Malachi was the last of the Hebrew prophets. His name means, “The Messenger of Jehovah.” His mission was to reinforce Judah’s belief and confidence in God and remind them of their responsibilities as members of a covenant community with God. The concept of the Covenant of Israel is fundamental to Malachi’s message. Malachi’s prophecy concluded the Old Testament canon and contained not only a divine rebuke for sin, but also, a divine promise of rescue.
Malachi spoke for and represented Jehovah to the Israelites. His prophecy is supposed to have been written during the time of the absence of Nehemiah, the governor, from Jerusalem. The period of his absence is thought to have been one of religious decline. This prophecy serves as a reproof for their wayward and evil course and a warning of the just retribution that must surely follow if they did not repent and turn to God.—Mal. 2:1; 3:6
Malachi’s prophecy, therefore, may have served a double purpose: first to reprove and stimulate the people of that time, and secondly, and more importantly, to give a general lesson applicable all the way down through the centuries since. His prophecy closes with exhortations and promises respecting the coming of Messiah, for whom the Jewish people had at that time waited for more than fifteen centuries. “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple.”—Mal. 3:1
Malachi was the last messenger to Israel prior to John the Baptist, who was the immediate forerunner of Christ. (Matt. 11:10,11) Christ was the coming, great messenger of Jehovah’s covenant and it would have been well for Israel had if they had heeded the warning and prepared their hearts to receive the Lord’s Anointed. While this prophecy primarily applied to Israel, as shown by the Lord and the apostles, it had a much wider application. In a fuller sense it was addressed to spiritual Israel (Rev. 2:10) and applies to the second advent of the great “Messenger of the Covenant,” Christ whose work will fully accomplish all of these predictions. —Gen. 22:18; John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:16,17
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