Message from Malachi
A Prophetic Warning to the Church
The Sovereign Love of the Lord
“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
I find it hard to wrap my mind around the fact the Jews, who had been redeemed from 70 years of captivity and miraculously restored to their own land, could doubt the love of God. It makes no sense to me.
It’s like you and I being freed from a death sentence for a crime we willingly committed and then having the arrogance, the ungratefulness to question the motives of the one who took our place on death row. How can that be?
But that’s exactly how the Jews in Malachi’s day, and the church today, treat the love of God all the time. We want Him to continually prove His love for us by giving us more stuff or by spoiling us more or by caving to our every selfish whim. “Come on God, if You really loved me You would do this or give me that or change this situation.” Really? But when our own children, whom we do love dearly, come to us with the same demands, we call them selfish, immature, and get miffed at them for only seeing our love as a means to their own ends.
What’s that old saying about, “If the shoe fits…?”
The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
Malachi has been given a burden from God to share with the people. It’s heavy, like a weight, and he thinks about it all the time. He has a mission, a divine calling, a purpose in this life that makes everything else seem worthless.
The word for burden means “a load, something to bear, to lift, to carry.” And that’s exactly what Malachi does with the Word, the burden, he has received from the Lord. It’s like the Lord told Malachi, “I want to burden you with what I am about to give you. I am going to lay a heavy weight on your shoulders, a load, that you will have to carry for Me to others. Are you ready for this?”
Obviously Malachi was ready to bear the weight of the burden that God had entrusted to him and to deliver His message. I pray He would trust more of us to do the same with His Word today.
Malachi did not begin, like many preachers today, by saying, “I’ve been thinking today, and I would like to share with you some of my thoughts.” No, this wasn’t his message— it was the Lord’s. Instead Malachi proclaimed, “This is the weight, the burden of the Word of the Lord that I’m about to obediently give to you.” Again, I pray the Lord will rise up an army of Godly men today, like Malachi, who will also boldly proclaim from their pulpits: “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
But as we all know, any message of divine judgment, repentance, sacrifice, or the consequences of sin are out of vogue in the Laodicean church age we live in. It seems the accepted, popular messages today are all about us:
How to Have Your Best Life Now!
How to Get Your Blessings From God
How to Get Rich and Love Jesus at the Same Time
Or maybe, How to Grieve the Lord and Bring Judgment Down on Your Heads
All of Israel
If you will notice, the message from God to Malachi was to be given to Israel. Note, that’s not the supposed ten “lost tribes” of the Northern Kingdom or the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom. It’s not divided Israel, but all of Israel. Unified Israel.
After the death of Solomon and the division of the empire, the Northern Kingdom, made up of ten tribes, were collectively referred to as Israel. The Southern Kingdom, made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, were collectively called Judah. Now that has changed. Malachi’s message was to the whole house of Israel, both Northern and Southern, all twelve tribes.
God: “I have loved you”
“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord.
“Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated.”
And what was God’s message to all of Israel? He loved them. How they didn’t see His love is beyond imagination.
But in Malachi’s usual style of writing, the give and take, question and answer, statement and response format, he immediately addresses their doubts about God and His love, the Jews were harboring.
Statement: “I have loved you,” says the Lord.
Question: Yet you say, “In what way have You loved us?”
Answer: “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated” (Mal. 1:2).
Israel was looking at their current situation, what they have and didn’t have— money in the bank, the report from their Oncologist, the number of cars in their garage— and was judging God’s love for them on the basis of their circumstances, the temporary, meaningless things of life. I mean, how shortsighted is that?
But we do that all the time.
“God, if You loved me, You would let me get this job.”
“God, if You loved me, You would let her say yes!”
“God, if You loved me, You would allow me to buy that, wear that, drive that, watch that, eat that, think that, have that, and on and on.”
In essence, “God, if You loved me, You would allow me to be You and You be me. Because I think I can do a better job at being You to me than You are.”
And God doesn’t show His love for us by giving us things we want but may not need. God doesn’t have to earn or buy our love with things. He has already done enough.
Remember what God told Paul when he asked the Lord, three times, to take some “thorn in the flesh” away from him? God said, “No.” And His reason? “My grace is sufficient for you” (1 Cor. 12:9). In other words, what you have is already enough. Salvation. Eternal life. The promises of Scripture. The Holy Spirit. Communion with God.
Does it get any better that this?
So God’s answer to the Jews was simply this: My sovereign election in choosing you to be My people shows, beyond anything else, that I love you. It is the greatest of all acts of divine love.
The example He used to illustrate His love was the story of Jacob and Esau, and it is, by the way, the same passage quoted by Paul in Romans 9. In that section of Romans, Paul is demonstrating that Israel has not been cast aside but that God has chosen them in the past, and they are still His chosen, even though they are currently rejecting their Messiah. Paul shows that God demonstrated His love for them by His sovereign choice of them and that any other demonstration of love is built on that original choice. It’s God’s grace in motion, the foundation for all God has and is doing for His people.
And God uses Jacob and Esau, quoted from Malachi and not from Genesis, as support for His love. Consider the words of Paul:
And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Rom. 9:10-13).
Note the following , Rebecca had two children in her womb and God, before the children had proven themselves worthy of God’s choice in them, chose Jacob and did not choose Esau. And the text says that God’s choice was “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (Rom. 9:11). In other words, God chose to love Jacob and not love Esau simply because He wanted to display His right of sovereign choice or election in bestowing His love and favor on those He wills and not based on their good or bad deeds or inherent worth. God is just exercising His rights to be God.
God chose Jacob because He loved Jacob. And He loved Jacob not because Jacob was more worthy or lovable than Esau, but simply because God is God and He can do what He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
But God, That’s Not Fair!
Our fallen sense of morality and fairness screams out saying, “That’s not fair!” It’s not right to choose one and not choose the other. That will make Esau feel bad and erode his sense of self-worth. Everyone should be equal and everyone should get a chance to be chosen. In fact, it’s wrong for God to choose to love Jacob and not Esau. He’s being impartial, judgmental and what He’s doing is hurtful and wrong.”
So Paul addresses that very question.
“Is there unrighteousness with God?” we ask. “Certainly not!” (Rom. 9:14).
Paul then goes on to give two examples to show the carnality of our human wisdom and sentiment. One example is God’s words to Moses that basically say, “Look, I am God and I will choose whom I want. I will show mercy to whom I choose and compassion on whom I choose. It’s not up to you, mere mortal, to tell Me how to be God.”
From Romans 9:15-18:
For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
And then, when faced with the consequences of God’s sovereign will, we struggle and stumble and try to impute to God the sin of Pharaoh and hold Him accountable for another’s actions.
“But God,” we cry out, “if it was You who hardened Pharaoh’s heart and made him do all the terrible things he did, why did You punish him? That’s not fair. It wasn’t his fault. It was Your fault for making him do what he did.”
And God responds to our question, actually our unfounded accusation, like this: “I’m not going to answer you. I will not even entertain your question since you are accusing Me of being something less than God, and even something less than you. And, by the way, who are you to even ask Me, the Lord, to justify My actions to you? Remember who the Creator is and remember that you are just dust.”
Romans 9:19-21 reads:
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
Note: If you haven’t grasped the love of God in His choice of you by now, you need to spend some time reading these passages again and pray the Lord shows you who you are… and Who He really is.
But for the rest of us, we’re going back to Malachi.
God’s Love: Past, Present and Future
After presenting His very choice of Israel as His own possession (Deut. 7:6) as sufficient evidence for them to know of His love, He then graciously goes one step further and gives them additional evidence of His love to them. He shows them His love revealed to them in the past, present and future.
Past – God chose them “from the foundation of the earth” to be His children, just like He also chose each of us who have placed our faith in His Son (Eph. 1:4-5).
Present – At the time of Malachi’s writing the descendants of Esau (Edom) were wicked people and the enemy of both God and Israel. While God brought back the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and was blessing their efforts to rebuild their lives, He was not doing the same for the descendants of Esau (Edom). In fact, His hand of judgment was still heavy on them for their refusal to submit to His lordship.
But Esau I have hated, (how much) and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness. Even though Edom has said, “We have been impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places,” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever.”
God was showing His love for the descendants of Jacob and His hatred for the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, by not allowing Edom to prosper. In fact, they were refusing to recognize the hand of God on them to the point that He was frustrating their efforts to rebuild and become something noteworthy outside of God’s help or sovereign will. God was taking away their hope— and for me, a place of no hope is a perfect description of Hell.
Future – But the day is coming, God is telling Israel, that you will see all the promises I have for you and the blessings I want to give you. It’s almost like the final doxology at the close of chapter three in Ephesians:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).
All of God’s promises are true and His love for Jacob, for Israel, is shown in His faithful fulfillment of those promises. Yes, times may be rough right now. And yes, you may not understand all that is happening to you. But look up, for the Messiah is coming and “your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28).
“Your eyes shall see, and you shall say,
‘The Lord is magnified beyond the border of Israel.'”
Come, Lord Jesus.