At the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, my husband and I encouraged our two boys to consider this unexpected time as a sabbatical — a time to do something they normally would not do because they did not have the time. My oldest decided that this was his chance to write a novel. Naturally an early bird, he would get up before the rest of us and write for several hours before school. I would wake up to the clicking of his keyboard. In February, he handed me a 300-page manuscript, and we began to edit.
My background and training is not in writing; it is in math. So this adventure with Daniel has caused me to learn skills beyond just looking for typos and grammatical errors. We argued over content and paragraph structure, talked through plot points and literary devices, and checked for consistency in character development.
Being in editor mode during this season helped me begin to look at Malachi differently. My first reading in preparation for this study was overwhelming. I did not initially understand what was going on, and there were so many references to things not familiar to me. Yet, as I pulled out my editor’s pen (or in my case my colored pencils) and wrestled with the text with you ladies, I began to discover the deep beauty of Malachi.
- What were your initial thoughts when you first read through Malachi?
- What surprised you about this book after spending eight weeks immersed in its verses?
I love colored pencils because as I read and reread text, I mark repeated words or phrases or make notes in the margin regarding content. It began with marking common words — covenant, unfaithful, Lord of hosts, blessings, curse. Then I started noticing all the questions that Israel was asking of God and how He patiently and truthly answered each one. I looked up the meaning behind the name of God in this book that appears 23 — the Lord of hosts.
Over and over I was reminded that this book, just like the other 65 in the Bible, is first and foremost about our God. As we see more about our God, we get an accurate perspective on His people (including us) and can stand in praise and thanksgiving for His love and pursuit of us. This gospel lens allows us to see the beauty in a book like Malachi that at first read doesn’t seem to be understandable or applicable to us.
- How did reading Malachi multiple times show you who our God is? Was there a particular characteristic of our God that you found challenging and/or encouraging?
- How did learning about the Israelites show you more about yourself? What were some of the similarities and differences between the Israelites and you?
- How do you see God’s work in the lives of the Israelites in Malachi and in your own today?
- How does your new knowledge of Malachi help you to interpret the bigger story of the Bible? Has it changed your perspective of any other books of the Bible? Which ones?
The book of Malachi begins with God sending His messenger to remind His people how much they are loved and to give them an invitation to return to Him. It ends with God reminding them to keep their eyes open for the messenger whom He is sending, one who loves them so much that He will die for them to bring us reconciliation with our God. May we take a moment to bask in the beauty of the good news of the gospel in Malachi and our God who loves and pursues us.
Heavenly Father, We thank You and praise You for the gift of Your Word. We thank You for Malachi and for the message that You sent to Your people and the messenger whom You sent to us out of Your great love and pursuit of us. We are thankful that we can know You through Your Word, and we pray, Father, that You would grant us the desire and discipline to spend time with You in Your Word each and every day. Thank You for our sisters with whom we can explore Your Word together and encourage one another in our walks with You. May Your Word continue to penetrate our hearts and minds and direct the work of our hands to be a fragrant offering unto You. Amen.
— Jamie Harms