The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 37 – Malachi
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–Mal 3:1, First Clause, and Mal 4:5.
* KEY PHRASE–JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ELIJAH WILL BE FORERUNNER.
* Sunday–Love of God for Israel,–Malachi 1:1-5. 2:10-16.
* Monday–Sins of the Priests,–Mal 1:5-11.
* Tuesday–Against Idolatry and Divorce,–Mal 2:10-16.
* Wednesday–Mission of John the Baptist,–Mal 3:1-6.
* Thursday–People have robbed God,–Mal 3:7-12.
* Friday–A Message to Doubters,–Mal 3:13-18.
* Saturday–Elijah Will Come Again,–Mal 4.
WRITER–The prophet Malachi. His name means “My Messenger.” He was the last of the Old Testament prophets.
TIME–About 430-420 B. C., during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.
THE STATE OF THE TIMES–Malachi Prophesied after the Jews had returned from Babylon when Judas was a Persian Province. As given in the book of Ezra, the temple had been rebuilt and its worship restored. Nehemiah had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, as stated in the book of Nehemiah, and had returned to Babylon, according to the promise he had made the king. During his absence, the people grew very discouraged and doubting because the Messiah had not come and set up His reign upon the earth, as foretold by the prophets. The people neglected the worship of the Lord, the priest became lax and degenerate, God’s covenant was forgotten, tithes were unpaid, and divorce and other social evils became common.
1. To condemn the social evils of the day.
2. To show that God is the moral ruler of the world and that it would pay to serve Him.
3. To foretell the coming of John the Baptist before Christ’s first coming, and that of Elijah before Christ’s second coming.
Great Fact I. Reproof of the Priests
In a brief introductory message, Malachi shows that the Lord’s love for Israel was far greater than that of Edom. For Israel was disciplined only for a time, but Edom was forever punished. This is the difference in God’s dealings with the righteous and the wicked.
The priests are then reproved because they despised the table of the Lord, offered polluted bread upon His altar and brought blind, sick and lame victims for sacrifice, which they would not dare to offer to an earthly ruler. Better no worship at all than that they should insult God with their selfishness. At the time that God’s name was great among the heathen, it was no time for it to be profaned by Jewish priests.
If they did not lay the Lord’s reproof to heart, He would send a curse upon them. Indeed, they are already vile in the eyes of the people because of their bad influence.
LESSON–The divine reproach is that the priests do not care how lightly and unworthily they lead in the worship of God. Their lack of faith and moral soundness showed also the spirit of their age. It is all too easy for us to follow the evil example of the Jews in bringing blind, lame and sick offerings. We do this when we bring:
1. Cold, formal and half-hearted worship. “Blind is the sacrifice of the soul which is not illuminated by the light of Christ. Lame is his sacrifice of prayer who comes with a double mind to entreat the Lord.” There is far too much Christianity without Christ and without heart in it. Some of the worst enemies of the cross of Christ keep all the forms of religion.
2. When we offer to God anything less than our best. David nobly refused to offer unto God that which cost him nothing, 2 Samuel 24:24. Indeed there is no heart to the religion of the man who is always trying to serve God cheaply. Christianity is not a thing of convenience, but of sacrifice. We should dedicate to God the best of our time, our influence, our talents, and our means, and always feel that nothing is good enough or great enough for Him who spared not His own Son, Ro 8:32.
Great Fact II The Sins of the People Rebuked
The prophet first denounces sins against brotherhood. He urges that God is the Father of the Jewish nation, and as the Jews sinned against each other they offended their common Father and broke the family covenant, Mal 2:10. He next tells them that they are guilty of sins against God in family life, for women came weeping and wailing to the altar of Jehovah and covering it with tears because men obtained divorces on the flimsiest grounds and dealt treacherously with the wives of their youth, to marry heathen women. “No one,” said the prophets, “who does this has even a remnant of the Spirit.”
LESSON–When we are untrue to God we injure our brethren. When we are careless about God’s claims, we will hold lightly His standards of morality. On the other hand, God expects us not only to aid a brother in distress but help him to be a good Christian.
The Africans have a beautiful custom they call the “Brother Rite.” One man will open a vein over the heart of another, and rub the blood from it into his own wound; this is to signify that they are halves or part of each other. Henceforth when either is in trouble the other feels “It is myself that is in trouble,” and thus does for the other what he would do for himself.
Every Christian, because of his blood fellowship, should think of others as he would they should think of him. Talk of others as he would they should talk of him, and aid others as he himself would be aided.
Great Facts III. A Forerunner Shall Come
The prophet announces the appeasing of a forerunner of Christ, which was fulfilled in John the Baptist. He should go before the Lord in the Spirit and power of Elijah. Isa 40; 41; 42; 43, and Mt 3:3. He should not come unprophesied or unsent, even it to a careless generation he was unexpected. He should prepare the way of the Lord by taking away their confidence in their relation to Abraham, Mt 3:9, by calling them to repentance, and by proclaiming that Christ was at hand, Mt 3:2.
LESSON–God in this way gave Jews a sign. For thirty-six hundred years He had been telling them that the Messiah should come and here he adds that a little while before Christ should appeal a great prophet would arise, and call to the everlasting gates of their hearts to lift up their heads and receive the King. It is one of the marvels of the ages, that after a prophetic silence of 400 years, that when John the Baptist did appear, his witness to Christ was not accepted.
Great Facts IV. Tithes Unpaid
Here the prophet tells the people that they have not only run away from the Master but have run away with the Master’s goods. “Ye are gone away from my ordinances. Return unto me.” “Ye have robbed me.” They had brought some tithes but like Ananias and Sapphira, they had kept back part of the price. They had robbed Him from Whom all blessings come! Had robbed Him of themselves and their service, of Sabbath-time and the tithes which were for the spread of His religion. God, therefore, punished them through unseasonable weather or insects that ate up the fruits of the earth, and through short crops and famine. He also earnestly exhorts them to bring all the tithes into the storehouse, which was the temple, and then He would not only give an abundance of rain but a superabundance of Heavenly blessings so that there should not be room enough to receive them.
LESSON–Christians die spiritually and lack God’s favor when they covetously withhold from God His dues. A robber cannot be happy! Some of the advantages of tithing are:–
1. It is founded on scripture.
2. The tither has the satisfaction of giving systematically.
3. He generally has money on hand for the Lord’s work.
4. Appeals for funds never evoke from him the comment, “Too much talk about money in the church.”
5. Tithers almost without exception, are joyful Christians, informed on missions and benevolence, and delighting to help every good object.
6. They inherit the great and exceedingly precious promises of God, both temporal and spiritual. Let every Christian earner dedicate one-tenth of his earnings to the Lord!
Great Facts V. Return of Elijah
It is very significant that in the last words of Malachi, and of the Old Testament, the people are called upon to remember the law of Moses, and to treasure the hope of the return of Elijah before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” That this does not refer to the coming of John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah as some think but is seen in the fact that Christ’s first coming was not a great and dreadful day, but a day of grace and of salvation. Neither did John the Baptist do the work set forth here of reconciling the hearts of the nation to one another. On the other hand, the second coming of the Lord will indeed be a great and dreadful day of judgement and of wrath, and as seen in Re 11:3-7, Elijah will be one of the witnesses who will prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming, as John the Baptist did for the first.
LESSON–In a day when men are falsely calling themselves Elijahs, we should remember that when the true Elijah comes, he will be a Jew and that he will testify for the Lord, not in America or in Europe, as many have sought to do, but in Palestine, and that, after the churches have been caught up to meet their Lord,
1 Thessalonians 4-17. At the Passover feasts of the Jews, they still set a place for him at the table and leave the door wide open in case he should appear. Let us be such Christians, and live such lives, that if all Christians were like us, the world would be ready and watching for the King!
“Unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings.” A man scoffingly asked, “What advantage has a Christian over any one like myself? Does not the sun shine on me as on him, this fine day?” “Yes,” replied the devout friend, “but the Christian has two suns shining on him at the same time–one on his body and the other on his soul!”
Malachi is the last prophet of the Old Testament. Four centuries were to elapse before the next prophet, John the Baptist, should speak for God. He startled the world with the thrilling message that the Divine Son of God had become flesh, that we might behold His glory, the glory of the Only Begotten Son sent from the Father!
Questions on the Lesson
1. Tell what you know about Malachi.
2. During whose time did he live?
3. Tell of the condition of the times.
4. Give the three purposes of the book.
5. Name the great facts.
6. Give the key word and key verse.
7. What the difference in God’s dealings with the righteous and the wicked.
8. Why were the priests reproved?
9. Name two ways in which we bring faulty offerings.
10. Tell of the sins against brotherhood and against family life that are denounced.
11. Give an illustration of blood fellowship, tell how it should affect us.
12. How did John the Baptist prepare the way of the Lord?
13. In what way was John the Baptist a sign to the Jews?
14. Show how people not only run away from the Master, but also run away with His goods.
15. How did they lose by not paying their tithes?
16. Name some of the advantages of tithing.
17. In the last words of Malachi, what are the people called upon to remember?
18. Show that the return of Elijah does not refer to the work of John the Baptist.
19. How may we tell the false from the true Elijahs?
20. What advantages has the Christian over the unbeliever?
21. Who the next prophet after Malachi, and what his message?
22. Have you read the book of Malachi?
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. — James 2:10 KJV