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"He loves me . . .He loves me not . . ."

Malachi 1:2-5 NIV

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"'I have loved you,' says the Lord. But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' 'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' the Lord says. 'Yet I have loved Jacob, [3] but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.' [4] Edom may say, 'Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.' But this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. [5] You will see it with your own eyes and say, Great is the Lord--even beyond the borders of Israel!'"

It is remarkable, in view of Israel's sin, that God's first message to them in this book is that He loves them. His love is a historical love that goes back to their ancestor Jacob, who received his father's and God's blessing rather than his older brother Esau.

They may have felt unloved because of the suffering of the captivity, the shape of Jerusalem when they returned, the drought and economic instability, but God reminds them that they will recover. If He was against them, they wouldn't be able to bounce back. Edom may rebuild, God said, but He will destroy what they rebuild. His activity will cause all who see to say, "Great is the Lord!"

Israel's situation is far different from Edom's, Israel will bounce back. They will rebuild. God didn't stop bad things from happening to them, but He did give them the opportunity to improve their lives.

The objection of Israel in this text surfaces a universal question: How can a loving God allow bad things to happen? Since He is all powerful, can't He stop evil's reign? Let me tell you a story.

Hospital Chaplain Norris Burkes went on full alert when he heard that a family of stab victims would arrive at the emergency room in a few minutes. Chaplains deal with tragedy and death on a daily basis, but it

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