Malachi is one book that does not mince words. He doesn’t decide to soften the Lord’s words. He gives it to them straight. The Lord is a little frustrated with the religious leaders here.
“A son honors his father, and a servant 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. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.
“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ (Malachi 1:6 NIV)
There are some positions that do not have to have respect earned. It should be given based on the title. A parent should receive respect from their child (there are some arguments on whether or not a few deserve this respect, but here we are talking about position and not person). A parent shouldn’t have to wait 10 or 20 years to see how the job performance is. Respect should be shown immediately. An employee should show respect to their employer.
God says “If I am a father, where is the honor due me?” The leaders and the people would call on God as their father, but in His eyes were not giving Him the respect that should have come with the position/title. The leaders then ask in complete innocence, “What have we done?”
You want to know? Alright, here is how you disrespected your father.
“You place defiled food on my altar.
“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’
“By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled 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. (Malachi 1:7-8 NIV)
Having the food placed on the altar was an important part of the temple ceremonies. Not because God was hungry. He doesn’t need food. But he needed to see a sacrifice, a willingness to give up, of the best that the people had. When you are willing to give up the best that you possess, you are showing true respect, honor, and love to another. God was looking for that love and respect. So what were the leaders doing? They gave him the worst of the lot. I visit your house and you give me the food that you usually feed your dog? Does that show a visitor respect? The best of the best was supposed to have no blemish whatsoever. That is what made it a sacrifice. You were not to see the perfect lamb and begin to imagine all the money you could get selling it, breeding it, or using it. You were to say, “Thank you, Lord, for this perfect give. I give it to you as a thanks.” God was getting the far from perfect ones. He got worse than the political leaders got. And who really held the power?
“Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”-says the LORD Almighty. “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 1:9-11 NIV)
God is a little angry here. If you won’t give Him the best, then don’t give Him anything at all. It is all the same to Him. You can’t say here that it is the thought that counts. He doesn’t want our thoughts. He wants our hearts and our actions. He reminds them that there will be a day when everyone will acknowledge Him and worship Him. But the chosen ones are not realizing how they have that “inside track” with Him. They are already there and they are rejecting Him. This makes them no different than the other nations around them.
“But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the LORD Almighty.
“When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the LORD. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations. (Malachi 1:12-14 NIV)
They were bringing such beautiful gifts to the rulers of their land and other lands, but they would never have accepted on their tables what they were giving to the Lord as a Thank You gift. Some thank you.
How are you coming before the Lord? Are you really giving Him the best of possessions? Does He get the best of your time? I’m a morning person. I began to realize that I was using those first few minutes for other things. I began to use those first minutes of my day to focus on God and study His Word. Does that make a difference! I’ve given Him my best of my time and He has blessed me.
Does He get the best of your money? Or do you hold back for that flat screen TV?
Does He get the best of your material possessions? Or do you hold back for others to admire?
Does He get the best of your heart? Or do you give Him only what is left after everyone else has their share?