Date: between 450 and 425 BC
The prophet Malachi addresses the restored community of Israel. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah also target this community, but at a much earlier time. A second group of Jewish exiles has returned. Men of great renown are active, such as Ezra and Nehemiah.
Things are not going well in the country. Indifference to religion, greed and corruption are the order of the day, as are marriages to non-Jewish women. The priesthood is a problem. Religion becomes a routine matter.
This book consists of 2 parts. Part one deals with the sin of Israel. Part two deals with the promises of salvation and judgment.
It takes the form of question and answer. Israel asks the question and God provides the answer. The questions are:
In what have You shown Your love to us? (1:2),
With what did we despise Thy name? (1:6),
What have we treated you with inferiority? (1:7),
Why then are we treacherous to one another and profane the covenant of our fathers? (2:10),
What do we tire Him with?
The prophet Malachi primarily refers the judgment to the priests. Their priestly service is insincere, they have no real devotion. If the religious leaders are wrong, why should the people be any different?
The prophet expels the people who have learned nothing from the captivity. Judgment will come again if the people continue to reject God. This happens again and again.
But there is hope for the future. The day of the LORD is coming.
It is a day when the LORD:
Cleanse the temple and the priests,
The righteous will redeem,
Will bring the righteous into the kingdom of God.
Before this happens, a messenger will come to prepare the way of the LORD.
In the New Testament, John the Baptist is seen as preparing the way.
1. Enumeration of the Sins of Israel (1:1-2:17),
2. Promises of salvation and judgment (3:1-4:6).