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God's Unchanging Love

Major Lessons from the Minor Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:
Background:
The only thing we really know about Malachi is his name means, “my messenger” or “the Lord’s Messenger.” Malachi was written some 90 years after Haggai and Zechariah. He falls in line as a prophet to Ezra and Nehemiah who were priest and governor at the time (which is similar to Joshua and Zerubbabel), and by most estimates, the book was written about the mid-400’s BC.
The book of Malachi deals with some of the same issues that Nehemiah was dealing with upon his return to Jerusalem after the walls had been built. The major topics of this book are corrupted worship, people taking on foreign wives and divorce, the issue of people withholding their tithe, and even a promise of deliverance and judgment of those that sit opposed to God and His purpose.
Being only four chapters in length, the lessons are pretty important for us to look at in a modern setting as we tend to face many of the same issues today. If you take the chapter divisions out of the book, you can see that there are six distinct divisions in the book that are called oracles. In these oracles (better seen as disputations), God presents a statement, and then responds to that statement as if the people were speaking a counter argument. In total, there are 55 verses, and 47 of those are spoken in the first person which tells us God is speaking directly to His audience through the prophet. One other thing to note here is the title “Lord of Hosts” is used some 23 times throughout the book which is designed to remind the listener of God’s ultimately sovereignty, and the fact that ultimately, everything is at God’s disposal.
Let us look at the book as a whole before we dig into our text today:
The first oracle (
Oracle one (1.2-5)
In the first oracle, God states the fact, “I have loved you,” and He supposes the people respond by saying, “How have you loved us?” God then presents and example of Jacob and Esau and How God had blessed the line of Jacob instead of Esau.
Oracle two (1.6-2.9)
The second oracle draws the people’s attention to their corrupted worship. He asks the people where His respect was, and they respond with the typical “how” question. In this oracle, God points out that they had been offering corrupted sacrifices, and then points out that this is not only a personal problem, but it was a leadership problem for allowing that to happen (more on that next week).
Oracle three (2.10-16)
This oracle differs a bit in that it draws attention to an issue with the people marrying people outside their culture and the rate of divorce among those couples. What was really at issue with that was they were marrying polytheists that had a different faith, and it was because of that they were never really united to begin with and thus the biblically unhealthy relationships failed and it caused people to violate God’s covenant of marriage.
Oracle four (2.17-3.5)
This fourth oracle opens with a statement from God saying, “You have wearied me with your words.” What is at issue here was that people were letting the bad things in life go without addressing them, and they were then practically mocking God because the bad people were getting away with their deception and then God people were basically asking, “Why is God not doing anything about this?”
Oracle five (3.6-12)
This oracle gets to a very serious issue of people robbing God. God tells them they were robbing Him, and they of course asked, “but how?” Apparently people were withholding their tithe for whatever reason, and they had fallen into a pattern of disobedience because of it, but God in His infinite mercy promises to bless them if they would simply act in a trusting obedience (more on this in another sermon.)
Oracle six (3.13-4.5)
The last oracle of the book presents a promise to those that remain faithful. God promises to remember them when the final judgment comes down to be passed on those that are set at opposition to Him.
Malachi 1:2–5 ESV
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’ ” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
God addresses the people with the statement, “I have loved you.” The word used here for love is in the perfect tense which means that it is a complete and full love coming from God. We must remember at this point, that the people are just really getting settled in to being back in Jerusalem. The people had been taken away from their home for seventy years, their hometown was destroyed, and they were just putting the finishing touches on the city, and they ask, “How have you loved us?”
God presents them the example of Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau were the sons of Isaac (Abraham’s promised child). If we remember, Jacob means “supplanter,” and he lived up to his name quite well. He swindled the birthright from Esau for a bowl of soup, and even disguised himself as Esau to take Isaac’s blessing away from his brother. He then went on a twenty year hide out from his brother, and the night before meeting with him, he wrestled with God and God changed His name to Israel which means, “May God prevail.” His twelve sons would eventually give way to the nation that is known as Israel and what we now know as the twelve tribes of Israel.
With that in mind, God is calling their attention to the fact that in spite of all the faults of the generations before them, He was still there and still merciful to them, and that He had set Himself against all of the nations outside of Israel. God basically uses this example as a way of saying actions speak louder than words.
God then calls them to pay attention in verse five and tells them that they will see just how far His love will go, and that He will be glorified because of that.

God’s Love is Unchanging

God has reminded the people that in spite of all their faults and how many times they turned away, God’s love has never changed toward them. God’s love never changes toward His chosen people.
Malachi 3:6–7 ESV
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
In 3.6, God tells them that He never changes and that is why they were never destroyed (consumed). God always focuses on a faithful few to save, and He did just that with this people.
As Christians, we are God’s chosen people, we become part of the “new Israel.” Jesus set that example of God’s love toward all people. He was accused of being a friend of sinners, and spending time with the less desirables of the time. God is just and fair and so is His love. His love makes no distinction of race, social status, age, or anything of that nature, and this is what we, as Christians, count on. We rely on His unchanging love for us.

People will Question God’s Love

The people knew their history. They knew what their ancestors had been through, and I think to a certain extent, at this point, they were looking past all the good that that had happened and focusing only on the negative. They asked the question, “How have you loved us?”
This is important to understand here because when we fall on difficult times, we often ask the question, “Where is God in all of this? I thought He loved me.” The truth is bad things happen all the time. Many times we can never explain why they happen, and we still ask why. Sometimes things are brought on by the actions of other people, and sometimes they are brought on by decisions we have made. We must understand that actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences can be pretty rough. That doesn’t mean that God loves us any less. In fact, when we fall into a pattern of disobedience and things fall apart, we should always look and see if God is getting on to us because of something we have done. If we are God’s children, and when we violate the rules, there are consequences to those decisions, and just like when a child the breaks a parent’s rule, there are consequences. That doesn’t mean we love our children less, we correct them because we love them and want to protect them. The same goes with God: we get corrected because God loves us, and He doesn’t want harm to come to us.

God’s Answers the Question of His Love

God answers the people’s objection by presenting an example of how he has loved them. In pit of all their faults, He still stuck with them. Regardless of how far they turned from Him, He was still there, and that tells us a couple things about God’s love for His people.

God’s Love Rescues the Unworthy

God uses the case study of Jacob and Esau for the people because that is what they knew. He was reaffirming to them that He was honoring His end of the covenant.
Time and time again we read of how God delivers the people from certain doom. Time and time again, we see God’s love poured out for those that seem “unrespectable.” We live in a fallen world of imperfect people, yet here we are, the object of God’s undying love. God loves His creation and that never changes. Humanity is His masterpiece, and because of that, He cares for humanity. No matter how bad we think we are, no matter how corrupt this earth can get, there is God’s love remains, and He still reaches out to us to have a relationship with us.
Romans 5:6–11 ESV
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
God’s love does not change. God doesn’t desire to condemn people. He desires all be saved and come to know an intimate relationship with Him, and He will go to great lengths to make that known to humanity.

God’s Love Conquers all Strongholds

Verse four becomes pivotal in this passage. God supposes a defiant statement from Edom saying, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins.” God then tells them, “Oh no you don’t!” God promises to tear down what they rebuild, and in His sovereignty, He will not allow that type of defiance to continue.
Malachi 3:5 ESV
5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
God’s judgment will be swift when it happens, and His judgment will be against those who stand opposed to Him.
Romans 8:35–39 ESV
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God, in His sovereignty, will keep us safe in his love. His sovereignty will not allow evil to triumph, and those that stand opposed to Him will not survive that defiance. Bad things may happen, people that trample others may succeed, and we get left to pick the scraps, and when we fall on hard times, we end up asking, “Where is God in all of this?” The bottom line truth to this is we can rest knowing that God will prevail. It may not happen when we think it should, but when God has had enough, it will be a very public failing. We see this all the time with many of these high-profile preachers. The higher the pedestal, the harder the fall, and it is usually a very public fall.

God will Declare His Own Greatness

Verse five is a powerful punctuation. God says, “you’re going to see it.” And when we see it, we will know that God is greater than anything on this earth. God will declare His greatness for all the world to see, and all we have to do is sit back and watch and remain faithful.
Psalm 19:1 ESV
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19.1
If God’s creation already declares His glory, how much will the fall of the powerful and evil declare the greatness of God. Those that are set against God will be dealt with in His time, and the whole world will see it, and God’s glory and greatness will be held open for all the world to see.
All of this comes down to one point for us to take with us:
Because God’s love never changes, we must fix our attention on His greatness, and focus our affections on His Glory.
We get sidetracked by this world. Things divert our attention, but nothing should ever come between us and God, because nothing comes between His love to us. Even at our worst, God still loves us. Once we can truly understand that, we can then begin to fix our attention on His greatness and realize just how truly great God is, and that should cause us to focus all of our affection on His glory.

Because God’s love never changes,

God’s Love is Ultimately Manifest in Jesus Christ

God’s love was manifest fully in the person of Jesus Christ. When God said, “Your eyes shall see this,” I believe that He was talking about this pivotal event here, but I don’t want to stretch the text too much here, but suffice it to say that Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love to humanity.
1 John 4:9–10 ESV
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
This is the ultimate expression of the love of God. We owed a debt that we would never be able to pay, and God required a satisfaction for that debt. That satisfaction is found in the sinless life of Jesus Christ. When He went to the cross, He thought of nothing but dying for the sins of all of humanity once and for all time. Once we come to really understand the implications of that, we can respond to what God has done on our behalf. If we reject this sacrifice, we will be eternally separated from Him, but once we really grasp the implication of what he did for us, that changes our lives for the better. Have you accepted Jesus into your life? If not, I would encourage you to place your faith in Him today.
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