Summary: Serving and honoring God as his redeemed children means that we give him our very best - give to him from your heart.
Do you like leftovers? They can be perfectly delicious. Some even prefer leftovers like cold pizza the next morning. But how many of us would dare to serve our leftovers to an honored dinner guest? It might just be delicious, but we simply could not do it. Instead we give our very best. And so, we should also give our best to God.
Last week we looked at how we often compromise concerning the love of God. We rediscovered that his love is unconditional; that his love is proven by his actions toward us; that he does NOT love sin; and that his love for us demands a choice – receive it or reject it.
This morning we are returning to Malachi who continues to speak to a nation that has compromised many of the standards of God’s Word. They’ve gotten comfortable with life in the world and put God in the back seat. As we look further we see this even clearer – they are dishonoring God by not giving him their best.
Read with me Malachi 1:6-11...
To understand what Malachi is talking about here we need to return to the Old Testament worship system. Unlike worship today, before Christ came, every person was required to have a blood sacrifice offered up to be forgiven of sins against Him. That was called a guilt offering. They would offer up sacrifices also when they sinned against their neighbor – this was a trespass offering. And a third animal sacrifice was called a burnt offering which was a special sacrifice of worship and praise to God.
Depending on their wealth, people would bring either a bull, a sheep or goat, or a pigeon. God’s law was very specific about this and also about the quality of the animal. Deuteronomy 15:21 “But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God.” The animal had to be in normal condition without any impurities. And yet notice what sacrifices were being brought before the Lord during Malachi’s time: Blind, lame or sick animals (8)!
Now it’s bad enough that anyone would directly disobey the commandments of God in this way. But what is worse, is the motivation behind it. Why do you think a man would give a lame goat as a sacrifice to God? Why?
Well, if I was a farmer and was making a living off of sheep and goats, I would depend on those animals that are healthy to survive, to provide wool and milk and meat. But what do I do with a sick goat? I would have to kill it so that it doesn’t infect the rest of the animals. It’s not an asset but a liability. And so I would want to slaughter it for meat as soon as possible.
So what do I decide? Why waste a “healthy” goat for sacrifice when I need to slaughter this sick one anyways. I’ll give it to God as a sacrifice. He’s happy. I’m happy. And I get a blessing for bringing an offering!
And what is the Lord’s reaction when this is done? He says in 1:10 “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”
This seems to be an extreme reaction. God is talking about shutting the gates to the temple! It shows how serious is the offense of bringing a sacrifice which is second best, or evil, or defected. It is better not to have any sacrifice at all than to bring something blind, sick, or lame! And in verse 9 he says: “With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” Israel was offering up sacrifices! They were coming to God out of worship. They believed in Him and worshipped him. And yet….they were rejected.