(Malachi 1) God Confronts You with His Love

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Introduction

This book of God's Word was written about 450 BC by Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, who were released from their captivity in Babylon. This is a picture of Israel's spiritual condition before Christ came.

The moral and religious condition of Israel was at a low ebb. They had intermingled with the people of the land. "They were the slaves of formalism and self-righteousness, satisfied with themselves and not hesitating to blaspheme God's name." (F.B. Meyer) Even though the temple had been rebuilt and dedicated (in about 515 BC), their religious life and service had degenerated because their hearts were hardened toward God.

God immediately steps into their lives and declares "I have loved you, Israel." (verse 2) And straightaway the people challenge God's love, "In what way have You loved us?"

1 God's Love is Shown (verses 2-5)

  1. God showed His love to Jacob and his descendants
  2. But to the Edomites, who were descendants of Esau, God showed His wrath, because they consistently tried to block His plan of salvation.
  3. God is indeed a God of love, but to those who reject Him, He does not appear to be loving.

Jacob and Esau were both sons of Isaac and Rebekah. God's love for Israel (Jacob's descendants) is shown in that they were restored while the Edomites would never again exist as a nation. Both Jacob's and Esau's descendants were punished for their rebellion against God. Yet, Jacob's descendants returned from their captivity in Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and their other cities; but Esau's descendants (the Edomites) would never be able to rebuild.

2 God's Love is Sneered At (spurned/shoved away)

Malachi 1:13 "You sneer at it." (NKJV) This is "a metaphor taken from cattle which do not like their fodder. They blow strongly through their noses upon it, and after this neither they nor any other cattle will eat it." (Adam Clarke)

"Esau I have hated." (Malachi 1:3)

What does this mean?

It means that God was against Esau because of his hatred not just of Jacob, but of God's plans.

Sins Passed On

What does it refer to?

It all refers back to what happened in Genesis chapter 24 and 27. Esau despised his birthright so that he sold it to Jacob for bread and stew. The "birthright" was special inheritance rights given to the firstborn son.

"By selling his birthright for a bowl of stew, Esau overtly expressed his contempt for God, for that birthright included the covenant promise which God made to Abraham, to be passed on to and through his family line. Esau's act showed how little he valued God or His promises." (Revell Bible Dictionary, p. 156)

Jacob, Esau's brother, tricked his blind old father Isaac to give him the blessing which would normally go to the oldest brother, who was Esau. The blessing included not only property inheritance but authority over the whole family clan. Jacob did not receive the blessing of the Lord till much later, because he was a deceiver who had some very hard lessons to learn. Genesis 32:26. This family problem began when Rebekah the mother showed favouritism. Esau was certainly wronged, but he hated Jacob because of this (Genesis 27:41) and later planned to kill him, and that bitter hatred seems to have been passed on to Esau's descendants, the Edomites.

God does not have favourites. He judged and punished deceiving Jacob and taught him some hard lessons. God was seeking to teach Esau also - but he rejected God's ways in his life and passed this on to his family.

Present Sins

Esau's sin also consisted in gloating over the people of Jerusalem (their relatives) being taken prisoners by the Babylonians in 586 BC. They then looted their belongings and helped the Babylonians find the fleeing refugees. The story is told in the book of Obadiah. God's prophet warned the Edomites "As you have done, it shall be done to you." (Obadiah 15)

As in those days, today there are many who sneer at the love of God. Beware of such a sin - God will not be sneered at!

Israel's sin

Priests who despise God: by offering stolen, blind, lame and sick animals for sacrifice offerings.

Priests who find serving God as weariness: They went through formality, but their hearts and minds were hardened against God. They did not know the Lord personally and the joy and peace that comes from knowing Him.

Unless we get God's victory over our trials and difficulties we will carry them as a heavy burden in our hearts and they make us cynical toward people and toward God. Outwardly we may profess to believe in God and to serve Him, but inwardly we are cynical and becoming increasingly hard-hearted and unforgiving.

But, on the other hand, if we surrender our bitter experiences to God, His love and forgiveness is restored to our hearts and keeps us loving and trusting towards God and people.

The choice is yours - what you do with those trials and difficulties. Hang onto them or let go and let God deal with them.

3 God's Love is Spread (verses 5, 11, 14)

"The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel." (verse 5)

The Word of God says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1), not just Israel. God's glory and love is displayed throughout the universe He created. But we need to have our eyes of understanding opened to see it.

"From the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering, for my name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts." (v. 11)

God's name is made great by the spoken testimony and the lives of God's people.

When people who call themselves "Christian" have backslidden and fallen away from the Lord, they are a misery to themselves and a stumbling block to others. They are indeed heading for hell, and unless they repent and call on the Lord for salvation to be restored, they remain unsaved.

This is the picture of the nation of Israel in the time of Malachi - leading up to the coming of Christ.

Yet there were many people who were seeking and looking for the truth and reality in the Lord.

On the other hand, how wonderfully the Lord's name is made great, when Christians are truly walking with the Lord in His love and victory over sin!

And the Lord Jesus has commissioned all of His people to "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Conclusion

God still confronts you with His love in your life.

God has shown His love to you. May you never sneer at His love, but rather accept the Lord Jesus gladly as your Saviour. And, then, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, help spread His love wherever you go.

The greatest demonstration of God's love is this:

"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

God's Word recorded by Malachi "I have loved you," says the Lord.

Note:

Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

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