For Advent this year we will be reading through the prophet Malachi. Malachi is the last book of the Christian Old Testament (Jews order their Scriptures differently and end with 2 Chronicles) and speaks specifically about the day of the Lord and the forerunner to God’s messiah. Malachi reminds us that Advent is not a time of preparation for the arrival of a baby, but that Advent is the time of preparation of the Lord God of Hosts inserting himself into human history.
Malachi (whose name means “My Messenger”) is the last of the prophets. He most likely lived in the mid-5th century B.C. near the time of Nehemiah. In Biblical history, Jerusalem (along with the Temple) was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II in 587BC and many of its citizens were deported to Babylon. (2 Kings 25). After the Persians defeated the Babylonians in 529BC, King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild. (Ezra 1). The rebuilding of the Temple was completed in 516. (Ezra 6). Malachi comes on the scene several generations later and discovers a corrupted priesthood and a corrupted people and prophesies about the coming day of the Lord of Hosts.
This week we will be discussing Malachi 1-2. When we read the Old Testament, the challenge is always to read it in the light of that God who is disclosed to us in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. On the road to Emmaus, the resurrected Jesus, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to his traveling companions all the scriptures about those things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27). And so it is with us when we read the Hebrew Scriptures, we should continuously look for Jesus Christ within them.
In Chapter 1, we find Christ in several places. For example, Malachi complains that the sacrifices offered and even the priests making the offerings are deficient. In Jesus, we have both a perfect priest and a perfect sacrifice. (Hebrews 7:25-28). The coming of Jesus is the coming of the correction of the deficiency complained of by Malachi. We also find Jesus in the prophet’s continued assertion that all the nations (the Gentiles, the non-Jews) will worship God. We see this assertion in verses 11 and 14. At the time of Malachi, non-Jews did not worship the Jewish God. But it is only through Jesus that all the nations of the world have come to worship the God of Israel. As you read through Malachi, see where you find Jesus Christ in his words.
All the nations thou hast made shall come
and bow down before thee, O Lord,
and shall glorify thy name.