1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.
2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord.“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord.
5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’
The minor prophets of the Old Testament have been damned with faint praise. “Oh what servants! What timeless truths! Right? Now, everyone, please turn in your Bibles over to Romans…” I’ve been enjoying Malachi of late, and I thought I’d share a bit.
A word of warning, before we begin: all I’m using is biblegateway.com. That’s it. I utilize that site due to the ease of accessing multiple translations. I trend towards NASB and HCSB. My wife prefers NCV. I spent some time in KJV just to get some perspective. All my commentaries are boxed up somewhere so I’m stuck with just variations in Bible translations. Spot any mistakes? Point them out. Iron sharpens iron, after all.
The Lord starts off with a bang, announcing both the existence of His feelings as well as their character: love. He loves. Even if we were to assume the divine amore takes on a form unique from our own, we still possess a feeling, personal God. Gone is the Life Force or a vague “something greater” to which we might belong.
The people of Israel cannot see it, though. They ask, “Love? What love?” A more thorough examination of Malachi’s cultural and political milieu might reveal strife and turmoil that may have inspired the Israelites to question God’s love. Their myopic view does not allow them to grasp a larger picture. God moves quickly to display His proof via a well-known historical perspective. History, my dear Americans, is useful.
“Did I not choose you, the house of Jacob, over that of his equally sinful brother, Esau? Could I not easily have gone in a different direction and left Jacob’s line to starve and stagger through the famine that plagued the region in later decades? Haven’t I left you a country, a place of your own that actually thrives sometimes? And Esau – he’s got rocks and wild dogs.”
There’s something hidden in here – the sovereignty of God. He chooses, and His choice is final. Calvinists, consider your position on election pretty well confirmed. God does choose, and apparently His choices help determine the difference between the goats and and sheep, the hoi polloi and the spiritual elites.
But wait – what of Esau? What response do his people give? “Sure, the Almighty has destroyed, but we’ll overcome even that.” They could have gone over over the river to the west, to their cousins’ place. Ruth the Moabite (Moabitess?) showed the world that much. Historically speaking, people groups moved and merged and split and melded back then. Joining the Jews remained an option, but Esau’s people never took that route. They made their choice, one of rebellion, one that said God’s destructive acts would be ignored. Arminians, here is the language of choice in matters of salvation to buttress your assertions.
And God closes His proof of His love, contrasted with His rejection of Edom, by reminding the nation of something they could never remember: He was King of the world, and the world would know Him. Too often, Israel fell into the assumption that He was their chosen God, and His power and favor fell on them to the exclusion of all else. Their misunderstood emphasis aside, God’s choice of Jacob’s family by no means implied His lordship limited itself to the Israeli people and their land. No, God reigned supreme over all the world, and the world needed to know. Evangelism and missions existed even in Malachi’s time.
One has to wonder – as we consider love, sovereignty, His choices, our choices, and a world that did not know Him – was Malachi pointing towards Christ? God so loved that He chose to send His Son, a Son that we can choose even has He chooses us, no? His name will be great among the nations, right?