Malachi 1 + Introduction

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Malachi Introduction

Malachi was a prophet, alive at the same time as Nehemiah. We don’t have a ton of the biographical information we often get about prophets (who his father was, etc.). Instead, Malachi jumps right in with the message that God has given him. At this point in time, morale was low amongst the Israelites. They were starting to question if God even loved them! God, through Malachi, wanted them to know that He did and that there were things in their hearts and lives that needed to change. 

So, what’s the main idea of the book of Malachi? Pastor and scholar Chuck Swindoll describes it this way:

“The people focused on their unfortunate circumstances and refused to account for their own sinful deeds. So God pointed the finger back at them, and through Malachi, God told the people where they had fallen short of their covenant with Him. If they hoped to see changes, they needed to take responsibility for their own actions and serve God faithfully according to the promise their fathers had made to God on Mount Sinai all those years before.”

Following the book of Malachi, there was a period of silence for a few hundred years. The Israelites waited and waited, wondering when God would speak again. When the time was just right, God spoke again in a different way: by sending His son. 

As we read the book of Malachi, take notes of what sticks out to you! Underline and highlight the words and themes that are repeated. Ask God each day to show you what He wants you to take away from this passage and ask that it would transform your heart as you follow after Jesus.

Read Malachi 1

A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.

Israel Doubts God’s Love

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob,but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wastelandand left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish.They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

Breaking Covenant Through Blemished Sacrifices

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

“It is you priests who show contempt for my name.

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’

“By offering defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

“Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 13 And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord.14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Go Deeper

As we read through the opening chapter of Malachi, it is easy to pick up on the tone of God’s message he’s delivering through His prophet. This message, delivered to the former exiles about a hundred years after they returned, followed the messages of Zechariah and Haggai. Malachi, likely alive at the same time as Nehemiah, was there to deliver both a message of correction, but also to remind them of God’s love. 

This passage begins with an opening reminder that God loves (and has loved) Israel all along, dating back to the days of Jacob and Esau (v. 2-5). The story that plays out time and time again throughout the Old Testament is God’s love for Israel, despite His people wandering and returning to their own wants and desires. Knowing the meta-narrative of the Old Testament helps us see just how loving God really is after He had given Israel chance after chance after chance to follow Him. Israel, however, had a hard time seeing it. 

Throughout the rest of this chapter we read of God’s frustrations with how careless and thoughtless worship had become, including amongst the priests themselves (v. 6-14). What’s interesting is that the priests weren’t even aware of it themselves (v. 6) and God had to point out to them that they were sacrificing defiled animals to him, which went against the Levitical law (Leviticus 22:20-23). The priests (and Israel) had drifted into this place of going through the motions and thoughtlessly worshiping the God they claimed to follow. 

God even goes as far as to say that it would be better to shut the temple doors than to keep doing what they had been doing! As we read this today, it’s an excellent reminder for us to not just show up and go through the motions of the Christian life. We can attend worship on Sunday mornings, meet with our Life Groups, and read the Bible each morning, but if we miss the heart of God in the process then we have missed the mark, just like Malachi’s intended audience. Let’s remember today that God wants our hearts and for us to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1). 


  1. What stuck out to you most as you read this chapter? Why?
  2. Can you think of a time recently that you’ve gone through the motions? Maybe you drifted there over time. How did you get there?
  3. How can you best prepare your heart for worship each and every time you gather with the body of believers?

Watch This

For a comprehensive overview of the book of Malachi, check out this video from The Bible Project!

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2 thoughts on “Malachi 1 + Introduction”

  1. The very last thing I want to do is go through the motions and miss the amazing experience of truly following Jesus. Once you’ve tasted and seen his goodness, nothing else will do. Yet, how often are we guilty of slipping into apathy, hypocrisy, cynicism, having no integrity, and treating our sin casually? Is this to be our response to the One who says, “I have loved you deeply”? Indeed not! Instead we have the privilege of being his representatives and making his name both known and great to the nations. It starts in our hearts homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. It won’t be comfortable or convenient but will be the most valuable commitment we will ever make. Stepping into a new school year, my God ordained assignment is teaching 80 precious faces. My earnest plea is that I would be a living sacrifice and a true reflection of his grace and goodness, that he would be honored in the classroom.

  2. Obey God because He first loved You and you love Him. Pretty simple but so very hard. Our life is God’s story. I have made His story in my life more difficult BUT GOD keeps showing how much He loves me and desires our relationship.
    2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
    We are empowered by the knowledge of God through His grace minutely to walk with Him today. To put Him first like He wanted these guys in Malachi to do continually. They did for a while then they started trusting in their own abilities (sound familiar). God just wants the relationship with us/me.

    God I am sorry for being such a yo-yo. I know You know beginning from end but Your poor heart. Thank You for continued growth in this grace and knowledge that gives me what I need for a godly life to give YOU glory and honor in Jesus name amen.

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