“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country’, and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry for ever.’” Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!”
(Malachi 1:1-5 ESV)
What does it mean that God loves you?
Chances are that if you’ve had any exposure to Christianity at all, you have heard that God loves you.
You might look at your life and wonder if that is true. Pain, disappointment, conflict, struggle - when your life is like this it doesn’t really seem like God is loving you. You then start to assume that the ‘love’ of God is just an empty phrase. The Israelites were in a similar position when Malachi brings God’s message to them. As they looked around at their once great nation reduced to a shell of its former self, they question God - ‘how have you loved us?’
How would you expect God to answer that question? How has he loved us? In an unexpected move, he starts talking about Old Testament characters who he has loved and hated. What does this mean?
He reminds the people of their history and their future. The characters of Jacob and Esau represent nations. God reminds them that he has chosen to love and protect their nation - Israel (the descendants of Jacob). Throughout their history, God has been with them, providing for them, directing them, loving them. And, regardless of what is happening in the present, the future is that the other nations will eventually fall. In the future, they will see God’s greatness in all the world - He is in control and one day that will be crystal clear, even if it is hard to see now.
We can also take comfort in the same way. How has God loved you? Look to your history, which starts long before you were born. The God who created you died on the cross for you because He loved you and so that you could enter into that relationship of love with Him. God is still faithful to his people and we will live with him in eternity in a world free from pain and tears and death. Day to day life can be up and down. Other people’s love can be up and down. Anchor yourself to the rock solid love of God as you look back to the cross and forward to the new creation.
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