Have you ever seen a parent sitting down holding a child on their lap and the kid winds up and slaps the adult in the face? If so, then you are able to pretty much picture what’s happening in the book of Malachi.
Spiritually speaking, the children of God (young and old) just keep slapping away while accusing God of not loving them (1:2), being evil and delighting in evildoers (2:17), being unjust (2:17), not worth serving (3:14), and blessing evildoers and making them rich while the godly remain poor and oppressed (3:15).
Rather than slapping back, God speaks love. In Malachi 1:2, God gets the first word saying, “I have loved you”. Do you know that everything begins with the Father’s love? Some of you think that God is a force; he’s impersonal. He’s not. God is a Father; he’s personal. A force does not speak to you. A force does not love you. A Father speaks to you because he loves you. “I have loved you.” This is where the Father begins.
This revelation is antithetical to every other religious system and teaching in the world. In varying ways, every other religious system is about something called “works”. It’s about what you do to earn God’s love. And if any other religion were to write this, it would say, “If you obey me, then I will love you.” It starts with you. It rises and falls with you. It’s predicated upon you. “If you obey me, then I will love you.” Only the God of the Bible says this: “I love you, and because I love you, you’re going to obey me. Your obedience does not compel me to love you. My love will compel you to obey me.” Do you see the difference?
Works based religions are like a man who walks into an orphanage with a bunch of children and says, “I’ll observe the kids for a while and I’ll adopt the best one.” The God of the Bible walks into the orphanage and says, “I’m going to adopt a lot of kids and some of them are horrible, rebellious, terrible, and awful. Nobody else wants these kids. And I’m going to love them and my love is going to change them.” God did not pick you because you’re great. God picked you because He’s great. “I have loved you.”
Now, what should their response be? “And we love you, Father!”—that’s not their response. “But you say, ‘How have you loved us?’” The entire book is a series of disputations, where God the Father tells his children in various ways, “I love you,” and they say, “No you don’t.” They’re accusing God of sinning and failing. They’re accusing God of being unloving. They’re accusing God of saying one thing and doing another.
This leaves us with two options. One, we can read it and say, “I can’t believe they did that”. Two, we can admit, “I can’t believe I still do that.”
How many of you today, if I told you, “God is a Father who loves you,” you would say, “I don’t feel that. I don’t see that. I don’t believe that”? These people are not atheists; they’re just angry.
How many of you have been there? How many of you are there? The answer is everyone. Everyone. “It doesn’t look like God loves us. It doesn’t feel like God loves us. I know that God says that He loves us, but He’s not showing that He loves us. Why am I so broke? Why is it so dark? Why are things so hard?” Be honest with God. He already knows your heart.
He’s already heard their grumbling, He’s heard their complaining, He’s heard their accusing.
Some of us are good parents as long as our children are good. As soon as our children become bad, all of a sudden, we’re bad parents—meaning, the way we respond is very different. You know who someone is when that is tested. They are testing the Father and then they’re going to see who he truly is – loving.