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The rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel and Joshua, inspired by the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, was completed in 516 BC. The new temple was meant to be the centerpiece of a community in which there was true justice and genuine worship. In this way Israel could fulfill its calling and be a light, revealing God to the nations.
Unfortunately, as the years went by, the people fell further and further away from this ideal. By the middle of the next century, their worship had become corrupt, and their society was plagued with injustice. Malachi (“my messenger”) challenges the people to honor God properly in their worship and in their dealings with one another. The world could then come to know the Lord as the great king.
Malachi brings his challenges in a distinctive style. He first offers an abrupt charge, voices the anticipated objections, and finally answers those objections. The book records that some of the people repent in response to these challenges, and that God says he will spare them when he comes to judge the earth. The book ends with God’s promise to send the prophet Elijah back before that great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Malachi 1 (ESV)
1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
The Lord’s Love for Israel
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
- The prophet Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah, when God’s people were in spiritual and moral darkness, and God called them back through the prophet to restore their spiritual lives.
- God’s first words through Malachi were: “I have loved you” (2). Although this is said to the Israelites, it is also said to people of all ages. Unfortunately, many people view God’s love in a worldly way, and they use political and economic achievement as criteria for success. Because of the political corruption, economic downturn, and poverty of the people at that time, the Israelites thought that God no longer loved them. This was a big mistake. God loves all people because He created all nations. However, the eternal reward belongs only to those who trust in Him.
- God’s love for people is as unwavering as parents’ love for their children, but people’s love for God can easily diminish. When people are far from God, they are far from God’s love, but they think that God does not love them. God’s love never changes. When people cannot feel God’s love, it is time for people to be revived.
Heavenly Father, I want to thank and praise You, Your love for me will never change. But I often doubt Your love and take the grace You have given me for granted. Please revive my spiritual life, so that I don’t look at the ups and downs of the environment, and trust You all my life.