Malachi is a small book tucked at the very end of the Old Testament. One of the 12 minor prophets, Malachi lived about 100 years after the Israelites returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.
The Temple had been rebuilt, but as the following video done by the Bible Project so lucidly explains, “things were not going well.” The Israelites who had populated Jerusalem appeared to be just as corrupt as their ancestors who had been exiled.
The book set up like a series of six arguments between God and the Israelites (a classic he said/she said, where one party is God almighty):
God says, “I still love you” and “I chose you to carry my covenant promises.”
Israel says, “How have you loved us?”
God says: “You despise me and defile my temple.”
God: “By bringing sub-par sacrifices. And your priests participate in this disrespectful practice.”
God: “You’ve turned against me and your wives.”
God: “Haven’t you noticed the rampant idolatry and divorce? This is a betrayal of your covenant with me.”
Israel: “Where is the God of justice?”
God: “I will send my messenger to prepare the way before me and I will come to bring justice.”
God: “Turn back to me.”
God: “By offering the tithe again. The temple is in disrepair because people aren’t bringing the tithe.”
Israel: “It’s pointless to serve God when wicked people succeed and God does nothing.”
God: “Listen to this short story about the faithful remnant. Remember the gift of Scripture I’ve given you. Don’t give up hope.”
In conclusion, for the faithful remnant, the day of the Lord will be a time of rejoicing. In the final three verses, the author provides a conclusion for the whole Torah and the Prophets. These verses talk about God sending Elijah before the Day of the Lord who will restore the hearts of God’s people.
The Torah and the Prophets “tell the truth about our human condition, about our selfishness and sin, but they also announce God’s promise that one day he would send a messenger and then show up personally to confront evil, to restore his people and bring his healing justice.” This is the future hope that Malachi, the Torah and all of the Prophets highlight.
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