malachi

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. . .

Malachi:

Malachi Scott Hoelsema April 2009

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Introduction

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Date The date at which the book of Malachi was written is uncertain, but it falls between 450 B.C. and 400 B.C. This was about 100 years after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah ministered. The Israelites, who had returned from exile in Babylon around 100 years ago, were living peaceful lives. They still paid taxes to the Persians, but they did not face aggression from other nations.

Historical Context:

Historical Context After Judah’s exile, there had been two returns from captivity in Babylon. Zerrubabel led the first group of returnees. He and his group worked to rebuild the Temple. Ezra received permission from Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to lead another group of people to return to Israel around 458 B.C. Nehemiah came (alone) to Israel about thirteen years after Ezra. Nehemiah had been a cupbearer to king Artraxerxes. Artaxerxes gave him a special mission to supervise the building of the Temple and the wall of Jerusalem, which had been going slowly. The Temple was finished in 516 B.C. He also lead people in religious reforms with Ezra’s assistance. Nehemiah governed in Judah around 440 B.C., and in his book we read of many of the same problems that Malachi addresses. Some of these include intermarriage, lack of tithing, and lack of justice. Nehemiah, Ezra, and Malachi all lived at about the same time.

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Author The book of Malachi starts out with these words: “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.” The Hebrew word “Malachi” means “My [God’s] Messenger.” Because of this, we are not completely certain that “Malachi” was the name of the prophet. The verse theoretically could read: “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by My Messenger.” The writer of the book of Malachi’s name is never directly given in the Bible, but it appears that he may have been a priest (who was also now acting as a prophet). If “Malachi” was not meant to mean the name of the prophet, this book would be the sole anonymous Old Testament book.

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Introduction to the Book The book of Malachi is somewhat short– 4 chapters (but 1878 words!), but it has a big message to the people of Israel, who have forgotten the love of God and the great things He has done for them. Malachi does what each prophet’s job is: to bring God’s message to the people.

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The story of Malachi continues with a look at his book.

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 Malachi  A tour through the book of Malachi 1 Malachi 3:8–4 Malachi 2–3:7

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God’s Love for Israel God’s Call for Reverence and True Sacrifice

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God’s Love for Israel The book of Malachi starts out with a set of questions: “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘In what way have you loved us?’” God then tells the Israelites: “Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated.” God tells of how he choose Jacob instead of Esau. There are strong meanings that come along with the words “love” and “hate,” but the Hebrew verb for “hate” often just means “not to choose.” Nonetheless, Edom (Esau’s descendants) would be opposed by God. Malachi 1:2–5

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While God rejected the Edomites, he showed love to the Israelites by disciplining them and then rescuing them when they cried to Him. This stands in contrast to Edom’s attempts to “return and build the desolate places,” to which God says, “They may build but I will throw down.” Yes, Israel had a special love from God. We see this in the very fact of God’s patience with them. Many times they had rebelled against Him, breaking the covenant, but God had not destroyed them. The Israelites did not seem to realize this– they asked how God had loved them. They were not trusting God to rescue them and they were blind to His faithfulness amidst their mutiny.

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Malachi begins this section with a comparison. Sons give honor to their father; and likewise slaves to their masters. God says, however, that though He is the Father and the Master, He is not being given respect. God accuses the priests of despising His name. In ancient Israel, a name told a lot about who that person was and what he was like. For the priests to despise God’s name was no small thing. Nonetheless, the people again question what God has said, asking how they have despised His name. God replies that the people were offering defected sacrifices. God’s Law plainly called for an animal without blemish, but the Israelites were offering blind, lame, and sick animals. Malachi records a helpful analogy: “Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” God’s Call for Reverence and True Sacrifices Malachi 1:6–14

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The people of Israel were not willing to take the time and the best animals and give them to God. They weren’t really fulfilling the true meaning of sacrifice– to give up something valuable for a greater purpose. The people brought offerings as a duty, not as a sincere sacrifice of their best to God. To the people, it seemed pointless to give up that best lamb and offer it to God. Malachi records that the people said of sacrificing to God, “Oh, what a weariness!”

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We can see from this that the people did not recognize their need for an unblemished sacrifice– they did not see how great their sin was. God tells the people through Malachi that He would rather have no sacrifice than a heartless one. The underlying problem was that the people had forgotten how great God’s love for them was. Do we ever do this today? Do we think about how much God loves us? He has provided us with so many blessing that we cannot even count them! God’s great love for us calls us to praise Him. Lesson 1

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Intermission #1

How was it taken?:

How was it taken? What is wrong with this picture? My living room

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 Malachi  A tour through the book of Malachi 1 Malachi 3:8–4 Malachi 2–3:7

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The Corrupt Priesthood Intermarriage A Bittersweet Message

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Corrupt Priests Not only were the people offering bad sacrifices, but the priests by their actions were giving God a bad name as well. God warns the priests that if they will not “give glory to my name, I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings.” Before entering the Promised Land, the Levites had made known to the Israelites the consequences both of obeying God and of disobeying Him. The priests were disobeying God and His Law, and thus they were to receive the curses. Malachi 2:1-9

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Then God talks about His covenant with the Levites as priests. God talks about Phinehas and how God’s “covenant was with him, one of life and peace.” Phinehas was a priest who had a good relationship with God. He was reverent towards God. One job of the Levites was to “teach Jacob Your Judgments, And Israel Your law.” (Deuteronomy 33:10) Malachi says of Phinehas “The law of truth was in his mouth.” Then Malachi goes on to say that the job of a priest was to instruct and lead people in the Law. However, the contemporary priests, Malachi says, “have departed from the way, You have caused many to stumble at the law.” The priests knew God’s Laws, but they did not put them into practice.

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Then Malachi goes on to say that the job of a priest was to instruct and lead people in the Law. However, the contemporary priests, Malachi says, “have departed from the way, You have caused many to stumble at the law.” The priests knew God’s Laws, but they did not put them into practice. Instead of leading people in following God’s Law, the priests of Malachi’s time led others into sin with their actions. What made the situation even worse was that when they took their position as a judge, they did not judge fairly, but showed partiality. God says that because of all this, he has “made you [the priests] contemptible and base Before all the people.”

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Intermarriage Malachi 2:10-17 Next Malachi speaks strongly against another evil in Israel, calling it “an abomination.” He writes that “Judah has profaned The Lord’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god.” The problem was that the Israelites were marrying women who served other gods. In his prophecy, Malachi says that such people ought to be “cut off” form Israel. This means expulsion from the nation or even being killed. Why would God give such a harsh punishment for this crime? These foreign wives could and likely would lead their husbands, and children too, away from swerving the God of Israel. That’s serious.

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Malachi marvels how such people can still bring sacrifices to God. He goes on to say how the Lord was even less happy with those who had “married the daughter of a foreign god,” because they had divorced their first wife in order to do so. Malachi reminds them about their first wife: “Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.” Malachi also writes “For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce.” These foreign marriages also did not accomplish the godly children God desired.

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In the last verse of chapter 2 the people of Israel ask “Where is the God of justice?” To them it seems like evil men have been prospering, while they have suffered. As they will soon hear from Malachi, though, these people will be punished in the end.

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A Bittersweet Message of Hope Malachi 3:1-7 In the midst of Malachi’s burden to the people of Israel, he speaks a message of hope. He talks of John the Baptist who would “prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple.” God gives His assurance that the Messiah will come. It would be just over 400 years after Malachi’s ministry that the Promised One would be born. Next Malachi speaks of the Return (or Second Coming) of Christ. Malachi compares Jesus to refining fire and launderers’ soap, because Jesus would purify those who belong to Him. This includes “the sons of Levi” who would once again offer pleasant sacrifices and “an offering of righteousness.”

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But this day would not be one of joy for evil men. God would testify against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, “those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien- Because they do not fear Me.” God was a God of justice after all, even though the people had been questioning of it. Israel is given a call from God to come back to Himself. They ought to be thankful that God does not change or on back on His promises- their perpetual rebellion and breaking of God’s Law merited their destruction.

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Like the Israelites, we certainly do not deserve God’s mercy and blessing, but we have received it nonetheless. We should live a lifelong expression of gratitude to God for His great works. We should strive each and every day to become more godly and put to death the deeds of the flesh. The Israelites, however, did not see their need for improvement, even after Malachi had placed it before them. They were content with where they were. Instead of answering God’s call of “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” the people did not see what sort of returning they had to do. They were blind to their sins against God. Are we like this? Do we realize how much our sins grieve God and how much it cost to redeem us? Lesson 2

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Intermission #2

Poll:

Poll How many people in this class know the current selling price of a U.S. first–class postal stamp?

Options:

Options 37 ¢ 41 ¢ 42 ¢ 43 ¢

The correct answer…:

The correct answer… 37 ¢ 41 ¢ 42 ¢ 43 ¢

Slide 47:

 Malachi  A tour through the book of Malachi 1 Malachi 3:8–4 Malachi 2–3:7

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Lack of Tithing The People’s Attitude The End of the Wicked and Righteous and Final Words

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Lack of Tithing Malachi 3:8-12 Next Malachi addresses another problem in Israel. The law as given to Moses required two annual tithes in addition to a tithe paid every three years. These tithes (of food) were shared with the Levites, the orphans, and the widows. Malachi tells the people that they have been robbing God by not paying their tithes. Because of this the people were cursed, and the impoverished were not as well taken care of as they should be.

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As they have been doing throughout the book, the people again question Malachi’s accusation. They have overlooked that everything they have has come from God, and it was through God’s working that they had returned from exile (and their ancestors had returned from exile in Egypt). Without this realization the people do not see the reasons why they should tithe to God. God gives the people this challenge: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be enough room to receive it.”

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God goes on to say that He will cause crop production to be good as well, and Israel will be “a delightful land.” Even though everything belonged to God anyway, He would bless those who gratefully gave back to Him of their possessions and crops. Such people have remembered God’s love and where He has brought them from. As the Israelites had returned from captivity in Babylon, so we have come from a life of sin to a restored relationship with God. We, too, are called to show our gratitude to God for His saving grace and our countless blessings- all of which have come from God. Not only does our giving back to God display our thankfulness, but it also supports God’s kingdom work. Recall that in ancient Israel, the tithe supported the Levites, orphans and widows. Lesson 3

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Some Israelites have decided that serving God is pointless. To them it seems that the wicked have the best life. God says that these are harsh words aimed against Him. Again the people wonder and question “What have we spoke against You?” They thought that there adherence to the rituals (sacrifices and offerings) would be enough to be set with God, but God wanted the people to do the rituals with the right attitude. Not all of Israel had made this decision that following God was pointless. There were still some who followed the Lord and feared Him. Malachi 3:16 tells us that “a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.” The People’s Attitude Malachi 3:13-18

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The people had questioned God’s justice at the end of chapter 2. Now God says that the faithful will be God’s special treasure and they will be spared on the day of judgment. “Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.” We must remember that this day of judgment is coming, and we ought to strive to make certain that we are saved.

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The End of the Wicked and Righteous and Final Words Malachi 4:1-6 Again Malachi turns to speaking about what will come about in the last days. While God had been before called the refining fire of His people, in the first verses of chapter four He is referred to as a fire that will consume the wicked. He says the wicked will be completely destroyed. Those who feared God, however, would be victorious over the wicked on the Day of Judgment.

Slide 58:

Malachi ends the book with a promise that looks forward to the coming Savior. Malachi charges the people to “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments.” Next Malachi says that “Elijah the prophet would appear before the Day of Judgment. This was referring to John the Baptist, who would be born in about 400 years.

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The last verse of the book of Malachi says: “And he [the “Elijah”] will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” John the Baptist would call the Israelites to repent of their sins and be ready for Jesus to come to earth. The book of Malachi ends with a hopeful look forward to the Savior who would redeem the children of God.

Slide 61:

The Pet Game

What does Malachi’s name mean?:

What does Malachi’s name mean?

How many chapters are in Malachi?:

How many chapters are in Malachi?

In the beginning of the book, Malachi addresses an issue with the corrupt __________, who were offered sacrifices to God.:

In the beginning of the book, Malachi addresses an issue with the corrupt __________, who were offered sacrifices to God. Final Round

The people were not paying _______, which supported the Levites, orphans, and widows.:

The people were not paying _______, which supported the Levites, orphans, and widows.

Malachi lived about ______ years before Christ came to earth.:

Malachi lived about ______ years before Christ came to earth.

Some men in Israel had been disloyal by _________________foreign ________________:

Final Round Some men in Israel had been disloyal by _________________foreign ________________

Malachi speaks of a coming “Elijah.” Who is he likely referring to?:

Malachi speaks of a coming “Elijah.” Who is he likely referring to?

Though the people of Israel think that the wicked are prospering, what will happen to them in the end?:

Though the people of Israel think that the wicked are prospering, what will happen to them in the end?

In the first verse of his book, Malachi refers to his message as a _______ from God.:

Final Round In the first verse of his book, Malachi refers to his message as a _______ from God.

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Match the correct name with each of my pets. Tucker Joey Buddy The Pet Game Part 1

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The Pet Game Part 2 Which pet is older?

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The Pet Game Part 3 Which pet is the most “talkative”?

 CREDITS :

 CREDITS  Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible The New Geneva Study Bible Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary Background pictures from various sources, especially Britannica Student Library

Thank you!:

T h a n k y o u !

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