Introduction: As we close our series of lessons on the “Minor
Prophets” of the Old Testament, we study Malachi. Malachi sounds a
familiar tone among the minor prophets: pay attention to your
relationship with God. Perhaps because of the wonderful message that
we should look at God as our father, some treat God as they do their
earthly father – with disrespect and indifference. Let’s jump into
our study of Malachi and find what God has to say about that!

  1. Excellence in Worship

    1. Read Malachi 1:1-2. What do the people think about God’s
      love toward them? (They doubt it.)

    2. Read Malachi 1:2-5. How does God explain His love to His
      people? (People who God does not love are having a
      terrible time.)

      1. Is this how you would go about proving your love?
        Your child says, “You don’t love me,” and you
        respond, “Look what happens to those I don’t like.”
        Does God’s response make any sense? (It is always
        dangerous for a small human mind to try to explain
        the infinite mind of God, but the topic that follows
        is disobedience. A reminder of God’s judgment side is
        a good way to introduce the topic of disobedience.)

    3. Read Malachi 1:6. Why is God due our respect and honor?
      (This is a horrible understatement about why we should
      respect and honor our Creator and Savior, but on a very
      basic level God says that if you show respect to humans in
      positions of authority, why am I not due respect?)

    4. Read Malachi 1:7-11. How is God being disrespected? (In
      the animal offerings brought to Him in the temple. The
      animals are defective.)

    5. Read Malachi 1:12-14. In numerous places (e.g., Exodus
      12:5)in the Old Testament God instructs the people that
      animals offered as a sacrifice in the temple must be
      “without defect.” What is the reason for that? (It
      foreshadowed Jesus, God incarnate, the sinless One, giving
      up His life so that we would not have to die for our

      1. The people of Malachi’s time say this is a “burden.”
        What kind of an attitude do these people show? (An
        attitude of unbelief, ingratitude and selfishness.)

      2. Look again at Malachi 1:14. What would motivate this
        kind of conduct? (Selfishness. You want to look good
        to others (the vow), but you don’t want to pay the

    6. This is all about the temple service which is completely
      irrelevant to us today, right?

      1. What if you agree (vow) to be the Sabbath School
        teacher and then you only give a few minutes to
        prepare to teach because you decide to spend your
        time on other things?

      2. What if you agree (vow) to preach, so people will see
        you up front, but then you prepare at the last
        minute, or fail to practice, because you want to
        spend time on your own needs?

      3. What if you stand before the church to play some role
        in the service, and you do a lousy (or average) job
        because you have not spent adequate time preparing?

      4. What does it mean today to bring an offering before
        the Lord that is “without defect?” (It means that we
        must make excellence our goal.)

    7. Read Malachi 2:1-3. Is there a penalty for being satisfied
      with something less than excellence? (This helps us
      understand why God starts out this message with an unusual
      way to describe His love.)

      1. Should we say, “Well, if God is going to be like
        that, I just won’t volunteer to help!” (If you are
        not going to make excellence your goal, if you are
        willing to bring a defective offering to worship,
        then, yes, you should quit. The goal, however, is
        not to quit, but to repent and pursue excellence.)

  2. Excellence in Family

    1. Read Malachi 2:13. If you cry out to God with tears and
      wailing, does that mean you are sincere?

    2. Read Malachi 2:14. What does it mean that God is a witness
      between you and your wife? (God is testifying that you
      have violated His law and made Him unhappy because of the
      way you have treated your spouse.)

    3. Read Malachi 2:15. We see that thousands of years ago men
      were doing what they do today: leaving the wife of their
      youth for a younger woman. What attitude will help men
      resist this temptation?(God says that He made us “one” in
      flesh and spirit. You and your spouse are a “team.” I
      understand the “spirit” statement because the wife of my
      youth knows what I’m thinking!)

      1. How can a person “guard yourself in your spirit?”
        (Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have a pure mind.)

      2. Why is “one” a continuing goal? (God is “seeking
        godly offspring.”)

        1. Explain that? (Divorce harms children.)

        2. What causes a man to leave the wife of his
          youth? (Selfishness. He prefers himself to his
          wife and his children. He is willing to harm
          those closest to him to advance his own

        3. If you are a young woman considering running
          off with an older married man, what should you
          consider? (That the person you are running off
          with will always put himself first.)

    4. Read Malachi 2:16 and Ezekiel 16:8. How is divorcing your
      wife like covering yourself with violence? (The Biblical
      picture of marriage is like a man covering his wife with a
      garment. He protects her. When, instead, he divorces her
      and leaves her to fend for herself, it does violence to

    5. Review Malachi 2:15-16. Notice that God twice says, “Guard
      yourself in your spirit.” Why?

    6. Read Deuteronomy 24:1 and Matthew 19:3-9. How can the
      Bible have such radically different rules? (I see God’s
      grace in this. We are all terribly selfish and sinful. God
      sometimes bends His rules, even though He hates to do it.)

    7. Read Malachi 2:17. Some Christians claim that those who do
      evil are good, while others beg for justice to fall on the
      wicked. We just read that God tolerates some things that
      He hates. How do we draw the correct line in our
      statements? (In both cases humans are asserting that God
      should do something: tolerate evil or punish the evil. God
      wants us to let Him decide. He doesn’t need our
      encouragement one way or the other.)

  3. The God of Action

    1. Read Malachi 3:1-5. Chapter two ended with people
      asserting that God should do something. Will He? (Yes, God
      is coming. Jesus is coming to His temple. We can have
      confidence that God will do what is right. He will execute

    2. Read Malachi 3:6-8. How are humans robbing God?

    3. Read Malachi 3:9-12. We noted earlier that animal
      sacrifices no longer exist – Jesus, the Lamb of God,
      became the sacrifice for our sins. Is tithing another
      directive that has been overtaken by time and
      circumstance? (Notice that this is a theme of the entire
      book. God’s people are not taking seriously their
      responsibilities to Him. They give Him defective
      sacrifices, they fail to pay their tithe. The specifics
      may have changed for us today, but the concern is the
      same. Do we strive for excellence in worship? Are we
      generous towards God? (Ten percent does not seem
      particularly generous!) We need to consider our attitude.)

      1. What is at stake here? (Look at what God promises!
        If we take His interests seriously, then He will
        bless us. We will live in a delightful land.)

      2. Is there a reason to deny the literal application of
        this promise? If we are generous toward God, will He
        be generous to us?

    4. Read Malachi 3:13-18. How does this answer the prior
      question? (To deny that God will bless His faithful people
      is to say “harsh things against” God!)

      1. Why does verse 18 say, “and you will again see the
        distinction?” (Blessings may not always be immediate
        and obvious. But, they are sure.)

    5. Read Malachi 4:1-3. Compare the fate of those who care
      about God and those who do not?

    6. Read Malachi 4:4-5. How certain can we be of this promise?
      (Read Luke 1:13-17. John the Baptist came! Jesus came!
      And, so did the Romans in 70 A.D. and destroyed the temple
      of God.)

    7. Friend, if you are not pursuing excellence in advancing
      the Kingdom of God, why not resolve to do that right now?
      Why not take God seriously and give Him your best? Why not
      open your door to blessings?

  4. Next week we begin a new series of studies on Revival and