The Reading: Malachi 1:1-5
“How hast thou loved us?” (v.2) RSV
We now start to traverse the book of the prophet Malachi. It is framed around eight questions posed by people to the Lord. The general tone of the questions is that of perplexity and hurt. The people feel that God is being rather unfair. They plead ignorance as to their own failures. Sometimes we can reach a state of sublime innocence when in fact we are far from guiltless. Our conscience can have become used to our low spiritual state, and we need awakening.
The first question they lob to God is, “How hast thou loved us?” (v.2). They feel that they owe little to God since he has not done anything particularly noteworthy for them. When put like that it sounds rude and ungrateful. But to them it seemed fully justified.
God’s answer, however, may still not sound that convincing to us. Basically he is saying that he has “laid waste (v.3) their wayward neighbour “Esau” (v.2). So, they who are descended from Jacob have been protected, whilst their “brother” (v.2) Esau has been judged. As a result of this, they should be grateful to the Lord and say, “Great is the Lord, beyond the border of Israel” (v.5).
Whatever we may think about this argument we need to learn that often the Lord has blessed us by preserving us from danger. Just because we were not aware of the danger does not negate his active protection. The very fact that we are alive and well is sufficient reason to be grateful and to be convinced that he loves us.
Also, we can look at others around us and realise how fortunate we are. The lives of many others are far, far worse than our own life. How we need to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, a spirit that counts our blessings. As Paul says: “There is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6) – see Explore More.
Thank you Lord that you continually watch over me and provide for me. Grant me a grateful heart . Amen.
1 What more does Paul say about contentment?
2 See the connection between Esau and Edom.