Malachi bridges the gap between the Old and New Testaments, and gives us an insight into the future of Israel.
Read: Malachi 3: 16-18 and 4: 5-6
And so we come to my final reflection on the minor prophets.
Zechariah and Malachi have both encouraged the people of Israel. They have reminded them that however bad things may seem, God has not given up on his chosen people, and there will always be a small number, a remnant, who will faithfully continue to worship God and live his way. Micah tells them that God has not forgotten his promise to come in person and sort things out once and for all, and to watch out for the return of the prophet Elijah, who will come announcing the imminent arrival of the Messiah.
And so they watch and wait as history happens.
Around 400 years come and go. Israel becomes a minor territory in a succession of powerful Empires. The Persians are conquered by the Greeks, under Alexander the Great. After his death his Empire is divided up between his generals, and first Ptolemy, followed by Seleucis founded dynasties that included the territory formerly known as Israel.
The Seleucid King Antiochus IV, begins to try to systematically destroy Judaism. He burned the scriptures, banned circumcision and Temple worship of Yahweh, and, in 167 BC sets up an altar to Zeus in the Temple and sacrifices a pig…an unclean animal to the Jews. This is a bridge too far, and sparks a Jewish rebellion, led by the Maccabee family, who succeed in ousting the Seleucids and led to a period of Jewish independence that lasted about 100 years, under the Hasmonaean dynasty.
Just when everything was looking great, the great wave that was becoming the Roman Empire rolled in. In 63 BC, the Roman general Pompey besieged Jerusalem. He overthrew the defenders, massacred the Temple priests and marched into the Holy of Holies itself. Judaea became part of the Roman province of Syria.
Then Herod, an Idumean from south of Judaea, took control of Jerusalem, with support from the Romans, and became king. He nominally converted to Judaism and built a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem as well as a temple for Emperor worship in Samaria. All this comes at a cost, and so the people were oppressed and heavily taxed.
Still ruled by a pagan Empire, people continue to watch and wait for the Messiah, and look eagerly for the return of Elijah to prepare hearts and minds for his coming.
Then, a few years after King Herod’s death in 4 BC, in round about 30 AD, something happened…
“In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,  “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. ”  The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’” Matthew 3:1-3 NLT
Creation held its breath. The stage was set.
Waiting is tough, especially when we’re carrying a vision or a promise that we believe God has given us, and we’re impatient to see it happen. In the end, it comes down to how much we trust God to do what he says he’ll do. Can we take the long view…maybe we’re called to carry that vision, that hope, that promise, but not see it fulfilled in our own lifetime. Ask God to teach you how to faithfully carry what he’s given you and to pass it on so that hope is kept alive.