1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

Introduction to Malachi, Lesson I, Malachi 1:1,2

With this lesson we are about to set out on a study of the final book of the Old Testament, the book named Malachi after the name of its author as so identified in its first verse, The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.

The Hebrew meaning of this writerís name is ďmy messengerĒ or ďmy angelĒ so apt to this prophesy.

This name, as in many names in the Bible, describes the mission of Malachi, that of fulfilling the role of a prophet of the Lord, a prophet being one who deliverís Godís message to Godís people.

Little is known about this faithful prophet Malachi who is included in the list of 12 minor prophets, not minor because of the message but only minor due to the brevity of the prophesy.

Many of the prophets attach to their name introduction some information that gives a background or attachment to others such as Zephaniah the son of Cushi, Nahum the Elkoshite, Isaiah the son of Amoz, Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah but we receive no such name attachment with Malachi.

Malachi prophesied near the time of the ministry of Nehemiah preaching against similar sins, corruption of the priesthood, illegal marriages, immorality, neglect of paying tithes, and corrupt sacrifices. 

But the prominent theme of the book, one that is obvious to the hearer, is the indifference or apathy of the people of Israel to Godís great love.

It is a book apropos to our time.

Now as we study this book we will conclude that the judgment message Malachi was given by God was addressed to the people of Judah, the kingdom in which lay the temple.

Malachi will be the last of the prophets until the coming of John the Baptist 400 years yet to occur in the life of Israel.

So a period of four centuries will occur without additional word from God while awaiting the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a message to get yourself cleaned up and get your house in order for the greatest of personages is coming to visit.

This prophesy reveals the hearts of the Israelites who composed a nation unique in the history of the world, a nation chosen by God to bring the light of God to the world.

And what a history it was, full of Godís attention and provision and faithfulness but also full of sin, deception and double mindedness, unfaithfulness and shame and exile.

But with all that history we will see in this book the drift of this people to a place of apathy and compromise as they strayed from the way of the Lord.

Malachi again is a reminder that we who occupy bodies of sin cannot worship God in truth. 

We cannot be faithful and true without Godís intervention in our lives and Godís grace is without substitute and must be appropriated in order for eternal life to be gained. 

We cannot live without God!

And Malachi, in ending this prophesy, in spite of the apathy that he finds in Israel, brings hope for those who fear Godís name for as he writes in the last chapter of the prophesy in:

Malachi 4:2, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

So now let us read the first chapter of Malachi:

 

Malachi 1:1-14, 1 The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the Lord of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel. A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the Lord of hosts. 10 Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. 13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. 14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

 

Read this chapter carefully and you will see a ďwhateverĒ people for that is what apathy brings, a people without conviction and character.

We see no open rebellion against God, we see a God forgetting people going about their daily business in the land after their return from exile.

The walls have been rebuilt, the temple was in place where sacrifices in accordance with the law were being made.

Everything appeared to be in place and the people seemed to be satisfied.

If they could have spoken English they would have said all is Hunkey Dorey, which means about as well as one could wish or expect; satisfactory; fine; OK.

These people were not singing about a higher plain for they were completely satisfied on the plain on which they were, content in their own ways, content in their own culture.

But in this state they had forgotten to check with their maker for their maker was the one in whom judgment lay, their maker was the one who defined contentment. 

What about another prophet who spoke Godís word, a prophet named Isaiah who recorded Godís word whereby God said in:

Isaiah 55:8, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

Hunkey Dorey was on their self-made report card but had they even seen the true report card from God? 

Isnít that the important report card?

Well they are about to hear the true evaluation of their condition from the one who placed them in such an exalted place, a special place like none other on the earth.

They are about to hear from this prophet of God, this Malachi, who will confront them with their apathy toward Godís great and unending love.

Read this book of Malachi and you will immediately see it is a personal message from God Himself for a preponderance of the verses are spoken directly by God to His people.

And when the people hear these words the response is one of astonishment for this is the natural response of apathy to what they considered outrages claims. 

Read the responses to the word of the Lord concerning their true state.

1:2, I have loved you, saith the Lord, Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?

1:6, O priests that despise My name.í And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?íĒ

1:7, Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?

2:13,14, And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand. 14 Yet ye say, Wherefore?  

2:17, Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him?

3:7, Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

3:8, Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?

3:13, Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?

Here is the response of an arrogant people. These are the responses you would expect from a rebellious and spoiled child.

Questioning over and over the word of the Lord. 

God says but what God says is questioned as Satan questioned the word of the Lord in the garden.

This is what tradition brings. 

It brings a rote performance, a performance of habit of what is expected without any heart, without any passion, without any desire to seek a higher plain with God. 

It is going through the motions. 

It is making a feeble effort to do something, to do something insincerely or in a superficial fashion. 

It is to do something without believing it is important. 

It is to do something because you are expected to do it, and not because you want to.

It is to do something in a mechanical manner indicative of a lack of interest or involvement.

It is going through the motions, it is what robots do who have no heart.  

Marriages can fall into this kind of performance with one or both mates oblivious to the unhappiness of the other. 

Marriages where all seems right but underneath is a boiling pot. 

Israel was Jehovahís wife.

Jehovah was faithful but His wife was going through the motions. 

And in Jeremiah 3:14 as in Malachi the husband says to her: Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

So Malachiís theme is indifference. 

Whatever! Whatís the big deal? Relax, Take it easy!

Donít get your nose out of joint. 

Life is short, settle down and donít be so serious.

Enjoy yourself for its later than you think.

Godís love for these people had been expressed to them for centuries and now we find such apathy as to engender Godís judgment of them through Malachi.

He expresses this judgment in two sections, the priests indifference to Godís love, chapter 1:6 through chapter 2:9 and the second section is the peopleís indifference to that same love, the love of God, the love of their Husband in chapters 2:10 through 4:3.