The Final Prophet but Not the Final Word

Malachi is the last of the prophets recorded in the Old Testament. It is said that there will be 400 silent years between the Old Testament and the New Testament. This may be true but there was a lot going on in those 400 years.

Greece will continue to be a threat to Persia and eventually there will be a peace treaty between the two nations. Alexander the Great will conquer the world but die at an early age. The conquered lands will be divided between four of Alexander’s generals as described in Daniel 8:8 and Chapter 11. During that time the Old Testament was translated to the Greek language and called the Septuagint. Also, during this time, there was a movement among the priests to preserve the heritage of the Jews. Two groups or parties emerged, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees met with the people in synagogues for the purpose of prayer and study of the scriptures. This resulted in the Pharisees gaining support of the people in contrast to the Sadducees who were more of an aristocracy and held the office of High Priest.

During this time the Oral Law will be written down and put with the Law of Moses. Later, the commentaries of the Rabbis will be added as well and these will become the basis of the teaching of the religious rulers which will become works-based belief. Traditions will also be formed and given equal or even greater authority when it comes to the teaching of the Word of God.

This is the background and the conditions that existed at the first coming of Jesus. Although it is clear some of the issues in Chapters 1 and 2 existed during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, I believe they are a prophetic look at the times and conditions at the coming of our Lord.

In Chapter 3 we read of the messenger who will announce the coming of the Lord. We also read that He will suddenly come to the temple. John the Baptist will identify Jesus as the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world in John 1:29. Jesus will not begin His ministry until John is put in prison but before that, Jesus will suddenly appear in the temple in John 2:12-22 fulfilling the prophesy in Chapter 3. Jesus will deal with each of the issues brought up in this book along with the beliefs and teaching of the religious rulers that were misleading the people. He is the messenger and mediator of the New Covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 through 10. Chapter 4 of Malachi speaks of the second coming of Christ when Jesus will return as King of Kings and the world will be judged. Before that day comes God will send Elijah to warn that the time is really short.

John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. His message was repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.  As we read this book and end our study of the Old Testament it would be good to carefully reread the charges God is bringing to the people and the religious rulers and take an honest look at our actions.  What they are doing is a reflection of what they believe. Some doubt God and His promises. Some believe God is against them. Others are giving lip service but robbing God.  They are following the rules but their heart is elsewhere looking for loopholes.

Jesus will not come to condemn the world. He came to save the world, but His message is the same as the message of John the Baptist. Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand.  He is the Word of God we are told in John 1. In Hebrews 4:12 we read, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” NASB

As we read the Word of God we need to respond to the Word. Jesus does not bring condemnation but He does bring conviction. He also brings encouragement, comfort, joy, His peace, and a real living sense that we are loved by God. When we experience these we are relating to God and He to us.  Once we enter into a relationship with God we will realize that the world cannot offer us anything that even begins to compare to what a living relationship with God is like.

I pray we hear His voice as we study His Word.

Be blessed!

Pastor Dave