Malachi Lesson 2: Do We Have the Highest Reverence for God?
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’
7 You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ Says the Lord of hosts.
9 ‘But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?’ Says the Lord of hosts. 10 “Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘Nor will I accept an offering from your hands.
11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,’ Says the Lord of hosts. 12 ‘But you profane it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible.’13 You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,’ Says the Lord of hosts. ‘And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus, you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?’ Says the Lord.
14 ‘But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished—For I am a great King,’ Says the Lord of hosts, ‘And My name is to be feared among the nations.'”
Last week, we asked God if He really loved us. And this week, God asks us do we really love and honor Him?
If you recall, the book of Malachi is built around six (6) conversations that God has with the captives that have returned to Israel from Babylon, well, Persia really. Babylon has been defeated. They have rebuilt the Temple and are beginning their sacrifices. This second Temple was not as bright and grand as the Temple that Solomon built, but they had a Temple and they were excited.
In verses 1-5, God shows clearly that He loves the people of Israel and that He has shown it by preserving them in the midst of great struggles and by thwarting their enemies. Even when they were sent by God into captivity, He has preserved them and brought them back home.
In our modern times, we have seen the resurrection of Israel in 1948 back to their homeland, and in 1967, the retaking of Jerusalem to be the capital city. The nation of Israel had been pretty much non-existent, scattered across the globe from 70 AD, when the Roman military ransacked the city and scattered the people. But God has preserved them, and now they are back as a nation. God loves the nation of Israel. Remember, Jesus is a Jew; He is the King of the Jews. God cannot hate Israel.
Today, we will encounter a second conversation that God has with the people that are back in the city. As we mentioned before, the Temple has been rebuilt, and they are offering sacrifices. Now there are very clear rules as to what type, kind, and condition of the sacrifices. In Leviticus 1:3, we are told that the sacrifice has to be of the highest quality.
“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord.”
God required that any offering brought to Him was to be one that was perfect in that it had no blemishes. This, of course, was very important as the sacrifices were a picture of Jesus, our perfect, sinless sacrifice.
There are countless verses that talk about Jesus’ perfection (1 Peter 2:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, Luke 1:35, 1 John 3:5). God was very careful to protect the integrity of the perfect sacrifice because He knew Jesus the Messiah was coming to take away the sins of the world. God knew that only a perfect and sinless sacrifice would satisfy His Holiness.
In Leviticus 1, there were provisions made as well for the poor in all the sacrifices. The wealthy could bring a bull or a lamb, but the poor could bring turtle doves or pigeons. All could offer sacrifices, and all would be accepted as long as they followed the rules. God would forgive their sins and show them mercy and grace. But as we look at this conversation between God and His people, we find that there are some issues here that God cannot overlook, and they must be addressed.
- We know how to honor human leaders, verses 5-6
We have all seen what happens in towns and cities where dignitaries are visiting. They clean up the town and make sure all is well. When I was a boy, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip came to Barbados. I was 10, I think. The Queen was coming to knight one of the cricket heroes, Garry Sobers. I was there at the Garrison, the place where we held horse races in Barbados. It was a large open space that allowed a lot of people to see what was going on. We were all dressed in our best, the place was clean, the roads swept, and on and on. Even though I was never going to meet the Queen face to face, I was still dressed by my parents as if I was going to be standing right in front of her.
We understand how to prepare for human dignitaries, and yet, as God points out, we do not have the same reverence for Him.
How many people show up to church each Sunday tired and sleepy, the kids, the adults because they did not prepare for church, to worship the Lord with a good night of sleep. How many go to bed early each weeknight so as to be ready for work but do not offer God the same reverence. How many are late to church each Sunday but arrive 15 minutes early each day for work? How many mentally prepare for work but refuse to prepare spiritually for meeting with the Lord?
We take the Lord for granted, and we do not honor Him as He deserves. He is the ultimate dignitary, He is our heavenly Father, and He is deserving of all of the honor and glory that we can give Him. But for some reason, we, yes, even God’s people, do not honor Him at all.
- We pretend not to know what we are doing, verse 6
God tells them what they are doing, and the people pretend not to know that they are not honoring God as the King and Heavenly Father. The people ask, ‘in what way have we despised your name?’ They pretend that they do not know what is going on. We are all like that. We get pulled over by the police, and even though we know we were speeding, we ask, ‘what’s wrong, officer?’ Then the officer has to explain that you were doing 80 mph in a 50 mph and that you will be getting a ticket.
God goes on to explain to the people that they have been offering imperfect sacrifices to Him on His altar, and He is not going to tolerate it anymore.
7 “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’ 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?”
You refuse to offer me the best that you have. You take the sick and lame, the blind and marred, and offer this as a sacrifice to me. First of all, go and offer that to your local governor and see how he reacts. Will a mere human dignitary accept this second-rate offering? We all know the answer, No, he will not. He would take it as an insult and maybe even execute you. He certainly would not hear your petitions. Yet, you expect me, the God of the Universe, to accept your second rate, or maybe even worse offering. NO, I am not going to do it. Stop it.
But, just as important as God the Father’s position as King is Jesus’ position as Savior. This picture had to be properly guarded, as there could be no question as to the sinless perfection of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
This practice of offering God unclean and damaged animals was prevalent even in Jesus’ day. We find Him overthrowing the money changers in Matthew 21:12, and as we study the history of the time, we see that the priests or maybe their servants would inspect the animals as they were brought for sacrifice by the people. They would determine that an animal was unfit and then offer to sell them a fit animal. This was all lies. Most of the people brought good animals, and the priests swindled them out of the good animals by declaring them unfit. They simply took advantage of the poor.
The priests were a part of the ruling class in Israel. When the people came back from Persia, the priests and not the kings became the ruling class right up to Jesus’ day. Jesus called them out as thieves, turned over their business tables, and kicked them out of His Father’s Temple.
How often do we treat God the same way? Do we tithe first? Do we give God what is rightfully His, or do we give Him what is left over, if there is any?
There is a lot of discussion in churches today about tithing. Many think it was part of the law and simply do not take the time to study the scriptures. I encourage you to study it yourself.
The first time that tithing is mentioned in the scripture, we see it in Genesis 14 when Abram pays a tithe to Melchizedek when he returns from a battle to rescue Lot. We are told in Hebrews that this Melchizedek was Jesus, a man without mother or father, without beginning and end (see Hebrews 7:3), and that he is a priest forever. Abram, our spiritual father, paid tithes to Jesus our Savior long before the law of Moses was written. God should get the first fruit of our labor. In our time, the government takes payroll taxes, and we have no control over that. But once you get paid, God should be paid first above all else. We will cover this more extensively later. This is another conversation that God has with them.
- We still expect God to help us, verse 9
We still expect God to help us and to treat us favorably when we treat Him with utter dishonor. We are delusional, or worse, arrogant.
Last night as I was coming home from work, I had a few questions for the Lord. I was contemplating the issues in Israel as Hamas was raining bombs down on them. I see the economy here in North America be decimated by the crooks we have in power, and the ones who are not crooks are incompetent. Sadly, most are corrupt. I was angry with God for standing by and apparently doing nothing, but I was wrong. The more I read the book of Malachi, the more I understand.
We have mistreated God. We have defied God, yes, even as supposedly saved people. We have elected – time and time again – men and women who hate Israel, who hate babies in the womb, who hate the God of Israel, and we wonder why they are doing these things. We, God’s people, are the problem. Most of these people could not get elected without Christians or supposed Christians voting for them. We elect evil people and then entreat God to stop their evil actions. We are the idiots.
God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, that will he reap. These Jews had no idea that in a few short centuries, some 400 years away, the time of the Gentile church would come, and that God would scatter the Jews around the world and burn Jerusalem to the ground. They had no clue that God would, for all intents and purposes, shut the nation of Israel for almost 2,000 years and begin a new work in the Gentile nations. The very nations they detested. They thought that God needed them, and they were wrong.
We are in the same boat here right now. The Gentile church is dying. We are defying God; we are offering Him second-rate men and leaders to do the work. We dishonor Him with our lives and our ways. We take advantage of His grace and mercy. But all too many in the New Testament churches do not realize that the time of the NT church is swiftly coming to an end; it will be a violent end, and God will begin to prepare the world for the resurrected King of Israel, Jesus, the King of the Jews.
- We have a unique opportunity, verse 14
We are the nations that God is talking about in this verse. The Jews rejected God’s leadership, and we, the Gentiles, received it. For the better part of 2,000 years, we have been the light bearer and the carriers of the Good News of Jesus to the world. As we get nearer and nearer to the return of Jesus, let us not drop the torch. Rather, let us be even more diligent to offer God our best: our time, our lives, and our faithful service. Paul puts it this way in Romans 12:1-2,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
God does not require animals to be killed any longer; He wants us to willingly sacrifice ourselves for the Kingdom. Let us give Him ourselves and our families, fully, wholly, and completely for His service and for His use. Let us honor Him with our lives and with our monies, with our time and our speech. Give God the glory, and reverence Him as the King of kings, our Heavenly Father, and the Righteous Judge to whom we will answer. Let us honor our Great King,
“For I am a great King,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘And My name is to be feared among the nations.'”
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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