The central theme of the book Malachi is found in 3:7, “Return to Me and I will return to you.” As people whose hearts are prone to wander, whose religion can become performance, we need the message of Malachi to comprehend God’s tough love and tender mercies for our doubting hearts.
There are six disputes outlined in the book. In this sermon, we’ll explore the first dispute between Israel and God. And in these opening verses from Malachi 1, we find three things:
1) Weighty Concerns
Malachi—whose Hebrew name means “my messenger”—begins his prophecy with these words: The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. Now the word translated as “oracle” here is literally in Hebrew the word for “burden.” These are weighty words from a heart heavy with care for a people whose souls weigh upon him.
Malachi feels the weight of his responsibility. His concern for his people lies heavy upon his heart.
The care of souls is a heavy burden.
Aren’t you grateful for those who have loved you enough to burden themselves with the care of your soul? Aren’t you thankful for people who love you enough to speak heavy truths into your life?
We desperately need people like Malachi who will faithfully bring the burden of the word of the Lord to the people whose souls weigh heavily upon their hearts.
2) Wary Hearts
The people of Israel express frustration at the promises of God. They feel like the fulfillment of God’s promises are taking forever.
They are doubting God’s love. They’re skeptical that He’s really for them. And so, they’re holding back in self-protection, wary of entrusting their hearts to God.
Our hearts grow wary in the waiting.
When the life we dreamed of fails to materialize, when God’s promises seem slow in coming true, and when hope feels out of reach, it’s easy to grow wary and doubt God’s goodness, power, and love.
Have you ever been there? Sometimes things can seem so dark and confusing and hopeless that we begin to wonder if God really does love us after all.
3) Wonderous Love
Malachi had a weighty concern for the wary hearts of the people of Israel. Which is why he felt compelled to remind them of God’s wonderous love for them.
God is forever faithful to His chosen ones.
Friends, it’s hard to see it, but God’s love for you is bigger than your cancer diagnosis, God’s love for you is greater than your job loss, God’s love for you is wider than your relational disappointments, and God’s love for you is deeper than your financial losses. It’s bigger than anything!
And if we focus on all our disappointed dreams, like Israel did, we’ll end up feeling miserably unloved, falsely assuming God only loves us if everything in life goes our way.
But if instead we focus on His graces along the way, in the good times and the bad, His goodness and mercy following us all the days of our lives, faithfully bearing us into the glories He’s preparing for us in His redemptive love, it’s worth it in the end, because through it all, we’re getting more of Him!
In life we can dwell on the gaps or the graces. If we dwell on the gaps, we’ll begin to doubt His love. If we dwell on the graces, we’ll learn to trust His love.
Takeaway: Remember, you are loved, more than you know!