“The British are coming!” That was the cry of the messenger Paul Revere during the American Revolution. His proclamation warned the colonial leaders that British soldiers were approaching. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, has a similar assignment. His name means ‘my messenger’ and he joins the company of prophets sent by God to communicate with His people. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for messenger corresponds with the New Testament word apostle or angel; both are messengers of God.
The timing of Malachi is vital to understanding his message. He is the last of the prophets whose focus is not only the refrain of ‘repent and return’ but also sets the stage for the Messiah. There will be silence from God for 400 years and the Jewish people needed the words of these promises to sustain them in their long wait.
Where do we find Jesus in this book? First of all, Malachi alerts us to another messenger, one who will prepare the way (3:1) for Messiah. You may recognize that description as John the Baptist. He used that word messenger yet again but this time he is referring to the Messenger of the Covenant: Messiah, Jesus Christ. That divine messenger will renew the covenant that God made with Abraham in Gen. 12 and 17 which included all those who share that faith:
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13 ESV)
Jesus’ first coming, to renew God’s covenant with Jew and Gentile alike, will be followed by His Second Coming on ‘the day’ when He will appear as Judge for unbelievers but for His chosen, His elect, He will arise like the sun and bring healing to the righteous (4:2). That’s a promise we can count on.
Malachi begins his message declaring God’s love for His elect and proceeds to instruct the people how to honor Him and live in righteousness. It’s no different for us today, we need constant reminders to live a blameless life in honor of God. If we’re followers of Christ then our desire is to serve Him (3:16-18). We need this message.
This last book is a bridge for us into the New Testament when a virgin will conceive and bring forth a Savior. The 400 years are completed and John the Baptist, in the spirit of Elijah, cries out:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29, 34)
Malachi’s message should have the the same response as Paul Revere’s; we grab our spiritual weapons and fight against our spiritual enemy, Satan, for our liberty. We carry the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and we are ready and eager for His return.