The name Malachi means 'my messenger', a suitable name for this prophet; and is the last book in the Old Testament written historically. Malachi prophesied to Judah after the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and may have been a contemporary of Nehemiah. His book was written about four hundred years before the birth of Christ around 430 B.C. This was nearly one hundred years after the Jews began returning from Babylon to the land of Israel.
The Jews of the Old Testament had no prophets after Malachi that we know of, but the descendants of Father Lehi in the Western Hemisphere (Nephites) had numerous prophets right up to the birth of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
Malachi admonished the people for their lack of faith in the Lord's promises. Many of the Jews had hoped that God would more vividly display his power by freeing them from Persian rule and allowing them to reclaim a kingdom. After one hundred years from the time they returned to their homelands, the Jews were still under Persian control. Many Jews became disheartened and did not work as hard to live a religious life, believing that God had forgotten or abandoned them so being righteous didn't really matter.
Malachi's message addressed these circumstances. He taught about the restoration of priesthood sealing power, marriage and divorce, and tithes and offerings. He also prophesied regarding a messenger who would precede the Second Coming of the Savior. The principles taught by Malachi can apply to every time in history, since people in all ages are tempted to be halfhearted in their religion.