Lesson 158: Malachi 1–2
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“Lesson 158: Malachi 1–2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 158,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 158

Malachi 1–2


Through the prophet Malachi, the Lord rebuked the Israelites for offering lame, blind, or maimed animals for their sacrifices. The Lord also reproved the priests for setting a poor example that caused many people to stumble.

Suggestions for Teaching

Malachi 1

The Lord rebukes the Israelites for offering polluted sacrifices

Before class, gift wrap something old, worn out, or broken. To begin the lesson, ask the class:

  • What is the nicest gift you have ever given to someone else? What did you hope to communicate to that person when you gave him or her the gift?

Invite a student to come to the front of the class and open the gift. Then ask the student:

  • How might you feel if you gave someone a very nice gift and you received this in return? Why might you feel that way?

Ask the student to return to his or her seat. Explain that Malachi 1 records what the Lord said to the Israelites about the gifts or offerings they presented to Him. Invite students as they study this chapter to think about the quality of the gifts or offerings they present to the Lord.

Introduce the book of Malachi by explaining that Malachi ministered among the children of Israel at a time when many of them were in apostasy—meaning they had turned away from the Lord. (You may want to invite students to locate “Malachi” on the chart titled “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” [see lesson 102].) Point out that Malachi was the last prophet we know of to minister in the land of Israel until John the Baptist began to preach more than 400 years later.

Invite a student to read Malachi 1:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He felt for His people.

  • What did the Lord say He felt for His people, who were the descendants of Jacob?

Summarize Malachi 1:3–5 by explaining that the Lord pointed out that the children of Israel had been blessed above other nations.

Invite a student to read Malachi 1:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Israelites had treated the Lord.

  • How had the Israelites treated the Lord? (They had dishonored Him and despised His name.)

  • According to verse 7, what had the priests done to dishonor the Lord?

Invite a student to read Malachi 1:8, 13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the condition of the animals the Israelites were presenting as sacrifices to the Lord. As the verses are read, invite a student to draw four lambs on the board representing the animals described in Malachi 1:8, 13. The pictures can be simple and should include a blind lamb, a lame lamb (it could be drawn with only three legs), a sick lamb, and a torn or wounded lamb.

To help the students understand how the Israelites dishonored the Lord through their sacrifices, you may want to suggest that they write Leviticus 22:21–23 in the margin of their scriptures near Malachi 1:8. Invite a student to read Leviticus 22:21–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the kinds of animal sacrifices the Lord said He would not accept from the Israelites.

  • What kinds of animal sacrifices did the Lord say He would not accept?

  • Why do you think the Lord only accepted animal sacrifices that were perfect and without blemish? (If needed, remind students that the animals that were sacrificed represented Jesus Christ, who was perfect [see Moses 5:6–7; Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19].)

Invite a student to read Malachi 1:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said to those who had healthy animals they could have sacrificed but who offered sick and wounded animals instead.

  • What did the Lord say to those who offered sick and wounded animals instead of healthy animals?

  • As you think about the Israelites who tried to deceive the Lord, what principle can you learn about what we can do to honor and please the Lord? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: We honor and please the Lord when we give our best to Him. Consider writing this principle on the board.)

  • What are some opportunities a young person may have to give his or her best to the Lord? (Write students’ answers on the board under the principle. Some examples might include preparing a sacrament meeting talk, engaging in personal scripture study, paying tithing, fulfilling callings, pursuing an education, fasting, giving missionary service, and participating in seminary.)

Explain that sometimes giving our best to the Lord includes the amount of effort, willingness, or quality we put into something. Refer to the list of opportunities students may have to give their best to the Lord.

  • How might a person offer less than their best to the Lord in these activities? On the other hand, how might a person offer their best?

Invite students to write their answers to the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals:

  • When have you felt that you gave your best to the Lord?

  • How did you feel knowing you gave your best to Him?

After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their experiences. Then encourage students to write a goal regarding how they will give their best to the Lord.

Malachi 2:1–17

The priests are reproved for not keeping their covenants and for setting a poor example

Invite students to think of someone they know who has gone against what he or she knows to be right.

  • What are some problems that may result from choosing to go against what we know to be right?

Invite students as they study Malachi 2 to look for what can happen if we choose to go against what we know to be right.

Summarize Malachi 2:1–3 by explaining that Malachi addressed the priests of his day, who were responsible for providing righteous examples to the people. He warned that if they did not hear and apply the Lord’s direction, they would bring curses instead of blessings upon themselves.

Divide students into pairs and invite them to study Malachi 2:4–7, looking for what the Lord said He expected of the priests. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find. (You may want to remind students that the priests in ancient Israel came from the tribe of Levi.)

  • What did the Lord expect of the priests?

You may want to remind students that to fear the Lord means to honor and respect Him. The phrase “the law of truth is in his mouth” in verse 6 means that the Lord expected the priests to be honest.

  • What types of behavior do you think are expected of someone who is a “messenger of the Lord”? (Malachi 2:7).

  • What might it mean that “iniquity was not found in his lips”? (Malachi 2:6).

  • In what ways can those who are called to represent the Lord “turn many away from their iniquity”? (Malachi 2:6).

Explain that the priests in Malachi’s day failed to fulfill their responsibilities. Invite a student to read Malachi 2:8–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the consequences of the priests’ poor examples to the people. (You may want to explain that the words contemptible and base in verse 9 indicate that the priests were disgraceful and not respected by the people.)

  • According to verse 8, how did the priests’ poor examples influence the people?

  • Based on what the Lord taught the priests of Malachi’s day, what can we learn about how our actions can influence others? (Although students may use different words, be sure they identify a principle similar to the following: If we do not follow the Lord’s ways, then we may cause others to stumble.)

  • What are some examples of how we can cause others to stumble if we do not follow the Lord’s ways?

Point out that we can also have a positive influence on others if we choose to follow the Lord’s ways.

Invite students to ponder the effects of their influence on others. Ask them to think of some ways they might better follow the Lord’s ways so they can influence others positively rather than negatively. Ask students to strive to do those things and to set a righteous example throughout the day.

Summarize Malachi 2:11–17 by explaining that the Lord chastised the Israelites for breaking their covenant with Him, marrying unbelievers, dealing treacherously with their wives, and claiming that those who do evil are “good in the sight of the Lord” (Malachi 2:17).

You may want to conclude by reviewing the principles students identified in this lesson and sharing your testimony of their truthfulness. Encourage students to give the Lord their best and to set a righteous example for others.

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Scripture Mastery Review

Consider giving students a final scripture mastery test. You might encourage them to study at home or give them time to study immediately before the test. The following are examples of types of tests you could use (you may adapt these ideas to your situation):

Reference test:

Give students clues about each scripture mastery passage, such as key words, a doctrine or principle, or a summary of the passage’s meaning. Invite students to write the corresponding scripture mastery references on a piece of paper.

Doctrine test:

List the Basic Doctrines and scripture mastery passages on the board. Ask students to write the Basic Doctrines on a piece of paper and then write corresponding scripture mastery references under each doctrine.

Memorization test:

Invite students to use memorized words and principles from the scripture mastery passages to explain some of the Basic Doctrines. Ask them to write their explanations on a piece of paper or present them to the class.

Remember to commend your students for their efforts to master key scripture passages and basic doctrines. Testify of the spiritual power and testimony we can receive as we master scripture passages and doctrines.

Commentary and Background Information

Malachi 1:1. “The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi”

The book of Malachi is a book of chastening. Elder D. Todd Christofferson made this statement about the Lord’s corrections:

“I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we are to meet our Heavenly Father’s high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction. Correction is vital if we would conform our lives ‘unto a perfect man, [that is,] unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13). Paul said of divine correction or chastening, ‘For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth’ (Hebrews 12:6). Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct” (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign, May 2011, 97–98).

Malachi 1:3. “I hated Esau”

“The word hated in Hebrew means to be loved less than someone else, not to be disliked with bitter hostility (compare Genesis 29:31). Esau was the brother of Jacob, who became Israel, father of the twelve tribes. Students of the scriptures know that the Lord hates the sin rather than the sinner, but when people array themselves against the Lord as Esau and his descendants, the Edomites, had done for centuries, the Lord withdraws His blessings. In this sense, Jacob was loved and Esau hated. …

“Jacob stood as a symbol for Israel or the chosen people while Esau (Edom) symbolized the world. This gives the Lord’s statement much broader meaning” (Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 351).

Malachi 2:8. “Ye have caused many to stumble at the law”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, addressing a general priesthood body, gave this counsel in regard to giving righteous priesthood service:

“When we live up to our high and holy calling, when we show love for God through service to fellowmen, when we use our strength and talents to build faith and spread truth, we magnify our priesthood. When, on the other hand, we live lives of selfishness, when we indulge in sin, when we set our sights only on the things of the world rather than on the things of God, we diminish our priesthood. …

“… Each of us is responsible for the welfare and the growth and development of others. We do not live only unto ourselves. If we are to magnify our callings, we cannot live only unto ourselves. As we serve with diligence, as we teach with faith and testimony, as we lift and strengthen and build convictions of righteousness in those whose lives we touch, we magnify our priesthood. To live only unto ourselves, on the other hand, to serve grudgingly, to give less than our best effort to our duty, diminishes our priesthood just as looking through the wrong lenses of binoculars reduces the image and makes more distant the object” (“Magnify Your Calling,” Ensign, May 1989, 47).

Malachi 2:15. “Let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth”

President Spencer W. Kimball emphasized the importance of being faithful to one’s spouse:

“There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband. The Lord says in no uncertain terms: ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.’ (D&C 42:22.)

“And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: ‘Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

“The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse” (Faith Precedes the Miracle [1972], 142–43).