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The last of the minor prophets. Nothing is recorded of the prophet’s personal history, he is named once only. He was prophet near the time of Nehemiah’s return to the land, and the prophecy reveals the moral condition of the people. The first chapter, while it shows their insensibility, shows also the sovereign love of Jehovah to them, a love on which His purpose depended. When charged with their sins, they asked wherein had they sinned. The answer is that they brought to the Lord that which was torn, the lame, and the sick, and had offered polluted bread upon Jehovah’s altar: in effect saying, “The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.” This brought judgment upon those who were insensible to what was due to the Lord. Yet Jehovah should be magnified beyond the border of Israel, and His name be great among the Gentiles.
Malachi 2. The priests who ought to have been guides to the people, are called to account. Judah had intimate fellowship with idolatry; had symbolically married the daughter of a strange god; and had associated this with the worship of Jehovah. Israel had also dealt treacherously with the wife of their youth: this was but the discovery of a treacherous principle in them. God hated putting away: notwithstanding all this, they were apathetic, and asked wherein had they wearied God.
Malachi 3 opens with the announcement of the Lord’s messenger, which was fulfilled in John the Baptist. But the first coming of the Lord is here connected with His second coming, when He will sit as a refiner, and will purge away the dross, and then shall the sons of Levi offer an offering in righteousness.
God challenged the returned Jews to be faithful to Him, and they should have such a blessing that they would not have room enough to contain it. When called upon to return to Jehovah they are still unconscious of their condition, and ask, “Wherein shall we return?” and “Wherein have we robbed Thee?” “What have we spoken so much against Thee?” They had said it was in vain to serve the Lord; they had called the proud happy; the wicked were built up, and they that tempted God were delivered.
Yet God’s purpose should stand: their land should be a delightsome land, and all nations should call them blessed. In the meantime the remnant are spoken of as those that feared the Lord and thought upon His name: they communed often one with another. God had a book of remembrance of such: they shall be remembered when the Lord of hosts makes up His jewels, and shall be spared when He comes in judgment.
Malachi 4. A day of great judgment is coming when the wicked shall be consumed. But to them that fear His name the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (not the morning star here, as for the church). There will be judgment for the disobedient, as was indeed fully shown in the law at the beginning of the covenant with them.
But Elijah will come as Christ’s forerunner, to call them to repentance before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. John the Baptist would have fulfilled this mission had they received him; but, except a few, they did not, and therefore when asked if he was Elias, he said, No. He fulfilled the prophecy in the first clause of Malachi 3:11Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1); but not that of Malachi 4:5-65Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5‑6): the people did not repent. Elijah will still come. There will be judgment first, but great blessing in the end to those that are spared.