Sometimes we need a word from the Lord. Let me rephrase and take you out of the equation. I don't want to assume that you need one, but I surely need a word from God. I spend a lot of time in the Bible, because that is what we are to do as believers. It also gives us life and purpose. And I believe that it is God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word. Every time that I dive into it, I am receiving a powerful word from Him. But every once in awhile, I want to...I need to hear something that ministers directly to the core of my heart.
As I was studying for a sermon I was getting ready to preach I had one of these moments. I was searching through the minor prophets (the series we are in right now is called Prophet:Unknown), and had just finished Zechariah and prayed this prayer before I got to Malachi. To this point God, I have learned a lot, read a lot, but I desperately needed something to reach into my heart and stir me in my inner being. Trying to be as vulnerable as I can be, without seeming insincere, I was at the point of tears in desperation for a word, as I turn to Malachi chapter 1 and I read, "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. 'I have loved you,' says the Lord."
I paused. I sat there as this Word pierces my heart. I wept. I thought about this powerful, yet simplistic statement: I have loved you. Let that sink in for a moment. The Lord loves YOU! This is the Word.
The passage continues, "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?'"
I was at first offended at the voice of the Israelites saying this. But as I sat there, I realized I say the same thing, but maybe in a slightly different way. I know I have thought, "God do you really love me?" Have you ever felt this way before? Or maybe the situation/circumstance you are in might make it seem that He doesn't love you. If God really loved me, why am I having to deal with this? Why did this have to happen to me? Why was this allowed? Why? Why? Why?
His answer stays the same: I have loved you. And it is a true statement. Let me demonstrate what God showed me in the moments that followed:
In Genesis, He loved us by sending us a ram in the thicket to take our place.
In Exodus, He delivered us from the hand of our enemy.
In Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, He gave us the law that lights our path so we don't stumble over sin.
In Joshua, He went before us in battle and paved a way.
In Judges, He heard our cry and rescued us time and time again.
In Ruth, He redeemed us.
In 1 Samuel, He exalted us and anointed us.
In 2 Samuel, He forgave and restored our lives.
In 1 and 2 Kings and in 1 and 2 Chronicles, He was faithful to His promise when He shouldn't have been.
In Ezra, He provided a way to meet with Him again.
In Nehemiah, He rebuilt our lives from the ashes.
In Esther, He saved us for such a time as this.
In Job, He believes in us and doubled our blessing.
In Psalm, He allows us to be real before His throne.
In Proverbs, He grants us wisdom to live a successful life.
In Ecclesiastes, He gives our meaningless life, meaning.
In Song of Solomon, He demonstrates the love of a groom.
In Isaiah, He cleanses us to be used by Him.
In Jeremiah, He formed us and gave us purpose.
In Lamentations, He weeps over us in His great love.
In Ezekiel, He showed us the greatest revelation of who He is.
In Daniel, He walks with us in the fire and dark places of life.
In Hosea, He loves us even when we prostitute ourselves to this world.
In Joel, He poured out His Spirit on us.
In Amos, He loves us by being just, but equally merciful.
In Obadiah, He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
In Jonah, for God so loved the World.
In Micah, He loves us greater than any other God could.
In Nahum, He is a stronghold for us in troubled times.
In Habakkuk, He works for us even when we don't see it.
In Zephaniah, He hides us and protects us from the awful day of the Lord.
In Haggai, He fills His house with His glory.
In Zechariah, He loves us when we don't have the might or the power.
And here in Malachi he screams, "See, I Have Loved You! I Do Love You! I Will Always Love You!"
And if this isn't enough. If everything He has done to this point wasn't enough, let's turn to Malachi chapter 3 which says, "'And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,' says the Lord of hosts."
Instead of getting angry with their response, God turns and gives them one more way, the greatest way, to show His great and endless love for them and for us.
God Sent His Son.
I am loved.
You are loved.
We are loved.