Malachi 1–4

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 215–17


Introduction

The name Malachi means “my messenger,” an appropriate name for a prophet. Malachi prophesied to Judah after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and may have been a contemporary of Nehemiah. His book was written about four hundred years before the birth of Christ (see Bible Dictionary, “Malachi,” p. 728; introduction to Malachi and commentary for Malachi 1:1 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 351).

Malachi rebuked the people for their lack of faith in the Lord’s promises. He taught about the restoration of priesthood sealing power, marriage and divorce, and tithes and offerings. He also prophesied concerning a messenger who would precede the Second Coming of the Savior. Much of the book of Malachi applies to the latter days. Look for those prophecies as you study this book.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

scripture mastery icon Malachi 3 (Scripture Mastery, Malachi 3:8–10). If we pay our tithes and offerings, the Lord will bless us both spiritually and temporally. (20–30 minutes)

Show students a newspaper article about a robbery or theft. Ask them if they have ever had anything stolen from them and how they felt. Ask: What do you think it would be like to live in a society where there was no crime? Tell students that Malachi spoke of such a time. Read Malachi 3:1–6 and 4:1–2 with them and ask what will happen at the Second Coming that will cause crime to cease.

Refer to the news article about a theft again and ask students:

  • How would you feel if this article were about you and you had been caught stealing?

  • How would your parents feel?

  • How would you feel if what you had stolen was from God?

  • How is it possible for a person to steal from God?

Read Malachi 3:8–9 and ask students why failing to pay tithing and offerings is like robbing God (see the commentary for Malachi 3:7–9 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 353–54). Read Doctrine and Covenants 64:23–24 and discuss why paying tithing is such an important commandment. Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“Tithe paying is evidence that we accept the law of sacrifice. It also prepares us for the law of consecration and the other higher laws of the celestial kingdom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 45; or Ensign, May 1994, 34).

Ask students:

  • In addition to tithing, what other way did Malachi say the people of Judah were robbing God? (In paying offerings; see Malachi 3:8.)

  • What offerings are we asked to give to the Lord in our day?

Show students a donation receipt and discuss how fast offerings and missionary funds are used. (Fast offerings are used to assist the poor, missionary funds help missionaries from around the world who would not otherwise be able to serve missions, and humanitarian donations help with other welfare needs around the world.)

Have students read Malachi 3:10–12 and tell what the Lord promised to those who are honest in paying their tithes and offerings. Share the following statement by Elder

Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“One is blessed temporally for obedience to the law of tithing. But the greatest blessings of the Lord are, after all, spiritual in nature. Perhaps that is the deeper meaning to the expression, ‘I will open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Malachi 3:10). The late Elder Melvin J. Ballard, an Apostle, said that ‘the Lord has promised that the man and woman who pay their honest tithing shall be provided for, [but] He doesn’t promise to make them rich, not in material things. The greatest blessings of the Lord are spiritual, and not material.’ (Crusader for Righteousness, p. 124)” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 472–73).

Have students cross-reference Malachi 3:8–10 with Doctrine and Covenants 64:23. Discuss what additional blessing the Lord promised to those who pay an honest tithing. (They will not be burned at His coming.)

weekly icon Malachi 1–4. If we are prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we need not be afraid. (25–45 minutes)

Tell students to imagine it is their first day in a class at school. The teacher explains the various assignments that will determine their final grade but does not say when any of those assignments will be due. The teacher just says that the work will be due sometime during the semester. Ample time will be given to complete all of the assignments. But one day, unannounced, the teacher will call for the entire semester’s work. Those students who have them in class that day, completed, will pass the class and be given their final grade. Those who are missing any of the assignments will fail the class.

Ask students the following questions:

  • When would you begin to work on the assignments?

  • Would you put them off until the end of the semester?

  • If you had them all completed, how would you feel as you went to class each day?

  • How would you feel if you were not ready?

  • When a teacher gives a due date for a major paper or assignment, when do you usually work on it?

  • Why do some people tend to procrastinate or put off doing homework until the last moment?

Have students read Matthew 24:36–42, and ask:

  • How are those verses similar to the situation just presented?

  • Why do you think the Lord will not tell us exactly when He is coming?

  • What does He want us to be doing every day?

Christ at Second Coming

If you have not already used the teaching suggestion for Zechariah 12–14 (p. 214), this would be a good place to use it. Otherwise, review with students events leading up to the Second Coming. Once the students have an understanding for the great destructions prophesied for the last days, have them turn to Malachi 3:2 and answer the question asked there:

“Who may abide the day of his coming?”

Have students read Malachi 3–4 and look for answers to the following questions:

  • What did Malachi tell us we should do to prepare for the Second Coming?

  • What did he warn us not to do that would leave us unprepared?

Discuss students’ answers. Use the information in the commentaries for Malachi 3–4 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 352–56) to help your students understand what they are reading.

Read Malachi 4:5 as a class. Ask students:

  • What do you think the Lord meant when He called the Second Coming a “great and dreadful day”?

  • Should we be fearful of the Second Coming? (see D&C 38:30).

Encourage students to think of one thing they could do to better prepare for the Second Coming and to begin working on that part of their lives.

scripture mastery icon Malachi 4:5–6 (Scripture Mastery). The Lord promised to send Elijah before the Second Coming, to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” (15–20 minutes)

Ask students to turn to the Old Testament scripture mastery reference that tells us what Heavenly Father’s “work” is (Moses 1:39). After reading that verse, tell students that the prophet Malachi taught about what God did to make sure His work turned out right.

Read Malachi 4:5–6 with your students and ask them who Elijah is (see Bible Dictionary, “Elijah,” p. 664). Note that those verses are also found in other standard works of the Church (see 3 Nephi 25:5–6; D&C 2; Joseph Smith—History 1:36–39). Use the commentary for Malachi 4:5–6 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi (pp. 355–56) to help in a discussion of the following questions:

  • Why was Elijah to be sent rather than some other prophet? (According to President Joseph Fielding Smith: “Elijah was the last of the prophets in ancient Israel who held the fulness of the priesthood, that is to say, the last of the prophets clothed with the fulness of the sealing power. The prophets who came after him did not hold this fulness” [Doctrines of Salvation, 3:151]).

  • What was Elijah to bring? (see also D&C 110:13–16).

  • What does it mean to “turn the heart of the children to their fathers”?

  • What would happen if Elijah were not sent? (see also D&C 2:2–3; 128:15, 17–18; Joseph Smith—History 1:39).

  • Are we still waiting for Elijah to come, or has he come already? (see D&C 110:13).

Share your testimony that the sealing power the Lord promised to send by the hand of Elijah has been restored. Encourage students to strive to be worthy of a temple recommend and to take every opportunity available to become “saviors on Mount Zion” (see Obadiah 1:21) by doing family history work and going to the temple.