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

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.”

This was Paul’s declaration:

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to

separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)

2. God’s love is a purposeful love - v. 2b

The reference to God’s love for Jacob here is a reference to God’s sovereign purpose for Jacob and his descendants. God was going to bring the Messiah into the world through Jacob. God’s love was purposeful.

Likewise, God’s love for you and me is such that He has a purposeful, meaningful, life planned for each and every one of us. Did you know that God delights in you?

“For the LORD takes delight in his people.” - Psalm 149:4 (NIV)

“Does it help to think that God delights in you? Think about it! I don’t care how ugly you think you are. You are God’s delight. I don’t care how fat you are. You are God’s delight. Even if your marriage seems such a struggle. You are God’s delight. Even if you are divorced, your self-esteem wrecked. You are God’s delight. Even if you are so depressed your life feels like a black hole. You are God’s delight. Even if you threw a pity party and nobody showed up. You are God’s delight. God doesn’t abandon you because your business collapsed. You are God’s delight. God doesn’t leave you because you’re face is all wrinkled. You are God’s delight. Now, instead of wasting all that energy trying to prove to everybody that you are worth something, you can start with this idea that you already are somebody because we are the one in whom God delights!” - Devon Huss

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