Summary: When we become passive, smug, or listless in our relationship to God, He does not take it lightly; God doesn’t just want what we DO, He wants US, heart and soul.
God’s Unrequited Love
1. We divide the OT prophets into two categories: the Pre-exhilic and the post-exhilic. The line of demarcation is 606 BC, when the Babylonian captivity began. In 586 BC, the temple was destroyed. The prophets who were active during this time or earlier are called the "pre-exhilic prophets."
2. In 536 BC, some Jews returned to the land and began rebuilding the Temple. The prophets in this era are called the "Post-exhilic prophets."
3. Who were the prophets? God’s spokespersons! 2 Kings 17:13, "The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: ’Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’"
4. In contemporary American culture, we view a prophet as a fortune-teller. But this is not the the Biblical use of the term. The prophets were often confronters, comforters, and instructors. They were inspired by God and frequently demanded change in the attitudes or actions of people by referring to God’s distant past workings, near past, near future, and distant future workings. So there was a predictive element to the prophets, but that was not their main thrust.
5. Malachi is the last of the prophets; the next prophet mentioned in Scripture would be over 400 years later, when Anna the prophetess blessed the baby Jesus.
6. Today’s sermon is titled, "Unrequited love."
"Unrequited love is love that is not reciprocated, even though reciprocation is usually deeply desired. The beloved may not even be aware of this person’s deep feelings for them. This can lead to feelings such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and rapid mood swings between depression and euphoria. Being such a universal feeling, it has naturally been a frequent subject in popular culture." [Wikipedia]
7. We write love songs and love stories about rejection, secret love, and heart ache. And, as human beings, some of us have memories of the same. We might think of our first crush, or someone who had a crush on us -- but we had no interest in her or him.
8. Although our relationship with God is not romantic, God has a love for us that is stronger than romantic love. Yet that love goes larger unrequited.
9. Such was the case with the nation of Israel at the time. The people were indifferent toward God. They felt He was irrelevant to their daily lives and routines. Their enthusiasm had gotten old: Israel had been back in the land for nearly 100 years.
10. It was a time of spiritual decline. The Jewish people were intermarrying with gentiles who did not know the true God. The poor were oppressed and the religious leaders were unorganized and unenthused.
11. Like a stale marriage in which one partner wants to rekindle the flame, God exposes Israel’s complacent attitudes and pleads with them to rekindle a heart aflame.
Main idea: When we become passive, smug, or listless in our relationship to God, He does not take it lightly; God doesn’t just want what we DO, He wants US, heart and soul.
I. God’s Love for ISRAEL and Israel’s JADED Response
jad·ed adj, "no longer interested in something, often because of having been overexposed to it…"
A. God’s SPECIAL Love (1-2a)
B. God’s PREFERENTIAL Love (2b-5)
God chose Israel to be His special nation, from all the nations of the earth.
Figure in Hebrew: loved and hated = loved more and loved less; by showing preference to one above the other, the one you prioritize frist is the one you love, the one in second or third place is the one you hate; when Jesus said we had to hate our families to love Him, what He meant was that He demands we make Him top priority.
C. Israel’s Lack of HONORING God (6-9)
Illustration: Ed Wood shared the following story:
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, a little brother and sister were playing “Noah and the Ark.” An old shoe box was the ark; the bathtub was their flood. After the flood was over they decided to make an offering to God.
Noah (the boy) said to Mrs. Noah (the girl), “Here, take one of your toy animals as a sacrifice.” “No,” she replied, “Let’s use one of your animals instead!” When they could not agree, she ran to the attic.
In a moment she was back with a toy lamb. It was dirty, it’s head smashed, and it’s tail missing. “Here,” she cried, “let’s give this as a sacrifice. We will never want it again.”
Her brother agreed, and they made their sacrifice. The little broken lamb they did not want was given to God.
NOW THE SCENE SHIFTS. God was looking down at his earth. He saw the people in all of their wickedness and their weakness. They had no hope. All was dark. Something had to be sacrificed if they were to be saved from their sin. God had many angels he might have sent to help. He did not even consider them. Another was chosen instead: the best God had. The Scriptures tell us why: “God so loved the world . . . .” (John 3:16)."