Main point summary
The message God has for Israel is that He loves them, and when they question His love, God reminds them that they are His people and not their relatives in Edom, the ones whom God will judge.
The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 1
the burden of the word from Yahweh to Israel through Malachi.
a “I have loved you,”
I have loved and continue to love you
says the Lord .
says the Lord.
b But you say,
However, you say,
“How have you loved us?”
In what way have you loved us?
“Is not Esau c Jacob’s brother?”
Is not Edom your relatives?
declares the Lord .
declares the Lord.
“Yet d I have loved Jacob
Yet I have shown special love to you
but Esau I have hated.
but Edom I have rejected.
e I have laid waste his hill country
I have devastated his mountains
and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”
and left all of his inheritance land to be inhabited by wild animals.
If Edom says,
If Edom says
“We are shattered
but we will rebuild the ruins,”
the Lord of hosts says,
“They may build,
but I will tear down,
and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’
and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’”
f Your own eyes shall see this,
and you shall say,
“Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
This is the best way I could see to set up the arc. The surprising response to God's statement is also a a question that the LORD will answer.
INTRO: God loves you. How does that sentence strike you? What thoughts come to your mind? For many it has become a trite statement, one that perhaps they’ve heard since they were little. You see it on stickers, bumper stickers, billboards, etc. So, while they may believe that it is true, it doesn’t resonate like it once did. For others, God loves you, doesn’t mean a thing. They have no belief in God, or desire to, so the fact that God may or may not love them doesn’t really matter. They may even look on that statement with contempt. Still, for others, God loves you, means everything. They feel the weight of their sin and know how much they’ve been forgiven and that God loves them and has made a way of salvation for them. Malachi is a prophetic book that was written to Israel at a time when they were struggling with the fact that God loved them. They couldn’t see it. There are reasons for that, which we will explore further. Malachi was written to assure God’s people that He was still with them. Main Point: The Lord reminds us through His Word that He really does love His people. The Lord Loves by Giving Us His Word (v1) An oracle is an “utterance” or a “pronouncement” of weighty material. It is a message that carries a burden with it—it’s the content of the message will be particularly ominous. Malachi, in fact, carries a heavy burden and will address weighty matters of significance that would be uncomfortable for its audience. But it is not all ominous. The love and grace of God is a dominant theme even though hard and painful things must be said to Israel. The fact that God is willing to send messengers to tell us when we are doing wrong is an expression of love itself. The Lord Reminds Us of His Enduring Love Even When We Question His Love (v2a-d) Throughout Scripture, love can indicate affection and desire between spouses, affection from parents to children, a servant to his master. But it can also have a divine element: God's sovereign choice to show special affection and favor for an individual or a specific group of people. That is the Situation here. God has a special love for Israel, and as the object of His love, they received certain covenant promises and blessings that were unique to her. Here we must also note that the nature of God’s love is an enduring love. When we read “I have loved You” says the Lord”, we must not think that God is saying he loved them past-tense and no longer does. Rather, we should understand this to mean that God began to love them in the past and His love for them continues into the present. When God chose to set His special love on Israel, He did not remove it; He still loves them. Perhaps, the most important thing we should note about this phrase is that it is the foundation for the rest of the book. God will place all of the rebuke that He will give to them for their failures on the foundation of His love. So the message of Malachi will go something like this: I love you, I really do. But you are not being very faithful to me, so there are some disciplinary actions that I have taken so that You will love and serve me faithfully. This seems strange to the world because the world’s idea of love is that you must allow and affirm whatever it is that I want to do if you are to love me. You should not correct me or punish me for doing what I want to do. But to truly love someone is to love them in accordance with God’s commands. ILLUS: A parent is often placed in a position to discipline his/her child. That parent will do well to make sure the child knows that he/she is doing so because he/she loves them and is demonstrating the love of God to them. It would actually be unloving for a parent NOT to discipline their child. Obedience to the commands of God is not burdensome (cf. Matt 11:28-29; 1 John 5:1-5). But Israel's response may seem a little surprising. They ask the sovereign God of the universe how what He says is true! Life for a post-exile Jew was not easy. And when life is hard it can be very difficult to see God’s love. Thus, the question. “How have you loved us? You’re supposed to be our God and the One who has made all these promises of blessing to us. But life stinks and it doesn’t even seem like you care!” The reason for Israel's suffering was because of her sin. Malachi will expose that Israel had worship problems, marriage problems, justice problems, selfishness problems, and faith problems that were the source of their current pain. But God is loving them by keeping the terms of the Mosaic covenant where He told them they would suffer if they sinned. God shows love by using suffering to change our hearts. The Lord Shows His Love by Protecting His People (v2e-4) The nature of God's love is that it continues from the time it began. "I have loved Jacob" means that God's love was placed on Jacob and continues to this day. God’s love is displayed in that He protected them in the past. As a result of his "hatred" for Esau, God destroyed their nation. God’s love is displayed in that He will protect them in the future. The implication, then, is that Israel does have a future. They will eventually be fully restored. The same is true for the genuine believer: we have a future. Things may be bad now, but we will never be totally and utterly lost. God will protect our future because of His love for us. In the End We Will See God’s Love and We Will Praise Him (v5) In the midst of suffering, we may object to God's love and question His sovereignty. But one day it will all make sense. Look at verse 5, “Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!” This is a promise even though the generation to whom Malachi wrote did not see it in its fullness. But the promise is that for those who have faith, one day they will see all that God has done. On that Day all God’s people will praise Him! They will know that He is the sovereign God of the universe and there is no other. APPLICATION: This is how we process our current sadness and trouble. When we persevere in our faith and get to the end, we will say “God I praise You because all that You did was right and good.” ILLUS: I had a conversation with a parent who was struggling with their child’s apparent rejection of the faith. My response to them was that it is difficult to see your child abandon the faith. But God's love and goodness is as such that when we are glorified and we see God in His unveiled glory, we will acknowledge that all He has done is good and right and just and glorious...even if that means the punishment of our children. Praise God for the love He has shown in giving us His Word, reminding us of His love, showing His love by protecting our future, and providing the opportunity in the end for us to praise Him for His love.