Summary: We need to accept the truth that God loves us.
1. Phillip Keller wrote about a border collie that he bought to herd sheep for him. The collie was inexpensive because it was an ill-tempered and unpredictable dog. The dog was less then friendly and did not trust him. At sometime it had been abused and badly neglected.
He had to keep the dog in a cage, but approached it will words of praise – the dog refused to even eat. He realized that if something didn’t happen the dog would literally starve to death. So he set the dog free and it took off. Phillip figured that was the end of that, but left food out for the dog just in case he wandered back.
The day came with he spotted the dog up on a ridge watching him, and he called out to it but again it ran off. That evening the food he set out was gone, and as time when on that dog allowed him to put his hand on its head and became a constant companion and reliable worker with the sheep.
2. Many of us feel like that dog, living in a Fallen place, among a Fallen race we not only hurt others but get hurt ourselves. We distrust people. But then God comes with unbelievable love, mercy, and grace through Jesus Christ. It takes time but we begin to recover.
3. A Declaration of Divine Affection.
Malachi 1:1-5 (NKJV)
1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
2 "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;
3 But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness."
4 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.
5 Your eyes shall see, And you shall say, 'The LORD is magnified beyond the border of Israel.'
In the opening of this book we have a Proclamation, the burden of the word of the LORD.” It was Weighty, a burden which can also be translated oracle; It refers to “a prophetical message of a threatening nature.” It was also with Authority, “the word of the LORD.”
The People, “to Israel” a title originally for all 12 Tribes until 931 BC when the Nation split 10 tribes going north called Israel, and 2 tribes going south called Judah. In 722 BC, the Assyrians took Israel captive, and Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians 587 BC, but returned under Zerubbable, Ezra, and then Nehemiah.
Malachi writing between 450-430 BC, once again addressed not Judah but Israel, referring to the entire 12 tribes revealing that he nation was not lost but still in existence.
(Ja. 1:1/Rev. 7)
The Prophet, Malachi meaning “my messenger” was the last prophetic voice of the OT prophets followed by a 400 year silence. We know very little about Malachi.
I. First, we have God’s love Documented. 1:2
I have loved you – a perfect tense in the Hebrew, indicating action finished in the past but continuing in its effects into the present. [Hebrew syntax Davidson]
God had declared His love for Israel many times before this (Deut. 4:37; 7:8; 23:5/Book of Hosea/Isa.43:3-4/etc). God also had documented his love for the Church (Rom.5:8/I Jn. 4:10, 18-19/etc.)
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.
II. Secondly that love was Doubted. 2b
In what way have you loved us? – They were not convinced that God really loved them. Why? They had been back in the land for about 100 years and yet the Messiah the prophet’s spoke of had not yet come. They were surrounded by enemies, dominated by the Persians, and living under difficult economic times.
Some of us have preached about the Rapture for many years now, and it would be easy to get discouraged about His delay; maybe pressure from some boss or family member or a friend; we can undergo what we call a loss of the good times; and God’s love is not shinning too brightly through our circumstances.
We need to take a deep breath and dare to believe that God loves us regardless of what our circumstances are saying. The problem is not with God but us, we pull back from believing God’s Word. Reminds me of one of my dogs, if you throw the ball he will immediately go get it and bring it back. But as soon as you reach for the ball he pulls his head away! God’s love is steady but were not.