Summary: Does not the King of King deserve our very best? This sermon is going to review Malachi's indictment of the priests of Israel for offering lame and sick animals and conclude we are to give God our best and be blessed or worst and be cursed.
God Deserves our Very Best!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
If God accused us of showing Him contempt, what would we say? Maybe in reverence we would remain silent but most likely our immediate response would be one of self-justification. Foolishly, would we not offer Him our dirty rags of righteousness as evidence that we love Him? Do we truly think that coming to church when it is convenient honors Christ who died for the church? Would God be impressed with us setting aside a few scurried moments to read His commands and talk to Him while giving the remainder of our time over to the “greater,” carnal priorities of our lives? And would God truly be impressed with giving Him our “pocket change” as a tithe while we build riches here on this earth? Surely God has no reason to accuse us of contempt! The first part of this sermon is going to focus on Malachi’s indictment of Israel whose priests refused to show God honor through their offerings and in doing so made their service contemptible, irrelevant and undesirable to their Creator. The second part of this sermon is going to focus on the stern warning Israel’s priests received that is applicable to us today: either serve God with all one’s heart, mind and soul with reverence or risk being cursed by Him!
God Deserves Honor
A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due Me? If I am a master, where is the respect due Me?” says the LORD Almighty (verse 6b).
Does not God who is Israel’s Father (Deuteronomy 32:6; Job 29:16; Isaiah 63:16) and Master (Exodus 23:17; 34:23; Deuteronomy 10:17) by creation, election, preservation, redemption and watchful guardianship not deserve to be honored? In face of these inescapable obligations should not their attitude towards God be one of a “humble sense of inferiority and reverent trust in an immensely powerful and fearful deity, who is at the same time just and benevolent?” Honoring one’s covenantal relationship with God is not accomplished by treating the Sacred with indifference or platitudes of politeness but with genuine reverence and love. Since honoring God was accomplished through obedience, Israel was told that fear or reverence of God was the beginning of wisdom (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7). Reverence was not to be done merely out of a sense of obligation but must be done “with the love of God; for love without fear makes men remiss, and fear without love makes them servile and desperate.” “Sincere and practical recognition of the greatness of God” as the light unto the nations (Isaiah 49) could only be accomplished through their love and total surrender to their covenant Father and King!
Showing Contempt Through Unholy Offerings
It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled You?’ “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty (verses 6b-8).
Even though God as their Father and Master deserved to be honored, Israel’s priests were charged with contempt for having treated His name, Word and altar as being insignificant or worthless. Since sinful attitudes are often secret from the consciousness of the sinner, the priests simply could not see how they defiled the altar with their attitudes towards ritual imperfections. Was it not the lay worshipper`s responsibility to chose sacrificial animals that were to be perfect and without blemish (Leviticus 22:18-25; Deuteronomy 15:19-21))? While this was certainly true, Malachi reminded the priests that they had taken a sacred oath to God (Ezekiel 16:50) to “conduct their sacral duties properly so as not to profane the Lord’s name” (Leviticus 21:6; 22:2)! By giving into the worshippers and sacrificing animals that were blind, lame and diseased, the priests were “desecrating the sanctuary whose holiness they were responsible to maintain” (Numbers 18:1-7). While their lips honored God (Isaiah 29:13) the priests, who were left to sacrifice and eat portions (Numbers 18:17-19; Deuteronomy 18:1-4) of the very worst animals in Israel, soon became bitter and despised the duties of the Lord’s table. In a very sarcastic tone Malachi stated the following fact: the priest would never offer inferior animals to a Persian governor because that would defile their name and invite their wrath so why would they offer inferior animals to the King of Kings?
In a similar manner do we not defile the name of God by allowing our “flesh-pleasing and self-seeking interests” rule our hearts? Should not we as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and priests (1 Peter 2:9) who have been purchased at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) want to make sure “His reputation is known from east to west, shown by the idiom of the rising and setting sun (Psalms 50:1; 113:3; cf. Isa. 45:6; 59:19), throughout the entire perceived world?” We should and yet how does “sneaking in” five or ten minutes each day out of a sense of duty or guilt constitute a sacrifice worthy of praising His holy name? Also, is not letting our minds wander on our fleshly desires while we pray, read the Bible and sing songs proof that it is a sense of duty, not love that we serve our Creator? “When duty replaces devotion, human nature is such that it seeks minimum steps, barely enough to meet an obligation.” And when the people of today’s churches offer such minimal and disrespectful gifts to the King of Kings do not our pastors accept and praise those who have lost their first love in order to fill the pews and keep their positions of leadership? If today’s pastors truly loved God more than praise from the congregation (John 12:43) would not their number one “goal be to reestablish a high and God-honoring standard in their own life” and those God has entrusted to them? We would never dream of disrespecting our boss, spouse, children or friends like this so why would we the Creator and Sustainer of our lives?