Malachi 1: A Two-Way Street
We have made it to the final book of the Old Testament! Can you believe it?
In Malachi 1, we have a situation where the people of Israel want proof that God loves them. You would think at this point in their history after all of the various demonstrations of God’s protection, they would recognize that God did indeed love them.
God answers with the following problem.
Mal 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
As you read farther in the chapter, they were not obeying the sacrificial laws. The types of animals that needed to be sacrificed were very specific, and the priests were simply not doing their job.
Therefore, we have a bit of a two-way relationship that it seems that God is looking for. The question from the people is whether or not God loves them. God responds by essentially asking if they love Him. Are they keeping up their end of the bargain? It is clear that in this situation they are not.
I will point out though that it is important to recognize that God did not say that He stopped loving them. Rather, He pointed out that they were not loving Him.
The Old Testament is full of similar accounts. The people of Israel never stopped being loved by God at any point, but that did not mean that they were not punished. It did not mean that they sometimes wondered if God really did love them. However, God never said that He did not love them no matter what they did. They did need to get right with Him and come back to a right relationship though.
Bringing this to you and me, God loves us. That is clear from a variety of New Testament passages. That does not mean that we will understand everything that God does or like everything that He does. If we are not following Him, we should expect discipline. It is not that God does not love us.