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An Argument of the Book of Malachi

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Yahweh’s repeated indictments of the postexilic people and their leaders of covenant disobedience prepare them for his future coming when they will either be blessed or cursed in accordance with their response

I. Introduction: This book is an oracle from Yahweh to Israel through Malachi the prophet 1:1

A. The Oracle

B. From the Lord

C. To Israel

D. Through Malachi

II. Indictment: The Lord indicts the nation of Israel and her leaders of evil before Him and the Law (out of a commitment to them) 1:1--2:16

A. First Oracle: Yahweh reaffirms His choice to commit to Israel over the nations through choice, historical activity, and promise that Israel will one day tell the world 1:2-5

1. Introduction: Yahweh declares that He loves his nation 1:2a

2. People’s Question: The nation responds by questioning how Yahweh has shown his love to them 1:2b

3. Conclusion--Yahweh’s Love Demonstrated: Yahweh answers that He has demonstrated his love for them by choosing them over the other nations (Edom) 1:2c-5

a. Demonstrated from Yahweh’s Choice at Birth of the Patriarchs: 1:2c

b. Demonstrated from Historical Activity: 1:3a

c. Demonstrated from Prophetic Utterances: 1:3b-5

1) Statement: 1:3b

2) Argument against Edom’s Boast: 1:4

3) Promise of Future Boasting in Yahweh: 1:5

B. Second Oracle: Because the Lord is great, He rejects evil worship by the priests and will punish and judge priests who pervert His commandments and lead people astray so that His covenant may continue 1:6--2:9

1. Introductory Statement: Yahweh gets no respect from the Priests even through He is their Father 1:6a

2. The People’s Question: The Priests question how they have not respected His name 1:6b

3. Affirmation Restated: Yahweh demonstrates that they are not respecting Him because they place defiled food upon His altar 1:7a

4. Question Restated: The priests ask how they have defiled the Lord 1:7b

5. Concluding Statement: 1:8--2:9

a. Explanation of Affirmation: The priests show their lack of respect by offering lame sacrifices which the governor would not accept, and neither with Yahweh 1:8-14

1) Blind Sacrifices: 1:8a

2) Lame Sacrifices: 1:8b

3) God is treated with less consideration that is a governor 1:8c-9

a) Governor Would Not Accept Sacrifices 1:8c

b) Lord of Hosts Will Not Accept Sacrifices Either: 1:9-14

(1) Statement: 1:9

(2) God’s Desire: 1:10a

(3) Reason expanded: 1:10b-14

b. Warning to Priests: The Lord gives a commandment of cursing upon the priests who do not take God’s word to Levi to heart 2:1-9

1) Statement of Cursing to Priests Who Are Not Responding: 2:1-2

2) Specific Areas of Cursing: 2:3

a) Offspring: 2:3a

b) Talionic: 2:3b

c) Captivity: 2:3c

3) Application of God’s Word: The result of the curse will be to demonstrate to the priests that God’s word does apply to them and will continue 2:4-9

a) Cursing will prove that God’s word applies to the priests 2:4a

b) Cursing will enable God’s covenant to continue 2:4b-9

(1) God’s covenant was designed to give life and peace 2:5a-7

(2) The Priests do just the opposite of Levi with the covenant; therefore, there will be cursing 2:8-9

C. Third Oracle: If the Lord’s people do not turn from evil covenant breaking by watching their heart, they will be judged 2:10-16

1. Introductory Statement: 2:10-13

a. Questions: God Questions the peoples’ treacherous activity against the covenant 2:10

b. Affirmation: God accuses Judah of dealing treacherously with him by marrying foreign women resulting in His rejection of her worship 2:11-13

1) God accuses Judah of dealing treacherously 2:11a

2) Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the land by marrying foreign women requiring the people to be cut off 2:11b-12

a) Statement: 2:11b

b) Result--Cut Off: 2:12

3) God no longer accepts their worship because of their treacherous living 2:13

2. The People’s Question: The People question the reason for the Lord’s lack of acceptance 2:14a

3. Concluding Statement: 2:14b-16

a. Explanation and Exhortation: The Lord accuses Judah of breaking their covenant with Him when they divorce their wives and break the covenant with them urging them not to do so 2:14b-15

1) Explanation: 2:14b-15a

2) Exhortation: 2:15b

b. Explanation and Exhortation II: The Lord summarizes and repeats (in inverted order) his hatred of covenant breaking and exhorts the people to correct this 2:16

1) Explanation: The Lord hates divorce and external evil 1:16a

2) Exhortation: 1:16b

III. Promise: The Lord Promises to come to His temple asking that the people repent lest they all be judged 2:17--4:6

A. Fourth Oracle: Although the people constantly accuse the Lord of not being good and not keeping His promises, He will demonstrate His goodness when He comes and judges the unrighteous, but preserves the nation of Jacob out of His love for her 2:17--3:6

1. Introductory Statement: The people are tiering the Lord with their words 2:17a

2. The People’s Question: The people question how they have tired the Lord 2:17b

3. Concluding Statement: 2:18c--3:6

a. Explanation of Introductory Statement: The people tire the Lord with their words because they question His goodness and His promises 2:17c

b. Expansion--Prophecy: 3:1-6

1) The Lord is Coming: 3:1

a) He will send His messenger 3:1a

b) He will come Himself: 3:1b

c) He will send His messenger: 3:1c

2) The Lord’s Coming Will Affect Everyone--The Unjust and the Just: 3:2-6

a) No one will be able to endure it 3:2a

b) He will right all wrongs 3:2b-5

(1) Generally: 3:2b

(2) Specifically: 3:3-5

c) He will preserve the nation of Jacob out of His constant character of Love 3:6

B. Fifth Oracle: The Lord urges the nation to return to God in obedient giving so that He may return to them in blessing 3:7-12

1. Introductory Statement: 3:7

a. Affirmation: The nation has turned aside from Yahweh’s Laws from the Days of their fathers 3:7a

b. Exhortation and Promise: The Lord of hosts urges the people to return to Him and promises that He will return to them 3:7b

2. The People’s First Question: The people ask how they shall return to the Lord 3:7c

3. The Exhortation Clarified: The Lord clarifies his accusation that they people have turned aside from Yahweh’s laws by affirming that they have robbed Him 3:8a

4. The People’s Second Question: The people ask how they have robbed the Lord 3:8b

5. Concluding Statement: 3:8c-12

a. Affirmation: The Lord affirms that the whole nation is cursed with a curse because they have taken tithes and offerings from Him 3:8c-9

b. Exhortation and Promise: The Lord exhorts the people to be obedient in giving and God will bless them 3:10-12

1) Exhortation--Be Obedient in Giving: 3:10a

2) Promise--The Lord Will Bless: 3:10b-12

a) Statement: 3:10b

b) Specifics: 3:10c-12

(1) God will supply needs from Heaven 3:10c

(2) God will stop all natural destructive causes 3:11

(3) god will cause all nations to bless Israel as a land of delight 3:12

C. Sixth Oracle: Although the people arrogantly say that it is no profit to serving the Lord while the disobedient prosper, the Lord promises blessing to those who repent, and judgment upon those who are arrogant at His return 3:13--4:3

1. Introductory Statement--Affirmation: The Lord accuses the people of speaking arrogantly against Him 3:13a

2. The People’s Question: The people question what they have spoken (arrogantly) against the Lord 3:13b

3. Concluding Statement: 3:14--4:3

a. Explanation of Affirmation: The people’s arrogant words are that they say serving the Lord brings no profit while being disobedient brings prosperity 3:14-15

b. Promise to the Righteous--Prophecy: The Lord promises blessing to some of the people who respond in repentance to Him, and cursing to those who remain in their arrogant evil 3:16--4:3

1) Those who feared the Lord Repented: 3:16

a) They spoke to one another 3:16a

b) The Lord responded to their trust 3:16b

c) The people publicly stated their commitment to the Lord 3:16c

2) The Lord promised public deliverance and identification with His people when He comes to judge the arrogant 3:17--4:3

a) They will be His 3:17a

b) He will spare them when He comes 3:17b--4:3

(1) Because of His love for them as for a son 3:17b

(2) Because His coming will be full of harsh judgment for the arrogant 3:18--4:1

(3) Because His coming will be one of deliverance and triumph for His people 4:2-3

IV. Conclusion: One last time the Lord warns and exhorts the nation to turn from their disobedience to obedience because the result of that turn will bring either healing or cursing 4:4-6

A. The Lord Exhorts the nation to remember the Law of Moses for the nation 4:4

B. The Lord promises to come with judgment and, therefore, exhorts the people to turn in their heart with the coming of Elijah 4:5-6

1. He is going to send Elijah 4:5a

2. The great and terrible day of the Lord is coming 4:5b

3. The purpose of Elijah’s coming is to restore the hearts of the people 4:6a

4. The result of a lack of response to God’s prophet is the promise of a curse upon the nation--especially upon the land 4:6b

1 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Robert L. Alden, "Malachi," The Expositor's Bible Commentary, VII:708; Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi: An Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 219; Craig A. Blaising, "Malachi," The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament, 1574-75; Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., Interpreting the Minor Prophets, 277-291; Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. Malachi: God's Unchanging Love; John A Martin, "An Outline of Malachi," unpublished class notes in 305 postexilic prophets and the gospels, (Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 1984), 1-6; Ralph L. Smith, Micah-Malachi, Word Biblical Commentary, XXXII:299-301.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines