The last two Books of the Old Testament, Zechariah and Malachi, address issues that were pressing for the post-exilic community as they set down roots again in the Promised Land of Canaan. Zechariah was raised up, along with his contemporary Haggai, to encourage the returning Jews to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. The exiles had returned around 538 BC when the Medo-Persian king Cyrus issued a decree giving permission for the Jews to return to their homeland. They completed an altar right away when they arrived in Jerusalem, which allowed them to offer animal sacrifices for sin (Ezra 3:1-6).
They also began construction on a Temple, but construction stopped when the surrounding peoples started to harass and intimidate them. It was not until the LORD raised up Zechariah and Haggai that the people were strengthend in their spirits to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 5:1,2; 6:13-15).
Malachi was written probably around 400 BC. It reflects a Jewish community that has become established in the Promised Land and has already become quite formal in the practise of its worship. It seems that the fire has gone out from the hearts of the priests and people. People and priests are offering blemished animal sacrifices and withholding the best of their flocks (Mal. 1:6-9). This reflects their lukewarm devotion and love for the LORD. The LORD responds by saying that He wished that they would close the Temple doors. Their weak worship does not reflect at all the worthiness and the greatness of their God. The LORD prophesies that there will come a time when the whole earth will recognize His glory and greatness (Mal. 1:11). At the present time, even His own people are not fully recognizing and realizing how worthy and awesome their covenant LORD is (Mal. 1:12-14).
It is not surprising that out of this weak worship, the Israelites are treating one another in a way that falls short of God’s glory. What seems of particular concern is that the Israelites are breaking their marital covenants and thereby doing violence to their wives ( Mal. 2:10-16). Despite the chastisement of the exile, it seems that the people of God are going to need a new covenant, through which LORD will be able to spiritually circumcise the hearts of His people, so that they will be able to truly love and obey their God (Ezekiel 11:18-20).
It is not surprising that the last two Books of the Old Testament have several prophesies of Jesus Christ. The Mosaic Covenant does a great job in revealing who God is and what He requires of His people. But it is unable to change and empower God’s people from within so that they can walk in reverence and obedience to the commands of God.The Lord Himself, the messenger of the covenant, will come to his temple and replace it with Himself through His life, death and resurrection and through the indwelling Spirit (Mal. 3:1-4).
The messianic King came the 1st time, “righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). He will come again a second time, and “they will look on (Him), the one they pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child” (Zech. 12:10). Come Lord Jesus come! This the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor John