[P] Can we turn to the book of Malachi. Last time I gave a bit of an introduction and overview to this, the last book in the Old Testament. It is יהוה’s final word to His people before a 400 year silence. [P] Read: [Malachi 1:1-5 An oracle. The word of יהוה to Israel through Malachi. (that is verse that we looked at last time – יהוה’s messenger had a heavy message for Israel from יהוה. What was this message that weighed so heavily upon the prophet? What did יהוה want to lay upon His people? This is what יהוה Himself says): [P] “I have loved you,” says יהוה, but you say, “How have You loved us?” “Is Esau not Jacob’s brother?” declares יהוה. “I have loved Jacob, [P] but Esau I have hated. I have made his mountain ranges a desolation, and given his inheritance to the jackals of the desert.”[P] If Edom says, “We are shattered, but we will return and rebuild the ruins,” יהוה of armies says this: : “They may build, but I will tear down; and they will be called a territory of wickedness, and the people with whom יהוה is angry forever.” [P] Your eyes will see this, and you will say, “יהוה is great beyond the borders of Israel.”] I said last time that with His people, Israel, יהוה was confronted with inveterate rebellion [P] [Romans 10:21 But of Israel He says, “All day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”] It was like having a mouthy teenager – forever answering back. What is יהוה’s message to them? It is wonderful! “I have loved you!” [P] – a love that was there in the past and endured right up to the present. Do you know? – to be loved, is a wonderful, life transforming, thing! To be loved by God Himself is absolutely amazing! Awesome! A wondrous honour and privilege! What a wonderful thing for יהוה Himself to declare His love for you! We used to sing when we were kids: “I am so glad that my Father in heaven, tells of His love in the book He has given. Wonderful things in the Bible I see, but this is the dearest that Jesus loves me! I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me!” What could be more wonderful to hear from the mouth of יהוה to you personally! But how does Israel respond? “Oh yeah?” “Like, how?”! They dared to question יהוה’s love! He said that He loved them and they called Him a liar! “How have You loved us?” – it is a remark bordering on the blasphemous! יהוה has consistently loved His people, Israel, but they refuse to respond. In response to His declaration of love, they cynically, with the voice of hardened unbelieving sceptics, say, "How?"! What a way to answer GOD!! They say to Him: "Prove it!" "Show us!" – the implication is: "we see no evidence of Your love"! He had only delivered them from Egypt with a mighty hand, split the sea in two, given them a land, protected and delivered them. One time He slaughtered 185,000 soldiers surrounding their capital. He had brought them back to the land from exile. Yet they questioned יהוה’s love! But we see the same attitude is today: "How can God be a God of love if ….? Why do disasters happen, innocent die etc ....?" "If God is a God of love, how come I’m in the situation I am then?" I knew someone who almost lost her faith because “God allowed my mother die”. God’s love is as constant as the sunrise - He provides our every breath, yet still we question His love! How hard-hearted we are! How many miracles יהוה had done for His people. Time and again He had delivered them. יהוה longed for Israel to respond to His love, but they would not! With such an ungrateful, callous response, there was every reason to give up on them on the spot or to become incensed. But meekly, patiently, יהוה actually answers their insulting response - after all no-one has received love of the kind that they had, for no-one loves like יהוה does. With great long-suffering יהוה tells them how He has loved them. Now we live in a society where discrimination is seen as the ultimate sin. You must not discriminate on the basis of sex, race or religion. But the truth of the matter is that love is discriminatory! [P] That is how you know that you are loved! – you are treated special, differently to everyone else. [Deuteronomy 10:15 “Yet on your fathers did יהוה set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. ] Israel was special [Psalm 147:19-20 He declares His word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know His rules.] Praise יהוה !יהוה proves how He has loved them by showing how they have been treated in a special way - given favoured treatment above others. The one you love, you treat preferentially to everyone else: [Psalm 44:2-3 you with Your own hand drove out the nations, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, but them You set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but Your right hand and your arm, and the light of Your face, (why were they so favoured?) for You delighted in them.] Sovereignly, graciously He treated them differently to the nation that came from their ancestor’s twin brother. Jacob and Esau were twins - but before they were even born or had done anything to influence יהוה, He decided to set His love upon Jacob. Now Esau was a decent bloke who tried to please His parents, but Jacob was a crafty deceiver. Yet God loved Jacob and blessed him. He chose his descendants to be His own special people, His treasured possession, to bless them, watch over them, deliver them, discipline them, train them, give them a land, reveal Himself to them. No other nation had the relationship with God that Israel did. Yet they could say "How have You loved us?"! Jacob was treated well, favoured, loved; yet Esau was hated. [P] “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated!” Did יהוה really say that? Did He mean what He said? Do you know, we don’t always say what we mean? We can misuse words. One that irks me is the word “good”. God is good, what He created is good. But I can read a book and say “that was a good book”; or “that was a good movie”; annihilate another team in rugby and declare that it was a “good game”! We have robbed “good” of its meaning. We use words with a range of meaning – for instance: the word “love” [P] I love ice-cream; [P] but I also love Rhoda – it’s not the same thing is it? I don’t have a lifelong commitment to ice-cream, I wouldn’t lay down my life for ice-cream. Rhoda loves me, but she also loves chocolate [P] – now if she loves me like chocolate, I won’t last very long! There is a range of meaning to the word “love” and also to the word “hate” – love can simply mean like or prefer; hate can simply mean dislike – like: “I hate spinach”. Here is word of יהוה: “I have loved you!” Did He mean what He said? Most people would say that He did. But when He says “Esau I have hated”, suddenly people are very keen to point out that “hate” has a range of meaning – all He meant was “I preferred Israel”. Did יהוה mean what He said? Was it a slip of the tongue, a slip of the pen? Well, He repeats that exact same statement again in Romans 9. He meant it enough to repeat it and base a whole doctrine upon it. But surely “God is love, He doesn’t hate people, it doesn’t mean that!” We are very quick to put our own concept of how God should be upon יהוה. But just look at the text!: “I have made his mountain ranges a desolation, and given his inheritance to the jackals of the desert.”; “They may build, but I will tear down.”; “the people with whom יהוה is angry forever.” Those who say “it doesn’t mean “hate”” just haven’t read the rest of the verse from which Paul quotes! The one יהוה loved, He did good to; and the one He hated, he did bad things to. Just as love is an active word, so too is hatred. Just as love is demonstrated; so too is hatred. Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca. They had the same parents, the same gene stock (though they weren’t identical twins) and they had the same upbringing. The nation of Israel came from Jacob and from Esau came the nation of Edom. [P] The nation of Edom was situated in the land to the southeast of Judah, right next-door. יהוה Demonstrated His hatred of Edom. יהוה says: “I have made a desolation!”; then they go and rebuild it and He says: “I will tear down!”. I think that you get the message, יהוה had it in for them. They are: “the people with whom יהוה is angry forever!” You cannot get around it. This is not a mere preferring of Israel. יהוה has it in for Edom, He hates them and that is seen in what He does to them. יהוה means what He says! [P] Let me give you some deep Bible interpretation: when יהוה says: “Esau I have hated”, He actually means: Esau I have hated! In fact they are under His curse. You may not like that, your spirit might rise up against it but that is the way it is. God can do that, he is SOVERIGN! [P] [Romans 9:6-16 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.] Paul bases His case for election and the sovereignty of God upon this verse in Malachi. It is no chance slip of the pen, it is foundational. You may cry out, but that is not fair! But who are we to judge the justice of God?! [P] Are we placing our standard of justice above His?! The truth is that Esau/Edom fully deserved the wrath that יהוה poured upon them. Esau was intent on killing Jacob after he tricked him out of the patriarchal blessing. These brothers did not get on! And that attitude was consistent in the nations that came from them. Edom would not allow Israel to pass through their territory on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. When Jerusalem fell, there was Edom ready to kick him in the guts when he was at his lowest – cutting down the fugitives and rejoicing in his downfall. [Psalm 137:7 Remember, O יהוה, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, the ones who said, “Lay it bare! Lay it bare to its foundation!”] This was His brother! His own flesh and blood! Edom deserved the judgement of יהוה. As far as justice is concerned, they merited יהוה’s wrath. [P] But so too did Jacob. Justice results in wrath – if we get justice we are doomed! But Jacob didn’t get the wrath he deserved, instead, he received MERCY! [P] We all deserved יהוה’s wrath, that we don’t receive it is solely due to His mercy. It is because of יהוה’s loving-kindness that we are not consumed! That is how יהוה demonstrated His love! יהוה demonstrates His love by extending mercy. יהוה didn’t treat Jacob like He did Esau. He discriminated. [P] That is what love does. You favour those that you love. יהוה loves because He decides to. It is not because they are better, more deserving, or more attractive. Love is not some soft gooey feeling – bottom line is that you love because you decide to. Love is not an obligation or deserved, it is totally at the discretion and will of the one extending it. The way יהוה dealt with Israel differently to Esau in the face of rebellion and wickedness was proof of His love which Israel questioned. In contrast to Israel, Edom was left desolated, deserted an abandoned wilderness. יהוה watched over Israel’s inheritance, to ensure she possessed the land (even after exile). But Esau’s inheritance went to no-one - there was no-one to inherit it except the desert jackals – a symbol of desolation and of Divine judgement. There would be desolation caused by some great disaster, a result of Divine judgement. So Jacob whom יהוה loved had been restored, shown grace, been spared - in judgement received mercy; whereas Esau had been the object of unsparing Divine judgement. Indeed "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated." [P] I deserved the curse just as much but Jesus set His love on me. Hallelujah! Praise God that He set His love upon us. It is because of His loving-kindness that we are not consumed. יהוה loved Israel, watched over her every step - even when He punished her for her evil. He did not cast her off completely (and still hasn’t). In contrast, Edom He hated, she became the object of His judgement for the evil she did - a devastation, deserted, uninhabited ruins. This judgement was unrelenting, unsparing. Man makes his plan and with determination sets out to achieve what he has determined to do - but it is יהוה who determines how things will be! Man says .... so and so; but יהוה says … something else! And what יהוה says is what happens! Man’s resilience, hope and optimism, though groundless, are boundless. I read this verse and I think of Christchurch!: [“We are shattered, but we will return and rebuild the ruins,”] “Rebuild” is the word we hear everywhere. יהוה strikes our city with an earthquake – make no mistake, יהוה is sovereign, the earthquake is due to Him. What do we say?: “We will rebuild!” What are we doing? – rebuilding! Is that wrong? Should we leave things in ruins? No, but it is the attitude, the same as Edom, that of pride. We can get over this. No one lays the message of יהוה’s judgement to heart! We will get on with our lives, get back to normal. We can overcome this. We have insurance, we can mobilize, we can rebuild. [יהוה of armies says this: : “They may build, but I will tear down; and they will be called a territory of wickedness, and the people with whom יהוה is angry forever.”] Although suffering terrible devastation at יהוה’s hand, Edom doesn’t submit to יהוה’s judgement but says: "We will return, we will rebuild" - infinite trust in human strength, reliance upon man. But it is utterly futile! יהוה has decreed that Edom (that is Esau, humanistic man, man in his own strength) be judged, devastated, be made a desolation! If Edom rebuilds, יהוה will tear down again. They are fighting the will of יהוה צְבָאוֹת – the God of armies! – who do you think will prevail?!! יהוה is angry with them forever! - their punishment is forever – they are cursed forever. This is how יהוה loved Jacob and hated Esau. He relented in His judgement of Jacob but for Esau it is unrelenting - a permanent status - FOREVER! [P] Why does יהוה do this? So that His people will realize and confess that: “יהוה is great beyond the borders of Israel.” יהוה is GREAT! Hallelujah! This relentless destruction and curse upon Edom will be recognized as Divine judgement - this is beyond mere human misfortune. Israel will see this as יהוה’s doing - His hand is upon her enemy and Edom cannot rise. So Israel will give glory to יהוה - they will see this as His doing and will praise Him for His deeds. His acts are not confined to within their own borders - He is not just God of Israel, a local god, but God over all the nations. His greatness is seen beyond their borders, His hand is at work and He is magnified - He is great! And will be seen as great! Recognized for who He is! [Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My Name, and a pure offering. For My Name will be great among the nations, says יהוה of armies.] His greatness is seen in His acts among the sons of men. Great in Israel but not only there, but way beyond! His greatness is seen as exceedingly great. Why does יהוה love Israel and hate Esau? [P] יהוה acts for His GLORY! Bottom line – all יהוה does is for His glory. Do you want to understand יהוה, know His will? Look for what is for His glory! So often when we pray our motive is to get our situation fixed, get someone’s problem resolved – rather we should be praying that יהוה will be glorified – that is the way to see your prayers answered because that is the motive behind all יהוה does. Israel asked יהוה: “How have you loved us?” [P] What a terrible question to ask! But I am going to do the blasphemous! I am going to ask it: “How has יהוה loved us?” I said before that love is not a gooey feeling, it is a verb – it is active. Love acts! We read these stories of unrequited love where some poor guy is mooning over this beautiful girl who is totally unaware of his existence – nothing happens despite all his earnest feelings! That isn’t love – love does something about it. Love is demonstrated [P] Israel asked how יהוה had loved them – יהוה demonstrated His love: [Romans 5:8 but God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.] God did something about it – He acted! What greater act of love could there be?! What an act! Christ, the Author of all life; the One in whom, we are told, was life; the Living One died! We are used to things dying – everyone dies sometime – that is just the way things are. But not with God! Death is an alien! It has no part in His creation! It is an intruder. God hates it with a holy hatred, it is an anathema to Him, it is the consequence of sin – and there is no sin in Him. Yet this holy sinless One died! We see the agony that Jesus went through in the garden of Gethsemane at the prospect of death. Yet He did that, rather than have me pass through it. He, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. For me! For you! יהוה showed His love – it was revealed: [1 John 4:7-10 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God is revealed in us (God’s love is revealed! Shown! Demonstrated! How?) that God sent His one and only Son into the world in order that we may live through him. 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. ] Love is demonstrated in the death of Jesus on the cross. God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sin. As with Esau and Jacob, יהוה was justly angry with us because of our sin, our rebellion against Him, our robbing Him of the glory that is rightly His. But instead of wrath, mercy was extended. The wrath was turned aside by having it fall upon Jesus instead of me. He was “wounded for my transgressions”, “He bore my sin in His body to the cross” Jesus died instead of me – “God made Him who knew no sin, to become sin” and God’s wrath against sin was exhausted upon Jesus bearing my sin. That is propitiation! All is put right by wrath being turned aside. Love is demonstrated, it acts; and it is expressed in giving [P] – God sent His Son, gave Him: [John 3:16 For in this way God loved the world, so that He gave His one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.] “How have You loved us?” – “I gave My one and only Son!” Love gives – apparently it was Amy Carmichael who said: “You can give without love, but you cannot love without giving.” Instead of the death we deserved, we were given LIFE. [1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.] The gift of His Son was the gift of life! “In Him was life!” What more could God give?! – His very one and only Son! A gift costs! [P] The greater the gift, the more it costs (and that is not necessarily dollars). This gift is precious to me; it didn’t cost Hannah dollars but time, effort, an expression of herself and her love. I love Rhoda, when I asked her to marry me I gave her a symbol of that love – an engagement ring. Now, I wasn’t very wealthy, but that ring cost everything I had – OK, I still had enough for groceries, but love is expressed in giving something costly. Now God is the Creator! He made the whole earth just by speaking the word! To give you gold wouldn’t cost Him much – He just has to say the word, and it comes into being! But His Son – that is the most costly thing there is! Given for you! The most precious thing God had! He couldn’t speak into being another one! He had only one, and He gave Him!!! "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!" How can anyone dare say: “How have you loved me?” What יהוה gave was precious! [P] What makes something precious? You value it highly. Like this! [P] What is it? A piece of paper! It’s not very big, just a few cm long – you couldn’t write much on it, or wallpaper a room. Of what use is it?! Robin may disagree, but I don’t even think that it is very attractive. It has no beauty, no use. You may say, “Ah but it is a stamp, it has value, it has a use” – its value as a stamp is 1 cent, and it is for use in British Guiana, which no longer exists, so you can’t use it to post something. But this piece of paper, this one cent stamp, sold for $9.5 million in 2014. It is precious, it is highly valued, because it is the only one. Now the Bible says: [P] [1 Peter 1:18-19 because you know that you were redeemed from your futile way of life inherited from your ancestors not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.] God gave what cost Him dearly, but also what was extremely precious. We were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. God required blood to pay the penalty of sin. You sin, you die – your blood is shed. The life is in the blood, so when it is poured out, you die. Blood is exacted as penalty for sin. But not all blood is equal. I could die for you and it would do nothing because my blood is dirty – I am defiled by my sin. Sheep and goats were slaughtered as sacrifices but, no matter how blemishless they were; their blood was not precious because sheep and goats are not moral beings – sin is a meaningless concept to them: [Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.] Here is why Jesus’ blood is so precious – here in flesh and blood, as a human being, with a moral sense; He was absolutely sinless! THE ONLY ONE! Like that stamp – He is the only One. How a Holy God delights in purity, in sinlessness. There is only One – how precious is His perfect sinless Son to Him! In a sin sodden universe He is the only sinless One! Precious beyond our ability to conceive! And He gave Him, who was so precious to Him. God looked for someone to pay the penalty for sin – and there was only One who could do it. We sing: “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin; He only, could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.” How has יהוה loved us? He has demonstrated it by giving that which is infinitely costly, infinitely precious to Him – made that sinless One become sin! Put Him to death! How is יהוה’s love demonstrated? In the cross: [P] [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.] As Charles Wesley wrote: “Amazing love, how can it be? That Thou my God shoulds’t die for me!