Malachi about 397 BC (A) received word from God, with God saying “I have loved you”, but then God said the Israelites were saying, “How have You loved us?” Thoughout the three chapters of Malachi the Israelites ask eight more defensive questions indicating they did not believe or trust God.
If they had believed the first promise from God there would not have been the problem with the other eight statements of unbelief. From the time of Abraham for about 1600 years God had been proving His love for the Israelites. Yet over and over after seeing great miracles and repenting they forgot about their commitment usually after one generation or less.
The Israelites had been singing Psalm 136 in the temple for 575 years(B) with a history of some of God’s miracles for them. All 26 verses end with “for His steadfast love endures forever.” All scripture is from English Standard Version (ESV).
“For His steadfast love endures forever” was used by King David in his Psalm of thanksgiving when the ark of God was moved to Jerusalem (C). Then it is in a song to glorify the Lord at the dedication of Solomons Temple in 972 BC (D). A very similiar phrase is in Lamentations written in 586 BC (E) and Ezra uses it in 536 BC as the Israelites were praising and giving thanks to the Lord when the foundation of the second Temple was laid (F).
This phrase was very familiar to the Israelites. However, their singing of this song and this phrase had become ritualistic and not from a heart of belief.
I remember about 1970 on a flight from Miami to Jacksonville studying this history of their cycles of belief and unbelief. I thought how could they have repeated this up and down cycle over and over? Then I was convicted by the Holy Spirit “am I any better today? I have the 1st coming of Jesus and His resurrection, the bible and 2000 years of church history. More should be expected of me.”
Below are links to to the “Nine defensive questions the Israelites asked” and Psalm 136 with NT scripture about God’s love and His expectations for those who follow Him. You may want to examine your life against the nine defensive statements and His expectations for you.
Also below is a link to other OT and NT scripture that demonstrates the love of God, including the five referenced above.
Henry Luke May 22, 2015
A- All dates from The Chronological Bible by Edward Rees 1975; B- Psalm 136 written in 972 BC; C- 1 Chronicles 16:34; D- 2 Chronicles 5:13, Psalm 118:1; E- Lamentations 3:22; F- Ezra 3:11