Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, named after its author, presumably the last prophet of the Old Testament. The name Malachi means “my messenger,” and it is unclear whether this was the actual name of the prophet or simply a title.
After the walls of Jerusalem were successfully rebuilt, Nehemiah returned to Persia in 433 bc to resume his job as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. Failing to see the power and majesty that past prophets (including Haggai and Zechariah most recently) had foretold, many in Jerusalem began to doubt God’s love and lose hope. The priests became corrupt and the Jews fell back into their old habits of ignoring the Sabbath, withholding tithes, dishonoring marriage, and withholding help for the poor. Malachi spoke out against these problems, and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem as governor once again to address it. Malachi warns that the Lord will return as a judge for “all the arrogant and every evildoer” (Malachi 4:1), but for those who faithfully trust, “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2). Malachi concludes with a final reminder of the law of Moses, but foretells the next prophet, John the Baptist, referring to him as “Elijah the prophet” (Malachi 4:5), who prepares the way for the coming Messiah over 400 years later.