Read: Malachi 3:1-18
Consider: Our reading for today starts with the words: I will send my messenger who will prepare the way before me (3:1). Although Malachi’s name means ‘my messenger’ it would be incorrect for us to assume that Malachi was talking about himself. In fact we have two messengers being mentioned in Malachi 3:1. The first should remind us of John the Baptist, who was called to prepare the way for the promised Messiah (Mark 1:2-4). The second clearly refers to Jesus himself, as the promised Messiah.
Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament and was written in the post-exile period. The book contains prophesies against those who are unfaithful – the priests (Malachi 1:1 – 2:9) and the people (2:10 – 3:15), together with a prophesy speaking of the faithful remnant (3:16-18). The unfaithfulness of the priests is characterised by the offering of defiled and blemished sacrifices, while the unfaithfulness of the people speaks of breaking their marriage vows to marry foreign women and also in not fulfilling their obligation to pay the tithes used for the upkeep of the temple and reimbursement of the priests.
We need to keep in mind that Malachi was written in the post-exile period and after the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. However, approximately one hundred years after the rebuilding of the temple, the people were lukewarm in their devotion to God and the priests were lax in their duties in the temple. This is another incident of the people of Israel wavering in their faith and diluting it by the influence of those around them. Despite this general turning away from God, Malachi speaks of the faithful remnant (those who engage in true worship and devotion to God).
In the OT the people of Israel are referred to by God as his ‘treasured possession’. The first reference to this is in Exodus 19:5, but the last time it is mentioned in Malachi 3:17 (quoted above), it refers only to the faithful remnant.
Approximately four hundred years would pass between the time of Malachi and the emergence of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Their coming was predicted long before it was actually fulfilled. We know that the Jews while wishing for the promised Messiah to come, didn’t recognise him when he did appear among them (John 1:11).
Malachi teaches us that God sees into the hearts of men and women, knowing who gives him lip-service only and those who remain faithful to him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … (John 1:12).
Pray: Father, may our love and devotion for you never grow cold. Strengthen us, so that we can remain strong for you, guard our hearts and minds from worldly influences that would cause us to compromise our faith. Amen