In our church family we are studying through Malachi, and the people in Malachi have lived through a roller coaster of history. Yes, they have heard about the God of Scripture doing glorious things in the history of Israel like (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon), but they have also heard about really horrible things.
Israel is split into two kingdoms, 10 tribes to the north, and 2 tribes to the south. The ten tribes to the north are taken into captivity by Assyria. The 2 tribes to the south are taken into captivity by Babylon. The temple that Solomon built has been destroyed, and the people are wondering, “God where are you?”
Yes, there are good things happening. The city walls are being rebuilt, the temple is being rebuilt, the economy is picking up, and things are looking better, but they are still living under Persian oppression, they are still walking through hardships, so that in Malachi 1:2 when the Lord speaks to His people and says, “I have loved you” we see the visceral response of the people in Malachi is, “How have you loved us?”
Like the great Janet Jackson once said, “What have you done for me lately? Ooh, ooh, yeah. You use to pamper me. You use to brag about me. You use to take me to dinner every night, but now your dancing feet are always on my couch.”
The people in Malachi are doubting the love of God, and if we are honest with ourselves, we have all doubted the love of God. I am sure there are times on Sunday morning where we are singing “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me” on the outside, but on the inside we are thinking, “Really?” Do we really believe His love will never fail?
As a pastor I have stood in moments with a mom and dad where they have lost their 18-year old son to a drunk driving accident, and the phrase, “The God of Scripture is deeply loves you” doesn’t sound helpful.
I have stood in the bedroom with a couple learning about infidelity in the marriage for the first time. Tears rolling down their face, emotionally exhausted, and I remember the hollow feeling in my soul when I reach for their hands to pray about God’s love for their marriage. It doesn’t feel comforting.
Therefore, when the people in Malachi say, “How have you loved us?” The Lord responds with, Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob;”
That phrase might not mean anything to us, but for the people in Malachi it would have jumped off the page.
“Yet I have loved Jacob isn’t a flowery comment. It is a profound statement. It is a reminder from the God of Scripture, “What do you mean how I have loved you?” I have never stopped loving you. I have loved you in the past, I love you now, I love you always.”