Returned to their land after a long and hard exile in Babylon, the people of Judah wondered if the Lord really did love them. In response, God sent them the final prophet writer in the Old Testament, Malachi. He assured them that God deeply loved them as He always had but did have a few concerns to share with them.
1 This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.
2 “I have always loved you,” says the Lord.
But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”
And the Lord replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, 3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.” Malachi 1:1-3 (NLT)
God chose to initiate a loving faith relationship with His chosen people through the call of Abram, later named Abraham. Though God promised to make Abraham a great nation through his descendants, he waited twenty-five years for his promised son, Isaac, to be born. After Isaac was grown, he and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose the younger child, Jacob, to be father of the twelve tribes of Israel, including the line of Judah, through whom Jesus Christ the Messiah would appear. Through this line, God would extend His loving gift of salvation to all the world.
But on the surface, Jacob is one of the last people one might select for such an important position. Often crafty, manipulative, or outright deceptive in his youth, Jacob was one we would probably have wanted to shy away from. But God saw the great potential for faith in his heart. Jacob’s hard edges would be whittled down by another, even more cunning and deceitful than him, his uncle and future father-in-law Laban. Their relationship would prove to be a humbling challenge for Jacob, bringing him to the point of surrender to a loving God for relief and deliverance through faith.
God later revealed through Moses the great love He always had for Israel.
14 “Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God. 15 Yet the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today. Deuteronomy 10:15 (NLT)
Yet despite their mutual bloodline, God rejected Esau and extended tremendous grace to Jacob. Why is that? I believe it is because Jacob ultimately opened his heart to God while Esau rejected God all the days of his life.
The relationship between the twin brothers had been very contentious. While Esau was often out hunting and bringing back delicious meals for his father Isaac, Jacob stayed close to home and was a favorite of their mother. Over time, Esau came to hate Jacob. He believed that Jacob “stole” two things from him, 1) his birthright as the first born and 2) their father Isaac’s spiritual blessing. This blessing was a major event, and all the family members were aware of its reality and power in God. God honored the blessing, even though it was acquired by Jacob through deceit rather than faith.
In the end, God’s love for Jacob and his line was because of their potential for faith. The same was true for Israel in Malachi’s time and is true for us today. The Lord loves us all, and if at some point in our life we have even just a kernel of faith, His love and protection will flow over us like a river. This is not because of any great thing we have done, but simply because of the loving character and nature of God, our Creator and Sustainer.
God is biding His time before the final judgment, making sure that every possible accommodation is being made to draw as many people as possible to Himself in a saving faith relationship.
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
The apostle Paul prayed that the eyes of the new believers in Ephesus would be open to the love God has for each one of us. It is a good section of scripture to pray over our loved ones and others God that has placed in our lives:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. 16 I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, 17 and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (HCSB)
May you experience all the blessings and love offered to Abraham through faith in the Lord today.
Who is the Lord placing on your heart to pray for today?
Father God, we pray that the individuals You have placed on our heart be strengthened in their inner being through Your Spirit, that the Messiah may dwell in their hearts through faith. May they be able to experience and know the length, height, and depth of the great love Messiah Jesus’ has for them, love so great that He went to the cross for them. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.