Malachi means "messenger of Yah (God)". He prophesied
at the time of Nehemiah, after the Jewish exile in Babylon.
He was the last of God's prophets in the Old Testament. After
his days "the sun went down on the prophets" for
about 400 years - until the time of Jesus (see Micah 3:6).
Malachi was told to remind Israel that God had been good
to them. There had been a short period when the people had
turned to God, under Nehemiah's leadership, but both people
and priests had become half-hearted in their worship. They
had failed. Now their punishment was to come and God would
get a response from the Gentiles.
Phinehas (Numb. 25:11-13) had been a faithful priest and
God had made a sure promise to him and to those like him (Mal.2:5-7),
but a greater priest was to come - the Lord Jesus Christ,
"the messenger of the covenant". Chapter 3 of Malachi
foretells his coming in judgement - or blessing - depending
how he is received. He was to be preceded by a forerunner
who was to "prepare the way of the Lord" (3:1).
John the Baptist was this forerunner of Jesus, preparing Israel
for the Saviour (Matt. 11:10)
Both Jews and Gentiles can share in the covenant (promise)
through faith in Jesus. Those who now remember the Lord and
think upon His name will be remembered when Jesus returns.
They will be God's special treasure (3:19) and be rulers of
the world in the age to come (4:2-3).