God’s love for His people is covenantal love. It is rooted and built up in the covenant of grace and since it is God’s initiative, God’s plan, God’s power, God’s love, and God’s sustainability, the covenant of grace with its covenantal love is forever, no matter what our circumstances and no matter how we feel. A. W. Tozer once said, “Sometimes when we get overwhelmed we forget how big God is.” I would also say that we forget how big his love is as well.
That was the case with the people of Judah. In a quick lesson of the history of Judah, we find that after the twelve tribes of Israel entered into the Promised Land and took over, they were 12 tribes loosely connected by blood, somewhat like the 13 original states under the Articles of Confederation. It wasn’t until David took over as the King of Israel that things really began to gel as a single nation. Solomon expanded the kingdom, but his son Rehoboam split it again. The ten northern tribes split from the two southern tribes. Thus we had two nations: Israel and Judah. Israel immediately became idolatrous, but Judah’s decent was gradual. Israel was overtaken by the Assyrians and dispersed all over the Assyrian empire. About 100 years later, Babylon invaded Judah and they were taken to all around the Babylonian empire. About 65 years or so, the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon, and about 70 years in their captivity Cyrus, King of Persia, released the people to go back home and rebuilt. Some went and laid the foundation for their new temple, but after threats from outsiders, they stopped construction and just lived. The prophet Haggai came upon the scene 17 years later and chastised the people and so they began to build again. It wasn’t long before they got their temple built. A few years later a man named Nehemiah came to govern the land and build up its walls of protection around Jerusalem. He was governor of the land for a while, but was also the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia. He eventually had to go back, but would return for a second governorship. It was in this time that Malachi comes to prophesy to the people.
The people have a puny temple, a puny city, are still controlled by the Persians, and always under threat of future invasions or laws that are unjust. It was, after all Artaxerxes father Xerxes who had married Esther and allowed Haman to decree the extinguishing of all Jews.
There is Judah afraid, angry, and apathetic. And it is to this that Malachi speaks. As we open up Malachi, you will notice that he has a unique writing style. He first gives an indictment against the people, then plays the role of the people by asking a question, and then finally gives the evidence. So as we open up just the first portion of the first chapter, we will see that there is real anger in the hearts of the people which leads them to apathy. But in both anger and apathy, we find that God gives the answer.
Watch the video for the whole sermon and to hear the answer to our anger and apathy. This is the first sermon in this series on Malachi.