Summary: This message shows how the people scorned God’s love, yet how God remained faithful in the loving of them and the sending of the Saviour
God’s Final Word
Text: Malachi 1:1-5
Introduction: We turn now to the last book of our Old Testament, to the book of Malachi, and to God’s final words with the nation for 400 years. Between Malachi and Matthew God says nothing, not one word. The next time He speaks to this nation it will not be by the Written word, but by the living Word, Jesus Christ, not by the prophets, but by THE Prophet, the one whom Malachi describes as “the messenger of the covenant”.
Like Haggai, and Zechariah, Malachi is a postexilic book. But unlike those previous prophets his goals were not to stir them to build the temple. His arrival came much later than that. In fact by the time he arrived on the scene the temple had been rebuilt, Nehemiah had overseen the rebuilding walls of Jerusalem, and the nation had been reformed, albeit still under the governing eye of Persian rule. Malachi’s purposes were not physical, in the terms of building a sanctuary, but spiritual. His goal was to address the formalism and scepticism of a people who had lost any sense of God’s presence in their lives.
Malachi may be looked upon as a miniature summary of the whole Old Testament, particular with relation to Israel. He speaks of:
The Selection of Israel by God – 1:2; 2:4-6 & 10.
The Transgression of Israel against God – 1:6; 2:11, & 17
The Manifestation to Israel of Messiah – 3:1; 4:2
The Tribulation of Israel among the nations – 4:1
The Restoration of Israel at the Last – 3:2-4, 12, 16-18; 4:2-6
Ultimately this is a book about God’s love; about His love for His chosen people, and about His faithfulness in that love, in spite of their rejection of Him and rebellion against Him. These are God’s last words to Israel before Jesus comes, and He simply says, “I love you.”
I. God’s Love Declared – Malachi 1:2-3
A. The Book of Malachi is easily and readily outlined following seven defensive questions asked by the Jewish of the time.
1. In many ways these questions are somewhat flippant.
2. Each time the prophets makes a statement, or an accusation and the people retort with, “Is that so?”
3. See 1:2, 6, 7; 2:17; 3:7, 8 &13
4. These people were formally worshipping, but they were spiritually insensitive, totally unaware of how their lives were an offence to God.
5. And you know it’s interesting, because initially the prophet is non confrontational in his words, he simply states that God loves them, and that’s when the argument began.
a. “Wherein hast thou loved us?” was the retort.
b. “How have you loved us, God?”
c. These people doubted God’s love for them, and the reason for that was they were still under Persian rule, no longer in captivity, but still ruled over by a foreign power.
d. They felt like God had not prospered them, that He had let them down, that if He really loved them life would be a lot easier.
e. You know a lot of Jewish people still feel that way, they are still antagonistic toward God, and many are agnostics and atheists.
f. Many of them look back at the holocaust and question how there could be a God, and even if there is a God how could it be said that He loves them. They blame God, but never do they consider their own sins as a possibility for such awful events.
B. But the fact that He chose them is the proof of His love.
1. See Malachi 1:2b-5.
2. Now when God says He, “loved Jacob, and hated Esau,” we must understand He was not referring to the individuals, but to the nations that sprang out from those individuals.
a. In fact the word “hate” here is not an emotional statement, but a matter of preference – much like someone might say “I hate vegetables.”
3. Jacob is synonymous with Israel, and Esau with the Edomites.
4. The proof of God’s love lay in the matter of His Sovereign choice. He had chosen and favoured Israel above all the nations of the earth.
a. What was it that set Israel apart? What made them special? Nothing, but the grace of God.
C. Now the Jewish people had a grievance with the Edomites.
1. If you recall our study in Obadiah you will remember how there came a dark day in the history of Judah in which the Philistines and the Arabians attacked Jerusalem - and the city was ransacked.
a. This attack came during a period of Edomite revolt against the rule of King Jehoram in Judah. (2Chron 21:8 & 16-17)
2. Whilst the Edomites could not of themselves topple Israel, they invited others to do it.