The Book of Malachi




The name “Malachi” means “messenger of Jehovah or my messenger.”  The dating of the book of Malachi is not easily done as there are no particular historical markers given such as a king’s reign where you could gain an approximate date.  The dating for Malachi has gone between 435-400 B.C. and some place him as a contemporary of Nehemiah or shortly after Nehemiah, but there is no solid dating to confirm this.  Malachi is the last of the Old Testament prophets and the last of the Minor Prophets.  After Malachi, came the 400 years of silence which was broken by the appearance of John the Baptist who was the last of the Old Testament Prophets.  Luke 7:28 (KJV) For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.   The theme of Malachi has to do with the fact that after the return to the land, their religion became formal, dead and unbelieving.  Malachi exposed this situation and his prophecy was given to rectify that situation.  God had become despised and dishonored by the people that he just recently freed from Babylonian bondage.


Malachi 1:1 (KJB)

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.


The word “burden” carries with it the meaning of “oracle or pronouncement” which is something that the prophets of God called their messages that they were to bring to the people God designated.  In verses 1-5 of this chapter God levels an accusation against Israel which in this case is Judah because the northern ten tribes went into captivity with Assyria in 721 B.C. and were never returned to the land.  The accusation was that of disrespect and ingratitude and Judah thought they should be receiving blessings from God which they believed they deserved but their actions were only proving they would not be worthy of those blessings until they straightened themselves out.


Malachi 1:2 (KJB)

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,


The LORD begins by telling them that he loved Israel and God had proven that many times over by delivering them when they got into trouble.  Yet, Israel’s response was “where have you loved us?”  How soon they forgot their history being freed from Egypt and God delivering them from captivity many times over in the times of the Judges and within the last 100 years freed them from Babylonian bondage.  They basically denied God’s loving hand on them.  Then God makes a specific statement that he loved Jacob.  Jacob was the line from which the Messiah would come at the end of the 400 years of silence.  God brings out the fact that there were two brothers Jacob and Esau but God loved Jacob.  This shows a major principle that the love of God is qualified when it comes to his elect.  He chose Jacob over Esau to love.


Malachi 1:3 (KJB)

And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.


This principle is written in the book of Romans.  Romans 9:13 (KJV) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.  Esau spawned a line of unbelievers who went on to become the enemies of Israel under the name of Edom.  The book of Obadiah is an indictment against the Edomites.  They never singularly attacked Israel but they always sided with the enemies of Israel, including Babylon when they carried Judah away captive.  Psalm 137:7 (KJV) Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.  Edom had been the enemy of Israel ever since Jacob and Esau were born.  Mount Seir and other mountains in the area was given to Esau.  Deuteronomy 2:5 (KJV) Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.  At this point they had enjoyed their possessions for about 1200 years.  It did not matter how long they lived there because of their hatred for Israel, God laid their mountains and heritage waste which means they were “desolate.”  The prophecy against Edom in Mount Seir was given in Ezekiel 35.  The dragons in this verse would be the jackals in the wilderness who would take over a place when it was left abandoned.


Malachi 1:4 (KJB)

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.


The Edomites cried out that they were impoverished which carries the meaning of “demolished or shattered.”  There is not much known about the devastation of Edom.  They had continued to control much of the Negev until about 550 B.C. owing to pottery finds but by the end of the sixth century B.C. the destruction prophesied by Joel and Obadiah had come to pass.  By the fourth century B.C. the Nabateans were in control of Petra.  The Nabateans were Arabians and had no closed borders in their country.  In 106 B.C. they were conquered by Trajan and annexed into the Roman Empire.  The Edomites were a very arrogant people and had determined that they were going to rebuild their lands no matter what.  The problem was that God decreed that they would be under a perpetual curse making it impossible for them to arise as a strong people once again.  If they built, then God would destroy so their plans and attempts were futile.


Malachi 1:5 (KJB)

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.


The verse is stating that Israel will see the devastation of Edom from the borders of Israel and then they will see and understand God’s love and preserving hand was upon them by reducing another of their enemies to a lower status.  Joel, Amos, and Obadiah prophesied the downfall of Edom and now when it comes to pass, Israel will be witness to it.  Then once they see this they will magnify or glorify the name of the LORD and will begin to depart from their unbelief and start to return unto the LORD.  There will also be a great confession on the part of Israel as the verse states they will see but they will also say, which means they will confess the greatness of the LORD toward them.


Malachi 1:6 (KJB)

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?


This portion of Malachi opens up with three pertinent questions.  A son normally will honor his father.  To honor someone is to respect or hold them in admiration.  A son sometimes will follow in his father’s footsteps.  A servant will also honor his master which mean they will obey them and seek their good and sometimes it is done out of fear of the consequences for disobedience.  Then the LORD asks the first question.  If he is a father, then where is his honor, since the Israelites were not honoring the Lord but neglecting him?  He then asks if he is a master, then where is the fear that a servant has of his master?  God had shown his tremendous power to the Israelites in many different ways and yet they did not have the good sense to fear him as one fears an earthly master.  The priests, the ones who should have been in the forefront of bringing the people back to the proper worship of the LORD, were the ones who despised the name of the LORD and that attitude had spread throughout the nation.  To despise someone or something is to regard with contempt or look down upon.  Then the obstinate people had the gall to respond by asking how have they despised the name of the LORD?


Malachi 1:7 (KJB)

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.


This could be referring to the Table of Showbread where the priests may have placed soiled or stain filled bread or it could also be referring to the people who brought polluted sacrifices to the temple in violation of the Law of Moses.  Then while they do this they had the gall to ask where did we pollute thee?  God responds to them that since they did not respect the table of the Lord in the temple, their actions were showing they were contemptible.  The word “contemptible” means “despised or scorned.”  Instead of offering the proper pure sacrifices according to the Law, they were sacrificing second best and no doubt keeping the best for themselves.  In the days of the temple service, to defile the altar was to defile the LORD.