In our renewed purpose for the blog, we seek to show how the Scriptures call people to join the mission of God through the biblical story. If you want to know why we’re doing this, then check out this video and take the challenge. Achieving this goal requires showing how individual texts are connected to the larger biblical narrative. As we relaunch the blog, we will first work through the book of Malachi. Why begin there?
- It’s short
- Its use of the Old Testament
- Its influence on the New Testament
- It’s practical
Malachi serves as a good starting point because it’s short. We’re reasonable people. We could have started with something like the sixty-six chapters of Isaiah or the thirty-four chapters of Deuteronomy, slogging our way through their relationship to the biblical narrative in both Old and New Testaments. And we will. But that’s a huge task. As we begin this journey, it’s better to start with something a bit more manageable. It allows us to get through an entire book quickly and allows you to see the impact reading the Bible as story can have on smaller, “minor” texts. Reading the Bible as story is for every text not just the big ones or the ones we know well. But don’t worry, Malachi’s three chapters (in your English Bible) provide no shortage of connections to the biblical narrative.
Its Use of the Old Testament
Malachi serves as a good starting place because Malachi stands at a crucial point within the biblical narrative. Malachi is the final prophet in the Hebrew Scriptures and the final book in the Christian Scriptures. As such, Malachi is written at a time in which God has begun to fulfill his promises to Israel as many have returned from exile in Babylon and they have rebuilt the temple. Yet something seems amiss. God doesn’t appear to be doing all that he promised, and the people seem to be losing hope that he will ever do what he said. So Malachi looks back to the Old Testament that has already been written, especially in the Law and the Prophets, to remind Israel of God’s purpose for them, that God has been faithful to this purpose, and he will continue to fulfill his promises to them. Malachi connects the people of God to the story of Scripture so that they might respond faithfully to their God. He uses the story of Scripture to call them to mission.
Its Influence on the New Testament
Malachi also looks forward to God’s faithfulness in the future, and the New Testament picks up on this. Each of the four Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, the General Epistles, and Revelation cite allude to, and echo the language of Malachi to help understand who Jesus is and the mission to which the church has been called. In other words, a good portion of the New Testament uses these few short chapters of Malachi to show how God is fulfilling his purposes and promises in Jesus and his church. Since Malachi stands at this juncture between Old and New Testaments, the book of Malachi serves as a great example of how the Bible fits together as a story, and how individual texts draw upon different aspects of that story in order to call us to, equip us for, and encourage us in the mission of God.
In the book of Malachi we get to listen in on a conversation between Yahweh and Israel, his chosen people. Their conversation begins with Yahweh declaring, “I have loved you.” But because of their current circumstances, Israel struggles to believe that Yahweh truly loves them. So they respond honestly and perhaps hopefully, “How have you loved us?” In many ways, the rest of the book of Malachi is about God answering his people’s question. If you have ever been in a situation where you questioned God’s love for you, or you have sat down with someone who has questioned God’s love for them, then Malachi is a powerful reminder of God’s love for his people, his love for us, his love for you.
So we begin with Malachi. We hope you’ll join us as we work through this magnificent text.