Journal – January 3, 2021
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
ISRAEL LOVED OF THE LORD
The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.2“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.” 5Your eyes will see this and you will say, “The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel!”
After finishing Romans, we are now going to look at the last book of the Old Testament which has a message for us today as it anticipates the New Testament. The name of the prophet signifies My messenger and is the same word used concerning the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist. However, there are those that believe this is the official title or is descriptive of an angelic being. We have no knowledge of where he was born, and the names of his parents, all we know is that he is the last of the Old Testament prophets. The scope of his prophecy was to reprove and reform many abuses which prevailed among the Jews of his day, and especially the priests; to announce the coming of Messiah; and to teach the people in what manner they ought to wait and prepare for this event; which occurred about 400 years later. It is evident that it was written after the Jews that had gone into Babylon captivity, and returned under Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest (536 BC). This returning remnant underwent three reformations due to their sin. The first was under the influence of Haggai and Zechariah, whose ministries encouraged the people to finish the building of the Temple. The second and third were under Ezra and Nehemiah, during which time the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt and Covenant unfaithfulness in its various manifestations were corrected. The prevalent conditions which occupied Malachi were the same as those which confronted both Ezra and Nehemiah, when Nehemiah came to Jerusalem the first time (Nehemiah 2:1-9) and second time (Nehemiah 13:6-7;); there was a great departure from the Law and Covenant, religion was despised, having become formal and ritualistic, or mixed with paganism. The people were given over to various forms of social injustice, both divorce and intermarriage with the heathen about them for social status or monetary gain was commonplace. This is the situation that Malachi was called to speak out against and point the people back to God. Malachi makes predictions about the calling of the Gentiles, and the propagation of the gospel. He foretells the ministry of John the Baptist, saying look for no other prophet until Elijah the forerunner of Messiah should come.
Vs. 1 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. A prophecy, called an oracle, Malachi is to bring from the LORD to Israel. He lived about a century after the first return of Zerubbabel. The conditions Malachi describes are the same Nehemiah found during his second tenure of governor of Judea. Malachi may have lived and prophesied between the tenures of Nehemiah, when such conditions prevailed. Of the LORD to Israel through Malachi, the word “through” indicates that Malachi is a Divinely ordained prophet. He encounters a people that had departed from the Law and Covenant, their crops were poor and failing, and the priesthood had become corrupt.
Vs. 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” “Says the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; In response to the LORD saying I have loved you,” the people respond how have You loved us? The LORD showed His love when He brought a remnant of Israel back from Babylonish captivity and restored them in Jerusalem. Here is a bitter complaint made obvious in the way the Israelites feel they have been treated by Almighty God. We discover that the religion of the people was formal and empty; yet they were satisfied with it. They thought they were doing God a favor by all their religious activities. Now God had not prospered them in return as they thought they deserved. They were still a weak nation, and not wealthy. Their crops were not blessed, they get little return from what is planted so, their question is in what way have You loved us? They thought that if God really loved them, He would make them all rich. The LORD answers back with facts they cannot deny, Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Now Jacob and Esau were twins, sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was born first and had the birthright, but Jacob had grabbed Esau’s heal when they were born. That is the reason he was named Jacob, which means supplanter. Esau was very hairy; he was the father of the Edomites. Yet Says the LORD, I have loved Jacob. In Exodus 33:19 God tells Moses I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. After they were grown, Esau came in from a hunting trip, he was exhausted and faint with hunger, he wanted food; Jacob had a stew of lentils cooked up and Esau wanted some. Jacob refused to give him any until he bought the food with his birthright. Therefore, Esau despised his birthright for a bowl of stew. Later on, in years Isaac told Esau to prepare him barbeque, so he could eat, and then bless him before he died. Rebekah heard the conversation and had Jacob put on Esau’s clothing, tied animal skins to Jacob’s neck and hands, so he would feel hairy, and brought him food she had cooked, Isaac was deceived and blessed Jacob, but Jacob was blessed by the LORD. Here we have God’s covenant love for Israel displayed. Jacob is an out and out scalawag, everything he has done was for self, no example of love. Malachi is to awaken Israel regarding God’s covenant love and their obligations under the covenant and contingent blessings. These declarations, in the form of statements with, questions, complaints and answers characterize the book. The LORD reveals His covenant love to His people despite their sin and unfaithfulness. His purpose is infallible and far reaching. Now let us consider the attitude of the Israelites Malachi is addressing with the attitude of many here in America. Some church members want to measure God by their standard of human justice—but I believe they don’t want to do away with God entirely. Many are not in open rebellion against God or Christian circles. They believe in His right to offerings, but they think because they brought an offering or did some work at church, they have God obligated to help them. I know of a situation where a family was in financial need, so the wife gave what little they had to the church believing that God would bless them, it didn’t work. No one can get God obligated, He may punish His people for sin, but that is being a Father to them. I read about the Roman siege of Jerusalem as written by Josephus the Jewish historian. The Jews had sufficient corn to withstand the siege, it was piled up in various places throughout the city. But the zealots were going to get God obligated to help them. They burnt the corn, many were killed or starved when God ignored them. Now when the problems of life come about, a job falls through, a romance goes sour, a friend has sickness or death, or they have sickness or hospitalization, they blame God, and try to hold Him accountable. Individuals that think this way are also capable of living corrupt lives.
Vs. 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” The word used here is hated which means to hate utterly, be odious or disgusting. Now when Moses was leading Israel to Canan, they needed to pass through Edom, but were refused passage. The Edomites had rejoiced in Jerusalem’s overthrow and being caried off to Babylon(Psalm 137:7). God raised up Obadiah who prophesied against Edom (Esau). We see the sovereignty of God as events occurred that laid waste Esau’s mountains and his heritage and the LORD saying Esau, I have hated. When Israel went into captivity under Nebuchadnezzar, Edom stood by laughing and shouting; however, seventy years later under God’s good providence Israel returned. Five years after Israel’s captivity the Chaldean army ravaged that part of the world, Edom was ravaged, became a ruin and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness. Edom never recovered. Now there are those that say the Lord loved Esau less than he did Jacob. Why did God lay waste his heritage? Why is Edom no more? I don’t want that kind of love!
Vs. 4, Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.” When Edom saw how Israel had rebuilt Jerusalem, they said they would return and rebuild on Mount Seir. There is a striking comparison between Jacob and Esau, it is to remind the self-righteous, critical citizens of Jerusalem of their unmerited and therefore electing love of God. They had the audacity to demand that God show them how He loved them forgetting that they were the elect people of God. Malachi brings this to their attention, by birth Esau had been more privileged than Jacob, but he didn’t think much of his status until he had given it away. God loved Jacob with a gracious love, all His dealings with Jacob and his descendants was in love. When they were ignorant, He blessed them with a true knowledge of Himself. When they were weak and without defense, He empowered them and shielded them from their enemies. When they strayed He disciplined them. When they persisted in wickedness, He eventually sent them into Babylonian captivity, just as the prophets had warned that He would over many generations. Then He brought them back to Jerusalem, established their walls and fortified the city, and had them rebuild the temple. There were blessings and judgment, building and destruction. But in all these things God loved them and was continuing to work with them in order that they might be a precious and holy people. But Edom perished.
Vs. 5 Your eyes will see this, and you will say, “The Lord be magnified beyond the border of Israel!’ We may often misunderstand the love of God because we do not possess a right understanding of our circumstances or the overall Divine purpose, and so we misjudge and fail to see the lovingkindness and graciousness of our God. The Lord says Your eyes will see, and you will say, The LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel. –Great is the LORD even beyond the borders of Israel, even to right here in America.
Catechism Question 51
Q: What is required in the first commandment?
A: The first commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God, and to worship and glorify Him accordingly.
1 Chronicles 28:9
9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.