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Malachi: God's Last Word (20 of 20)
Introduction: Last words are important words. Imagine a dying father or mother gathering the family around the hospital bed. The little circle exchanges a few last precious words. None will ever forget the words. Maybe picture something a bit less dramatic. Maybe someone is simply moving away or going on a long trip. Their parting words may contain final instructions, a word of blessing and encouragement, or a promise to return quickly. Last words matter.
I am not sure the first Jewish readers of the prophecy or even Malachi himself knew that these were God's last words of the Old Testament. But we do. And the Lord himself surely did. They must have had special significance in the grand plan of the heaven.
Malachi proclaimed this message from the Lord about four hundred years or so before the coming of Jesus and about one hundred years after the Persian King Cyrus had decreed the release of the Jewish people from their captivity in Babylon. Life was not easy. Both villages and farms had been devastated by years of neglect. Resettlement took every ounce of physical and spiritual resolve the people could muster. Many became discouraged. Failure and doubt took their toll. Temptation abounded. Many gave in to opportunities for personal greed, spiritual neglect, or moral compromise. Many of God's people gave up. The Lord didn't. Into this dreary situation, he sent his messenger to call them back to the Old Paths of faithfulness and devotion. ''Return to me and I will return to you'' was the call. Malachi was the messenger.
This 39th book of the Old Testament contains only four short chapters and but fifty-five verses. The four chapters divide into three main themes or messages. The first (1:2-2:9) focuses on the priests and the failure of worship. The second (2:10-3:6) emphases family and marriage responsibilities. The last (3:7-4:6) provides a general call to faithfulness and obedience.
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