Rewind 2,700 years and come with me to the ancient Near East, where good and bad kings rule—as they’ve done for half a millennium—over Israel and Judah. The people blindly and foolishly follow their kings instead of obeying God’s Law. So, God sends Gentile armies to adjust their priorities.
After decades in frightening exile, God’s people finally return to their peaceful land. But once they return, they tragically neglect godly rest and reflection; tolerate religious corruption; turn a blind eye to injustice; pursue greed, and marry those who worship false gods.
“Malachi” means “my messenger.” And indeed, God sends the people a message through a prophet with a three-step legal argument: The plaintiff (God) raises the charge. The defendant (Israel) pleads ignorance. The plaintiff (God) provides evidence of offenses.
The name of God found throughout the book of Malachi—“Lord Sabaoth”—means “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Repeated multiple times, the name emphasizes the very greatness they are missing in their everyday lives. But in a touch of sad irony, the Almighty says he sees a day when the “nations” will succeed, where his chosen people now lack in following him.
“But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world, they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Mal 1:11)
God’s people then, as today, were called to offer their love to him and be a light to the world—resulting in all the nations knowing, loving, and serving the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
God promised them, “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” (Mal. 4:2)
Four hundred years later, Jesus Christ laid down his life as the perfect sacrifice. And many have sacrificed to tell us his story.
Thank the God of the nations that you are loved and pursued by the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And go and tell of his love!
*For deeper reflection, listen to Malachi 1.