Malachi (436-416 BC) is the last of the prophets before a long silence of above four hundred years would fall upon mankind. The name Malachi means "my messenger". His prophecy was about one hundred years after Haggai's and Zechariah's prophecies. This hundred years was long enough for a rapid decline in the religion and morals of the people. Witchcraft, fraud, perjury, adultery, and oppression were existing moral sins; profanity and sacrilege characterized their religious attitude. Social conditions were highlighted by a disregard of family responsibilities. Their "robbing God" reflects the materialism of the times. The skepticism and formalism of Malachi's day is reflected in the Pharisees and Sadducees of Christ's day.
The sins of the nation are catalogued. They were so deeply rooted in Malachi's time that it produced the conditions that ended in the crucifixion of Christ. He spoke clearly of the coming Messiah, after alluding to Moses, the representative of the law, and to Elijah, the representative of the prophets. The prophecy concerning the coming of Christ states that Elijah must come again (in the personage of John the Baptist (4:5,6) before the Messiah is made known to the world.
"Will a man rob God?" (3:8) was a pointed question intimating that the Jews had robbed God of the rightful worship He so deserved, especially in their tithes and offerings. The last word of the book is the sobering word "curse." The Jew came to an end (of their scriptures) with that fearful word ringing in the ear.
The New Testament begins where the Old Testament ends, for we see that without the New, the Old tells of a beginning without an ending, hundreds of promises and prophecies without lasting fulfillment, and begins with a blessing, but ends with a curse. Beyond the silence of over four hundred years, we can know that God's silence is broken. He speaks to us still through His Son (Heb. 1:1).
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