The Book of Malachi was most likely written during the time of exile when what was left of Israel was a vassal state of Persia under Xerxes I. The name Malachi literally means "my messenger". The entire book is condemning the moral laxity that Nehemiah would address when he goes back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall. Just as Malachi was proclaiming judgment on a religious system that had become complacent, John the Baptist is also seen as condemning the same complacency. Instead of Nehemiah returning to rebuild, however, Jesus is coming to tear down the preconceived notions of a Messiah. This is the only passage of Malachi read during the three years of the lectionary. It is read in conjunction with story of John the Baptist. It should be noted, however, that Malachi 4:5-6 is also important in relationship to the Gospel story. It is in Malachi that it is foretold that Elijah will appear during the day of the Lord. This passage is referred to in the context of the transfiguration and the question of who is Jesus.
Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire...
What is the purpose of a refiner's fire?
Is anything not the will of God “impure”?
What parts of your life are your will and not God's?
Is there anyone whose entire life follows completely God's will?
Are you ready to have your will burned away on the day of the Lord?