Week 51 is scheduled for study Dec. 12-18, 2022. Malachi was a messenger. His words were as much for our day as they were for the Jews in his own day. He was the last of the recorded Old Testament prophets.

Day 1

The name Malachi means “my messenger.” As you study Malachi’s message to Israel, what messages do you find for your life? How do Malachi’s words relate to our day?

Malachi 1-4 – Return unto me, and I will return unto you.

As I understand Malachi and his mission to the remainder of who was left of the house of Israel, he was the last recorded prophet. That makes him the Lord’s last effort to reach His people and get through to them before they rejected Him completely for their own teachers’ words. After Malachi’s time the classes of the Pharisees and the Sadducees were created to interpret the law of Moses. Why? Because there were no more prophets. They had rejected all of God’s prophets, so God finally left them alone. They obviously weren’t interested in what He had to say to them.

It is this sentiment of the people that prompted such a statement from the Lord – “Return unto me, and I will return unto you.” Sad isn’t it? They accepted the law of Moses, and the rites of the temple, but not because it would bring them to God, but because it was what set them apart as unique from all the other nations around them. God was no longer part of their worship. They no longer listened to His messengers, His prophets. The Jews had turned their back on the doctrines of salvation and only embraced the outward ordinances that made them think they were special. They used to be, but not after they rejected all their covenants.

Malachi speaks for the Lord in these chapters. The Lord, through Malachi, chastises the priests for perverting the ordinances of the temple, the leaders for not watching out for the welfare of their people, and the people themselves for leaving the covenant path. Their sins are briefly enumerated, and the cure for their cursings are given, but they ignore Malachi’s words. This is why Malachi gives them a look at their future, for the last part of his short writings are all about the Lord’s dealings with Israel in the latter days. His prophecies were for us and our posterity. We shouldn’t look at the last two chapter of Malachi as something that belonged to the Jews a couple of thousand years ago, for they were given more for our benefit than theirs.

Day 2

The name Malachi means “my messenger.” As you study Malachi’s message to Israel, what messages do you find for your life? How do Malachi’s words relate to our day?

Malachi 1:6-14 – The Lord asks for “a pure offering.”

Consider what the offerings/sacrifices done in the temple of Jerusalem represented. They represented the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. How offensive would it be to that God who was to come and give his life for all of us to have them offering on the altar damaged goods. The animals offered for sacrifice were no longer the best of the best, but the cast offs they felt they could get rid of and still obey the law. These sacrifices were supposed to be the offerings made from the purity of the of supplicant’s intent, the essence of their worshipful attitude towards God. Instead, they gave the priests blind, weak, blemished or deformed animals to offer, and the priests accepted these less than perfect offerings and presented them to the Lord. What a slap in the face.

God was affronted by such behavior. How could He continue to bless these people individually or as a nation when they treated Him with such contempt? They were completely missing the point of the offerings, of the whole law of Moses. It had become merely a social status symbol, a part of their social identity that set them apart from everyone else. They gave lip service to believing in Jehovah, but their hearts had stopped believing or having faith in Him long ago.

Today it is easy for us to get caught up in what makes us different from the rest of the world. We may give lip service to our way of life as Latter-day Saints, but when we take the sacrament each Sunday, do we do so with a pure intent to repent and obey God’s commandments? Or is it just something we do as a custom, like opening and closing meetings with prayers? Do we really even think about it? Do we attend the temple to worship or to fulfill obligations?  Or do we minister to each other, assigned or unassigned, because we love one another and are concerned for another’s welfare, or quietly do what is easiest for us, but give lip service to being good people, because we don’t do harm?

The Lord wants us to worship Him, not because He needs to be worshipped, honored, or deified. He is already a God. We, as His children need to look to God for our way back home to Him. He gave us Christ to show us the way. We have already been told that there is no other way back to God, except through Christ. And being shallow in our observances to the commandments won’t teach us how to live as Christ lives. Returning to our Father in Heaven isn’t obtained through checklists, grand gestures, or daily habits of show. He wants the purity of our intentions, the purity of our hearts so He can teach us how to become the kind of people who will be happy in His presence. Our efforts to become pure in our intents allows Him to change our hearts to accommodate that desire. Our efforts to become better, more obedient sons and daughters of God happen concurrently with His increasing ability to change our hearts, our dispositions, to do and be better.

Giving a pure offering isn’t an act, but an outlook, a disposition, an intent. When we are honest in our worship, meaning we do it for the right reasons, God sees that we are trying to become more like Christ, so He, little by little, changes our heart to accommodate our desire to be more like His beloved Son. The ability to offer a pure offering is something we seek to attain. A change of heart is something we are given, not something we can do on our own.

In some things we may already be pure of heart. Some other parts of our life may still need work. This whole thing is a work that is always in process. As we progress to a better place in our heart, the Lord prepares us to become even better. This step by step process lasts a whole lifetime and beyond.

Day 3

The name Malachi means “my messenger.” As you study Malachi’s message to Israel, what messages do you find for your life? How do Malachi’s words relate to our day?

Malachi 3-4 – Malachi’s prophecies are being fulfilled in the latter days.

Malachi 3:1 is about the coming of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Savior’s ministry. From verse two on to the end of Malachi, everything he says is about the last days or Christ’s second coming.

One of the first things Malachi mentions is the refiner’s fire and being like a refiner of silver. Have you considered the symbolism of being refined like silver? When a silversmith melts down silver to purge it of its impurities, he knows he has reached the desired state when he can look at the melted down silver and see his own reflection in the liquid metal. Like a refiner of silver, the Lord will try His people until He can see His own reflection coming from them. Our behavior will have become like his, Christlike. Everything that is happening to the Saints in this last dispensation is to lead us to become like that refined silver. That means all our impurities will have to be burned away – not a pleasant process, but a saving one.

Look at the subsequent four or five verses after verse three. It is after, and because, the people have become refined by God that they will offer righteous offerings, and because they are doing these things He will be able to come and smite the whole earth, consume it with fire, but His people will be spared, because they have become Christlike and ready to live with Zion of old who will return. These two chapters give us much to think about.

Day 4

The name Malachi means “my messenger.” As you study Malachi’s message to Israel, what messages do you find for your life? How do Malachi’s words relate to our day?

Malachi 3:8-12 – Paying tithing opens the windows of heaven.

This topic fits right in with the Lord’s statement to Israel that if they would return to Him, He would return to them. The Lord tells the people through Malachi that if they will pay one tenth of their increase that He will open the windows of heaven and pour them out so many blessings they won’t be able to receive them all. He follows that promise with the promise that all other nations will look at them and call them blessed.

The concept of tithing is simple. You give one tenth of your increase to God for the welfare of His kingdom, which includes the poor and the needy. In return He will bless you in all the ways that mean the most to your soul. Some blessings may be financial, but most will probably be spiritual, social, and emotional. Like all God’s commandments, this is not a physical one. Even though it requires physical payments, the important part of this commandment is the faith required to live it. People don’t hand over their hard earned wealth if they don’t believe it will be in their best interests. In the exercise of faith that God will fulfill His promises, the people demonstrate that His attention, His promises, and His blessings are appreciated and wanted in the lives of His people. You might say this is a very synergistic commandment that comes with attendant blessings. The blessings are often swift and subtle, but they are always there. I think this is what makes this such a basic commandment.

Obeying the law of tithing may be a struggle in the beginning. And even after you have paid your tithing a few times, you may have difficulty putting your finger on what it is that has changed, but if you are watching for the Lord’s promised blessings to come, you will begin to see that your life is so much better for having paid your tithing. After years of paying a faithful tithe, it may be difficult to imagine why anyone would want to forgo the blessings you have received in their lives just to be able to use that other 10%. No percentage of income can match the blessings the Lord pours out on His faithful Saints.

FHE/Personal Study

Malachi 1:2 – “Wherein hast [the Lord] loved us?”

This lesson is scheduled for the week before Christmas, 2022. With that thought in mind, let’s look at this topic in regards to where we stand with our own sense of gratitude for what God has given us.

Sometimes it is difficult to count our blessings, for when we are surrounded by blessings, that is “normal” and we tend to become blind to how fortunate we really are. Here is an exercise I periodically engage in that helps me see past my current blessings so I can turn around and see them in “hind sight” for what they really are. Think of a time when you or someone you love has been really sick. Now think of the medicine or treatment that helped them get well. How old is that medicine or treatment? I used to get strep throat multiple times a year when I was young. Penicillin was the only thing that stood between my health and my death or my weak constitution for life. Strep can be dangerous, especially when left unchecked. Just a hundred years ago aspirin hadn’t even been invented yet, let alone wonder drugs like penicillin.

If you read stories of people who lived in Europe, for example, back in the 17 or 1800s, just catching a cold could mean the difference between life and death. Surviving something like pneumonia was considered a major recovery from a life threatening illness, and it often broke the health of the person who recovered from it. Today, such illnesses are assumed to be beatable with our modern medicines and treatments. We are concerned about those who fall ill, but the assumption is just naturally that it isn’t life threatening, because surely our medicines and treatments can cure it. When someone does die from an illness we assumed wasn’t that much of a threat any longer, we are shocked and dismayed, for we are taken by surprise.

The idea of this exercise is to help me or you gain a better appreciation for all that God has given us in these latter days. His spirit really has been poured out upon the nations of the earth, and we have received so many blessings that make our lives so much easier and have opened the door for so many of us to have opportunities in this life that many would never experience just a hundred years ago.

Since we are in the Christmas season, consider this – have  you taken the time to ponder and consider how God has loved you? What if one or more of your privileges or blessings were to be removed? How would your life fare without work, a home to live in, even if it is a rental, or without transportation? How much more difficult would your life be? If you have food to eat, a place to shelter from the winter storms, a dry bed to sleep in, isn’t that cause for being grateful to the Lord for His bounteous blessings? All of these things can be taken away in the blink of an eye. All it takes is a disaster, an emergency, ill health, or a political crisis. Life, and all its comforts are fleeting. What we have today is a blessing, even if it isn’t as much as we would like it to be. Are we being properly grateful to our Father in Heaven for what we do have?

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the article.

OT51-2022 – I Have Loved You Saith the Lord

Week 51