I Have Loved You ~ Malachi
I Have Loved You
Concerning the book of Malachi, Robert Harkrider gives the following historical overview: “They had been back from Babylonian captivity for about a hundred years, and now the second and third generation of descendants had begun to lose sight of serving the Lord with wholehearted zeal (The Minor Prophets. p. 131).
In this book we find a new style of teaching. It has been called the "didactic-dialectic" method of speaking. In simple terms this means that an assertion or charge is made, an anticipated response, which the hearers would make, or were thinking, is given, and then the objection is refuted. Ten times Malachi presents the people as interrupting with an objection (1:2 “But you say..”).
Things Haven't Changed That Much
The people to whom Malachi preached lived some 400 years before the birth of Christ, and yet the problems mentioned in the book are some of the same problems which exist among congregations and Christians today. (1) Questioning whether God really loves us (1:2). (2) Giving God the leftovers (1:8). (3) Worship has become a chore (1:13). (4) Making great promises to God, and never fulfilling them (1:14). (5) Preachers who lead God's people astray (2:8). (6) Unscriptural divorces and remarriages (2:14). (7) Robbing God in our offerings to Him (3:8). (8) Envying sinners, and complaining that we have been short-changed in serving God (3:14). (9) Losing sight of the coming judgment (3:17-18).
I Have Loved You
This amazing announcement by God is met with a cold reception. The people actually challenge God and ask for proof, they claim, “We can’t see such love and there is certainly no evidence that God does love us”. I stand amazed at how quick we are to question God's love for us. If the smallest thing goes wrong, immediately we starting thinking that God is being insensitive to our needs. God reminds these descendants of Jacob to compare their present condition with the descendants of Esau. Despite the unfaithfulness of their ancestors, God had allowed them to return to their land, rebuild, and start over. Yet God was not going to give the Edomites (descendants of Esau) a second chance.
Seeing God’s Love in My Life
- Jesus died for me: Galatians 2:20
- While we were all very unlovable: Romans 5:6-8
- Consider all the times that God has delivered you in the past.
- Compare your current situation with others: Psalm 73:1
- All the times that God has forgiven us in the past.
- All the bad things that never happened. All the close calls that were avoided.
- The tremendous blessings that surround you and I.
But They Say
God quickly deals with something that might have being going through the minds of His people, “Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return…They may build, but I will tear down”(1:4). Why is it that we tend to put more "faith" in what men say, rather than what God says? A study comes out that the media claims proves something unbiblical and we question our faith. Yet God says something completely opposite, and do we question the reliability of human wisdom or the so-called experts? Faith means that the issues of life are settled by the Scriptures for the Christian (Romans 3:4).
I Hated Esau
First of all, this doesn’t mean that Esau or his descendants were excluded from eternal life, apart from their own choice (Jeremiah 49:11; Amos 9:12; Obadiah 19,21; Mark 16:15). Neither does the verse mean that every Israelite was guaranteed automatic and unconditional salvation (Acts 13:46). God is not speaking about the predestination of Jacob (Israel) to eternal life and damnation for every descendant of Esau. Rather, the word “hate” here means to “love-less” (see Matthew 10:37), in the sense of bestowing fewer favors on a nation. Compared to Israel who was mercifully allowed to come back to their land, Edom was “hated”, for Edom would cease to exist as a nation.
Your Eyes Will See It
“History has verified the prophecy. After the Chaldeans came, the Nabataeans drove them out. Then they were conquered by the Maccabees, and finally the Romans drove them into the eastern desert” (Minor Prophets, Homer Hailey p. 407). “Israel would observe from a distance, safe and secure in their own land, the tragedies which would befall Edom. When God acts, people do take notice. Edom’s destruction and Israel’s preservation stood as proof that God exists” (Laetsch p. 514). So instead of arguing with God, and refusing to trust Him, life would be a lot better for all of us, if we simply acknowledged that He has been right about everything in the past and will be right about everything yet future. “Our eyes will see it”. So enjoy the ride, trust Him and be grateful (Joshua 21:45; 23:14) and watch as the His word is confirmed and reconfirmed on a daily basis.
Where is the Respect?
Apparently, it had become a common custom for the priests (who were supposed to teach the people and preserve the integrity of worship), to accept from the people animals for sacrifice that were obviously unacceptable. Blemished offerings were clearly forbidden in the law (Lev. 22:19-25). Observe that the priests may have reasoned that times were hard (3:10), and that this is the best that the people could provide. They may have reasoned that God’s requirements were flexible, and difficult circumstances gave them the right to relax God’s expectations. They may have become very “practical”, and reasoned that if they insisted on what God required, that they would offend their brethren and people simply would not come to worship.
- This section reminds me that it is easy to fall into the “well at least” mode of thinking. That is, “Well at least I am here”. I may have a poor attitude this morning, be completely unprepared to worship or study, but “at least I am here”.
Keeping it In Perspective: 1:8
A human superior would be insulted by such offerings. Yet, have we learned this lesson? I need to honestly look at the effort that I am put into serving God, if I put the same effort into a job, would I be promoted or fired? Is God getting my best? Do hobbies, secular goals, and human projects get my best instead?
- Are we never late for work, but late for services?
- Do we give our job lots of overtime, but rush off right after services?
- Do we burn the mid-night oil for school, job or hobby, but never seem to have enough time to do our bible lesson?
- Do we enthusiastically support a team, but have a hard time staying focused during worship?
- How much money do we spend on a hobby—compared to our giving?
- How much involvement does the local congregation receive from us, compared to our involvement in other things?
God is offended by half-hearted efforts (Revelation 3:16; Luke 14:26), and He should be. These verses present us with a very practical measuring-stick in examining the quality of the service we have been offering to God. If we treated our wives, husbands, children, or employers in the same way we have been treating God--would they be impressed? (1:8)
I Want It To End
“Not only does the Lord disregard their offerings, He even wishes that someone among them would close the doors so that the entire Temple service, useless as it has been made, might be stopped” (Laetsch p. 518). Let us learn this lesson. God would prefer no service, no worship, rather than corrupted or compromised worship. It is either all or nothing. So we are not doing ourselves or others any favors if we tell them that God is happy just as long as they “come as they are” or just show up. I need to remember that God is never desperate for worshippers, for He remains far more relevant than I am. I need Him far more than He needs me (Acts 17:25).