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“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes..." Malachi 4.5
Malachi means My Messenger. The book which bears the name concludes the Old Testament and belongs in the period after the Jews were allowed - encouraged even - to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the city and restore the temple and everything it represented.
The temple was finished in 516 BC and about 50 years later, in 458 BC, Ezra the priest augmented the endeavour by returning with thousands more Jews and a mandate from Persian Emperor Artaxerxes to develop and refine the temple-based worship of God. 13 years after that (455 BC) Ezra was joined by Nehemiah, the King's cupbearer, appointed governor of the fledgling province. In 433 BC, believing his task to be complete, Nehemiah returned to service of the Persian king.
In his absence, the Jews become disillusioned by the fact that their status had never been fully restored and, far from what they believed to be their birthright as God's chosen people, they remained a backwater of the Persian Empire. This led to back-sliding in every sphere of life and it is into this moral and morale abyss that God delivers his message through Malachi...