The book of Malachi is a record of the messages of the prophet Malachi, or “my messenger”. As with most prophets, Malachi’s message focuses on current events for the people of Israel, but also has a secondary meaning, anticipating the life of Jesus.
The book of Malachi addresses a people who believed God had forgotten them and let them down. Although true worship was re-established in the rebuilt temple, the associated blessings predicted by Haggai and Zechariah were yet to take place. Malachi encouraged that the reverent worship of God continue, despite the peoples’ discouragement over not seeing God’s promised blessings.
Malachi is sometimes called a minor prophet. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t important, but merely that the book named after him is shorter. (Compare this to the major prophets, whose books are much longer.)
For the past several months, most of the A Bible A Day posts have been about the minor prophets. Recall that they are called “minor” not because their prophecy is insignificant, but because their books are short!
Levi was one of Jacob’s sons (the third of twelve). The Bible doesn’t tell us much about him; what it does say, doesn’t bode well.
The short version is that Levi’s sister, Dinah is raped. Levi and brother Simeon exact revenge by killing the perpetrator, his family, and the whole village, plus taking all their stuff. Levi’s version of justice far exceeds the crime — and father Jacob is ticked. [Genesis 34:1-5, 25-31]
Jacob doesn’t forget this incident either. On his deathbed he gathers his sons to prophetically tell them their future. This would be a time of expected blessing. Not so for Levi (along with Simeon). Because of their misdeed, Jacob essentially curses them. [Genesis 49:1, 5-7]
Interestingly, many centuries later God — through the prophet Malachi — reveals what he thinks of Levi, saying “True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.” [Malachi 2:6]
God’s view of Levi is certainly different than Jacob’s. While Jacob focuses on the bad and can’t forget it, God forgets the bad and focuses on the good.
In the short book of Malachi, there is a reoccurring phrase “but you ask” (along with a few of variations thereof). This turns into a Question and Answer monologue, with God voicing the people’s unspoken questions and then responding; Malachi records the whole thing. Although Malachi’s culture is vastly different from our reality, there are still lessons we can learn — if we are willing.
Q: How have you loved us? A: Consider your ancestors Jacob and Esau. I loved Jacob and hated Esau. Do you get it now? [Malachi 1:2-3]
Q: How have we shown contempt for your name? A: By giving me defiled offerings. [Malachi 1:6-7]
Q: How have we defiled you? A: By giving to me what is not suitable for anyone else. [Malachi 1:7-8] Q: Why do you no longer pay attention to our offerings or accept them? A: You have been unfaithful to your wife and broken your marriage vows. [Malachi 2:13-14]
Q: How have we wearied you? A: By doing bad, yet claiming it is good and pleases me. [Malachi 2:17]
Q: How are we to return to you? A: Stop robbing me. [Malachi 3:7-8]
Q: How do we rob you? A: By withholding some of your tithes and offerings. [Malachi 3:8-10]
Q: What have we said against you? A: By saying it is futile to serve me when I don’t bless you for doing what is expected. [Malachi 3:13-14]
Exploring the Biblical Narrative with Peter DeHaan