Malachi means "my messenger." The prophecy of Malachi emphasizes the Day of the Lord, with its judgment of the wicked and the deliverance of a righteous remnant from the sinful mass of people. His immediate message deals with the sins of the priests and the people of his day. These sins form the background for his prophecies of judgment, certain to fall in the future.
In chapter 1 he points out contempt for the Temple sacrifices; in chapter 2 the unholy marriages with heathen nations. The priests were to blame for this situation, for they had allowed the people to enter into these unholy unions and had performed the marriages for them. It was no small thing to be a priest, for this was a gracious gift of God.
Verses 5-7 of chapter 2 describe the ideal priest. He fears the Lord and obeys Him; he receives His Word and teaches it; he lives what he teaches; and he seeks to refrain from sin. But the priests of Malachi's day actually led the people astray and defiled the holy covenant. What did God say concerning their sin? "I will curse your blessings." This ties in with Malachi 3:9 and the lack of giving tithes and offerings. Because of the people failing to give, and because of the priests' sinful ways, God cursed their crops. The people were poor and did not bring their offerings to the priests; therefore, the priests went hungry.
God's people never gain by doing wrong. God has a perfect plan for our lives, if we will only submit ourselves to Him. Too many Christians today are guilty of taking things into their own hands. They are not willing to wait patiently upon the Lord.
In chapter 3 God gives instructions concerning tithes and offerings. The people had disobeyed God in this matter and when they were not faithful in their giving they not only robbed God, but they also robbed themselves. Why? Because God punished them by withholding rain for their crops. Of course, tithing is not making a bargain with God, because the first 10% already belongs to Him. But it is robbery when we do not give Him the first 10%, and we will be punished for it. Tithing is a blessed privilege, and God has promised to bless and take care of those who are faithful in their stewardship to Him. Certainly God is not bankrupt. He wants our tithes and offerings as expressions of our faith and love to Him. When a believer's love for Jesus Christ grows, it always shows forth in his stewardship. Malachi closes his message with some wonderful promises to the faithful (chapters 3:16--4:6).
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