About the Book of Malachi
Malachi is the name of the man who wrote this book. He spoke God’s message to the people. Many years ago, a powerful enemy had come. The enemy had sent the people away from their own country. After a long time, they returned home. They built the temple again. The date when this happened was about 516 B.C. Malachi wrote this book in about 460 B.C. God had promised the people that they would have plenty of good things. But they only had a little rain and so their crops did not grow. They did not have enough food to eat. So, the people thought that perhaps God did not love them. They began to be careless. They did not obey the rules that God had given to them. Malachi found out how the people were thinking. And he put this into words. He then told them what God wanted to say to them. He told them how they could come back to God. And he told them how they could love God again. If they did not do that, there would be bad news for them.
1 This is the message that God told to Malachi. Malachi knew that he must tell the Israelites this message.
2 ‘I have loved you’, says the Lord. ‘But you ask, “How have you loved us?” ’
God says that he loves all Israelites. They are his special people.
‘Esau was Jacob’s brother’, the Lord says. ‘I have loved Jacob and all his descendants.
3 But I have not loved Esau and his descendants.
Esau is like my enemy and I have caused trouble for him. Esau’s mountains are now empty. Nobody uses the land any longer. There are only jackals there now. They have the things that Esau used there.’
Esau and Jacob were brothers who were born at the same time. Esau came out of his mother’s body first. So he should have received God’s special blessing. But Esau sold this special blessing to Jacob.
4 Edom may say, ‘Our enemies have beaten us. They have knocked our houses down. But we will build them again.’ But the Lord Almighty says, ‘They may build. But I will knock everything down. People will call Edom the Very Bad Country. They will say that the people in Edom always have trouble from God. He is very angry with them. 5 You will see it with your own eyes. You will say, “Great is the Lord, even beyond Israel’s borders.” ’
Edom (or the Edomites) is the name of a group of people. They were Esau’s descendants. They lived in the mountains. Then powerful enemies fought them. The Edomites had to leave their homes. Nobody lived there any longer.
6 ‘A son respects his father. A servant respects his master. If I am like a father, show respect for me as a father. If I am like a master, respect me as a master’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘You are priests. But you show that you scorn my name. But you ask, “How have we shown that we have scorned your name?”
7 You put food that is not clean on my altar.
But you ask, “How have we made you not clean?” You have said that the Lord’s table is not important.’
When an Israelite spoke about God’s name, he was speaking about God himself. So to scorn the name of God was to show no respect for God.
The Israelites gave gifts to God. They gave something when they wanted to thank God. They knew that they sometimes did wrong things. So, they also gave something to say sorry to God. They brought their gifts to the priests. The priests also offered their own gifts to God. But the food was not clean. That is, it was not really good food. Also, the minds of those who were giving the food were not always clean. That is, they may not have had right thoughts when they gave their gifts to God.
8 ‘You bring for sacrifice animals that cannot see. That is not right. You sacrifice animals that cannot walk. That is a wrong thing to do. You sacrifice animals that have an illness. And that is a wrong thing to do, too. Offer these to your ruler. And see what will happen. He will surely not accept you. He will not be happy with you’, says the Lord Almighty.
9 ‘Ask God to be kind to us. Explain to him that this is really important to you. Tell him often about this. But your offerings are not clean. So they will not change how God thinks. He will not accept you’, says the Lord Almighty.
10 ‘It would be better if one of you shut the temple doors! Then you would not light fires that have no value on my altar. I am not happy with you’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘I will not accept any gift from your hands. 11 My name will be great in the whole world, in every country. From the East to the West, people will respect my name. So, in every place, people will bring incense to me. They will give clean offerings to me’, says the Lord Almighty.
12 ‘But you are saying that the Lord’s table is not clean. So you are scorning my name. You say that the food on it has little value. 13 And you say, “The duty that we must do is like a heavy weight on us. We do not want to do this.” You think that you are too important to do it’, says the Lord Almighty.
‘I will not accept ill animals from you as sacrifices. I will not accept hurt animals or animals that cannot walk’, says the Lord. 14 ‘Someone may have a good male as one of his animals. He may promise to give it to God. He says to God, “I will give it.” But he may then sacrifice an animal that is not clean. So God will curse him. That is because I am a great king’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘Everyone on earth will know that my name is very serious. They will respect it.’Chapter 2
1 ‘And now, priests, I am talking to you. So be careful. 2 If you do not listen’, says the Lord Almighty, ‘I will curse you. If you do not decide to respect my name, I will curse your blessings. You have not yet decided to respect my name. So I have already cursed your blessings.’
The blessings here may mean the gifts that the people gave to the priests. They may also mean the words, ‘I pray that God will bless you.’ The priests said those words to the people when the priests prayed. Already God had started to curse the priests’ blessings. This was a very serious thing. Perhaps they could not change things now.
3 ‘I will tell your descendants that they have done wrong things. This is because you have done wrong things. I will tell them that I am not happy with them. I will tell them that they must not do wrong things again. I will cover your faces with the offal from your festival sacrifices. Someone will carry you away with it.’
After someone had given an animal, a priest killed it. And he cut out the offal. He then took the offal outside God’s house and he burnt it. Then he had to clean himself so that God would accept him. He could then go into God’s house again.
Some priests gave animals that were not clean. God was not happy with those priests. The priests took the offal outside. In the same way, God would send them away from him. Everyone would see by their faces that they had done wrong things. God does not say here, ‘The priests can wash. They can come back to me.’ He would remember that they had done wrong things. Even after they died, he would remember that. God would think of their descendants as the people who had done wrong things. So the descendants would have a difficult time.
4 ‘I have told you that you must be careful. This is so that my promises with Levi can continue’, says the Lord Almighty.
God wanted the people to stop doing wrong things. That is why
God spoke about all these bad things.
Levi was one of Jacob’s sons. From him, God chose the first priest. God promised blessings to the priest if he agreed to obey God. Then the good life that he had with God would continue.
5 ‘I promised to Levi a good life and many blessings. He received what I promised him. So, he did what I asked him to do. He worshipped me, and he respected me. He knew that my name is very great. He was afraid of me. So, he was careful when he was with me. 6 He taught what was right.
He told people only facts. He often talked to me. And he enjoyed the times when
he was with me. He did what was right. And we agreed about how he should live.
He caused many people to stop doing wrong things.
7 Priests are men that the Lord Almighty has chosen. They must speak his messages for him. The priests should tell people what they know about God. They should tell people about what God has asked them all to do. If they did that, everyone would remember these important facts. People should ask the priests what they need to know. 8 People who love me want to do certain things. But you have stopped doing those things. What you teach causes many people to make mistakes. What I agreed with Levi does not happen any longer’, says the Lord Almighty.
The priests were those who loved God. So, they usually lived a good life. But now they were not living a good life. This meant that the priests also taught in a wrong way. People could see that they were doing wrong things. And when people listened to them, the priests told the people some false things. So, the people started to do wrong things in their lives.
9 ‘So people have scorned you. They have then shown other people what you have done. Everyone now thinks that you are fools. I have caused this to happen. You have not done what I asked you to do. In your jobs as priests you have not used the same rules for everyone.’
The priests tried to show to other people that they, the priests, were good. But that was not what they were really like. They did not do everything that God wanted them to do. They only did the things that they wanted to do. They may have been nicer to rich people than they were to poor people.
10 We all have one Father. One God made us from nothing. We have agreed to do things for each other. But we do not do them. So we scorn what God agreed with our fathers. We ought not to do this.
Malachi was talking to the Israelites. By ‘fathers’, he means the men who lived a long time ago. All Israelites are their descendants. He was talking about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham was Jacob’s grandfather. Isaac was Jacob’s father.
11 Judah’s people no longer do the things that God teaches. A very bad thing has happened in Israel and in Jerusalem. God certainly does not like it. Judah’s people have married women who worship a foreign god. Then they meet with God in a place that he loves. And so they have made that place dirty. 12 I pray that the Lord will send all people like that away from the Israelites and from that place. And I do not want them to come back into this group of people. I pray that the Lord will not let them. Even send away someone like that who is bringing gifts to the Lord Almighty.
People were making another mistake. Men were marrying wives from families that worshipped other gods. This would cause a problem. Sometimes the man or wife would not be free to do what he or she wanted. Maybe they would both worship a false god together. Then they would come to worship God. So, the place where people came to find God would not be clean. That is, it would be no better than any other place. This is because these two people had done something wrong.
Israel is the country where the Israelites lived. Judah was one of Jacob’s sons. Judah was also a part of the country called Israel. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah. Malachi wanted the people to remember the promises of a long time ago. That is why he used these places and these names.
13 Also, you cry. You cry so much that the water covers the Lord’s altar! The Lord no longer looks at your gifts. He does not accept them with pleasure from your hands. So, you weep and you shout out in pain. 14 You ask ‘Why?’ The Lord was there when you were a young man. He was there when you agreed to marry your wife. He heard what you said. You promised to be with her until the end of your life. He sees that you no longer live together as man and wife. That is why the Lord no longer accepts your gifts.
15 The Lord has made a man and his wife to be as one person. He has made them with a body and a spirit and they are his. Why should a man and his wife be as one person? It is because the Lord wants their children to be good. And he wants them to respect him. So, think carefully about your spirit. Do not forget the promise that you said to your wife. Do not leave her.
Men and women have a body and they have a spirit. When a man marries, the man’s spirit and his wife’s spirit come together. God thinks of them as one person. He wants them always to stay together. If they do stay together, their children will feel safe. The children will know that their parents love them. They will be strong and happy. The children will then be good and they will love God.
16 Sometimes a man and his wife completely leave each other. They decide this with a judge and with other people there. ‘I strongly do not like it when a man and his wife decide never to live together again’, says the Lord God of Israel. ‘If a man leaves his wife like this, the result will be very bad for her. He has done a cruel thing to her. I strongly do not like that’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘So watch over your spirit and do not forget your promise.’
17 The Lord is tired from your words. ‘Why is he tired? How have we caused that?’ you ask. He is tired because of the things that you have said. You say, ‘The Lord sees all who do very bad things. He thinks that they are good. He is happy with them.’ Or you say, ‘The God who is a fair judge is not doing anything here.’Chapter 3
1 ‘See, I will send someone with my message. He will prepare the way before me. And so the Lord that you are looking for will return to his temple. He will come quickly. And you do not know when he will come. It is he that you want so much. The man who brings the message about the promise will come’, says the Lord Almighty.
2 ‘But nobody will be able to stand when the Lord appears. It will be impossible for anyone to remain the same on the day that he comes. That is because he will be like a refiner’s fire. He will be like the soap that people use to make cloths white.’
The purpose of the refiner is not to destroy but to make the metal clean. So on this difficult day the Lord will remove from people all that is not good. He will clean what he does not remove.
3 ‘He will sit as a refiner of silver. The refiner works until the silver shines. He will make the priests clean as a refiner works with gold and silver. Then the Lord will have righteous people who will bring proper offerings. 4 The Lord will accept all the gifts of Judah and Jerusalem that people give in a right way. It will be as it was earlier. It will be as it was a long time ago.’
5 The Lord Almighty says, ‘So I will come near to you as your judge. And I will decide how to punish those who have done wrong things. I will immediately speak against magicians, adulterers and perjurers. I will speak against those who do not pay their workers.
Some women’s husbands have died. I will speak against anyone who
does cruel things to these wives and to their children. And some of you are
deciding things about foreign people in ways that are not fair.
All these people are doing wrong things. They do not think that I am being serious. They are not afraid of me and they do not respect me.’
The refiner’s fire destroys everything that he does not want. So, God will kill those in the group of people who have nothing good in them.
6 ‘I am the Lord and I do not change. So I have not killed you who are descendants of Jacob. 7 I have told you what I want you to do. But you do not listen to me any longer. You have not obeyed me. All Jacob’s descendants have done the same. Return to me and I will return to you’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘But you ask, “How do we return?” 8 A man should not rob God. But you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” You rob tithes and offerings from me. 9 You, and everyone who is an Israelite, are robbing me. So you are all receiving the results of a curse. 10 Give me all that is mine. Store it so that there will be food in my house. Do this. And find out what I will do’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘You will receive so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it. It will be like rain that I pour out of the sky. It will be like rain that covers the ground with a lot of water. 11 I will not let insects eat your crops. The grapes will not fall from the vines before they are ready to eat. 12 You will enjoy your land’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘So all the people on earth will say that God has blessed you.’
The house that the writer is talking about here is the temple. The temple is where the Israelites worshipped. The Israelites had to give something to keep it beautiful. They also had to give something to the priests, because the priests worked there. They gave a tithe from what a person paid them for their work. They could give more if they wanted to. These gifts were the offerings.
13 ‘You have said cruel words against me’, says the Lord. ‘But you ask, “What have we said about you?” 14 You have said, “We work
for God. But nothing good happens because of this. We do what he asks us to do.
We are sorry when we do wrong things. And we show him that we are sorry. There
are no good results from this.
15 Some people think that they are better than other people. We now think that those people have blessings from God. Surely, those who do wrong things enjoy a good life. Even those who fight against God do not have trouble.” ’
16 Then those people who respected the Lord talked to each other. The Lord listened and he heard. Someone, who was with God, wrote on a scroll. God watched while this person wrote. He wrote about all the people who worshipped God. These are the people who respected God’s name. Now everyone would remember these people.
17 ‘These people will be mine’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘One day I will bring together all my own people. They are worth a lot to me and I really want them. A man is merciful to his son who works for him. I will be merciful to my people like that. 18 Then you will again see how the good people are
different from the very bad people. Also, some people are God’s servants and some
people are not God’s servants. And you will again see that difference too.’Chapter 4
1 ‘This future day is a fact. It will burn like a great fire. It will be like a fire that a man uses to burn stubble. When this happens, no branch or any part of a plant will be there any longer. The people who have done very bad things are like that stubble. No bad person will be there any longer. Some people think that they are better than other people. All the people who are like that will burn in the heat.’ That is what the Lord Almighty says.
This fire will destroy everything. It is a like a picture to
show what will happen. One day God will kill all the very bad people.
2 ‘But for you who respect my name it will be different. The “Sun of Righteousness” will rise to make you well. You will go out and you will jump up and down. You will be like baby cows when someone lets them go out of their stalls. 3 Then you will put your feet down in a heavy way and you will walk on the bad people. They will be like ashes under your feet. All this will happen on the day that I do these things’, says the Lord Almighty.
As the sun will rise on that day, so the Son of God (Jesus) will appear. He is righteous. The sun can burn with a strong heat and it can cause a fire. But the sun can also make people’s bodies well. So, Jesus will come to do this. Those people that worship the Lord will become completely well. Their spirits will be well and their bodies will be well too. They will have no troubles from anyone or from anything that is bad. They will be very, very happy.
4 ‘Remember everything that my servant Moses told you. Do not forget the rules that I gave to him at Sinai. They were for all the Israelites and you must still obey them.’
Moses was a man that God spoke to many years ago. Moses was on a mountain called Sinai. God told him about all the things that the Israelites must do. That was the first time that God had said those things.
5 ‘See. I will send you a man called Elijah. He will speak God’s message. He will come before that great and frightening day of the Lord. 6 He will cause fathers and their children to be friendly again. If not, I will come in a hurry and I will curse the land.’
Many years after Moses, there lived a man called Elijah. Elijah spoke God’s message to the people. God promises that another ‘Elijah’ will come before the day of the Lord. About 460 years after Malachi wrote his book, John the Baptist was born. People thought that he was like Elijah. John told us about Jesus. Soon after that, Jesus came to the earth. Then Jesus told us more about the day when he will come the second time.
- someone who has sex with a person who is not
their husband or wife.
- table of stone or metal. On it, people burn sacrifices to God.
- before Christ came to earth.
- to put a person under water or to put water on a
person to show that he or she wants to obey God.
- a person who baptises people.
- to give good things to someone.
- the good things that God gives to people or
does for people.
- plants that are for food.
- when someone says bad words against another person
or thing. Because of this, something bad might happen to that person or thing.
We call these bad words or the bad thing that happens a curse.
- a person’s children. It also means their
children’s children and any future person born from any of those people.
- a time to be happy together with other people;
and a time when people eat plenty of good food.
- small soft fruit that people use to make drinks
- something to burn to give a nice smell.
- a small country where the Israelites lived.
- people who are living in Israel; all descendants of Jacob.
- a small wild dog.
- one of the first ‘fathers’ of the Israelites. A man who loved God.
- a person who says whether someone has done right
things or wrong things.
- the special name that God used for himself when he talked to the Israelites.
- Lord Almighty
- the Lord of everything, more powerful than everything.
- someone who causes strange things to happen to
surprise people. These things are not usual. He has to use a gift that is not
from his own body to do them. This gift is very bad and it is not from God.
- a merciful person is a person who is kind to
- the inside parts of an animal.
- gifts to God.
- someone who does not say what is true. This is after he has promised to speak only true things. Usually this happens when he is standing up in front of a judge.
- men that God chose to do a special work for him. They worked in the temple.
- to hurt someone for the wrong things that they
have done. For example, a person who has robbed another person must go to
- a man who makes metal very, very hot. He does
this so that any dirty bits will burn away.
- when someone wants to do right things for
another person. That person is important to him or her. This is because that
person is special (for example, a father); or that person has authority (for
example, a king).
- righteous people are people who do right and
good things. But God can accept us because Jesus is righteous. Then we are no
longer his enemies. So he sees us as righteous too.
- what you have when you are righteous.
- an animal that someone kills and gives to God;
to kill an animal and to give it to God; food or drink that people gave to God.
- when a person decides that someone or something is
not important. In fact, he may decide that it has no value at all. He may say
something to show that he thinks in this way.
- a book where the pages roll up.
- metal that is valuable and shines like white.
- the part of a person that lives when the body dies. The spirit is the part that we cannot see. The spirit makes the person different from anyone else.
- where people keep animals.
- the part of a plant that remains when someone cuts down crops.
- a special building where the Israelites went to worship God.
- one tenth; a tenth part of something.
- a tree that has grapes on it.
- to thank God; to tell him that we know that he
is very great.
Irving L. Jensen ~ Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament ~ Moody
D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, eds. ~ The
New Bible Commentary Revised ~ IVP
The Lion Concise Bible Handbook ~ Lion Publishing plc
Joyce G. Baldwin ~ Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi ~ Inter-Varsity
John B. Taylor ~ The Minor Prophets ~ Scripture Union Bible Study
© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2012
This version published April 2012
The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.