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‘In What Way Have We Despised Your Name?’

19/11/2019

‘In What Way Have We Despised Your Name?’

Text. Malachi 1:6-14, 2
In our last study we saw how God had stated clearly that He loved his people. Yet their response to that was to ask, “how do you love us?” God loves them by:-

  • Choosing them, unconditionally out of all the nations of the earth.
  • By preserving and keeping them, even when their enemies were destroyed.

Now, in the rest of the chapter, another aspect of Israel’s spiritual condition comes to light. “You have despised my name!” Like the first accusation, the second is a complete surprise to God’s people! “Who? Us? How have we despised your name?” The answer is that they are less than enthusiastic about their faith, a situation that betrays how they feel about the God who has loved them and saved them.

1 The State of the Contemporary Religion.
Right here is one of the main underlying reasons why Israel was not being blessed – lukewarm religion. Remember that they expected God to bless them for their outward obedience, but there was no change whatsoever in their attitudes – in their heart. One of the more serious aspects of the discouragement of the people was the way in which the priests were prepared to neglect their duties.

  • They spoke about God as their Master and Father. But: A son honours his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honour? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. v6 These priests were outwardly proud that the Lord was their master and father, but yet they were half-hearted in their service and prepared to only give him their second best.
  • They were giving God second best. 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 favourably?” Says the Lord of hosts. They had become bored with the daily routine, they had begun to despise the Lord’s altar, by offering animals that were second rate, the blemished, the sick, the lame, – animals that would never have been acceptable to an earthly ruler, even the governor of Judah. They would have been rejected.
    • This is unacceptable to God! 9  “But now entreat God’s favour, That He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, Will He accept you favourably?” Says the Lord of hosts.
    • God wants us to worship him in his way. 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. There is a difference between IMPERFECT worship and UNACCEPTABLE worship. In a sense all our worship is imperfect, because we are human, and we are sinners, and even though we have the outward aspects of that worship correct, and in accordance with the Scriptures, because we are sinners, there’s always an element of imperfection. But unacceptable worship, is where we worship God to please only ourselves. …
    • And if His people won’t obey and worship him, He can easily bring others into his family! 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.
  • They were weary with their religion. 13  You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ And you sneer at it,” Says the Lord of hosts. The daily services were regular, similar, a ritual – perhaps they longs for something exciting, or something sensational, but the continual worship of God in the temple was a hum-drum affair. The priests were bored.

 

2 Malachi’s Reproof of the Lazy, Half-Hearted Priests.
Characteristically, Malachi gets to the root of the problem…

  • Recognise the real problem. “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.
  • Its consequences for the Christian. 2:1 “And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2  If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.
  • Its consequences for the church. It would simply be better to close the doors than to practice this half-hearted form of religion.  Cheap Christianity is CHEAT Christianity. This is very confusing for people who are not Christians, as they watch people within the church, – people who profess to be Christians, but whose lives are lived only for self – with only a half-hearted religion. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the Lord of hosts.

His rebuke has divine sanction too as we see in Rev 3, where Jesus tells the lukewarm, half hearted Christians in Laodicea that because they are neither hot nor cold, he would vomit them up – literally, – half hearted Christians make Him sick!
© BobMcEvoy November 2019

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