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INTRO: One of the men who most influenced D. L. Moody was a young preacher named Henry Moorehouse. He once preached for Moody for an entire week using the same text every night—John 3:16.
The preaching of Moorehouse, according to Moody, was much different from his own. Instead of preaching that God was behind people with a double-edged sword to hue them down, he told them God wanted every person to be saved because He loved them. Moody said of his preaching: “I didn’t know God thought so much of me. It was wonderful to hear the way he brought out Scripture. He went from Genesis to Revelation and preached that in all ages God loved the sinner.”
In closing the final service of that series, Moorehouse said: “For seven nights I have been trying to tell you how much God loves you, and this poor stammering tongue of mine will not let me. If I could ascend Jacob’s ladder and ask Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, to tell you how much love God the Father has for this poor lost world, all that Gabriel could say is: (quote John 3:16).
This message, THE LOVE OF GOD, is the constant and central message of the Bible. We are not surprised, therefore, that the prophecy of Malachi begins with this great affirmation, “I have loved you, says the Lord.”
But the backslidden people argue, “Wherin have you loved us?” They had lost their love for God; now they were questioning God’s love for them. As a concrete proof of His love, God pointed to His favored treatment of Israel over her ancient enemy Edom. To anybody who did not have a hardened heart, the election of Israel in the beginning, the protection of Israel from captivity were clear evidence of God’s love for his people.
This declaration and illustration from Israel’s national life teaches us three things about the love of God:
I. GOD’S LOVE IS UNMERITED.
The Lord said, “I loved Jacob, and I hated (rejected) Esau” (vv. 2-3). This refers to God’s selection of Jacob’s family instead of Esau’s as the line through which the Messiah would come.
This choice was clearly an act of God’s sovereign grace. It had to be of grace because it was made before either Jacob or his twin brother Esau was born.
To be sure, God in His foreknowledge knew the character of each of these boys and the nations that would flow from them. But it was of grace nonetheless, for neither could have done anything to merit God’s favor before they came out of their mother’s womb.
God’s dealings with us are always out of grace. We are saved by grace, we are empowered for Christian service by grace, and we are kept by grace. God’s love is always unmerited.
II. GOD’S LOVE IS UNCHANGING.
The force of affirmation “I have loved you” in the Hebrew is “I have loved you and I love you still.”
Israel had become degenerate and cynical. But, though she had dishonored God by offering second-rate sacrifices, disobeyed God’s laws concerning divorce, and robbed God of tithes and of-ferings, still He loved her. Israel’s love for God had waned, but God’s love for Israel remained constant.
God’s love is always like that—eternal, unending, unchanging. Spurgeon said, “God soon turns from His wrath but never from His love.”
III. GOD’S LOVE IS UNIVERSAL.
God’s selection of Jacob and His rejection of Esau had nothing to do with salvation or eternity
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