1:2 I have loved you. God’s electing love is sovereign and unconditional. It is expounded principally in Deuteronomy where the verbs “to choose” and “to love” are parallel (Deut. 7:6–8). God’s love is manifested in the covenant He initiates with His people. The nearness of God to Israel was to be the source of awe and amazement (Deut. 4:7, 8). God’s love begins in eternity (Jer. 31:3) and is manifested in His covenantal dealings with Abraham, Moses, and David (Gen. 12:1–4; Ex. 19:5, 6; 2 Sam. 7). God’s election of Jacob continued to have relevance for His dealings with Israel in the period of Malachi’s ministry. Properly understood, God’s love does not lead to moral complacency but to moral zeal. However, Israel’s complacency and their cynicism about God’s love led to the moral crises that Malachi addresses. See theological note “The Purpose of God: Predestination and Foreknowledge.”
Jacob. One of the titles for God in the Psalms is “the God of Jacob” (Ps. 20:1; 46:7; 75:9; 76:6; 84:8). God’s electing love is unique because He loves sinners, those who by nature were the objects of His displeasure and wrath (Luke 15:2; Rom. 5:6–8; Eph. 2:1–3). The history of Jacob and Esau in Genesis clearly points to God’s choice of Jacob despite his lack of merit (Gen. 25:21–34; 27:1–40; Rom. 9:10–13).