, the development of hated from many people that they tricked along the way! 

  • Remember, Christians must protect themselves from the hypocrites out there by studying the Bible and seeing if the teaching of folks’ is authentic (Acts 17:11-12). 

  • If it does not match the Word of God, then it is a fraud (Matthew 15:9).

  • Furthermore, as Jesus taught us, judge a tree by its fruits (Matthew 12:33). 

  • If church leaders are purposely living in hypocrisy, then the sincere Christian cannot follow these people, because even the sincere will be transformed into hypocrites due to evil influences (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). 

  • All people are going to make mistakes, but those that stubbornly remain in them cannot be church leaders (1 John 1:8-9). 

  • Not even the great Apostle Paul wanted any Christian to follow him if Paul, himself, was living in hypocrisy (1 Corinthians 11:1). 

  • Furthermore, the priests had fallen into the sin of playing favorites when disputes happened between Jewish people (Malachi 2:9).

The Jewish People Return To Their Old Ways

  • Malachi 2:10-16 will make a grown man cry. 

  • Remember, as we studied earlier in other books of the Bible, God judged the Jews of Judah with Babylonian captivity because they were consistently mistreating their countrymen and also had engaged in persistent idolatry. 

  • Unfortunately, the Jews, after God had delivered them from Babylonian captivity and returned them to their homeland, were again mistreating each other and practicing idolatry. 

  • Sarcastically said, one cannot help but to think, “What a way to thank God for His mercy!” 

  • They again have forgotten the kindness, forgiving nature, and mercy of God shined upon their lives. 

  • Why did the Jews reinstitute idolatry? 

  • It was because they married foreign wives that practiced the same. 

  • God warned them, centuries before in the time of Moses, to not marry foreign wives, because the influence of these foreign wives would cause them to engage in idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:3-4) (Torrey, 1880). 

  • In fact, these Jewish men were so lustful for these foreign wives that they divorced their own Jewish wives in order to marry these foreign women (Malachi 2:11, 14, 16).

  • Also, God teaches Christians a solid principle: He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16)! 

  • Christians should not be so quick to divorce each other, because God allows divorce only in the case of adultery or if a Christian is abandoned by a non-Christian spouse (Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:15).

The Jewish People Admire Evil Instead Of God

  • Malachi 2:17 shows us that the Jews of Judah in Malachi’s time had severely tested the patience of God, because they branded the evil as good in their society and considered these evil people to be approved of God. 

  • Also, they doubted the justice of God, which indicates that they did not have a healthy attitude of God’s power to take vengeance on evildoers. 

  • Thus, the sinful Jews of Judah did not fear God, because they did not believe that God would take action against sin, which included their own sins! 

  • Mankind will feel free to do all sorts of evil if he does not think that consequences will come.

Malachi Foretells The First Coming Of Jesus To The Earth

  • Malachi 3:1 speaks of the first coming of Jesus Christ to the earth and the ministry of John the baptizer (also known as John the Baptist)! 

  • It reads, according to the New International Version, “ . . .See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.” 

  • Many, many comments can be made about this verse alone! 

  • First, the Word of God says, “ . . . See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me . . .” 

  • God is saying that a messenger will come before He arrives Himself. 

  • Thus, two characters are mentioned in this first portion of Malachi 3:1: (1) John the baptizer; and (2) God, Himself. 

  • So, there would be one that would announce the coming of God, Himself.

  • God surely came to the earth in the form of the Son of God, which is Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:16-17). 

  • Of course, Jesus was and is God come in the flesh (John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:1-3; Genesis 1:1, 26-27).

  • John the baptizer’s purpose was to get the people to repent (i.e. change their minds from living a sinful life) and identify who the Son of God was to the Jewish people (Luke 3:15-18; John 1:15-36; Matthew 3:13-17). 

  • This was surely done when the Holy Spirit like a dove fell upon Jesus when He was baptized as a sign to John the baptizer that Jesus was and is the Son of God (Matthew 3:13-17).

Malachi Foretells The Coming Of Jesus To The Jewish Temple Hundreds Of Years Before It Happened

  • Also, Malachi 3:1 foretells another great event that would not happen for hundreds of years after Malachi, because it says, “ . . . Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple . . .”

  • Jesus surely came to the Jewish Temple hundreds of years after Malachi for positive and negative reasons. 

  • The positive reason was that He often taught there (Mark 12:35-44). 

  • The negative reason is that He had to cast out dishonest Jewish merchants and money changers from His house (John 2:12-17). 

  • God the Father surely came to His Jewish Temple to reform it in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ! 

  • The Temple belonged to both the Father and the Son!

  • Father and Son are both God (John 1:1-3, 14; 3:16; Genesis 1:26).

  • This is something that we must accept by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Malachi Foretells The Coming Of The New Testament

  • The next portion of Malachi 3:1 also foretells a great event that would occur hundreds of years after the death of Malachi. 

  • That event is foretold in the following Words, “ . . . the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come . . .” 

  • This shows us that Jesus was foretold to bring a new covenant where man can be at peace with God (Romans 5:8-11).

  • A covenant, in lack of better words, is an agreement between man and God leading to the salvation of man. 

  • Of course, God sets the terms of the agreement and you and I must accept the agreement and obey it to receive the benefits of the covenant, which the pinnacle of benefits is the salvation of our souls in the eternal joys of heaven (Mark 16:15-16; Revelation 21:4).

  • Remember, this new covenant would usher in the ability for mankind to receive the forgiveness of their sins and God would also forget all of these past evil deeds (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 2:38-41, 47).

  • That new covenant is called the New Testament of the Bible and is contained in the second portion of the Christian Bible starting with the book of Matthew and ending at the book of Revelation! 

  • This new covenant requires both faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind (by His substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary) and continuing to obey the new covenant until one dies (1 John 1:1-2; 4:9-10; Matthew 7:21; Revelation 2:10; James 2:20).

Malachi Foretells The Refining Of God’s People At The Hands Of Jesus’ Ministry

  • Malachi 3:2-4 reads according to the New King James Version, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. 4 “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem Will be pleasant to the LORD, As in the days of old, As in former years.” 

  • Remember, Malachi 3:1 shows us that the Holy Spirit is revealing to us, hundreds of years before it happened, what the ministry of Jesus Christ would be like when He was alive on earth. 

  • Malachi 3:2 is speaking of the time of Jesus Christ being alive on earth, but it is also talking about the times after His death, burial, and resurrection until His Second Coming to earth as Judge of all mankind (Acts 10:42; Romans 14:10). 

  • Jesus would purge the sons of Levi which were the priestly class of Jews in the Old Testament times. 

  • The Levites of the Old Testament are specifically called priests in Joshua 3:3 and Ezekiel 44:15 (Smith, n.d.). 

  • Of course, Malachi 3:2-4 is speaking in symbols, because the sons of Levi these days are all Christians, because all Christians are considered priests offering up spiritual sacrifices to the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). 

  • A refiner is one that takes the impurities out of metals. 

  • A launderer also takes out the contamination of dirt and stains in materials. 

  • Thus, this is saying that Jesus’ ministry until He comes back the second time would be to constantly teach God’s people God’s way for their lives and root out evil tendencies within Christian people. 

  • A little-known fact among Christians is contained in Matthew 28:19-20, which reads, “19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” 

  • This is showing all Christians that we are to be taught how to be more and more righteous as our Christian lives progress and terminate at the grave (2 Peter 1:5-8). 

  • In other words, being a Christian is a lifelong learning process where we are constantly discovering things about ourselves that need to be corrected in order to please God. 

  • In fact, this responsibly to teach Christians how to be better and stronger Christians is not only directed to Christian church leaders, but also to individual Christians, themselves.

  • Individual Christians should be daily seeking God’s Word through study, hearing sermons, Bible classes set up by church leaders, etc., in order to be refined as Jesus wants it to be (2 Peter 1:5)! 

  • Keep in mind that although man may be standing in front of you teaching you the Word of God, it is actually Jesus Christ controlling all of it through the means of sound Bible teachers! 

  • Remember, the Judah and Jerusalem that God is speaking about in Malachi 3:2-4 is not the fleshly, earthly nation of Judah, but the holy nation of Christians called the church of Christ (Romans 16:16; 1 Peter 2:9). 

  • Children of God must always remember that when we became Christians, we signed up for a lifelong learning experience causing us to constantly change, because Luke 14:27 uses a word to describe the followers of Jesus Christ and reads, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” 

  • The word “disciple” comes from the Greek word “mathetes” (Strong’s number 3101) and means a student that follows one’s teachings! 

  • Thus, all Christians signed up to be lifelong students of Jesus Christ. 

  • Keep in mind that Jesus said, “28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

  • Good Christians are good students of the Bible.

God Would Judah

  • Malachi 3:5-7 speak directly to fleshly, earthly Judah and indirectly to the spiritual Jerusalem (i.e. the church of Christ). 

  • It reads, “5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” 

  • God is definitely showing fleshly, earthly Judah that He would come as a Judge against them. 

  • This means to punish the sinful ones in their midst (Malachi 3:5). 

  • This was certainly done in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple of the time. 

  • Why did God destroy the Jews of Judah many centuries after Malachi’s prophecy? 

  • It is because they refused to repent (i.e. abandon) their sins as God had asked them to do for centuries. 

  • This is evident from Malachi 3:7 where God advised and called the Jews to repent, but they saw no reason to repent. 

  • Even though they were horribly sinful, they would not admit that they were wrong. 

  • They persisted in their self-righteous arrogance as to being righteous, even though God was clearly telling them that they were not! 

  • On a deeper thought, God did not destroy the Jews of Judah for many centuries after Malachi’s time, despite their stubborn, rebellious nature, because He had been promising a Savior to the world.

  • Of course, Jesus was and is the promised Savior that would save the Jewish Christians and non-Jewish Christians from eternal punishment (Matthew 1:21; Galatians 3:28). 

  • As a result, God had to keep the fleshly, earthly territory of Judah alive until Jesus suffered, died, and rose again from the dead. 

  • No one can explain it better than Dr. James Burton Coffman (1989a) that wrote the following words regarding Malachi 3:6, “The unchangeableness of God meant that, no matter what Israel did, God would preserve them till the Messiah was delivered to mankind through their flesh. What the passage is saying is, that if it were not for the immutable promises of God, Jacob would have been consumed in an instant, a fate which they fully deserved. If God had destroyed fleshly Israel, the Messiah would not have come; and all men would have been for ever lost in sin. It was, therefore with respect to God’s eternal purpose of redemption, that he could not and would not destroy Jacob.”

The Children Of Israel Were Not Giving To God Properly

  • Malachi 3:8-10 is probably three of the most quoted verses in the Bible when church leadership wants the membership to give an offering to the Lord. 

  • It reads, “8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” 

  • Even though these verses have been used and abused, and even misinterpreted by Bible scholars for greed purposes, the principles that God teaches us are still true. 

  • In their context, these verses are showing us that the Jews of Judah were being selfish and stingy toward giving their tithes and offerings to the Lord. 

  • Please keep in mind that they were required to give a tithe (i.e. 10%) of all they owned two times a year (Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-23). 

  • Now, they were neglecting their duty of giving to the Lord and as a result, God had placed a curse upon them. 

  • God said that the following curses would come upon the children of Israel when they became disobedient to His Word and are listed in Deuteronomy 28:21-44, which read according to the New International Version, “21 The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. 25 The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you. 30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and ravish her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. 36 The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you. 38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land. 43 The alien who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 He will lend to you, but you will not lend to him. He will be the head, but you will be the tail.” 

  • The sad part about Deuteronomy 28:21-44 is that these verses are only a sample of all of the curses that the Jews of Judah would feel if they disobeyed God. 

  • More curses are mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:45-68. 

  • Regarding Malachi 3:9, God said that the Jews of Judah were cursed.

  • The Scriptures are silent as to what curse or curses that the people actually received, but nearly all of the curses mentioned in Deuteronomy 28 could have been falling upon the people at the time of Malachi’s prophecies! 

  • The only one that was probably not happening is that the nation was being taken into captivity, because God had just allowed them to return from Babylonian captivity. 

  • But we do know that hundreds of years later, after Malachi’s death, around 70 A.D., the Jews of Judah were conquered by the Romans and the Romans were notorious for enslaving people.

  •  In fact, this author has heard on a recent television documentary regarding the Roman Empire that it is estimated that 1 in 3 people in the Roman Empire was actually a slave!  

  • What a miserable existence indeed and the hardest part about it is that the captivities of the Jews could have been prevented simply by obeying the Word of God and they would have prospered beyond belief and no enemy would have been able to conquer them (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

God Challenges The Children Of Israel To Give Correctly

  • Fortunately for the Jews of Judah, God is a God of second chances, because He gave them the hope filled Words of Malachi 3:10, which read according to the New King James Version, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

  • God is giving the Jews of Judah a chance to repent of their stinginess and He would still bless them.

  • In fact, God was saying that if they gave correctly, then He would overflow them with blessings that they could not hold!

  • As mentioned earlier, the concepts are similar in the Christian era in which we live. 

  • Remember, we reap God’s blessings according to how we sow our offering (2 Corinthians 9:6).

  • In other words, if we are stingy with God, then He will be stingy with us (2 Corinthians 9:6).

  • The only difference between the Christians’ giving and the giving of the Jews of the Old Testament is that the Jews were required to give tithes, but Christians are not. 

  • Keep in mind that Christians are under a different covenant than the Jews of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 12:24). 

  • Jesus’ death on Calvary blotted out (i.e. took away) the Old Testament Law of Moses that the Jews were under and brought in the New Testament (Colossians 2:14).

  • Christians are under the covenant popularly known as the New Testament, which became man’s rules of God approved conduct and faith when Jesus Christ died (Colossians 2:14). 

  • In our day and time, as Christians, God does not set a percentage of what we are to give as He did with the Old Testament Jews, which was a tithe or 10%.

  • Instead, God says that Christians should give as they have prospered, which could be more or less than 10% as each Christian’s heart is moved to make a sacrifice (2 Corinthians 9:7). 

  • The greater our sacrificial attitude toward God, the more that we will give and be blessed accordingly, but this is for each individual Christian to evaluate in his/her own heart and cannot be judged by outsiders.

  • Only the person and God knows if his/her giving is acceptable to God in the Christian era. 

  • Always keep in mind, regarding giving to God, God judges by the amount of sacrifice that we make and not according to the monetary amounts that we give. 

  • This is proven by the story of the poor widow in the Temple that gave the only 2 coins that she had and Jesus said that this poor woman gave more than the rich men that gave sparingly, because she gave all that she had. 

  • These rich men gave more than the poor woman monetarily, but God honored her sacrifice more than the rich men, because she actually made more of a sacrifice than they did (Mark 12:41-44).

  • It’s the amount of sacrifice that matters the most-not the amount of money offered!

God Promises Prosperity For The Children Israel In Exchange For Obedience

  • Malachi 3:11-12 further tells us of God’s promise to bless the Jews of Judah if they gave correctly. 

  • God would prosper them in the  fields and the fruits of their trees, which was a great blessing to an agricultural based society. 

  • Also, the nations of the earth would have a favorable opinion of Judah as well instead of despising them.

The Children Of Israel Speak Harshly About God!

  • Malachi 3:13-15 are powerful Words of God where God continues to expose the faults of the Jews of Judah.

  • He says, according to the New International Version, “13 . . . You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape . . .”

  • The Jews of Judah were under the deception of Satan, when they said that it was not worthwhile to serve God. 

  • They looked at the evil in their society and felt that the evil folks were prospering.

  • So, they thought why be good when the evil prosper? 

  • People must understand that the wicked only have their reward for a short amount of time.

  • Often God strips them of their prosperity in this life and/or the next. 

  • Think about it. 

  • For example, although underground crime figures make illegal money quickly and in abundance, they often end up in prison or murdered! 

  • God’s hand is even behind these things, because the Police are His servants and He is ultimately in control of both life and death (James 4:15) (Nave, 1995).

  • In fact, this author has a cousin that was stabbed over 30 times and returned to a vibrant life as if nothing happened at all. 

  • God was in control of her life even if a man with a knife said that he was going to end it! 

  • So, do the evil really prosper as we think? 

  • Not really.

  • Their days are numbered upon the earth oftentimes and even if they do stay rich and unpunished by the Police for the duration of their lives, they will be punished by God in the lake of fire after death (Romans 13:1-8; Revelation 20:11-15). 

  • Is it profitable to serve God on earth?

  • Absolutely, because it often leads to longer life on earth itself, but most of all eternal life in heaven (Proverbs 4:10, 20-27; John 3:16; Matthew 7:21; James 2:20; Revelation 2:10) (Torrey, 1880).

Those Who Obey God Will Be Eternally Remembered As His Own

  • Malachi 3:16-18 concludes the chapter. 

  • These verses read according to the New International Version, “16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17 “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. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” 

  • In these verses, God shows the Jews of Judah that it is certainly profitable to serve Him instead of being wicked (Coffman, 1989a). 

  • Those that feared the Lord, means those that have chosen to serve God and remain obedient to Him, will be eternally remembered as God’s own. 

  • This is important, because God was going to separate the righteous from the wicked. 

  • God was showing them that He is going to come as Judge and only the righteous shall be spared. 

  • Then, at the judgment of God, it will not only be obvious to God regarding who is or who is not His servant, but it will also be obvious to all mankind!

  • All of mankind will know the difference between a righteous servant of God and a wicked person, because the righteous are the only ones that will be saved from God’s wrath!

  • They that are saved are written in the Lamb’s (i.e. Jesus’) book of life (Revelation 21:27; John 1:29).

Malachi Speaks Of The Final Judgment Of Mankind

  • Malachi 4 is a very short chapter in the Bible, but virtually every verse is packed with helpful information for the Bible student seeking God’s truth for his/her life. 

  • Malachi 4:1 reads, according to the New International Version, “ . . . Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.” 

  • There is disagreement among Bible scholars as to the meaning of this verse. 

  • Scholars, such as Adam Clark (n.d.). and John Gill (n.d.) apply this Scripture strictly to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. 

  • This is partially true, but the real revelation of God in Malachi 4:1 is of the final judgment of all mankind. 

  • Regarding God saying, “Not a root or branch will be left of them,” Albert Barnes wrote a great comment that sums up what God means regarding this statement. 

  • Albert Barnes (n.d.) wrote the following words, regarding the absence of a root or branch after God’s judgment

  • upon Judah, “ . . . For when the root has not been wholly cut away, nor the shoot torn up as from the depth, some hope is retained, that it may again shoot up . . . . But if it be wholly torn up from below and from its very roots, and its shoots be fiercely cut away, all hope, that it can again shoot up to life, will perish also. So, he saith, will all hope of the lovers of sin perish.” 

  • In the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 a great portion of Jews were killed, but the Jewish people were not totally eliminated. 

  • Estimates are that 600,000 to 1.1 million Jews were killed by the Romans during the times of the destruction of Jerusalem, but always keep in mind that not all of the Jews died. 

  • Some of them were taken off into Roman captivity (i.e. slavery) and, of course, had children somewhere down the line (Livingston, 2004). 

  • So the complete fulfillment of Malachi 4:1 was not done during the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and as a result, the Lord must be speaking of the final judgment of all mankind.

Jesus Is Foretold To Come With Spiritual Healing For God’s People Centuries Before He Was Born In The Earth!

  • Although the Words of Malachi 4:1 are horrifying to say the least, the righteous child of God is given relief, joy, and comfort from Malachi 4:2. 

  • It reads, “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” (New International Version). 

  • The New International Version’s translation of Malachi 4:2 is very disappointing, because it is denying a prophecy of Jesus Christ and reflects the bias of its translators when they translated it. 

  • For example, the King James Version reads, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Emphasis Added).

  •  Also, the New Living Translation reads, “ . . . But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Emphasis Added). 

  • Lastly, the New King James Version reads, “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves” (Emphasis Added). 

  • Why is the translation important? 

  • It is because when one capitalizes the words “Sun of Righteousness” and uses the word “his” instead of “it,” then we are talking about the Son of God.

  • This Son of God, Jesus Christ, will and does shine righteousness down upon all those that believe and obey Him, because His blood makes us righteous in God’s sight (Romans 5:9-10). 

  • It is Jesus who brings spiritual healing to a sin sick soul by washing our sins away in His blood (Revelation 1:5; Matthew 9:10-13) (Torrey, 1880). 

  • It is further known that Jesus is the One who makes us leap with joy like calves let free to pasture, because when our sins are washed away, just like the Ethiopian Eunuch that became a Christian after he was baptized, all Christians should celebrate the mercy, grace, and forgiveness that enters our hearts when we realize that God has forgiven us and made us His own children! 

  • Remember, after the Ethiopian Eunuch washed away His sins in the watery grave of baptism, he went away rejoicing (Acts 8:26-40). 

  • It is a travesty that the New International Version and New American Standard Version (1995) have incorrectly deviated from the King James Version in this verse! In fact, there are many passages of Scripture that identify God the Father and Jesus Christ in the symbolism of the word “Sun” (2 Samuel 23:4; Psalm 84:11; Luke 1:78; John 1:9; 8:12; Ephesians 5:14; 2 Peter 1:19) (Coffman, 1989a).

God’s People Will Be Victorious Over Their Enemies On The Judgment Day!

  • Moving on to Malachi 4:3, it reads as follows regarding the righteous, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” 

  • Truthfully, this author is not 100% sure as to the correct interpretation of this verse, but he strongly believes that God is speaking in symbols. 

  • Remember, in our earthly lives, Christians experience a tremendous amount of abuse from non-Christians that take advantage of them, hurt them, and even murder them!

  • What this author believes is this: God is revealing that on the final judgment day, God’s Christian children will be victorious over all of their enemies that hurt them in this earthly life. 

  • Christians may not literally exact revenge on their enemies, but their status as being the saved in the joys of heaven will be a triumph over their enemies that will be assigned to eternal punishment. 

  • This is like the reversal of prosperity with Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 where the comfortable one in life, the uncompassionate rich man who would not share a crumb with Lazarus, ended up in torment while the suffering Lazarus in physical life ended up in eternal joy in the afterlife!

We Must Obey The Word Of God To Be Saved!

  • Malachi 4:4 tells the Jews of Judah to obey the Old Testament Law of Moses, because that is the covenant that they were bound under.

  • The point is that the Word of God is the only thing that will save us if we obey it. 

  • Do you Remember, the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 that was just mentioned? 

  • The rich man, while in torment in the afterlife, begged with the following words, “27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28). 

  • The response to the rich man’s request that Lazarus rise from the dead to warn the rich man’s family so they do not end up in the same place of torture was answered with the following Words from Luke 16:29-31, which read, “29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

  • Notice that the rich man was told that his brothers have Moses and the prophets to save them.

  • Moses and the prophets refer to the Old Testament books of the Bible. 

  • This is saying, to the rich man that his brothers must obey the Word of God to be saved. 

  • So it is with anyone that lives in our day and age where the New Testament is in effect.

  • Jesus said Himself regarding His Words captured in the New Testament, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). 

  • As a result, the only way for any one to be saved from eternal punishment is to believe and obey Jesus Christ and His Words are captured in the New Testament of the Bible!

Malachi Foretold The Coming Of John The Baptist

  • Malachi 4:5-6 are the concluding verses of the Old Testament of the Bible.

  • It reads, according to the New International Version, “ . . . See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse . . .” 

  • It was commonly accepted among the Jews that the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, would visit the Jews before the coming of the Messiah (i.e. the Christ, which is the Savior of the Jews). 

  • God did not mean that literally the man, Elijah, would come again, but someone like Elijah would come to announce the coming of the Messiah. 

  • We have studied already that this person was John the baptizer (Matthew 17:10-13). 

  • This was another prophecy of the coming of John the baptizer (also known as John the Baptist)!

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