God uses the last prophet in the Old Testament to express His love for His people. But the people want to argue that God’s love is not shown to them as they would like it to be. It’s interesting to me that this last book of the Old Testament is about to be answered powerfully by the first book of the New Testament. God’s love has not been appreciated by His thankless people so he takes another step of displaying His love for them by sending His only Son to die for their sins and ingratitude. Malachi tries to move the Israelites to understand God’s love for them in Malachi 1:2-3. He says, “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, but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.”

 God is pointing out how his love for them has been demonstrated in his preservation of them relative to Esau’s demise in the world. During the era of Malachi the Edomites, Esau’s descendants had been routed by the Nabateans who took their homes from them and scattered them in the surrounding communities. There was nothing left for them and eventually, they became a lost civilization. Herod the Great, the Idumean, was the last mention of any of the descendants of Esau. But Israel had been redeemed from their slavery in Babylon, restored to their land, and blessed with the rebuilding of the people, the temple, and its sacrifices, along with the wall around the city for protection.

They ask God “How do you love us?” What they mean is that God doesn’t treat them as they think they should be treated. God asks them back, “how can you experience all that I have done with the people of Israel and still doubt my love?” This is so relevant for us today. We wrap ourselves up with religious ritual without true devotion to God and then question why everything doesn’t go our way like we think it should. If God loves us he wouldn’t allow such and such to happen. If He loved me, I’d win the lottery! We look around our world with ungrateful hearts. We’re not rich. We’re not powerful. We’re not famous. We don’t have the lifestyles we might like. Let’s just think for a moment. God filled the world with color and gave us eyes. He filled the world with music and gave us ears. He filled the world with good things to eat and blessed us with the ability to enjoy them. The older I get, the more I appreciate God’s love simply expressed through the created order itself. That I exist is a miracle! I can lay in bed at night without serious pain. I can still roll over by myself. I wake in the morning and see the sun and have the privilege of seeing my wife and sons and grandsons. How can I ever question God’s love for me? Given that there are things I don’t like to see in the world. There are sounds I don’t like to hear. Not everything tastes that great either. But even in the light of suffering in the world, I see that God suffered on my behalf on the cross. He loved the world, and that includes me, so much that he demonstrated His love for us all, while we were still sinners, by Jesus dying on the cross in our place. How can we not truly appreciate God’s love for us? If God is our shepherd, we have cups that are not half full or half empty, but we have cups that are running over. How can we live in this world and not experience God’s love? We will never be able to return God’s love, or any love for that matter, until we receive His love. Jesus is the expression of God’s love. To all that receive him, God gives the right to become children of God, to as many as believe in His name.