Possibly around 450 B.C.
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ – Exodus 19:4-6
Malachi has a distinctive style that you will easily pick up. In the first verses a rhythm is introduced: “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated…” This cycle of accusation-retort-response is used effectively at least seven times in Malachi.
There is no timestamp on the oracle of the word of the LORD that came to Malachi, but it is almost certainly after the time of Zerubbabel, and likely as late as Ezra and Nehemiah, because there is a functional temple in place. Otherwise, nothing is known of this prophet, but we will deduce much about the setting into which he preached.
Indeed, the prevailing concern that runs through the first chapter-and-a-half is propriety in Temple worship. In chapters 1 and 2 He condemns the priests for defiling the altar with imperfect sacrifices and in leading the people astray. The LORD ridicules their weariness of duty and asks if they would treat their governor with such contempt.
In the middle of chapter 2 the LORD moves on to the population of Judah, leveling two accusations against them: their marriages to the daughters of foreign gods, and their faithlessness to the wife of your youth. Listen carefully to how the LORD drills deeply into this accusation. It is the voice of one who has been quite attentive to life in Judah.
The book turns toward the future in chapter 3: Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. This is, however, more warning than encouragement, as the LORD declares: “Then I will draw near to you for judgment.” Listen to the list of those He will witness against, and remember the law that was given to them through Moses.
Read all the way to the end, through the refiner’s fire and the windows of heaven and the book of remembrance, because there is one final promise in store as the prophetic canon is closed.
Our verse for this week is James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The prophet Malachi. Now let’s read it!
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.