Summary: God expresses His relationship with man in a variety of ways
April 18, 2004
Text: Malachi 1:1-5
Subject: God’s Love for His People
Title: How Do I Love Thee…?
Sometimes it is difficult to preach an Easter sermon and then find something else to preach about following that day that is what we are all about. How can I top what God has done for us. Then I understand that I am not to try to top God’s work with His word, but to explain or expand on the work that He has done for us.
Really every sermon I preach is an Easter sermon, because the whole Bible is about Jesus, His transcendent relationship as Mediator between God and man, the love of God and our response to that love.
Today I want to specifically share with you about God’s love. We know God loves us; He loves all of His creation. But as children of the Living God, we are given the right to receive God’s love in a more significant way. How much does God love us? It is hard to put into words, the great American poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these words that could have come from the very throne of God.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Malachi begins his prophecy by describing the words he has been given as a burden. God’s love and desires for His people is often so intense that it becomes a burden to those who must speak God’s word. Today we will look at God’s love in three specific areas. 1) God’s love for His people, 2) God’s hatred for His enemies, and 3) God’s manifestation to all.
As God’s children, we can be assured of His love for us.
I. GOD’S LOVE FOR HIS CHILDREN. (verse 2)
A. God Pronounces His Love. “I have loved you…” This is not the first pronouncement that God had ever made to Israel. Deut. 4:37, “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power.” We all need to be reminded of God’s love occasionally. Israel especially, knowing their history of continually turning to idolatry, needed to be reminded. God pronounced His love by making a covenant with Abraham. He honored it. God declared His love for Israel by bringing them out of Egypt. God made a covenant with Moses. “I will be your God and you will be My people.” He honored it. God showed His love for Israel by giving them a king of their choice and then anointing His choice, David. Then, He made a covenant with David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16) Finally, God brought these three covenants together in the person of Jesus Christ. “God demonstrated His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God fulfilled His covenant with Abraham by naming all who are established by faith as Abraham’s offspring (they will be a numerous as the sands on the shore and the stars in the sky.) He fulfilled His covenant with Israel by grafting a new shoot on to the old vine of Israel, so that we might all be called God’s chosen people. He completed His covenant with David by sending His only begotten Son as legal heir to the throne of David but also as Sovereign King who sits and reigns at the right hand of the Father. How much does God love you? He loves you so much that He came to earth, went to the cross, opened up His arms, and died for you.
B. Man Questions God’s Love. After all that God has done for His people, they respond by saying, “In what way have You loved us”? The word that is translated “love” can have a sexual context, which gives it a meaning of deepest intimacy. In other words, “How have You been intimate with us?” Though God has continually shown love to His people through the ages, the question that is ever present is, “What have You done for us lately?” You know the cycle. God loves His people – they turn away. God chastises those He loves – they turn back. God reinstates them, establishing them in His love – they turn away… and so on. It seems that by nature man tends to dwell on the negative and forget the positive. Why did this happen to me? How could God do this to me? If God is love how could HE allow this to happen? These are questions I hear asked all the time. We have forgotten about all the promises that God has bestowed on us. Promises that are coupled with obedience. Sometimes I have to think that God looks at mankind and just shakes His head and laughs. Sometimes people do and say some things that even I think are silly. I can only wonder what God must think. There’s a story about a city dweller who was visiting relatives on a farm and the farmer gave a whistle and his dog herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. "Wow, that’s some dog. What’s her name?" The forgetful farmer thought a minute, then asked, "What do you call that red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?" "A rose?" "That’s it!" The farmer turned to his wife. "Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?" It seems the we often come down with an occasional case of forgetfulness when it comes to God’s love for us.