Old Testament Lesson 48 (Zechariah 10-14; Malachi)

ZECHARIAH’S PROPHECIES OF CHRIST

The Branch

● Zechariah spoke of the “Branch” who will be king of Israel (Zechariah 3:8–10; 6:12–15).
— Isaiah also spoke of the Branch from the “stem” (tree) of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1–5).
— The interpretation is given in modern scripture: the Branch is Christ (D&C 113:1–2).

● Jesus explained his relationship to us as the “Branch” (John 15:4–6).

The King of Judah

● Zechariah 3: Joshua was the high priest of the time. But in typical Jewish fashion, Joshua (Hebrew, Yeshua, Greek Hee-ay-sous, English, Jesus) is a type of Jesus Christ, the great high priest (Hebrews 4:14). This chapter is therefore messianic in nature.

● The King of Israel will come riding upon an ass—which symbolized a king coming in peace rather than as a conqueror (Zechariah 9:9).
— Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy (Matthew 21:1–11; John 12:12–16).

● A reference to baptism—a “fountain” by which they will obtain forgiveness (Zechariah 13:1).

● The True Shepherd will be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:10–13).
— Judas bargained for him and charged this price (Matthew 26:15).
— He realized too late what he had done (Matthew 27:3–5).

● The “shepherd who would be smitten” is Jesus Christ (Zechariah 13:7–9).
— The “two parts” of Israel who shall “die [be separated]” from the land (v. 8) are (1) the lost 10 tribes of Israel, and (2) the dispersed of Israel led out of the land by the Lord, like Lehi.
— The “third” part that “shall be left therein” (v. 9) refers to Jews who will be tested “through the fire” and refined.”

● He will free the “prisoners of hope” in the spirit world (Zechariah 9:11–12).

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Zechariah prophesied . . . as part of a longer Messianic utterance . . . of ‘prisoners of hope’; it was of these that he gave assurance that ‘the Lord their God shall save them’ . . . ‘By the blood of the covenant’—that is, because of the gospel covenant, which is efficacious because of the shedding of the blood of Christ ‘I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water’ . . . How aptly and succinctly this crystallizes the thought that the saving water, which is baptism, is an earthly ordinance and cannot be performed by spirit beings while they dwell in the spirit world.”1

● The True Shepherd will gather his flock (Zechariah 10:6–12).

— Elder LeGrand Richards said: “From these scriptures . . . it is evident the Lord had definitely in mind that no matter how Israel would be scattered, He would eventually bring them together again. How could His promises to Abraham be fulfilled without accomplishing this objective. Zechariah called attention to the fact that “Ephraim shall be like a mighty man . . . and I will sow them among the people . . . and they shall remember me in far countries.” This prophecy seems to attach importance to the House of Joseph, and to what their prophets might have to say . . . This implies that Israel will point the way to Judah, and that . . . the Stick of Joseph would perform a great mission in making plain unto Judah many important matters which they hitherto have not understood.”2

● The “living waters” that shall go out of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8) are the waters of the river beheld by Ezekiel (47:1–12) and the fountain that “shall come forth of the house of the Lord” seen by Joel (3:18) and John the Revelator (Rev. 22:1).

● The clause “it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place” could have been translated “Jerusalem shall rise and dwell in her place (Zechariah 14:10).”

MALACHI

Who Was Malachi?

● Malachi was a prophet of the Lord (Malachi 1:1).
— Latter-day revelation identifies him as one of Judah’s great prophets (D&C 138:46). President Joseph F. Smith saw him in vision in the company of many other great men of God.

● Little is known of the life of Malachi, apart from what he said in his book.
— Malachi’s name means “my messenger,” or “my angel,” a shortened form of “the Lord’s messenger.”
— The exact dates of Malachi’s ministry are not known, but it was after the prophets Haggai & Zechariah.
— In his writings, it is clear that the temple had been rebuilt and animal sacrifices were being performed.
— This places his ministry after 515 BC, the year when the temple was dedicated.
— He may have been a contemporary of Nehemiah.
— The abuses he condemned were among those that Ezra and Nehemiah sought to correct.
— Therefore, his ministry would fall before 458 BC, and was probably closer to 500 BC
— According to scholars and traditions, Malachi was the last of the prophets.
— The Talmud says after the death of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.

The Importance of Malachi’s Message

● Lehi and his family left Jerusalem in 600 BC, nearly two hundred years before Malachi. Therefore, they did not have the words of Malachi. The plates of Laban did not contain them.
— The risen Savior quoted portions of Malachi to the Nephites and Lamanites (3 Nephi 24:1).
— The Father himself had commanded him to do so, “that they should be given unto future generations” (3 Nephi 26:2).
— They (and we) needed the words of Malachi to understand the new dimension of the Lord’s work.
— Up to that time (His coming to the Nephites) most of the preparation had been for his first coming.
— From that point on, it would be for his Second Coming.

● The words of Malachi reveal key events and the nature of the work that would prepare for that coming (3 Nephi 26:3).

● On September 21–22, 1823, Moroni quoted portions of Malachi to Joseph Smith to introduce the extent and nature of the work which had to be accomplished before the Lord would come in glory (JS-History 1:37–39).

THE TEACHINGS OF MALACHI

Judah’s Priests Were Unworthy

● The wickedness of Esau’s descendants (Malachi 1:2–5).
— The word “hated” in Hebrew means to be loved less than someone else, not to be disliked with bitter hostility.
— For centuries, the Edomites (“Idumeans”) had arrayed themselves against the Lord and his people the Israelites.
— They came to symbolize the wickedness of mankind in general (D&C 1:36).

● The priests lacked respect for God and his ordinances (Malachi 1:6–14).
— God, our Heavenly Father, is the father and master of all mankind. Thus, all should reverence God and be willing to honor and serve him (v. 6).
— The Lord told Moses that animals to be sacrificed should be perfect, with no blemish, and “ye shall not offer [anything] (Leviticus 22:22). . . blind, or broken, or maimed”.
— They were mocking God by offering sacrifices to the Lord with sick, blind, and lame animals and calling them acceptable (v. 8).
— The Lord warned the priests of curses to come if they did not repent (Malachi 2:1–4; Malachi 3:5–6).

● Priesthood holders are representatives of the Lord (Malachi 2:5–7).

● The Lord’s displeasure with unfaithful priesthood bearers (Malachi 2:8–10).
— They “caused many to stumble at the law” by immoral decisions (v. 8).
— All men are brothers, children of the same God (v. 10).

● They broke their covenants by divorcing their wives and marrying foreigners (Malachi 2:11–17).
— Tiring of their wives and the mothers of their children, they were seeking the companionship of younger women.
— The wives came to the temple and made an appeal to God at the altar.
— The Lord was angry because they did not remain true to their wives.
— He also was angry with priests who knew of the problem and did nothing.
— “The Lord (v. 16). . . hateth putting away” (divorce).

Principles and Purpose of Tithing

● The Jews had robbed God by failing to pay their tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:7–9).
— As in every dispensation, tithing was required as a demonstration of faith (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21).

● The Lord invited them to test him in this matter, and promised that blessings would flow from heaven in great abundance (Malachi 3:10).

● Tithing’s temporal purpose is to provide for God’s purposes on earth (Malachi 3:10).

— President Spencer W. Kimball said: “This is serious, and we must be faithful and honest in meeting this requirement. ‘That there may be meat in mine house’ indicates the need for funds to meet the costs of building numerous branch and stake buildings, temples, furnishing them, missionary work, institute and seminary work, education work, and all the needs of the Saints. It must be remembered that all the tithing goes back to the people for their benefit.”3

— President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Now, do not get me wrong. I am not here to say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii. The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed. If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on His work.”4

● The Lord felt so strongly about this commandment, he repeated it to the Nephites (3 Nephi 24:8–12).

Blessings of Tithing

● Malachi 3:10–12
— “The windows of heaven” is a figure of speech meaning “revelation.”
— “The devourer” refers to locusts and other pests of agriculture, but also to Satan.
— “Before their time” means that the fruits of our efforts will not come forth ahead of their time when they would be of little or no value.

What Is a “Tithe”?

● The law of tithing, as given in these latter days (D&C 119:1–4).

— The First Presidency has stated: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this.”5

— We are also commanded to make “offerings” in addition to tithing.

— President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Sometimes we have been a bit penurious and figured that we had for breakfast one egg and that cost so many cents and then we give that to the Lord. I think that when we are affluent, as many of us are, that we ought to be very, very generous. . . . I think we should . . . give, instead of the amount saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—ten times more when we are in a position to do it.”6

THE LORD’S SECOND COMING

The Messenger of the Covenant

● Events related to the Second Coming of Christ (Malachi 3:1–4).
— The Lord will send a messenger to prepare the way for His coming.
— The Lord will come suddenly to his temple.
— The Lord will purge and purify the earth and its inhabitants.

● Christ is the “messenger of the covenant” (Malachi 3:1). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Our Lord is the Messenger of the Covenant. (Malachi 3:1). He came in his Father’s name (John 5:43), bearing his Father’s message (John 7:16–17), to fulfil the covenant of the Father that a Redeemer and Savior would be provided for men. (Moses 4:1–3; Abraham 3:27–28). Also, through his ministry the terms of the everlasting covenant of salvation became operative; the message he taught was that salvation comes through the gospel covenant.”7

An Elias to Prepare the Way

● John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ’s first coming (Matthew 3:1–3, 11–12).
— John came in the spirit and priesthood power of an “Elias” (Luke 1:17).

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “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.”8

— Joseph Smith was also an Elias—a forerunner, one who prepared the way, who laid the foundation for the Second Coming through the restoration of the gospel.

The Lord Will Come to His Temple

● Christ will “suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1).
— When Christ comes again, he will make more than one appearance before he comes in the clouds of heaven for all to see (D&C 88:93; 101:23).

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “This sudden latter-day appearance in the temple does not have reference to his appearance at the great and dreadful day, for that coming will be when he sets his foot upon the Mount of Olivet in the midst of the final great war. The temple appearance was fulfilled, in part at least, by his return to the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836; and it may well be that he will come again, suddenly, to others of his temples, more particularly that which will be erected in Jackson County, Missouri.”9

The Sons of Levi Will Make Offerings

● The sons of Levi will be purified and again make offerings to the Lord (Malachi 3:3).

— The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e., the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus] was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future: but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the priesthood, or with the Prophets. The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the priesthood. It began with the priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ. . . . It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the Prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.”10

● After these events, Judah will be acceptable to the Lord (Malachi 3:4).

A Day of Great Dread for the Wicked

● The wicked consider it “vain” (pointless) to serve God, because it seems like the wicked prosper despite their wickedness (Malachi 3:13–14).

● The wicked will not be able to abide the day of Christ’s Second Coming (Malachi 3:2).

● The Lord will send judgment and destruction upon the wicked (Malachi 3:5–6).

● The proud and the wicked will become “as stubble” (Malachi 4:1).

— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The great and dreadful day of the Lord is the day when judgments are poured out upon the wicked and the earth is cleansed of its iniquity. It is not to be a dreadful day to the righteous, but it certainly will be to all that do wickedly, for they will be as stubble and will be burned when the Lord comes in his glory, and they shall be left with ‘neither root nor branch.’ (Mal. 4:1).”11

— Theodore M. Burton said: “But what is meant by the expression “that it shall leave them neither root nor branch”? This expression simply means that wicked and indifferent persons who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ will have no family inheritance or patriarchal lineage—neither root (ancestors or progenitors) nor branch (children or posterity). Such persons cannot be received into the celestial kingdom of glory of resurrected beings, but must be content with a lesser blessing.”12

● This verse appears in several of the standard works of the Church (Malachi 4:1; JS-History 1:37; 3 Nephi 25:1). Although the essential meaning is the same in the various quotations, some differences of wording exist. Compare the King James text with the following:

● Malachi 4:1 is referred to three times in the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives some indication of the importance of this event (D&C 29:9; 64:23; 133:64).
— A desolating scourge (sickness) will go forth first (D&C 5:19).
— Then every corruptible thing will be consumed by fire,
— This includes all earthly things—men, beasts, fish, and fowl (D&C 64:24; 101:24–25).
— It will be a day of wrath, burning, desolation, and weeping (D&C 112:24).
— All the wicked will be consumed by the brightness of His coming.
— It will come unexpectedly—”as a thief in the night” to the wicked (2 Peter 3:10).

A Day of Great Joy for the Righteous

● The Second Coming will be a day of healing and of power over the wicked (Malachi 4:2–3; 2 Thes. 2:8–10).
— The righteous will look forward to that great day (D&C 45:39).
— Righteousness will sweep the earth; the Holy City will come (Moses 7:62).
— The dead will rise and ascend to meet Christ in the air (1 Thes. 4:16–18).
— It will not overtake the righteous as it does the wicked (1 Thes. 5:1–9).
— Christ will reign personally on a celestialized earth (Article of Faith 10).

● The names of the righteous are written in a “book of remembrance” (Malachi 3:16–18).
— We will all be judged by the “book of life” (Rev. 20:12).
— The book is kept in heaven & records our works (D&C 128:6–7).
— It contains names of the sanctified (D&C 88:2).
— Our prayers are also recorded in this book (D&C 88:2).
— It is possible to be “blotted out” from this book (Psalm 69:28).
— Those who afterwards return to sinful ways shall have their names blotted rom the book (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 22:19).
— Those not written in the book worship Satan (Rev. 13:8).
— They will be surprised with Satan is revealed (Rev. 17:8).
— Those who overcome the world are not blotted out (Rev. 3:5).
— They will live in the Holy City with Christ (Rev. 21:27).
— They shall inherit eternal life in the celestial world (D&C 88:2).

When Will the Second Coming Occur?

● The Lord will “come quickly” according to Malachi (Malachi 3:1; see also D&C 51:20; 35:2). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “In this connection it is worthy of note that whenever and wherever the Lord appears, he will come suddenly, that is ‘quickly, in an hour you think not.’ (D&C 51:20). His oft repeated warning, ‘Behold, I come quickly’ (D&C 35:27), means that when the appointed hour arrives, he will come with a speed and a suddenness which will leave no further time for preparation for that great day.”13

● The Lord has made clear that while he will surely come again, no person knows the exact time of his coming (D&C 39:20–21; 49:7).

THE COMING OF ELIJAH

The Promises Made to the Fathers

● The Lord will send Elijah before “the great and dreadful day” of His coming (Malachi 4:5–6).

● This message is repeated in each of the standard works, illustrating its importance:
— Luke 1:17
— 3 Nephi 25:5–6
— D&C 2:1–3
— JS-History 1:36–39

● Moroni quoted Malachi 4:5–6 to the prophet Joseph Smith in September 1823, as he prophesied of important events soon to transpire on the earth (JS-History 1:36–39).
— When Moroni quoted Malachi, important changes were made:
— JS–History says Elijah will reveal the priesthood; the KJV Bible does not (v. 38).

— Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “What was the promise made to the fathers that was to be fulfilled in the latter-days by the turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers? It was the promise of the Lord made through Enoch, Isaiah, and the prophets, to the nations of the earth, that the time should come when the dead should be redeemed. And the turning of the hearts of the children is fulfilled in the performing of the vicarious temple work and in the preparation of their genealogies.”14

● Malachi 4:6 says the Lord will “smite the earth with a curse” if not for Elijah’s coming.
— JS-H says instead that the whole earth would be “utterly wasted at [the Lord’s] coming” if not for Elijah’s coming (v. 39).

Elijah Came to the Kirtland Temple

● Elijah came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836 (D&C 110:13–16).
—The timing of his coming was very symbolic.

● The Prophet Joseph Smith quoted Malachi 4:5–6 on September 6, 1841, with the introduction “I will give unto you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead” (D&C 128:17).

● He spoke of the organization of the righteous from every dispensation into one eternal family (D&C 128:18). In this way all the keys, powers, and glories from the days of Adam to the present are brought together to prepare the earth for the return of its great King.

● The dead cannot be made perfect without their latter-day descendants doing necessary temple work.

● Similarly, those living in the last days cannot receive all the power necessary for salvation until the links are fully complete.

● The fathers were promised that their posterity would have to save them in order to save themselves.

● As their posterity comes to understand how dependent their salvation is upon the salvation of their fathers, their hearts turn to them.

● As the welding links are fully formed, the family of God is established and prepared for exaltation. In this way the earth fulfills its purpose.

Notes:

1.  The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 241.
2.  Israel! Do You Know? [1954], 46.
3.  Sweden Area conference Report, 1974, 9.
4.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 60; or Ensign, May 1982, 40.
5.  First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970.
6.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 184.
7.  Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 488.
8.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 335–336.
9.  Mormon Doctrine, 693–694.
10. History of the Church, 4:211–212.
11.  Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [1946–1949], 3:82.
12.  In Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 81.
13.  Mormon Doctrine, 693–694.
14.  Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:154.

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