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These books, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and others, all follow the same general pattern. In the introduction, the name of the prophet is explicitly listed and introduced to the audience. Most also conclude that Malachi was likely written around the fifth century B. Malachi prophesied several years after this happened. Apparently, as those years had gone by, both the priests and the people had forgotten the significance behind the sacrificial system they were adhering to.

Sure, they still participated, but they had become hardened to the things of. God and following His law. Their religious actions had become a checklist rather than something they did in loving obedience. They saw these actions as a kind of permission slip to live as they pleased, because after all, God would forgive them for anything if they just offered the sacrifice. Malachi returned to Judah from Persia after the Israelites were exiled there.

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The return was around B. This would place him as a prophet about years after Haggai and Zechariah. For years they learned about their history as a nation, how God had made huge promises to Abraham and David, and how He promised to institute a new covenant with His people.

The Book of Job in Context

They knew those things, but they were still waiting for them to happen. Simply, they were in worse shape than ever before and had yet to see their long-awaited Messiah. Read Malachi What is most striking to you in this passage? The Hebrew word used to express the concept of covenant is berit. Malachi had these thoughts in mind as he delivered his message to the nation.

Just as Christ wrote what He thought about the condition of the churches in the Book of Revelation, God wrote through Malachi to express His thoughts toward the nation of Israel in the final book of the Old Testament. Malachi wrote this prophecy in order to deliver the bad news—due to their refusal to turn from their sin, the people of Israel were going to incur the judgment of God.

To effectively communicate his message, Malachi chose to make his point in the form of an imagined dialogue between God and the people. Much of the time, this dispute takes the form of God asking a question and the people of Israel answering Him, usually in cynical fashion. Like a lawyer in court, the prophet posed rhetorical questions meant to cut to the heart of the people, even in the midst of their opposition. Do you feel like you question God more or He questions you more? The same form of question and answer can be found in a number of different places in Scripture, including Habakkuk.

In Habakkuk, however, the prophet was asking legitimate questions of God. Why Malachi? Now maybe your.

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Why study these things at all? So what do you think? What relationship do we as 21st century Christ followers have to the priests of Israel? For that matter, what relationship do we have to the Old Testament? What value is there in studying texts written to people prior to the coming of Christ? All good questions.

Answering those questions is what makes the study of the Old Testament so rewarding but also somewhat difficult at times. Take the issue we began with, for instance. The question was about priests. If we turn back further into the Old Testament, we find that the priests of Israel served as the intermediaries between the people and God.

They were the go-betweens, and part of their job as go-betweens was to offer sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of the people. But as the spiritual authorities of the land they were also tasked with introducing people to the ways of God. They were the middlemen and the only people who had access to both people and God. As you come to the New Testament, the priestly imagery is really important because, among other titles, Jesus is described as our Great High Priest Hebrews 3 and 4.

He is the last priest and now the only one needed between us and God. He is the final bridge, the relationship mediator between humanity and divinity. With Him as our intercessor, we have direct access to God.

No more going through a priestly or sacrificial system in order to relate to the Almighty; Jesus took care of that once and for all. Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes by Walter Brueggemann provides a concise and well-organized view of the most important themes in the Old Testament, including priests, priestly duties, and sacrifices. Lightfoot expanded the Christian doctrine known as the priesthood of all believers. Because of what Jesus has done, all Christ followers are priests now.

We all have the same access to God that once was limited to a select few.

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That means we, as priests, would do well to read carefully the biting words the prophet uttered centuries ago. Have you ever thought of yourself as a priest?

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What responsibilities go along with a designation like that? The priests of Israel were responsible for two major things. First, they were responsible for teaching the Law of Moses. You are called to honor God with your life and strive to live out the instruction you find in His Word, the Bible. This is significant. For centuries God had been. He spoke to men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Malachi through voices, dreams, and visions, and they delivered His messages to the people. But then, after Malachi, there was nothing. Take a moment and grasp the implication of this silence.

Instead, He went purposefully quiet. No angels, dreams, visions, symbolic actions, gentle whispers, miraculous signs, or prophetic messengers. Absolute silence. It kind of makes you wonder—knowing that He was going to go silent, what was the last thing God wanted to say to His people before the time of Christ? What is significant to you about the years of silence?

Have you ever felt you experienced a period of divine silence like this? What were the circumstances? The period between the Old and New Testaments is called the intertestamental period. The land of Israel was occupied first by the Greeks, then by the Romans, each threatening the national and religious identity of the Hebrews. The problem is that Malachi ends the Old Testament not with a blessing but with the warning of a curse.

In truth, even our best intentions are tainted with selfish, prideful, or misguided motives. Four hundred years is a long time to live with that. And yet we know this was an intentional word from the Lord, because no other word was capable of setting up what was coming four centuries later. How do you reconcile the fact that God was calling His people to something impossible? And yet, through those long years, they persisted in the same half-hearted commitment to the sacrificial system that had gotten them so much criticism from the Lord.

The temple was intended to be the center of religious life for Israel, a place where God dwelt in the middle of His people.

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Coming to the temple was coming to a meeting with God, one in which a person expected an encounter with the holy. In fact, life in Israel revolved around the temple and the sacrificial system that operated there. The priests served in the temple, which means they were responsible for performing very specific rituals designed to honor God by presenting offerings to Him. One of the primary elements in these rituals was the presentation and sacrifice of animals.

It was absolutely vital that the priests presented very specific animals in very specific ways. Scripture required the sacrifice to be the absolute best animal available.