Summary: Worship that is worthwhile to God requires priority, preparation and participation.
See if you can help me out and complete the following phrase:
One man’s trash is…
[Wait for answers]
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Because we live in a culture where we tend to rapidly lose interest in things that we just had to have at one point, we have given rise to entire industries that profit from that concept. At the most basic level, we have garage and yard sales where people sell things that they once valued, but in which they have lost interest and no longer need.
At the more commercial level, we have thrift shops that sell these items and pawn shops where people can get money for items that are no longer as valuable as the things they want to buy with the money they get from pawning those items. Then we have the whole self-storage industry that profits from people who actually pay to store these items, thinking that they might need them again someday.
Even television has gotten in on the act with shows like Pawn Stars, Hardcore Pawn, and Storage Wars. Sorry if I offend anyone this morning, but I have a hard time understanding the draw of a television program where people go around buying the contents of storage units that are being auctioned off for failure to pay the storage fees.
Now, like most of you, I’m certainly guilty of having purchased things over the years that I thought I just had to have, only to lose interest in those items and later sell them at a yard sale or give them away to some charity so they could turn around and sell or give those items to someone else who would appreciate them more than I did. In hindsight, that wasn’t very good stewardship on my part, but on the positive side I did make some other people very happy when they were able to obtain those items at a small fraction of what I paid for them.
But unfortunately man’s penchant for losing interest isn’t just limited to our material possessions. That same mindset can easily carry over into the spiritual realm as well. That was certainly true in Malachi’s day, so he addresses that situation in the passage that we heard read earlier in the service today – Malachi 1:6-14. But certainly the attitude Malachi addresses in that passage was not limited to Israel nearly 2,500 years ago. Unfortunately it is still present in our culture today.
Before we take a look at that passage, I want to take a moment to review our main point from the opening verses of the Book of Malachi that we developed last week. Since that particular theme is the key to understanding the entire book of Malachi, we’re going to keep coming back to it each week. Let’s see if you can help me fill in the blanks:
[Wait for answers]
God desires for me to pursue Him
in the same way He has pursued me
With that idea in mind, we’re now ready to tackle the rest of chapter 1 this morning. Since we already heard the passage read earlier, I’m not going to read it again, but I want to encourage all of you to open up your Bible to that passage because you’re going to need to be able to refer back to the passage during the message this morning. Remember that Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and you’ll find it right before the gospel of Matthew in your Bibles.
Let me give you a roadmap of where we’re going first and then we’ll use that roadmap to guide our journey through this passage. As we’ve discussed often before, our corporate worship gatherings are only one aspect of our worship because worship involves our entire lives. But in His prophecy, Malachi is primarily addressing God’s people as a whole rather than individuals, so we’ll follow his lead and keep our focus primarily on the corporate aspect of worship. In particular, we’re going to focus on these three aspects of corporate worship this morning:
• The purpose of corporate worship. We’ll look at worship from God’s perspective and see what He desires to accomplish through our worship.
• The profaning of corporate worship. We’ll see how the nation of Israel was keeping that purpose from being accomplished through the ways they were profaning worship.
• The practice of corporate worship. This is where we’ll spend most of our time and we’ll see if we can’t develop some steps we can take to make sure that our worship furthers God’s purposes.
The purpose of corporate worship
The idea of God’s name permeates Malachi’s entire prophecy, but it particularly takes center stage here in this passage where God’s name is referred to six times. As we’ve discussed before, the name of God is more than just a title – it encompasses God’s revealed character and His presence. And God reveals here three times in this passage – twice in verse 11 and one more time in verse 14 – that His desire is that the worship of Israel will result in His name being great among the nations and feared among the nations. In other words, God’s desire is that the worship of Israel will be so genuine and passionate that it will result in God’s character and His presence being exalted well outside the borders of Israel.