Book of the Week 39: Malachi

Hebrew Name: Malakhi

Human Author: Malachi                                                     

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Malachi is the thirty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Malachi is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Malachi is Malakhi, which means “my messenger.”
  4. Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who returned from Babylon/Persia.
  5. Malachi may have been a contemporary of the prophet Nehemiah.

Story of the Book

Malachi contains three basic parts: a word against Judah’s priests for their sin and corruption (Malachi 1:1-2:9), a word against the sinfulness of the people of Judah (Malachi 2:10-3:15), and a word to the faithful remnant of Judah (Malachi 3:16-4:6). The book begins with God’s rebuke of the priesthood of Judah. God criticizes the priests for offering blemished sacrifices. God warns the priests that He is not pleased with them. Next, God rebukes the people generally for their sin and disobedience. God rebukes the people for failing to honor Him with their words, by failing to tithe, and failing to take obedience to God’s commands seriously. Finally, the book ends with a scroll being written regarding a remnant of faithful Jews among the people. God promises that the faithful remnant of the nation will be His and will be His treasured possession on the day when He judges all people with fire—namely the day of the LORD. The book ends as God promises to send Elijah before the day of the LORD comes and that this Elijah figure will turn the hearts of people toward one another.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Malachi

Jesus is foretold in Malachi in more than one place but in a way that is somewhat veiled and vague. Only later would he be fully revealed as the Messiah in the New Testament. Here are a few examples of the ways in which Jesus is foretold in the book of Malachi: God promises to send a messenger who will prepare the way before Him, and then the LORD and messenger of the covenant will appear (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:7-14; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 7:24-28). God also promises that Elijah will proceed the day of the LORD; this Elijah is revealed as John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus Christ (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:11-15; Luke 1:78). In addition to these examples, Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who had come back from Babylon/Persia. God was gathering His people back to the promised land in order to fulfill His promises to them in the Messiah. It is possible to interpret God’s warnings to the people through Malachi as both a message of hope and of judgment. Even after being punished in exile, the people were continuing to disobey God. When God would come in the person of Jesus Christ, He would refine those who trust in Him like a refiner of gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-4), but God also warned that those who were disobedient would face judgment at the coming of Jesus as Malachi writes, “or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Malachi is one of the clearest examples in the Old Testament of how the Messiah, later revealed as Jesus Christ, would bring both hope and purification for the righteous and judgment against the wicked. In this way Jesus is foretold to be a bringer of both hope and judgment.