Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 39, “Malachi” pp. 551-559.
The book of Malachi focuses on God as the one who has given gifts to Hs people. Some have rejected those gifts (Lessing 2014, 551). Lessing notes that the book provides very little information about the author, location, or time. However, it seems to fit the same context as Ezra and Nehemiah in the 5th century B.C. The book may be anonymous. The name “Malachi” means “My Messenger” so could be simply an identification such as “the prophet.” However, Lessing thinks it likely that the book was written by one individual. The name “Malachi” does not seem an unlikely identifier (Lessing 2014, 552).
The text is focused on questions and answers, using some twent-two rhetorical questions (Lessing 2014, 552). Most scholars divide the content into six basic arguments (Lessing 2014, 552). The questions ask about failings of the people, which are then answered by God’s call to repentance for sin.
Lessing sees Malachi as a post-exilic prophet in part from his use of the Persian word for governor. He also finds the issues addressed to be similar to those in Nehemiah (Lessing 2014, 554). Some texts suggest that malachi is Ezra, but Lessing thinks that unlikely.
Important themes in Malachi include God’s election (Lessing 2014, 554). Even during their exile God has a chosen people. The concept of home, family, and community is also very important (Lessing 2014, 555). This is where we find fulfillment. The community takes priority over the individual. Lessing finds Christ in Malachi as the coming one whose name will be recognized as great (Lessing 2014, 557). He is the “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) who heals his people. This Christ will be introduced by a forerunner, who the New Testament identifies as John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1, Mark 1:2). The people of Judah, moved to sorrow over their sin, will be restored by God’s mercy. This is the good news of the Day of Yahweh (Lessing 2014, 558).