These three short, prophetic Old Testament books each contain a dual message. On one hand are messages of impending judgement—for all peoples on the Day of the Lord, for an enemy of Israel, and for Israel herself. On the other hand are messages of great hope—of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, of restoration and renewal, and of a coming Messiah.
Placing judgement and hope together in such a manner may seem paradoxical to a contemporary mindset. But the complete message of these prophets gives a fuller picture of God, who despises and rightly judges sin and rebellion, but who also lovingly invites people to return to him so that he might bestow his wonderful grace and blessings. It’s a message no less timely today than when these books were first written, and David W. Baker skillfully bridges the centuries in helping believers today understand and apply it.
“God expected sacrifices and offerings to be taken from his good gifts and returned to him. They represented one’s love, loyalty, honor, and, at times, sorrow for sin and wrongdoing (see Lev. 1–7). They showed an inner commitment to the covenant relationship between God and people, not arising from duty but from devotion. When duty replaces devotion, however, human nature is such that it seeks minimum steps, barely enough to meet an obligation. This contrasts with a true love relationship, seeking to do the maximum for the beloved. Israel, and in particular her priests, are seen here having lost their first love.” (Page 226)
“In other words, the speaker disputes God’s love based on the sad situation in which they find themselves, having returned from exile to a ruined and as yet unrestored land (see Haggai and Zechariah, where divine promises are as yet unfulfilled visibly).” (Page 219)
“Not only do the priests of Malachi’s day pervert themselves, they do so to those in their charge, in contrast to Levi.” (Page 245)
“It thus appears, rather than a ‘name it and claim it’ approach to God, to be more appropriate to have a ‘live it’ theology: Act as a child of God and you will be treated as one.” (Page 291)
“Malachi is unique in the Old Testament because of its form—a dispute or diatribe between God and those of his people who have become apathetic or even antagonistic to him.” (Page 205)
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Dr. David W. Baker is a professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio, where he’s taught since 1986, following teaching assignments at the University of Durban-Westville and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He’s also lectured in Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Baker has a particular interest in pedagogy, constantly exploring new means and media to enhance the learning and teaching experience for both the instructor and the student. He has contributed to, edited, or written over 40 books, including Isaiah in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, The NIV Application Commentary: Joel, Obadiah, Malachi, and Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Forthcoming books include Genesis 37–50: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text in the Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible Series, 1 & 2 Kings in the Teach the Text Commentary Series, Genesis in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary Series, and 1 & 2 Samuel in the Believers Church Bible Commentary Series.
He’s blessed with a wife, Morven, who immigrated to Canada from Scotland—a start that prepared her to support Dr. Baker in his geographical wanderings. Morven is a counselor specializing in women’s issues, specifically sexual abuse and domestic violence. Together, they have two children and three granddaughters.