Summary: Malachi calls the people of his day to be responsive to the love of God.

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What we are told in verse one is all we have about the prophet Malachi. Other prophetic books often tell when the prophet wrote, that is, during the reigns of a certain kings. But, apparently, there were no kings in Israel in Malachi’s day - they appear to be a thing of the past.

The Jew’s captivity in Babylon ended in 536 B.C. Many returned to the promised land under Zerubbabel; Joshua the High Priest; and the prophets Zechariah and Haggai. By 515 B.C. the temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem, but it was disappointing for those old enough to remember the glory of Solomon’s temple. As the people settled in and tried to make a life for themselves, they became discouraged and disillusioned.

About 455 B.C. Ezra arrived and God brought revival. But it didn’t last, for in 444 B.C. Nehemiah was sent as governor and found the same sins being committed. Nehemiah also called the people back to God and rebuilt Jerusalem’s walls. But he was called back to the

palace about 433 or 432 B.C. (Nehemiah 13:6-7) and later returned. It was while Nehemiah was away that many believe Malachi conducted his ministry. He addressed many of the problems Nehemiah did:

Alien wives (Nehemiah 13:23; Malachi 2:11)

Withholding tithes (Nehemiah 13:10; Malachi 3:8)

Illegitimate divorce (Nehemiah 13:23, 27; Malachi 2:15, 16)

Neglect of temple service (Nehemiah 13:4, 5, 11; Malachi 1:12,13)

So Malachi came at a time when God’s people needed to return to Him. The opening message to the people is a call for them to respond to God’s love. “Malachi” means “messenger.” The word “oracle,” could be translated, “burden.” The burden carried by the messenger of God was for God’s people to return to the God who loved them.

In this opening message of God’s messenger, we learn four things about the love of God.

1. God’s love is a persistent love - v. 2a

Such is the idea behind the phrase “I have loved you.”

There had been a temptation among the people to believe that, because they had struggled, because things hadn’t been easy, and because the temple that had been rebuilt couldn’t begin to compare to the glory of the temple of Solomon, that God didn't love His people anymore. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Likewise, you need to understand today that God’s love for you is a persistent love, that will not quit, and is very real, despite the fact that you may be going through difficult times or difficult circumstances that would lead you to believe otherwise.

A man and his little daughter buried the mother of the home. They were broken-hearted when they returned to their house after the funeral, things were so different. As the father tucked his little girl in for the night, she commented on how dark it was that particular evening. But then she added, “But Papa, you love through the dark, don’t you?” Later that evening, as the man was preparing to go to bed, he whispered a prayer to God in which, inspired by his daughter’s faith, he prayed, “Dear Lord, our lives seem so dark without my dear wife. But I am glad that You love through the dark.”

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