The last recorded Old Testament prophet was Malachi. Little is known about the prophet. He lived after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and is believed to have been a contemporary of Nehemiah. The Book of Malachi was written about 400 years before the birth of Christ.
In Malachi 1 it says that the Lord “hated” Esau. Hate is not an attribute of God. Esau’s descendants were enemies to the Jews, however, and there is a daunting prophecy in Obadiah 1:18: “And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.”
The descendants of Esau became known as the Edomites, or the Idumeans. The Lord used Edom (as well as Bablyon and Egypt) to symbolize worldliness, and Jacob to symbolize Godliness. As we move toward a study of the New Testament, it it important to know something about the Idumeans, because Herod the Great was one. He was a “convert” to the religion of the Jews. He never lived according to the ethical standards of the Law of Moses (committing adultery, theft, and murder repeatedly) but made an outward show. The Jews of the Holy Land hated him, but the Jews in the diaspora approved of him (as did the Romans). This, because he always sought for their fair treatment, and pushed for policies that brought them equal recognition and regard for their traditions.
In Malachi’s time, the Jews were also corrupt. The priests and Levites of Malachi’s day were mocking God by offering sacrifices to the Lord with sick, blind, and lame animals and calling them acceptable ( v. 8 ). They had no reverence for what they were doing. Malachi discussed the bearers of the priesthood and their standards. The men of Judea were seeking excuses to commit adultery, but the priests failed to call them to repentance.
Malachi 3 discusses Elias. Elias is both a person and a calling. An “elias” is a forerunner, a person who prepares the way for someone else. “The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world.” ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 335–36.) Thus, John the Baptist was the consummate Elias, being the chosen forerunner of Jesus Christ.
There will be visits from Jesus Christ before His great Second Coming, including his appearance on the Mt. of Olives to save the Jews from their enemies. Another will be a sacramental gathering in Missouri wherein Adam turns the keys of every dispensation over to Christ, in order to bring the kingdom of God to earth, and another will be when Christ visits the temple in New Jerusalem on the American continent: “Malachi recorded the promise, speaking of latter-day events, that ‘ The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly (quickly) come to his temple.’ ( Mal. 3:1 .)
Malachi 3 also talks about the Second Coming. Who shall abide it?
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “When Christ comes the second time it will be in the clouds of heaven, and it shall be the day of vengeance against the ungodly, when those who have loved wickedness and have been guilty of transgression and rebellion against the laws of God will be destroyed. All during the ministry of Christ wickedness ruled and seemed to prevail, but when he comes in the clouds of glory as it is declared in this message of Malachi to the world, and which was said by Moroni to be near at hand, then Christ will appear as the refiner and purifier of both man and beast and all that pertains to this earth, for the earth itself shall undergo a change and receive its former paradisiacal glory.” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 3:11.)
The coming sacrifice made by the Sons of Aaron in the brief time prior to the coming of God, may well be part of the “restoration of all things,” a restoration of animal sacrifice to bring everything full circle. Once made in righteousness, it will be again fulfilled and done away with.
Malachi 3 also speaks of tithes and offerings. Everything we have comes from God. Should He withdraw His support, we would lose all and die. Yet, we fail to give Him back the pittance He requests in order to build up His kingdom on the earth. As was required of Abraham, the Lord still requires ten percent of our increase, an honest tithe. By withholding such, we are robbing Him. For paying tithing, the Lord has promised to “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” ( v. 10 ).
Malachi 3:16-18 speaks of the Lord’s Book of Remembrance. The righteous will have their names written in the Lord’s Book of Life. They are those who will inherit eternal life, for this book contains “the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world” ( Doctrine and Covenants 88:2 ). Those whose names are written there and who afterward return to sinful ways will have their names blotted from the book (see Revelation 13:8 ; 17:8 ; 22:19 ).
Similar records have been kept by the saints in all ages. ( Malachi 3:16–17 ; 3 Nephi 24:15–16 .) Many of our present scriptures have come down to us because they were first written by prophets who were following Adam’s pattern of keeping a book of remembrance. The Church keeps similar records today ( Doctrine and Covenants 85 ) and urges its members to keep their own personal and family books of remembrance.” ( Mormon Doctrine, p. 100.)
Malachi 4 says the wicked will be burned at the time Christ comes, for they will not be able to abide His glory. And then Malachi foretells the return of Elijah the Prophet, who would come to restore the sealing power to the earth. This sealing power has the ability to seal in heaven what is sealed on the earth. It is the power that enables family members to be sealed to each other for eternity through sacred temple covenants. The Jews set a chair for Elijah in their synagogues and a place for him at their Passover meals. During the Passover ritual, they stand to greet him and open the door for him. They believe that the Messiah will come so quickly after Elijah’s arrival, that it will be as if Messiah has hold of Elijah’s cloak.
The “angel Moroni,” the resurrected Book of Mormon prophet, the last survivor of a destroyed people, appeared to Joseph Smith and recited Malachi over and over, telling Joseph the prophecy is now fulfilled. Section 110 of the Doctrine and Covenants tells of Elijah’s appearance to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in the Kirtland Temple. Elijah passed on the keys of the sealing power to Joseph, so that the earth would not be wasted at the Second Coming. The sealing power is the priesthood power to seal in heaven what has been sealed on earth. Elijah used it to seal the heavens so that it did not rain in the Holy Land for three years. It is the same power and authority used to seal a husband and wife in marriage for their time on earth and for eternity in heaven. This power also seals children to their parents for eternity, and seals worthy individuals as part of God’s eternal family.
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen (Mosiah 5:15).