How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Sorry to ask, because most of us are far better at making resolutions than keeping them. You understand this fact if you are looking at the daily Bible reading program you started in January and now realize that catching up will require you to read thirty-five chapters of Exodus . . . tonight. We are often better on ambition than we are on following through.
Our God could not be more different. He is a God of following through. What he has resolved to do, He has resolved eternally, and He cannot fail to follow through on what He has resolved. Nothing can change His purposes for the world He created and the people He has redeemed. We see an amazing picture of God’s resolution in the oracle given to Malachi.
Malachi’s prophecy is a dialogue between God and His people. One of the more outrageous features of this prophecy is how often God makes a statement that is questioned by Israel (see 1:6–7; 2:17; 4:13). But perhaps the worst example of such an exchange occurs right at the book’s beginning. We read: “ ‘I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ” (1:2). The shocking ingratitude of that question should make our jaws drop. Here is the God who has been tirelessly faithful in His covenant commitments, who is good and whose steadfast love endures forever. But now His love is being questioned by a faithless, covenant-breaking people.
Before we judge this people too severely, let us pause and see our own hearts in their question. This people lived about seventy years after the return from Babylonian captivity. They lived in a time of political, economic, and spiritual weakness. The prophets had foretold a new era of blessedness that would follow the return from captivity. But they looked around and saw much suffering and little blessing. Sound familiar? We live on this side of the death and resurrection of Christ. We know the rich promises that are ours in Him. Sometimes we too can look around us and in the midst of our suffering and weakness ask, “Does God really love us?”
Notice God’s answer in Malachi 1:2–5. He does not cite the innumerable instances of love He has shown His people. Rather, He shows them a frightening picture of what life would be like if God was not resolved to love them. God says, in effect, “The judgment I will visit on Edom is what is reserved for those I do not love.”
But God has loved His people, and He reaffirms that love at the end of Malachi 1:2. Believers can hope in God precisely because He has resolved to love us. And His resolution is absolute: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (3:6). God shows the strength of His resolute love by not holding back even His own beloved Son but by giving Him to us as a Savior. May we look to Jesus and see in Him living proof of God’s resolution to love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).