A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
Introduction and God’s Election of Israel
1:1 What follows is divine revelation. The word of the Lord came to Israel through Malachi:
1:2 “I have shown love to you,” says the Lord, but you say, “How have you shown love to us?”
“Esau was Jacob’s brother,” the Lord explains, “yet I chose Jacob 1:3 and rejected Esau. I turned Esau’s mountains into a deserted wasteland and gave his territory to the wild jackals.”
1:4 Edom says, “Though we are devastated, we will once again build the ruined places.” So the Lord who rules over all responds, “They indeed may build, but I will overthrow. They will be known as the land of evil, the people with whom the Lord is permanently displeased. 1:5 Your eyes will see it, and then you will say, ‘May the Lord be magnified even beyond the border of Israel!’”
Lord, when You make a sovereign decision nothing in all of Creation may stand against it. May I remember that the blessing of my salvation is a gift from God and that there will never be a time in all of eternity that I may cease from giving thanks.
Malachi prophesied “divine revelation” to Israel [more specifically, the returned-remnant in Jerusalem and surrounding region, following the exile].
He brought the challenge “I have shown love to you,” says the Lord, but you say, “How have you shown love to us?”
The Lord God told Malachi to take them back to an earlier time “Esau was Jacob’s brother, yet I chose Jacob and rejected Esau. I turned Esau’s mountains into a deserted wasteland and gave his territory to the wild jackals.”
Esau was Jacob’s older brother but the Lord allowed their combined choices to result in Jacob’s ascendancy over Esau.
Edom says, “Though we are devastated, we will once again build the ruined places.” So the Lord who rules over all responds, “They indeed may build, but I will overthrow.
Edom was the name of the land and culture spawned by Jacob’s brother Esau.
Esau had carelessly given-away his birthright to succeed his father and to inherit both his leadership and most of his property because he was impetuous and independent with a haughty attitude - and was not a God-fearing man.
The Edomites persisted in resentment toward the descendants of Jacob, making them vulnerable to the manipulation of the enemy, and they constantly sought ways to take advantage of them whenever they saw a weakness.
While the nation identified as Edom was obliterated, as God prophesied, around the 5th Century the people blended with other tribes – bringing their toxic-resentment with them – possibly carried forward and leveraged by Muhammed into modern day radical Islamacist blood-hate.
Malachi encouraged them that they would one day desire that all people know and follow the Lord God “... then you will say, ‘May the Lord be magnified even beyond the border of Israel!’”
God chose Israel, descendants of Jacob – the second born child of Issac, the miracle son of the elderly Abraham and Sarah – over the Edomites, descendants of Esau – the first born of Isaac.
Why would the chronically-rebellious and repeatedly-blessed remnant of Israel need to be reminded of the Lord God’s love through their unique election/selection?
Just as the nation of Israel rose and fell cyclically, so also did the Edomite nation – yet God's curse upon Edom doomed them no matter how hard they struggled against it.
When have you needed to be reminded that your blessing as a Biblical-Christian was far more than a promised eternity and membership in a unique social network?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity in your life where you may be His instrument to cause “... the Lord be magnified even beyond the border of Israel!” [“Israel” as a symbolic term - referring to all current believers.]
Today I will gather with one or more believer and share our deepest feelings of gratefulness that the Lord God of Creation has allowed us to be adopted into His eternal and earthly families.
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The Sacrilege of Priestly Service
1:6 “A son naturally honors his father and a slave respects his master. If I am your father, where is my honor? If I am your master, where is my respect? The Lord who rules over all asks you this, you priests who make light of my name! But you reply, ‘How have we made light of your name?’ 1:7 You are offering improper sacrifices on my altar, yet you ask, ‘How have we offended you?’ By treating the table of the Lord as if it is of no importance! 1:8 For when you offer blind animals as a sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer the lame and sick, is that not wrong as well? Indeed, try offering them to your governor! Will he be pleased with you or show you favor?” asks the Lord who rules over all. 1:9 But now plead for God’s favor that he might be gracious to us. “With this kind of offering in your hands, how can he be pleased with you?” asks the Lord who rules over all.
1:10 “I wish that one of you would close the temple doors, so that you no longer would light useless fires on my altar. I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and I will no longer accept an offering from you. 1:11 For from the east to the west my name will be great among the nations. Incense and pure offerings will be offered in my name everywhere, for my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord who rules over all. 1:12 “But you are profaning it by saying that the table of the Lord is common and its offerings despicable. 1:13 You also say, ‘How tiresome it is.’ You turn up your nose at it,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and instead bring what is stolen, lame, or sick. You bring these things for an offering! Should I accept this from you?” asks the Lord. 1:14 “There will be harsh condemnation for the hypocrite who has a valuable male animal in his flock but vows and sacrifices something inferior to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and my name is awesome among the nations.”
Lord, from the earliest days of Cain and Abel You taught humankind Your standard for respect, in our hearts and in our actions. May I give the best of my first and last of everything to Your glory and Your good purpose.
The Israelites were giving the flawed versus the flawless animals in sacrifice.
Their attitude, as well as their offerings, were like that of Cain rather than that of Abel.
Malachi shared with the Lord God’s observation that they would not dare present such flawed sacrifices to their political governor yet they carelessly presented them to God.
He informed them that God considered their offerings “worthless” and that the priests, co-conspirators in the “worthless” offings, should simply close the doors of the temple.
Malachi declared the Lord’s intent to find honorable followers who would sacrifice rightly to him and that harsh consequences awaited those who continued the practice of dishonorable sacrifices.
The Israelites called the Lord God “Father” yet they treated him with disrespect which would not have been tolerated in their culture by an earthly father.
Why would anyone continue to imagine that they could diss the Lord God and be blessed in the long-term?
Later on, when many Jews joined with those who sent Jesus to be crucified – even taunted Him along the way – the same disrespectful and haughty attitude pervaded their relationship with God.
When have you experienced or observed religious leaders mis-leading people, resulting in harm to them, and eventually great harm to themselves?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where you offer careless “religious ritual” when His requirement is only your first and your best.
Today I will humbly and joyfully accept the Lord God’s challenge to reassess my relationship with Him – in everything that I do – so that I am intentional about doing all things as if for Him, surrendering every decision to Him, and making my life the most perfect sacrifice it can be as a testament and as a tool to His glory and in His service.
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The Sacrilege of the Priestly Message
2:1 “Now, you priests, this commandment is for you. 2:2 If you do not listen and take seriously the need to honor my name,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will send judgment on you and turn your blessings into curses – indeed, I have already done so because you are not taking it to heart.
2:3 I am about to discipline your children and will spread offal on your faces, the very offal produced at your festivals, and you will be carried away along with it. 2:4 Then you will know that I sent this commandment to you so that my covenant may continue to be with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all.
2:5 “My covenant with him was designed to bring life and peace. I gave its statutes to him to fill him with awe, and he indeed revered me and stood in awe before me. 2:6 He taught what was true; sinful words were not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and integrity, and he turned many people away from sin.
2:7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him because he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all.
2:8 You, however, have turned from the way. You have caused many to violate the law; you have corrupted the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord who rules over all. 2:9 “Therefore, I have caused you to be ignored and belittled before all people to the extent to which you are not following after me and are showing partiality in your instruction.”
The Rebellion of the People
2:10 Do we not all have one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, in this way making light of the covenant of our ancestors? 2:11 Judah has become disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the holy things that the Lord loves and has turned to a foreign god! 2:12 May the Lord cut off from the community of Jacob every last person who does this, as well as the person who presents improper offerings to the Lord who rules over all!
2:13 You also do this: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears as you weep and groan, because he no longer pays any attention to the offering nor accepts it favorably from you. 2:14 Yet you ask, “Why?” The Lord is testifying against you on behalf of the wife you married when you were young, to whom you have become unfaithful even though she is your companion and wife by law. 2:15 No one who has even a small portion of the Spirit in him does this. What did our ancestor do when seeking a child from God? Be attentive, then, to your own spirit, for one should not be disloyal to the wife he took in his youth.
2:16 “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and the one who is guilty of violence,” says the Lord who rules over all. “Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.”
Lord, You chose Levi for his faithful heart, and You called, entrusted, and equipped Levi and his descendants to lead the people in right-worship – their failure contributed to the failure of the people. May I be careful under whose spiritual leadership I submit myself that I am not also led-astray.
Malachi prophesied the Lord God’s anger at the betrayal of the Levitical priests “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge of sacred things, and people should seek instruction from him because he is the messenger of the Lord who rules over all. You, however, have turned from the way. You have caused many to violate the law; you have corrupted the covenant with Levi,”
Malachi reminded them of their terrible sin within the family of Israel “... Do we not all have one father? Did not one God create us? Why do we betray one another, in this way making light of the covenant of our ancestors? Judah has become disloyal, and unspeakable sins have been committed in Israel and Jerusalem.”
He prophesied the Lord God’s judgment of disobedience and rebellion “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all.”
Malachi encouraged them with the Lord God’s provision of merciful redemption for the repentant “...Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all.”
He reminded them of the dissonance between their words and the truth “But you say, ‘How should we return?’ Can a person rob God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions! You are bound for judgment because you are robbing me – this whole nation is guilty.”
Malachi challenged them in their arrogance “You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord who rules over all? So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful. In fact, those who challenge God escape!’”
He prophesied the Lord God’s planned Great Throne Judgment and the Lamb’s Book of Life “Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name. “They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property. I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.”
Malachi prophesied the symbolic coming of one to prepare and proclaim the coming Messiah “Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”“
The priest could never blame the people for their own sin – they were provided for and taught as priests – they could and should have stood their ground on faithfulness to the Lord God.
Why would the Levites cry that the Lord did not receive their offerings when they knew them to be unacceptable?
God generally addressed divorce in the Bible in reference to leaders or potential leaders, and in every case to believers, because there is no authority over non-believers. In this text Malachi was merging illustrations of the unfaithfulness of the Levitical priests to God (through the covenant with Levi) with their unfaithfulness to their literal wives, and with His general displeasure about divorce and violence (including the violence to faith and/or marital covenants that leads to rebellion and divorce.
When have you experienced or observed the confusing influence of religious leaders whose lifestyle contradicted their claim to spiritual maturity and authority?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you are violating your covenant with God, which makes Him Lord of all things, and thus creating an unfaithfulness in your relationship with Him.
Today I will confess and repent, seek and accept His forgiveness, and make changes in my daily disciplines and peer-accountability which move me toward a closer walk with Him.
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Resistance to the Lord through Self-deceit
2:17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” Because you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”
Lord, Your patience is enduring, even as we thoughtlessly misrepresent You and Your working in this Fallen world. May I take special care to think carefully before I suggest that You endorse sin or will fail to administer grace-tempered justice in Your perfect time and in Your perfect way.
In Jeremiah 17:9 the Lord declared the heart of humankind to be “desperately wicked”, here again He prompted Malachi to inform the people that He understood their evil/fleshy capacity for self-deceit.
He warned them that the Lord God had grown tired of their stubborn persistence in speaking about the Lord falsely.
When the people responded that they did not understand what they had said that was wrong and therefore “wearied the Lord” Malachi provided two examples from God:
“Everyone who does evil is good in the Lord’s opinion, and he delights in them,”
“Where is the God of justice?”
In the first case they were accusing the Lord of rewarding sin.
In the second case they were accusing God of ignoring justice, or perhaps of being an absentee judge.
It is not possible to weary God as a human is wearied, He never lacks for any resource, so the term should be understood to refer to a stubbornness in clinging to a false doctrine that frustrates His effort to disciple “how long must I bear this stiff-necked people?” and the like [Exodus 32:9, Numbers 14:27, Isaiah 46:12, Acts 7:51, John 14:9, 1 Corinthians 10:5-6].
Why would the people ever say that the Lord thought evil-doing was good and delighted in those that did so?
Questioning the motives and/or timing of God was an error common to Adam and Eve in the Garden and of Job.
When have you wondered why the evil prosper or why God doesn’t enforce immediate justice?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a circumstance where you tend to question God’s toleration of evil, especially by those who claim His name, yet you forget that your sin is as offensive as theirs.
I agree to pray for both sinners, the other, and myself. I will confess and repent, seek and receive the Lord’s forgiveness, then exercise the discipline of prayer before I am too quick to condemn others. (Note: This does not mean the absence of discernment, as the apostle Paul taught, but merely learning to avoid self-deceit.)
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3:1 “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all.
3:2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. 3:3 He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. 3:4 The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past.
3:5 “I will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination, those who commit adultery, those who break promises, and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans, who refuse to help the immigrant and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Lord, You established the proper relationship of humankind with You via multiple covenants, and once-again it became necessary for You to enforce the terms of the most-recent covenant. May I remember to give You honor from my covenant of absolute surrender at the time of my salvation.
Malachi delivered a frightening Word from the Lord – He was sending a messenger of judgment.
He explained the purpose of the messenger was to “clear the way” for God by making clear that one must choose to stand with Him or against Him.
Although all said that they looked forward to the redeemer, the promised One, His coming would not be without challenge and conflict.
There had been moments in the past when the offerings to the Lord God had been as it should, and He declared that it would one day be that way again, though He did not say that it would necessarily look the same.
Malachi listed a number of examples of expectations of, or grievances with, the people; “divination” (witchcraft in any form), adultery (Jesus would define that as mere lust for another, not one’s spouse, in the heart), covenant/promise-breakers, exploiters of workers, widows, or orphans, and those who refused to treat immigrants with kindness (within the context of the law of the land – not facilitating criminal acts).
The key text is that those who did not stand with “the God Who rules over all” lacked respectful-reverence “fear”.
The Lord God made clear His expectations in his instructions to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and later through covenants with Abraham, Moses, and again with the remnant returned to Jerusalem. None had any excuse before the covenantal law.
Why would the people be so rebellious yet still say that they longed for a messenger-redeemer?
Even the short list of offenses would have covered most, if not all, of the people then – as it would today.
When have you experienced or observed the desire for a leader yet still persisting in behaviors which would be found unacceptable to that same leader?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one of the listed offenses he would like you to eliminate from your life.
I will confess and repent, seek and receive forgiveness, then know the greater peace with the Lord through His indwelling Holy Spirit that comes from obedience.
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Resistance to the Lord through Selfishness
3:6 “Since, I, the Lord, do not go back on my promises, you, sons of Jacob, have not perished.
3:7 From the days of your ancestors you have ignored my commandments and have not kept them! Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all. “But you say, ‘How should we return?’
3:8 Can a person rob God? You indeed are robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions!
3:9 You are bound for judgment because you are robbing me – this whole nation is guilty.
3:10 “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all.
3:11 Then I will stop the plague from ruining your crops, and the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the Lord who rules over all.
3:12 “All nations will call you happy, for you indeed will live in a delightful land,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Resistance to the Lord through Self-sufficiency
3:13 “You have criticized me sharply,” says the Lord, “but you ask, ‘How have we criticized you?’
3:14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord who rules over all?
3:15 So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful. In fact, those who challenge God escape!’”
3:16 Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name.
3:17 “They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property. I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.
3:18 Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.
Lord, You are always faithful and we rarely are, You constantly offer us opportunities to be reconciled and restored, we rarely make good use of the opportunity. May I not miss any opportunity to improve my relationship with You through increased faithfulness.
When the people questioned why God said they were unfaithful He gave them the example of their failure to submit the covenantally-agreed tithes and offerings.
The tithes were intended for the support of the Levite priests and their families.
Part of the meat-offerings were set-aside for the Levite priests and their families.
They also had storehouses for the portion of grain offerings set aside for them.
The Levites were not given lands in which to grow crops or to raise herds, as they were to be undistracted from their priestly responsibilities, so they had no other means of support.
Jewish history records that the lack of God-ordered support caused many of the Levites to take on jobs apart from their priestly duties.
Those who made excuses for their failure of faithfulness used the old argument that the evil were doing better than they – so they may as well selfishly and rebelliously look out for themselves.
The scroll was the list of those that the faithful leaders generated as a result of their review of the faithfulness, or lack thereof, of the remnant in Jerusalem.
The implication of the text is that those on the scroll were justified by their faith, as expressed in their faithfulness, just as was said of Abraham and David (Romans 4:1-8).
The people had agreed to bring offerings for sacrifice to God for their sins, with the understanding that part of the meat-offering would be used to feed the Levites and their families.
Why would the unfaithful think they could get away with blaming God for their selfishness when it was they who blocked God’s blessings which allowed the evil to prosper instead?
There are no longer meat-offerings or a tribe of landless-priests to be supported via tithes. The temple was built and maintained via gifts, not tithes or offerings, each is a unique form of giving with a Biblically-unique purpose. The meaning and purpose of gifts, offerings, and tithes changed in the new covenant of the New Testament.
When have you experienced or observed excuses made which ignored the true source of the problem and rather blamed other people, and God, instead of the guilty party accepting responsibility?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a place where you are making excuses for your own unfaithfulness.
I agree to confess and repent, seek and receive the Lord’s forgiveness, then act to reconcile my conduct so that I may be restored to a healthier relationship with the Lord and His people.
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4:1 “For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch.
4:2 But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall. 4:3 You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all.
Restoration through the Lord
4:4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey.
4:5 Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives.
4:6 He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”
Lord, You explained to Israel over and over the reasons for their troubles, Your hope for their repentance and restoration, and the coming of the Messiah – followed eventually and ultimately by the judgment. May I learn from the mistakes of the past, celebrate Your provision for my salvation, and live as a useful instrument until the Lord returns to take me home.
Malachi delivered the Lord God’s repeated warning that he would eventually bring judgment.
The purpose of the warning was to motivate the people to return to faithful living.
For those who desired to be faithful, but who had suffered due to the unfaithfulness of others, the His holy cleaning of the unfaithful would be liberating.
Just as in Esther the faithful would be His instruments of punishment for their enemies.
Malachi delivered His reminder of the provision of the Law, so often disobeyed, to Moses at Mount Horeb.
He shared the prophesy that a spiritual Elijah would be sent to deliver a final call to repentance to Jews, before the Wrath, and before the Great Judgment.
This is the final canonical and chronological text of the Old Testament. There really was nothing left to be said – a time would pass and then the beginning of the final period of humankind in Fallen Creation would begin as the texts of the New Testament describe.
The final last days of these end times will conclude in His wrath on earth, the removal of every shred of unreconciled evil and imperfection to Hell, then the obliteration of it all forever.
Is it encouraging to see how the Lord God tied key events in His story together as He also prophesied key details of the conclusion to come?
The image of Elijah would be important as he, like the Jewish remnant (and their predecessors) whom Malachi addressed, had seen moments of great blessing and power, as well as a failure of confident-trust – but Elijah had been reinvigorated and sent-out again in God's service. Elijah in Malachi 4:5-6 was a prophetic-symbolic representation of John the Baptizer – as Jesus would so declare in Luke 7:24-28.
When have you experienced or observed a person of great faith suffer from doubt then be restored and used again by God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity to share these texts with someone trapped in the traditions and troubles of the past and uncertain of hope in the future.
I will respectfully offer to share this text with the one whom the Holy Spirit has prepared and to whom He has sent me. I will be in pray before, during, and after so that I am a clean vessel for His message.
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All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –“Genesis 3. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.