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Appropriately enough for a prophet, the name Malachi means, ‘My messenger.’  This creates another cosmic pun whereby God says, ‘My messenger Malachi,’ which really means, ‘My messenger, My Messenger,’ or, ‘Malachi, Malachi.’  Confused yet?  Or are you too incapacitated with unctonrollable laughter at God’s hilarious turn of prhase?  Think carefully before you answer that…

Malachi is speaking to the same group of people that Nehemiah had just chastened.  They had become disillusioned by the very realities I discussed early on in the Ezra narrative, namely that the return of the people to the promised land and the rebuilding of the temple hadn’t quite been the neverending shindig that the prophecies had made it out to be.  In other words, they were running into the wall that separates the dual time horizons in many OT prophecies, experiencing the limitations of the immediate fulfillment without the assurance that the ultimate fulfillment was still to come.

Additionally, it had been a long time since anyone could remember God doing anything overtly miraculous.  Where was the pillar of fire?  Where was the manna from heaven?  Where was the rock that pours out water?  It’s as if God decided to save up for the biggest miracle yet.  That’s obviously theologically problematic, but perhaps it can be better described as a dramatic pause to set up the piece de resistance of God’s miraculous ouevre. 

More applicably, I think it’s also a training to the people on walking by faith and not by sight.  The world is about to change, a New Covenant will be revealed, and the basis of interaction between God and His people (however defined) will be radically altered.  A new skill set is needed, along with a new frame of reference.  In this way, the last couple of books (Zechariah, Malachi, and possibly Joel) have served as a transition to and set-up for the New Testament, with it’s broader scope and revolutionary concepts.  But of course the people to whom Malachi was speaking didn’t know that.


From → [humor], [overview]

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