Text: Malachi 1:1


Dr.Alex Tang














Minor Prophets

The twelve short books which make up the “Minor Prophets” (so called because of their length, not their unimportance) were originally grouped together on one scroll in the Hebrew Bible, and were called simple “The Twelve”. Together they covered a time span of about 400 years (800-400 BC). They are called the Minor Prophets, not because they are not so important as Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel but, as Augustine expressed it, “because their message is comparatively short’. Theologically, the Minor Prophets major on warnings of impending judgment, teaching on righteous living, encouragement of the faithful and oppressed, and predictions of God’s future plans.













The name Malachi literally means “my messenger”. The name Malachi appears nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. The only mention of his name appear in the first verse of the prophecy (1:1). Nothing is known about his family background, not even his father’s name. A Jewish tradition says he was a member of the Great Synagogue.















Those addressed by Malachi are the second to fourth generations of the 50,000 Jews who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon about 110 years ago. Malachi was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. Many Ammonites and Moabites were accommodated into the community of Israel. Mixed marriages were common, and their children could not speak Hebrew (Neh.13:24). There was negligence of priestly functions and the people’s failure to bring compulsory contributions for the maintenance of the temple.


After living on the land for about a century, it was obvious that what the people are experiencing is anything but a messianic age. The temple and houses had been rebuilt, but Persia is still the dominant power. Harvests are poor and locusts have eaten what is left. Little respect for the Law exists among the people and even the priests. Intermarriage and divorce is common. There is a general loss of heart among the people. These post-exilic Jews probably doubted whether God would fulfill his Covenant promise of a new, messianic kingdom.


With the rebuilding of the temple, they have expected the presence of the Lord to return to them in Jerusalem and to restore the kingdom of Israel to their former glory. Did not the Lord promise them that? They would expect the Jews of the diaspora in Babylon, Alexandria and other parts of the world to flock back to the promised land. They have expected the glory of God to settle in the second temple. That has not happened. The people were disappointed and wondered what went wrong. Malachi prophesies that God will bring about this time of future blessing but it must be preceded by a repentant nation.

The Structure of the Book of Malachi

Basically, this book of prophecy can be divided into 2 sections.

Section 1 consists of chapter 1-3: the spiritual status of Israel at that time. It is unique because it is formulated in the form of questions and answers. FAQ.  The only other book in Scripture which employs this technique is Habakkuk. Israel asked 7 questions and God responded to these questions.


Israel’s 7 Questions

God’s 7 Responses

“I have loved you” (1:2a)


“How have You loved us?”



“How have we despised Your Name?”

Unacceptable sacrifices


“Why do You despise our offerings?”

Mixed marriage & Divorce


“Why aren’t You just?”

Messiah will judge


“How can we repent?”

Stop robbing Me


“How have we robbed You?”

Withholding tithes


“How have we blasphemed You?”

Materialistic motives



Section 2 (chapter 4) consists of blessings that Yahweh will give to Israel on certain conditions.



Day of the Lord


Obey Law


Heed Elijah


Summary Statement

The Lord rebukes His backslidden people Israel for their sin by answering their self-defensive questions in order to encourage them to leave their sinful lifestyle and return to Him in preparations for the coming day of judgment and blessings.


Importance of the Book

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament prophecy. After that there are 400 years of silence. For 10 generations, there were no prophets and the Lord was silent. The main theme of the book is the dynamic and unifying presence of the Lord. The Lord revealed Himself as the center of the Old Testament. In the Book of Malachi, of the total of 55 verses, 47 record in first person the address of the Lord of Israel. The Old Testament was God’s revelation of Israel as God’s chosen people. The revelation started at creation of the universes and of Adam, the Fall of mankind and corruption of the created order, the Flood and the new seed for God’s people was through Noah. This seed continued through Noah’s descendent to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his twelve sons which formed the twelve tribes of Israel. Of their time of slavery in Egypt, and of their deliverance by Moses. When they left Egypt, they were a loose collections of families. They were not ready for the promised land. For forty years in the desert, God formed them into a nation. Someone wrote that,   Moses took Israel out of Egypt but God took forty years to take Egypt out of Israel.” It was this nation that captured the promised land of Canaan. The nation was a theocracy governed by the Law, initially governing by charisma leaders called judges and later by a monarchy. Worship was a cultic temple worship of sacrifices and rituals. God spoke through His prophets to correct His people when they went astray. And they went astrayed. God punished them by allowing the Northern Kingdom to be destroyed by the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians and the people carried into exile. After 450 years of exile, they were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Even after the rebuilding of the temple and the return to cultic worship, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people was not faithful to God. Malachi was the last prophet God sent to warn them. With Malachi, God concluded his tradition of using the prophets and dismissed them from office, until the time of fulfilment of the Law and of the Prophets (Matt 5:17) in the advent of the great Prophet, our Lord Jesus Christ.


Gordon Fee & Douglas Staurt, How to read the Bible Book by Book, wrote, “Malachi reminds God’s people that they must take their covenant relationship with him seriously and that a great new day will dawn for them with the coming of Elijah (John the Baptist) to precede the Lord (Jesus Christ)”.


Now we know that Malachi was the concluding book for the Old Testament canon. Through Malachi, the Lord gave what could be regarded as a concluding remarks for His dealings with His people Israel. After the 400 years of silence, God spoke through John the Baptist and acted through His Son, Jesus Christ, thus fulfilled the New Covenant. Now is the Age of the Gentiles/Church. The church is a new vine of God’s people which will be grafted unto Israel thus fulfilling God’s plan to have a people of His own, made up of people from all nations.






Malachi 1:1

An oracle:The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi (NIV)

This is the message that the LORD gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi (NLT)

The burden of the word of God to Yisra’el by Mal’akhi (Jerusalem Bible)


Malachi 1:1 shows the content, address and instrument of the prophecy.

A.     Content

The prophecy of Malachi was variously translated as an oracle, the message and the burden of the word of the Lord. In the Old Testament, this ‘word of the Lord’ few exceptions was mediated by the prophets like Moses, Samuel, Nathan and Elijah. There are two components to the ‘word of the Lord’ dâbār : a noetic and a dynamic element. The dâbār contains a nous, an element of thought, and it is filled with power. This apply especially to the word of the Lord. It does not only convey understanding but it is also dynamic. It goes out from the mouth of the Lord, and it does not return to Him empty; it accomplishes that which he desires and achieves the purposes for which He sent it. God reveals Himself through His word, conveying the content of His will and establishing the fact of His divine presence.


B.     Address

The term Israel used in Malachi is addressed to the covenant nation, the exiles mainly from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, together with the remnants who remained behind. Irrespective of their numbers, failures and sins, they were still representative of the people of God, the bearer of His promises and the mediator of His revelations.


C.     Instrument of the prophecy

Malachi means ‘my messenger’. Gk Malachias meaning ‘his messenger’ and Hebrew malki yahu ‘messenger of the Yahweh’.


Lessons for us


A.     Content

This significant heading to the prophecy of Malachi is also applicable to the people of God under the New Covenant. It reminds us of the content of the word of God, not only as ‘Good News for 21st Century’ but also as His ‘burden’, His word which conveys truth but at the same time a dynamic power which changes lives through the Spirit of God.


As a Church, we must be always listening for the word of the Lord. We must be perceptive and receptive. We must be willing to hear what the Lord has to say to us and do what He wants us to do. We are the people of God. We have a proud and long heritage.


The Holy Light Church shall soon be celebrating its 50th anniversary on 4th August 2002. It is the big ‘50’. For many people, when they reach 50 years old, they stop to take stock of their lives. They call it the mid-life crisis. They reviewed their lives so far and come to terms to what they have achieved or have not achieved. For many, if they have not achieved what they hoped for, it is unlikely they will do so and they have to come to terms with that. For others, they are happy with what they have achieved and begin to look for new challenges. Unfortunately, many people reviewed their mid-life in terms of physical and materialistic achievements – World cup trophy, CEO, money in the bank, properties, number of wives etc.


Few have reviewed their spiritual status in mid-life. Philip Yancey, writing in Christianity Today (Apr 3, 2000) about his 50-years old spiritual checkup. made the following changes he needed to make for the next part of his faith journey:

1.                  Come to God with your own troubles, as well as the world’s

2.                  Questions your doubts as much as your faith.

3.                  Do not attempt to journey alone. Find companions that who see you as a pilgrim, even a straggler, but not as a guide.

4.                  Allow the good –natural beauty, your health, encouraging words-to penetrate as deeply as the bad.

5.                  For your own sake, simplify. Eliminates whatever distracts you from God.

6.                  Find what Eric Liddell found: something that allows you to feel God’s pleasure.

7.                  Always “err,” as God does on the side of freedom, mercy, and compassion.

8.                  Don’t be ashamed (of your faith).

9.                  Remember those Christians who peeve you so much – God chose them too.

10.              Forgive, daily, those who caused the wounds that keep you from wholeness.


For me, when I reach 50 years, I shall pray this prayer, “Lord, give me the company of people I like, and let me avoid the people I don’t, and the eyesight to see the difference”.


B.     Address

This truth must be addressed to the church which is destined to be the aspect and instrument of God’s kingdom.


C.     Instrument of the prophecy

This verse also reminds us that the instrument is neither the creator nor the sustainer of the gospel or the Church but just the ‘messenger’ of the Lord who is charged with the calling to deliver the message, even though it may be an unbearable ‘burden’ for both the messenger and the audience. It presupposes dedication and at the same time, a boldness of faith to proclaim such a message to God’s people in the Name of the Lord.


Concluding remarks

Let us when we study this Book of Malachi together, listen as a Church to what God wants to say to us. Let us like Israel in 433BC ‘talk’ with the Lord about the spiritual status of our 50-years old church. In many ways, I see the similarities of Holy Light and the people of Israel at that time. They have the temple, they have the priests and they do everything that is required of them, so why did the Lord not bless them? Why did the Glory of God not settle in their temple? Similarly we have our air-conditioned church building, we have Hisland, we have our leaders, we have our church activities, so why did the Lord not bless us?  Let us ask the questions together and listen to the Lord’s answers.

a.                   How have You loved us?

b.                  How have we despised Your Name?

c.                   Why do you despise our offerings?

d.                  Why aren’t you just?

e.                   How can we repent?

f.                    How have we robbed you?

g.                   How have we blasphemed You?



Soli Deo Gloria


Back to Top