This Sunday we embark on a new adventure and discovery in the Word. In a series I called Studies In Malachi we will explore the six messages of God to Israel written by a little known man of God who wrote the last book of the Old Testament canon.
Bible scholar are divided as to whether Malachi was a real person with that name or just a description of a different person. According to The Lexham Bible Dictionary, arguments in favor of the rendering “my messenger” include several ancient writings render “Malachi” as “my messenger”. For example, the Greek translation (LXX) of Mal 1:1 reads, “in the hand of his messenger.” One version of the Aramaic similarly reads, “in the hand of my messenger, who is called by the name Ezra the Scribe” Chrysostom speaks of Haggai, Zechariah, and “the messenger/angel” (“The Argument” in Homilies on Romans [NPNF 1.11.336]).
When the name of a prophet is identified elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is usually followed by the phrase “the prophet” (e.g., Haggai 1:1; Isaiah 1:1; Ezek 1:3; Hos 1:1; Joel 1:1; Hag 1:1). In Malachi, the term מלאךי (ml’ky) is not followed by the phrase “the prophet,” indicating that it may not be a proper name.
On the other hand, several ancient witnesses regard the term מלאךי (ml’ky) as a proper name, including (see Verhoef, Haggai and Malachi, 154–56): the Latin Vulgate; the Syriac Peshitta; the Greek Theodotion’s Version; and the Greek Symmachus’ Version.
Malachi lived about the same time as Nehemiah. This becomes more obvious as we explore the book. The people were ruled by a governor and temple worship have been restored (Malachi 1.7-9). Interestingly, both Nehemiah and Malachi addressed similar issues. For example:
- Social issues like neglect of the poor, orphans and widows – Malachi 3.5; cf. Nehemiah 5.1-12
- Marriage with foreign women – Malachi 2.10-16; cf. Nehemiah 13.23-29
- Neglect of temple tithes and offering – Malachi 3.7-10; cf. Nehemiah 10.37-39
The Structure of the Book
The Book of Malachi is structured around seven questions by Israel that the LORD answers through six messages or oracles.
The seven questions which the people of Israel ask of God were:
- In what way have You loved us? (Malachi 1:2)
- In what way have we despised Your name? (Malachi 1:6)
- In what way have we defiled You? (Malachi 1:7)
- In what way have we wearied Him? (Malachi 2:17)
- In what way shall we return? (Malachi 3:7)
- In what way have we robbed You? (Malachi 3:8)
- In what way have we spoken against You? (Malachi 3:13)
God responds with His six messages:
- First message – Malachi 1.2-5
- Second message – Malachi 1.6-2.9
- Third message – Malachi 2.10-16
- Fourth message – Malachi 2.17-3.5
- Fifth message – Malachi 3.6-12
- Sixth message – Malachi 3.13-4.3
Our series will go through each of these messages to see what God had to say in response to Israel’s accusations.