Part 2: God Reminds Us. A series over Malachi 1:1-5.
“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6
Consumed. Remember Israel’s down-and-out state from part 1? They are literally consumed with feeling forgotten. Feeling unloved. Feeling like walking by faith without sight doesn’t work. Feeling…feeling…feeling.
Remember, though, God expressed deep love for Israel by calling out to them in their sin. Now, He demonstrates the depth of His love by reminding them of the past (1:2-5):
“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.” 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.’” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”
These words would have reminded Israel of the long ago covenant that God had established before their time with their forefather Abraham, a covenant of God’s promised faithfulness, fruitfulness and favor towards Abraham’s descendants. It was the covenant that they valued and held dear to their souls; but it was the covenant that seems to have gathered dust as it settled down in the depths of their memories. God promised that His steadfast love would be upon His chosen people from everlasting to everlasting, something that Israel, you’ll remember from part 1, just wasn’t seeing.
This covenant began with Abraham, and His son Isaac was chosen to carry this great promise of the Lord. Isaac fathered Jacob and Esau, the ancestors of the nations we now see in Malachi. Israel’s heritage (from the line of Jacob) was no purer or better than Edom’s (from the line of Esau). Israel came from a man who was more than willing to be manipulated and manipulate others in order to exalt himself. Edom came from a man who was more than ready to live irresponsibly and squander his life and heart. Israel “deserved nothing from [the Lord] and would wind up in the same state as Edom for their wickedness, were it not for his changeless and sovereign love.”
God had chosen the people of Israel out of sheer, magnificent, incomprehensible grace. Not by works, no, they could do no boasting. But out of amazing, astounding, grace. In the midst of sin, before their sin, in the knowledge of their sin…Israel had been chosen. And somewhere in their very midst the everlasting covenant was being upheld.
And what else had He done? He had remained with them, chasing after them, showing them compassion, giving them chance after chance after chance to turn and repent. God remained faithful to His everlasting covenant to preserve the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Which brings us around back to the present: to Malachi chapter 1, verses 2-3.
“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.”
Israel knew the stories, but they had forgotten the significance of this grace. They had forgotten what God had already done for them.
But, not only had they forgotten what God had done, they had forgotten the prize.The prize of Himself.
Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!”
God’s promises to them were not just for survival, but for joy. Blessed, sweet, abundant joy in the Lord! Their focus had drifted towards themselves, those blessed, selfish little Israelites. And God promises that He not only will continue to demonstrate favor towards them, but that they shall praise Him, proclaiming that He alone is God. He promises to change the focus of their minds and hearts not upon their wee little worlds, but upon the greatness of God in all the earth. Great is the LORD! Great is He beyond the border of Israel! For He is just! And He is faithful! And He is grace.
This is the great promise here at the end of this passage. Praise. Freedom from self-focused thoughts and attitudes. Freedom of mind to worship and adore His greatness. Freedom to praise and to proclaim.
And so, in His great love, God reminds them. All it takes for Israel are those few words to remind them of the times of their forefathers, and the truth cuts and penetrates their hearts of doubt like a sharp double-edged sword. It reminds them of God’s persistence throughout their entire history, since the foundation of the earth, to keep the chosen Remnant alive and going through great, living, active grace…to keep His covenant intact by expressing great love…and to keep His Word regarding the chosen seed that would bring forth His great glory in its entirety. God knew that Israel needed not just words of affirming love, but that they needed to remember all that He had done for them. They had been chosen to be kept alive; through sin, through famine, and through sword. This was Israel’s heritage. They had been chosen. They had been chosen! Chosen by the One whose faithfulness is never determined by man’s faithlessness.
We too, have been chosen. We, who reek with the stench of wickedness in our hearts, who are absorbed with ourselves, who are prone to wander, and who are filled with tendencies to manipulate. We too, have been chosen to be in the line of great promise and the line of everlastingness.
Not by any good works we have done; no, for our deeds are no better than the woman next to us, and just as worthless as the man across from us. But, oh dear friend, this is where we get an ever so lovely remembrance of God’s work for us; His living grace, His active love. Because, “faith without works is dead.” And Christ is dead no longer. Therefore our faith can rest on the remembrance and focus upon His resurrection act of great love. God’s great love is demonstrated to us in our own sin, too; for, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).” He remains with us, chasing after us, showing us compassion, giving us chance after chance after chance to turn and repent. He causes His Truth to come down from heaven and go straight in to our hearts. His Spirit penetrates the dark places, exposes all lies, and pierces our bones right down to our marrow.
And the result? The freedom to praise Him. The freedom to sing and dance alone in our rooms, lifting our hands up high and proclaiming a joyful noise that He alone hears. Grinning and smiling as we drive down the roads of our city. Rising up and speaking and proclaiming boldly before one another that He will sustain us, walk with us, cherish us, come after us, pursue us, and keep us. Walking boldly and humbly, our eyes seeking the pleasure of our Master. Our mouths reminding one another that we shall not be consumed, we shall not be consumed, no, no, we shall not be consumed. We are alive, we breathe and we have our being because of the great and awesome God who calls us up and out of our pitiful sins, who reminds us that we are His and He is not yet finished with us; He gives us these sweet promises of hope and glory through His very own Beloved Son. “I am the LORD!” He states with great power. “I am the LORD! And I do not change. Your own eyes shall see that this is so, and you shall say of me, my precious, tiny little beloved children of dust whom I have saved by mine own hand, ‘Great is the LORD beyond our borders!’”
 Taylor, Richard A., E. Ray Clendenen, The New American Commentary Volume 21A Haggai Malachi, Broadman & Broadman Publishers, 2004, Nashville, Tennesse.