Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Book of Malachi

THE rebuilt temple in Jerusalem has been standing completed for over 70 years. With the passing of time, though, the spirituality of the Jews has come to be at a very low ebb. Even the priests have become corrupt. Who will make them aware of their true condition and try to revive them spiritually? Jehovah gives the task to the prophet Malachi.

Written in a forceful style by Malachi, the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures contains divinely inspired prophecy. Paying attention to the prophetic word of Malachi can help us to prepare for “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” when the present wicked system of things comes to an end.​—Malachi 4:5.

PRIESTS “HAVE CAUSED MANY TO STUMBLE”

(Malachi 1:1–2:17)

Jehovah expresses his feelings toward Israel, saying: “I have loved you people.” But the priests have despised God’s name. How? “By presenting upon [his] altar polluted bread” and by offering “a lame animal or a sick one” for sacrificing.​—Malachi 1:2, 6-8.

The priests “have caused many to stumble in the law.” The people “deal treacherously with one another.” Some have taken foreign wives. Others have dealt treacherously with “the wife of [their] youth.”​—Malachi 2:8, 10, 11, 14-16.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:2—In what way did Jehovah “curse [the] blessings” of the wayward priests? God did this in the sense that the blessing called for by such priests would turn out to be a curse.

2:3—What did it mean to “scatter dung” on the faces of the priests? According to the Law, the dung of the sacrificial animal was to be taken outside the camp and burned. (Leviticus 16:27) To scatter dung on the priests’ faces meant that Jehovah rejected the sacrifices and that those who offered them were contemptible to him.

2:13—With whose tears had the altar of Jehovah become covered? These were the tears of the wives who came to the temple sanctuary and poured out their hearts before Jehovah. What had caused them such grief? Their Jewish husbands had obtained a divorce on illegitimate grounds and had left  them, likely in order to marry younger foreign women.

Lessons for Us:

1:10. Jehovah took no pleasure in the offerings of the greedy priests, who would charge a fee even for such simple services as shutting doors or lighting altar fires. How important it is that our acts of worship, including what we do in the Christian ministry, be motivated by unselfish love for God and neighbor, never for monetary gain!​—Matthew 22:37-39; 2 Corinthians 11:7.

1:14; 2:17. Jehovah does not tolerate hypocrisy.

2:7-9. Those who are given the privilege of teaching in the congregation should make sure that what they teach is in harmony with God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures, and with Bible-based publications of “the faithful steward.”​—Luke 12:42; James 3:11.

2:10, 11. Jehovah expects his worshippers to take seriously the counsel to marry “only in the Lord.”​—1 Corinthians 7:39.

2:15, 16. True worshippers are to honor the marriage covenant with the wife of their youth.

‘THE TRUE LORD WILL COME TO HIS TEMPLE’

(Malachi 3:1–4:6)

“Suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord [Jehovah God]” with “the messenger of the covenant [Jesus Christ].” God “will come near to [his] people for the judgment” and become a speedy witness against all sorts of wrongdoers. Moreover, “a book of remembrance” is to be written up for those in fear of Jehovah.​—Malachi 3:1, 3, 5, 16.

The day that “is burning like the furnace” will come and will devour all the wicked. Before the coming of that day, a prophet will be sent to “turn the heart of fathers back toward sons, and the heart of sons back toward fathers.”​—Malachi 4:1, 5, 6.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

3:1-3—When did “the true Lord” and “the messenger of the covenant” come to  the temple, and who was sent ahead of them? Jehovah representatively came to his temple and cleansed it on Nisan 10, 33 C.E. That was the occasion when Jesus entered the temple and threw out those buying and selling. (Mark 11:15) This was three and a half years after Jesus had been anointed as King-Designate. Correspondingly, it appears that three and a half years after his enthronement as King in heaven, Jesus accompanied Jehovah to the spiritual temple and found God’s people in need of cleansing. In the first century, John the Baptizer was sent forth to prepare the Jews for the coming of Jesus Christ. In modern times, a messenger was sent in advance to prepare the way for Jehovah’s coming to his spiritual temple. As early as the 1880’s, a group of Bible students began to engage in a Bible education work to restore many basic Bible truths to the hearts of sincere individuals.

3:10—Does the bringing in of “all the tenth parts,” or tithing, represent giving our all to Jehovah? The Mosaic Law was abolished on the basis of Jesus’ death, so monetary tithing is not a requirement. Yet, tithing has a symbolic meaning. (Ephesians 2:15) It does not represent the giving of our all. While the tenth part was brought year after year, we bring our all to Jehovah only once​—when we dedicate ourselves to him and symbolize our dedication by undergoing water baptism. From that time on, everything we have belongs to Jehovah. Still, he allows us to choose a portion of what we have​—a symbolic tithe—​to use in his service. It is whatever our circumstances allow and our heart impels us to use. The offerings we bring to Jehovah include the time, energy, and resources used in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work. Also included are attending Christian meetings, visiting sick and elderly fellow believers, and rendering financial support to true worship.

4:3—In what way will Jehovah’s worshippers “tread down the wicked”? God’s people on earth will not literally “tread down the wicked,” that is, share in executing his judgment upon them. Rather, this suggests that Jehovah’s earthly servants will do so figuratively by wholeheartedly participating in the victory celebration that will follow the end of Satan’s world.​—Psalm 145:20; Revelation 20:1-3.

4:4—Why should we “remember . . . the law of Moses”? That Law is not binding upon Christians, yet it served as “a shadow of the good things to come.” (Hebrews 10:1) Hence, paying attention to the Mosaic Law can help us to see how the things written in it are fulfilled. (Luke 24:44, 45) Moreover, the Law contains “typical representations of the things in the heavens.” Studying it is essential if we are to gain an understanding of Christian teachings and conduct.​—Hebrews 9:23.

4:5, 6—Whom does “Elijah the prophet” represent? It is foretold that “Elijah” would do a restoration work, that of preparing the hearts of people. In the first century C.E., Jesus Christ identified John the Baptizer as “Elijah.” (Matthew 11:12-14; Mark 9:11-13) His modern-day counterpart is sent “before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” Elijah today is none other  than “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) This class of anointed Christians has diligently been doing the work of spiritual restoration.

Lessons for Us:

3:10. To fail to give Jehovah our best is to deprive ourselves of his blessing.

3:14, 15. Because of the bad example of the priests, the Jews began to view service to God as of little value. Those in a position of responsibility in the Christian congregation should be exemplary.​—1 Peter 5:1-3.

3:16. Jehovah keeps a record of those who fear him and are faithful to him. He remembers them and will preserve them when bringing an end to Satan’s wicked world. Therefore, let us never weaken in our determination to maintain our integrity to God.​—Job 27:5.

4:1. In the day of rendering an account to Jehovah, both “bough” and “root” meet the same end​—young children receive the same judgment as their parents. What a responsibility parents have toward their minor children! Christian fathers and mothers must work hard to seek God’s approval and to maintain a good standing with him.​—1 Corinthians 7:14.

“Fear the True God”

Who will be saved in “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah”? (Malachi 4:5) “To you who are in fear of my name,” says Jehovah, “the sun of righteousness will certainly shine forth, with healing in its wings; and you will actually go forth and paw the ground like fattened calves.”​—Malachi 4:2.

“The sun of righteousness,” Jesus Christ, shines forth upon those reverentially fearing God’s name, and they enjoy Jehovah’s favor. (John 8:12) For them, there is also a “healing in its wings”​—spiritual healing now and complete physical, mental, and emotional healing in God’s new world. (Revelation 22:1, 2) Excited and delighted, they behave “like fattened calves.” With such blessings in view, let us take to heart King Solomon’s admonition: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”​—Ecclesiastes 12:13.

[Picture on page 26]

The prophet Malachi, a zealous and devoted servant of God

[Picture on page 29]

What we teach should be in harmony with the Bible

[Picture on page 29]

Jehovah’s servants honor their marriage covenant