For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
How many of us would say we have heard of God, and have tried to live a life that would please God, and yet would also say “I don’t know God” – not in a personal sense, as someone present in in our lives. Can we relate to God as our Saviour and ever-present friend? Do we live for God, giving ourselves to the one for whom we owe our lives? These strange couple of verses in the middle of the prophetic word given to Malachi seem to invite us into that relationship, and the way of life that follows.
Malachi has just finished foretelling the coming of God’s messenger, the Lord of the Covenant. The people will have been brought up on the stories of the Covenant and of the Lord who rescued them from slavery, who brought them into the land in which they have been greatly blessed. But it is also about the God who was their Lord of the wilderness, of the time when they had nothing and yet, and yet they remembered how close they were to the Lord, as though He was personally with them through hard times. Ever since, though God rescued them again and again, they have rejected God, rebelled against God, disobeyed God, and shown this by their acts of injustice towards others, and their meanness in their giving to God.
The Lord of the Covenant came to Malachi, “My people, I have not changed – I am still your God, and you are my children. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts”. The Lord of the Covenant came to us, as the human being, Jesus, with the same invitation. This is what I believe God spoke to me, but for us all – “Come back to my Son.” God is waiting for us to return to Jesus . “How do we return?” Know how much God loves you, and recognise Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, your ever-present friend, and welcome Jesus into your life.
Lord God, I confess I need to know how much you love me. I see how much, as I look to Jesus. I confess I need your forgiveness. I find your mercy in Jesus. I confess my life needs a new beginning. I hear Jesus offering me life in all its fullness. I confess I need you at the centre of my Life. Come Lord Jesus, come.
The Rev’d Kevin Watson is the Moderator of General Assembly