Bible Teaching Notes
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Omar C. Garcia


Notes by Jerry Perrill, Missionary to Laos and Thailand (Retired) 

Malachi uses a rather rare form of prophetic speech, namely, disputation, in six oracles. This form has four elements: (1) assertion, (2) questioning, (3) response and (4) implication. Though the author uses this form of dialogue, he does not let it control the content. So also, our outlines must seek out the content rather than impose our ideas, our agendas on the text. Douglas Stuart in his commentary Malachi in the three volume set, The Minor Prophets, puts the six oracles or sermons, along with a Superscription (1:1) and Summary challenge (4:4-6) in a chiastic form somewhat similar to the outlines we have looked at in previous books.

I           Superscription   (1:1)

            A          First disputation   (1:2-5)

                        B          Second disputation   (1:6-2:9)

                                    C          Third disputation   (2:10-16)

                                    C’         Fourth disputation   (2:17-3:5)

                        B’         Fifth disputation   (3:6-12)

            A’         Sixth disputation   (3:13-4:3)

I’          Summary challenge   (4:4-6)

I wonder if Stuart is not stretching this type of outline a bit, but here is his reasoning for the pairs:

I, I’       Yahweh has a message for Israel

A, A’     God distinguishes between the good and the wicked; the proof of His covenant love is His sparing the righteous and condemning the wicked.

B, B’     The double assertion-questioning pattering at the beginning of each disputation; improper, begrudging offerings condemned; promise of reversal of blessing; the Lord’s name to be great among the nations.

C, C’     The Lord is a witness relative to marriage fidelity; Judah is unfaithful.

After having looked at several commentaries, I think that Stuart’s analysis and outline best helps (me) get to the parts of the text. Below is his analysis with sub-points that illuminate each section:

Superscription (1:1)

I.         First Disputation (1:2-5)

            A. The people question the Lord’s love and He responds with a question (1:2-3a)

            B. The Lord will make Edom Desolate (1:3b-4)

            C. Israel will learn that the Lord is not a territorial Deity (1:5)

II.         Second Disputation (1:6-2:9)

            A. Three questions deserve an answer (1:6)

            B. The Lord responds to Israel’s questions (1:7-8a)

            C. The priests should know it is wrong to offer defective sacrifices (1:8b-9)

            D. The priests are warned by God (1:10-2:5)

            E. The priests will be despised because they have corrupted their office (2:6-9)

III.        Third Disputation (2:10-16)

            A. Because of unfaithfulness, the Lord will not accept their sacrifices (2:10-13)

            B. The Lord will not accept offerings because He must enforce the covenant (2:14)

            C. The people must preserve their spirit and not be unfaithful (2:15-16)

IV.        Fourth Disputation 2:17-3:5)

            A. The people doubt the Lord’s justice (2:17)

            B. When the Messenger comes, the Lord will display His justice (3:1-5)

V.         Fifth Disputation (3:6-12)

            A. In spite of the people’s disobedience, the Lord does not change (3:6-7a)

            B. The people can return by restoring to God their tithes and offerings (3:7b-12)

VI.        Sixth Disputation (3:13-4:3)

            A. The people have overruled God (3:13)

            B. The people believe it is useless to serve God (3:14-15)

            C. The faithful of Malachi’s day have a covenant renewal ceremony (3:16-4:3)

Concluding Summary (4:4-6)

            A. The people exhorted to remember the law of Moses (4:4)

            B. The promise of Elijah’s coming and a warning of destruction (4:5-6)

Malachi was the last of the prophets to speak before some 400 years of silence – what we call the inter-biblical period. May the Spirit who inspired Malachi around 450 B.C. also illuminate our understanding so that we can apply it to our lives in the 21st Century.

And remember, by this time the temple had been built; Nehemiah had been there and led in the building of the wall. What, if anything, made those days special or different? What is one to do when faced with the ordinary, the mundane, the daily grind of boring life, day in, day out? Life before God in those types of situations is always more difficult than the days of challenge, of progress, and yes even of great difficulty.

Perhaps the message was that the people of the covenant should “act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with their God” (Micah 6:8); to remember the love of God, worship and give in the spirit of wholehearted obedience. Perhaps that is the message we believers need to hear as we run in the rat-race of the daily humdrum of ordinary common, plain life.

Lord, please help us walk in faith and love before you, live in faithful integrity with our families and in all our duties and responsibilities each day. Thank You, Lord. Amen

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