Return from Exile: Malachi 1(3)
Pray Psalm 50.16-21.
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,
Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?
When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.
You give your mouth to evil,
And your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
Sing Psalm 50.16-21.
(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
“All of you My Word despising, who are you to claim My grace?
Praise may from your lips be rising, but you scorn Me to My face.
You approve of all transgressions, scheme against your mother’s son!
I will crush your vain aggressions and destroy what you have done.”
Read Malachi 1.1-8; meditate on verses 6-8.
1. How were the priests despising God?
2. What were they not doing?
God had made it very clear in His Word the kind of sacrifices He would receive, sacrifices that would honor Him and bless His people. But the priests in Malachi’s day had a better idea. Instead of giving the best animals and other offerings to God, they gave Him the most convenient ones—defiled food, blind, lame, and sick animals. Stuff people wouldn’t even eat. Evil stuff (v. 8).
They thought they could do God’s work their way. Instead of just doing as He taught them in His Word, they yielded to their own convenience and greed, all the while going through the motions of religion, thinking God was just like them and wouldn’t mind the little change. In so thinking and doing, they despised God, though they did not recognize this was what they were doing (v. 6).
God says, “As you are going, make disciples.” We say, “Not really my thing, Lord.” Jesus says, “Take up your cross.” We say, “I’m a little busy just now, Lord.” God says, “Shepherd the flock of God.” We say, “It’s easier to run programs.” God says, “Worship me in Spirit and in truth.” We say, “But the praise music, video clips, and snappy sermons are so much more entertaining.”
Let’s face it: We don’t want to do God’s work God’s way. We are captive to self, sin, and the world. And to the extent that is true, we despise our Father Who saved us.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
In trying to convey a point to your fellowman, to your spouse or child, to an employee, or to a person you are mentoring, don’t you wish for a metaphor, simile, fable or parable that you could tell that would just gobsmack them into understanding?
God did that right in this passage. There it is in black and white. We think we are doing just fine with God, giving him our second-best effort: partial study of His Word, meager following of His Law, ridiculous amounts of prayer, and pretend worship. And to cover our tracks, we remind Him that He is all about grace, and probably, maybe, shouldn’t care about our lackadaisical approach to being a Christian.
But here is His smackdown on that:
Offer this second-rate behavior to your governor!
Your slovenly ways and means.
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably? (Mal. 1.8). Doubt it.
Use your imagination here. Maybe it isn’t your governor whom you’d be overwhelmed to meet. But there is someone for whom you would put on your best clothes, clean up your house, and try to learn all you could about them, to impress them. Is it royalty? A sports figure or movie star? Maybe it is a governmental figure? Or perhaps a musical maestro? You choose, but I bet there’s someone.
Sadly, God nailed it right on the head. Didn’t He?
And how tragic that is because God is the One we should be striving to please—with all our breath and being. Do we dare ask God the questions those folks did?
In what way have we despised Your Name?
In what way have we defiled You? (Mal. 1.6, 7)
Do we really want to hear His answers?
Jesus spoke a word or two on this very subject in His teaching:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’” (Matt. 25.34-36).
When did we see You hungry and feed You?
When did we see You thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and take You in?
When did we see You naked and clothe You?
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? (Matt. 25.37-39)
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matt. 25.40). For His glory.
These actions were not partially undertaken; they were done full-on and intentionally.
Everything about our Kingdom work should be done excellently.
For we do it for the King of Glory.
“Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested” (Rev. 15.3, 4).
Remember: this God, our God, says to us, “I have loved you” (Mal. 1.2).
And for this truth, we give our best. Or should.
1. What does it mean for you to give your best during your time with the Lord each day?
2. What will your “best for the Lord” look like in your Personal Mission Field today?
3. Whom will you encourage today to live all-out and excellently for the Lord?
If we worship God ignorantly, and without understanding, we bring the blind for sacrifice; if we do it carelessly, if we are cold, dull, and dead in it, we bring the sick; if we rest in the bodily exercise, and do not make heart-work of it, we bring the lame; and if we suffer vain thoughts and distractions to lodge within us, we bring the torn. And is not this evil? Is it not a great affront to God, and a great wrong and injury to our own souls? Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Malachi 1.6-8
Pray Psalm 50.1-15.
Spend an extended time in prayer, giving the sacrifice of thanks and praise to God for all He is and does. Commit yourself to obeying His Word in all you do today.
Sing Psalm 50.1-15.
(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
God, the LORD, the mighty Savior, summons all from east to west:
Out of Zion, rich with favor, shines He, of all things the best.
Come, O God, and keep not silence; fire devours before Your way!
He His Church, steeped in defiance, comes to judge this awful day.
“Gather now My children holy, those bound close to Me by blood.”
Let the heav’ns declare His glory, for the LORD Himself is Judge:
“Hear, My people, I will charge you; I alone am God, your God!
I will bring a solemn charge to gain you to Me for your good.
“Not for rituals I accuse you—let your worship to Me rise.
Naught to Me is any use, Who dwells in glory in the skies.
All is mine throughout creation; I your help do not require.
Offer Me no vain oblationñ hear what I from you desire:
“Sacrifice of thanks now render; pay to God your solemn vows;
let the troubled, each offender, seek Him in the midst of woes.
In the day of strife draw near Him; He will hear, and He will save.
Honor God, rejoice, and fear Him, give to Him your grateful praise.
T. M. and Susie Moore
Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available free by clicking here