GIVING GOD YOUR BEST
INTRO: On a rainy Sunday afternoon, a little brother and sister were playing “Noah and the Ark.” An old shoe box was the ark; the bathtub was their flood. After the flood was over they decided to make an offering to God.
Noah (the boy) said to Mrs. Noah (the girl), “Here, take one of your toy animals as a sacrifice.” “No,” she replied, “Let’s use one of your animals instead!” When they could not agree, she ran to the attic.
In a moment she was back with a toy lamb. It was dirty, it’s head smashed, and it’s tail missing. “Here,” she cried, “let’s give this as a sacrifice. We will never want it again.”
Her brother agreed, and they made their sacrifice. The little broken lamb they did not want was given to God.
NOW THE SCENE SHIFTS. God was looking down at his earth. He saw the people in all of their wickedness and their weakness. They had no hope. All was dark. Something had to be sacrificed if they were to be saved from their sin. God had many angels he might have sent to help. He did not even consider them. Another was chosen instead: the best God had.
The Scriptures tell us why: “God so loved the world . . . .” (John 3:16).
Malachi, in his prophecy, set those two things — the love of God and the disgraceful worship of man — side by side.
His prophecy opens with the assertion, “I have loved you, says the Lord.” In the next section he accused the people of dishonoring him with shoddy, disgraceful worship (1:6-8).
The degenerate and cynical people argued saying, “In what way have we despised your name?”
Malachi’s charge was that they were giving God their leftovers. This is a clear view of the degenerate religious life of Israel. The priests were accepting molded bread and blind, crippled, diseased animals for sacrifice on the altar.
Instead of bringing their best, they were bringing their leftovers and offering them to God.
The Lord evaluates such worship and sacrifices in this passage. What he said here to Israel becomes a challenge to us today to give our highest and best to him.
How does God evaluate our second best given to him?
I. OUR SECOND BEST DOES NOT HONOR GOD.
Some relationships demand honor and respect. No Jew would deny that a son was obligated to honor his father, a servant his master, and a citizen his king.
Having earlier identified himself as “Lord of hosts,” God now identified himself as “father”, “master” (v. 6), and “king” (v. 14). He then asks: “If then I am the Father, where is my honor? And if I am a Master, where is my reverence?”
Those who offer God their second best do not have an appropriate concept of God. If Jesus Christ be God and he died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him. Look at note on v. 7 (Believer’s Study Bible).
II. OUR SECOND BEST DOES NOT PLEASE GOD.
The Lord suggested that the people offer their second best to the governor. Would he be pleased? Would he accept such sacrifices? The obvious answer is no (v. 8) (See note on v. 9 in BSB).
The Lord then assured them that he had no pleasure in them and would not accept their sacrifices either. He recommended that they lock the doors of the sanctuary and let the fires of the altar go out rather than continue such unacceptable worship (v. 10).