Malachi 1 on God's Love for Israel

The Prophet Malachi talks of God's love for Israel at a time when they found it hard to believe God loved them. This 3-day devotional looks into Chapter 1.

Day 1
Read: Malachi 1:1-5
Mark: v2 to 3c

  • This book was also after the exile. Many believe Malachi was contemporary with Ezra & Nehemiah, or maybe a little later after them. Although they were already allowed to go back, a Persian governor was still over them (1:8).
  • Israel was still struggling under Gentile oppression and times were still very difficult. Because of this, they were struggling with God’s declaration of love for them. Many were doubting it due to their present situation.  
  • Verse 3 (God's “hate” of Esau) is a problem passage that is misunderstood in many ways. To put it simply, it’s almost the same as Luke 14:26 where ”hate” actually means “I love God so much that my love for my own family looks like hate” (but not necessarily hate in itself). If God truly hated (as how we may understand it now) Esau, why did He still allow him to have an inheritance?
  • God proves His love for Israel by pointing them to the fact that He blessed them way more than He allowed blessings for Esau’s descendants.
  • God’s choice of Jacob over Esau can also be a puzzle to some. Esau being the eldest son should normally be the choice in their custom. But, again, we see God’s Sovereignty and Wisdom at work here.   

  • God’s choices sometimes seem to not make sense to us at all, but it is at this point that we need to trust that our All-Wise and All-Powerful God it at work. He knows exactly what’s best and He is in control.
  • Our present situations may sometimes cause us to wonder how much God really cares for us. We need to look back and be reminded again of how much He has blessed us throughout the years.

Day 2
Read: Malachi 1:6-9
Mark: v 6,8-9

  • The previous section ends with a praise of how great God is. This section starts with a question on how they’ve been responding to that greatness, and to who He is for them.
  • The Jews regard Him as their Great God, who is also their Father, and their Master. But, they fail to show Him the honor and respect that should come with this. The disregard and disrespect comes from their offering of “lawfully unacceptable” (Lev.22:18-25; Deut.15:21) sacrifices. Blind, lame, and sick animals that they would not even dare offer to their governor (Persian, 1:8). To the Christian today, this is like spending so much money, time, and effort on other things (even unnecessary ones) and then giving to God very little, or what is left, if any.   

  • Because of who He is, the Lord deserves and is worthy of the best we can offer, nothing less - The best of our efforts, our time, our worship, our ministries, our love, and whatever else we offer. Anything less would be dishonoring and disrespectful to our Great and Holy God. A shoddy effort has no place in God’s standard.
  • Our best may not be perfect, but God is honored by the effort and the desire to please Him.    

Day 3
Read: Malachi 1:10-14
Marked: v.11, 14

  • The Lord here shows His total abhorrence of the flippant way these priests were serving. To Him, the lack of seriousness was dishonoring and disrespectful. That’s why He wanted them to stop coming before Him with their offerings altogether. It’s a sad state these priests were in. Service to and worship of God has become a mere common ritual to them, a routine that has become troublesome and boring of a task.
  • The worship of God, the most important activity everyone needs to be involved in, has been reduced to a meaningless ritual.  

  • The Lord abhors shoddy service and a flippant attitude towards worship. One’s lack of seriousness in worship is a display of a lack of a meaningful relationship with God. When worship of God becomes toilsome and boring, we find ourselves treading on dangerous ground. The worship of God is of utmost importance to the Christian. 
  • John Piper said: "Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”
photo credit to congerdesign