A PROPHET FOR YESTERDAY AND
The prophet Malachi is a fine example of the DUALITY of
prophecy. His book contains messages that were for his day and
people, then at the same time there are messages that are
unquestionably for our day and beyond, to the end of the age. His
book is an example of how his day prophecies and our day
prophecies can blend from one to the other without warning. It is
an example of how a prophetic message can have a dominant end
time fulfilment, with messages for the prophets day that were
specific to the problems at that time. An end time prophetic
message with parts that were meant for his day only.
The following information on the background is taken from
the NKJV Personal Study Bible. Malachi means "My Messenger." A
forthright preacher who addressed the religious shortcomings of
the POSTexilic community. The circumstances of the people suggest
a time period to the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. A commonly
accepted date is between 460 and 450 B.C.
The people who returned from the 70 year captivity had
slipped into a haphazard practice of their religion. They had
ceased to live separate lives from the practices of their
ungodly neighbors. Truth had to be restored to God's people.
The people had also become disillusioned because the high
hopes with which they returned home from captivity had not been
fulfilled. An apathetic attitude towards religion and the true
ways of the Eternal had taken over most of the people.
FOR MALACHI'S DAY
The prophet pulls no punches with the priests, the religious
leaders of his day. He begins to correct them in chapter 1 and
verse 6. He tells them they are really despising God's name.
Notice how this was being done in verses 7-8. The animals to be
offered to the Lord in sacrifice were to be unblemished - the
best, but they taught the people that the castoffs were just as
good and acceptable to God. Their religion had become "well it
does not matter how you worship God" or "come as you are and stay
as you are, it's acceptable to the Lord." and/or "do your own
thing as long as it is done towards the true God, it's okay."
Read verses 8-14 in a modern translation for more of the same
Chapter 2. God says He will deal with the priests who teach
and practice this false hypocritical religion(verses 1-3). Verse
4, "Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you.
That My covenant with Levi may continue"(NKJV). God gave the
priesthood and its service to that tribe. Correction may be
necessary to purify the tribe so they can continue in that
priesthood covenant. The covenant had been instituted through
Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron (see Numbers 25:10-13). Life
(perpetual covenant) and Peace - both mentioned in Num.25. God's
part was life and peace, his part "fear" - which the Levites
did(see Deut.33:8,9). Verse 6, the law of truth was in his mouth
etc. The Livite tribe did under Moses serve God in holiness and
righteousness. The ministers of the Lord are to teach the law and
judgments of God in truth (see Deut.33:10; 17:8-11; 19:15-21).
They are to turn people AWAY from sin (I Jn.3:4; Rom.7:7; 6:1)
Verse 7 is instruction as to how the priests of God are to live
in word and attitude of mind. For he is to be used by God as an
instrument to work through.
The priests during the days of Malachi had "departed from
the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have
corrupted the covenant of Levi...."(verse 8). They had been
doing the very opposite from the duty that God gave Levi to
perform, the covenant He established with Levi, and which he did
carry out faithfully as Moses recorded(Deut.33:8,9). The covenant
just mentioned in verses 5-6, was performed well by Levi, but not
so with the priests here. Malachi is in effect saying "Amen" and
"I second it" to what Neh.13:29 said. Punishment was to come upon
the priests for being unfaithful to their called duty.
Verse 9. The promise of "peace" in the covenant with Levi
(IF they honored their function and carried it out
well,Num.25:11-13), was to be taken away. They had not been
God's faithful mouth piece, they had been "partial" in the law.
The Hebrew is literally, "you have accepted, or exalted, faces or
persons." They were practicing a religion of what was expedient
depending on whom (persons) they were dealing with. One set of
religious norms for one person and another set of norms for
another person etc.
Malachi then begins to zero in on two large sins the priests
were allowing and sanctioning. Adam Clarke I believe puts it
very succinctly in his commentary: "Verse 10......From this verse
to ver.16 the prophet censures the MARRIAGES of ISRAELITES
with STRANGE WOMEN, which the law had forbidden, Deut.7:3. And
also DIVORCES, which seem to have been multiplied for the purpose
of contracting these prohibited marriages......"(emphasis his).
Other practices of worshipping God, thinking they were in
good standing with Him, are related to be false in chapter 3. He
tells them the day will come when they will clearly know the
difference between those who are righteous and those who are the
wicked. He ends by telling his readers the fate of the wicked,
and that they are to remember the laws, statutes and judgments
given under Moses.
MALACHI FOR TODAY
I have said this is a very real prophecy for our day. A
number of sections in chapters three and four prove this to be
so. The very first verse of chapter one also gives proof that
this prophecy is for another time other than just during the days
that Malachi lived.
We are told this is the "burden of the word of the Lord TO
ISRAEL by Malachi." A key to remember in understanding the Major
and Minor prophets, is that Israel is the house of Israel(the ten
tribes of the Northern Kingdom), sometimes it could include ALL
13 tribes. Judah is just that, Judah(the people we call Jews
today). The prophets were predominately sent to those two
Kingdoms of people - The house of Israel with it capital and line
of kings, sometimes called Samaria or Ephraim(see Hosea), and
Judah with it's capital at Jerusalem and its line of kings.
Malachi was NOT SENT TO THE "CHURCH" (although lessons can
be taken from any book and be applied to us, if the "shoe fits
wear it" principle). He was sent with a message to ISRAEL. But
the Kingdom of Israel had gone into captivity about 300 years
earlier, from which they NEVER (except for some individuals)
This message is for the END TIME peoples of Israel, living
up to the coming of the prophetic "great and dreadful day of the
Lord"(chap.4:5), and the "Elijah to come" just before that time,
who will "restore all things" as Jesus foretold in Mat.17:10,11
(John the baptist being the first fulfilment, verses 12,13).
The peoples of the house of Israel did not stay as captives
to the Assyrians but eventually moved north to the Black and
Caspian sea area. From there they slowly moved into and across
Europe, and settled finally in the countries of Northwestern
Europe and the British Isles. From those lands they came to the
New World (North America) and formed the British Commonwealth of
nations. All this can be found in many books one being "Judah's
Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright" by Allen(an old classic)
obtainable at wholesale cost from Giving and Sharing, PO Box 100,
Neck City, MO 64849, USA.
Now to Malachi's message for the nations of Israel TODAY.
God chose Jacob(who had his name changed to Israel) over
Esau(chap.1:1-2). Verses 3-5 is a prophecy against modern Esau
and what will befall them in the latter days(see also Ezek.35;
Obediah; and Isa.11:1-16). The message moves to the religious
teachers and leaders(priests) of Israel in verse 6-14. How do we
understand it for today? In a nut shell, religious leaders
teaching anyone can worship God "as they please." Just choose
the "church of your choice" whatever is your personal fancy as to
how YOU want to worship God, for it does not matter. The Lord
will accept ANYTHING, and whatever a person wants to believe and
practice. So,today we have churches that teach and accept anyone
who not only believes in abortion on demand, but also practices
it, as quite Christian. Then we have churches(with their leaders)
who accept as Christian, those who believe and practice
homosexuality and lesbianism. You can believe and practice just
about anything today and there will be a so called Christian
church that will accept you. To accept the laws, commandments,
precepts, statutes, and judgments of the Lord today is
"weariness" to many religious leaders. They are fulfilling the
prophecy of Ezek.22:17-31. They put no difference between the
holy and profane. They say "thus says the Lord, when the Lord
has not spoken."
Malachi goes on to speak to the modern religious leaders of
Israel in chapter 2. God will deal with them in no uncertain
manner. Dung will be thrown on them and they will be taken into
captivity and thrown out as dung. This will be done so the
covenant and responsibility of teaching the truths of God
correctly(as instituted originally by God with Levi, as His mouth
piece and representatives) will be cleaned up and continue in
purity. God gave a high responsible job to Levi because of his
fear and righteousness that he exhibited(verses 1-6). He was
then given the job of teaching Israel the law and commandments
and judgments of the Eternal. That is the pure commission of
religious leaders. But those that teach Israel today have not
kept true knowledge, nor have they searched for the law to
expound it correctly. They have departed from it, they have
preached what is pleasing to men(2 Tim.4:2-4), they hold to some
points of the law while "doing away" with other points. They have
corrupted the covenant that God made with religious leaders under
Moses(Levi, the tribe chosen to teach, was to uphold the law and
truths of God). The modern teachers are the replacement of Levi,
and should follow the same covenant as he, but they are not doing
The prophecy then moves to Judah specifically in verse 11.
That section was for Judah in Malachi's day, and not for them
today, although some Jews could feel it has some modern
fulfilment in the fact that many Jews have given up their faith,
married outside their faith, intermingled with the Gentile
nations around them.
Chapter 3 is a prophecy very much for today and beyond.
Verse one is talking about the Elijah to come mentioned at the
end of chapter 4. The Messiah is to come as a refiner. The
religious leaders will be purified. Then Judah and Jerusalem will
again be restored and the restitution of all things will start,
including a new temple(Ezek.temple, chap.40-48), with the
re-establishment of the sacrificial system.(verses 1-5).
Because God WILL fulfil His plan with Israel, they are not
consumed by their enemies, but will return and be built again.
God knows their nature of wandering from Him. He tells them to
return to Him at this time of the close of this age and the
coming of the Messiah. Notice HOW He tells them to return. Did He
choose the Sabbath as an example, or the holy days, or the 7th
commandment, or the first one? No! He chose TITHING! Of all
things to pick at the end time as an example of how to return to
God, He chose "tithing." Why you may ask? Well here is one
reason. In my experience if someone is going to be faithful in
giving 10% of their goods to God. If they are careful in
doing that, they will usually be careful in other matters of the
Lord. They will certainly want to seek out where and who is doing
the work of God, so they can give to it. If the President of the
USA called for everyone to tithe to God, it would be a very good
way to get people thinking about the Eternal in a serious way.
People tend to get serious when it comes to their pocket book.
Malachi hits them again in verses 13-18. Showing the
teaching they receive is "it does not matter, you are saved by
grace, keeping the law is earning your salvation" or "once saved
always saved" and a number of other excuses to set up teachers
that while they promise them liberty they are the servants of
corruption(2 Peter 2:19).
But God knows who are His, they are written in the book of
life. They encourage each other, they are the jewels of the Lord.
The time will come when the people of Israel will return from
their punishment and shall see clearly to be able to discern
between the righteous and the wicked(verses 16-18).
For the day will come when the wicked will be punished for
their unrepented wickedness, and the righteous shall grow and
A final call for the people of Israel and Judah to remember
the laws, statutes and judgments given under Moses (much like the
admonition in Luke 16:29-31 - must live by every word of God -
God promises at least one more final witness of truth will
be given to them before the end of this age and the coming of the
Messiah in glory as the refiner of gold and silver. As John the
baptist came just a few years before the Messiah's first coming
to fulfil this dual prophecy of the Elijah, so just before the
great and dreadful day of the Lord comes, one will come in the
spirit and power of Elijah to preach the pure truth of God and
restore all things(Mat.17:9-13).
SO IT IS WRITTEN, SO SHALL IT BE !
Your servant in the work of the Lord,