On Sunday, our Sunday School class looked at Malachi 3:6-18 and God’s unchanging love. It is only fitting that we discussed love on Valentine’s Day. Naturally we could have gone to 1 Corinthians 13 to talk about the many attributes of love. However, this passage gives us something a little different to think about in light of the current holiday. Malachi takes us away from thinking about our own acts of love and brings us to the heart of God’s unchanging love as expressed toward Israel. Israel had turned her back on God time and again. Yet despite Israel’s history of disobedience God had remained the same. His love for them did not change. His promise to them did not change. In fact, God’s unchanging nature is the only reason why they were not destroyed. There is a dual consistency between God and Israel. While Israel was consistently disobedient, God was consistently loving and merciful. God’s consistent love and promise overcame their shortcomings. He simply says to them, “Return to me and I will return to you.” So we see that God’s love is unchanging despite our actions.
God follows this statement of his unchanging love by bringing two charges against Israel. It is a strange way to follow such a merciful act. Why tell Israel that they will be shown mercy and then follow that up by charging them with their sin? In order for the Israelites to return to God, they must be aware of their sin so that they might turn away from it. Repentance is needed in order to reestablish that close relationship that Israel experienced in previous generations. Israel has not honored God for the provisions that have been received (i.e. Israel has not tithed) nor has trusted in the words of God to take care of them. Their faith has dwindled because of the prosperity of non-believing people. But again, despite Israel’s lack of faith and negligence in worship, God never abandons them. He disciplines his children by sending them into exile but then delivers them as an act of love. This exile occurs in order to open the eyes of his people to the sins they have committed against Yahweh. Even God’s discipline is an act of love.
So this week, think about the love of Christ that has been lavishly poured out on you. When you start to lament your situation or find yourself extremely discouraged, remember what Christ has done on the cross so that you might have new, eternal life. It came at a great cost. But that just goes to show you how great the Father’s love is for us.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer (one of my favorite authors).
What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself. In coming to Him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when He will see no one. Neither does He change His mind about anything. Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.