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Welcome to the book of Malachi.
From the time of Esther’s courageous intercession, it will be another 20 years before the historical record resumes. In the first 14 years of that time, King Xerxes’ fortunes will take a turn for the worse. He would finally be murdered in his own bedroom in 465 BC. Longimanus, his youngest son, will assume the Persian throne as Artaxerxes I. Little is known of what happens in the area known as Trans-Euprhrates in the 60 years after the completion of the temple. Later history indicated that the excitement surrounding the rebuilding of the temple, and even the incident with Esther and Haman, is not long-lived.
Success has dangers of its own. The tendency to slack off. Pride. Going through the motions. A weary faith. Lukewarmness. By Malachi’s time, Israel’s hope had faded.
Malachi’s style of prophecy is distinctive by its use of affirmations, questions and answers . . .
- He presents a given affirmation.
- He asks the questions a doubter would ask.
- Then he demonstrates the foolishness of the doubter and the wisdom of the stated affirmation.
As you study Malachi, try to see what attitudes lay behind the questions, complaints, and problems of God’s people. Also not what attitudes lay behind God’s words and problems to them.
1. As a teen, who was your first love? How did that person show their love? Did that puppy love ever turn into dogfights or hate?
2. What care do you take in giving gifts at Christmas time?
- most anything will do, within a certain price range
- only gifts from a want list will do
- used gifts or hand-me-downs are just perfect
- a gift card serves its purpose well
- only new items will do, preferably deluxe editions
- each gift must be carefully wrapped, with ribbons, bows and cute tags
3. How did the Lord show His love to the people of Israel? What happened to that love?
4. What attitude is expressed by Edom/Esau in verse 4? What is the Lord’s response?
5. Who is the target of the Lord’s probing questions in verses 6 – 8? What’s wrong with their gift-giving?
6. Why are these people just going through the motions?
- didn’t care anymore
- couldn’t afford any better
- didn’t think the Lord was that picky
- wanted to defy Him openly
- tried to fool Him covertly
7. How does this chapter affirm the smallness of the priests? The greatness of the Lord?
8. When have you asked the Lord to prove His love for you? What was His response?
9. Is it ever constructive to defy the Lord and do what you believe is right, no matter what? Explain.
10. In what ways are contemporary spiritual leaders like or unlike the priests in Malachi’s day?
11. How might your attitude or actions honor or dishonor the Lord? In what ways are God’s requirements a “burden” to you?
12. How has the Lord shown His greatness to you? Did you have to feel small before you knew He was great? Explain.