The final book of the Old Testament, Malachi received its name from its author, a word meaning “messenger,” which points to Malachi’s role as a prophet of the Lord, delivering God’s message to the people of Judah, who had turned away from the true worship of the Lord, leaving themselves under judgment and in need of salvation.
At a time when the Persian Empire ruled the Promised Land Malachi wrote about the corruption of the temple sacrifices, meaning that he probably delivered his message many years after the Israelites rebuilt the temple in 515 BC.
The Israelites’ history told of glories like the exodus from Egypt and the faithfulness of God to King David. But they had also experienced the judgment of wandering in the desert and the shame of exile from the Promised Land. At the time of Malachi, they could see the shining rewards of faithfulness and the punishments associated with judgment, even to the point of being uprooted from their land. But even then, with all that perspective, the book of Malachi teaches us that they still strayed from the Lord’s path. They needed God’s intervention as much as ever, so this book, as a final statement of judgment in the Old Testament, anticipates God’s saving work through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.