Today we resumed our Sunday Evening Gatherings in our home. It’s been a long 171 days without gathering together for worship. Although we did not sing, we prayed, read the Bible and had a message from God’s Word. We were small before lockdown and we were two less tonight … but it was so good to have a house service again. When you love Jesus and those assembling with you loves Jesus, the ingredients for communion with our God are there and the results are good.
We started the book of Malachi before lockdown, and since we only covered a few messages we have returned to start again, looking at Malachi 1:1-5 tonight. Although the message of Malachi is solemn with many reproofs, appeals and predictions, the book starts off with a profound doctrine that many tend to reject … and when they do, they reject the God of the Bible as well. After our ‘worship’ time, we have a question and answer session. What came forward was a comment … a great comment … so much so that I thought I would write about it.
Look at Malachi 1:2-5:
Mal 1:2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” 4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD. 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the LORD—even beyond the borders of Israel!’
The background to Malachi is that the people returning from the Babylonian Exile were joined with some who were dispersed in the Assyrian Exile. God calls them Israel, and this was known as the Restoration of Israel. These people, however, were half baked in worship. They offered sick and diseased animal sacrifices; the priesthood was corrupt; intermarriage with pagans was permitted and tithes and offerings were neglected. In the face of this, God extends His love towards Israel, who sinfully ask God, “how have you loved us?” (v2). This comment exposed their sinful heart as it was arrogantly self-righteous. Again, see God’s response:
Mal 1:2 … Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” 4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD.”
God loved Jacob (Israel) and hated Esau (Edom). When you backtrack the history of these two peoples in the Bible who came from the sons of Isaac, you find that Jacob, who became Israel, continued the covenant relationship with God and enjoyed the blessings of that union whilst Esau became the nation known as Edom and became the enemy of God, hence the enemy of God’s people. So, when God says He loved the one and hated the other, it is directly related to each ones response of either obediently following God or rebelling against Him. The obedient receive the blessing of the lush lands whilst the other receives the curse of the dry, barren lands. That is what hated means … to receive the desert lands as an inheritance. God elected to love Jacob (Israel). This is a phenomenal. Many detest and reject this teaching even though it is God’s Word.
In the New Testament, we find God doing the same thing, though it is written differently.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Here we learn that before creation God chose a people to be holy and blameless in His sight. This means that He chose a people to be saved for only those who are holy and blameless with be in His eternal presence. How did He put this ‘choosing’ into action?
2Th 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From the beginning refers back to creation … and the choosing here refers to being chosen for salvation, an act of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying operation in your soul bringing you to believe the truth! Note that the action is through the Gospel. The Gospel is preached; you hear the call to repent and believe; the Holy Spirit works in your soul (heart and mind), convincing you of the truth of the Gospel; you are convicted and respond and are immediately sanctified by the Holy Spirit. When God’s electing love calls you to faith through the proclamation of the Gospel, it is irresistible! You come willingly and immediately through repentance and faith.
So, the comment in our question and answer session was, “I prefer salvation through God’s sovereign electing love than through my personal choice because my emotions change all the time!” The stability of salvation is that through God’s electing love I have the assurance that I am saved in the present continuing into all eternity!
Loving, Glorious, Merciful Father, thank You for choosing to love me before the creation of this world. Thank You that in Your time, You called me through the Gospel message to believe, repent and be saved. Thank You that my salvation is all of You and is guaranteed through the blood of the Lord Jesus, shed for me personally. Amen.