Return from Exile: Malachi 1 (7)
Pray Psalm 51.10-13.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Sing Psalm 51.10-13.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Create in me a clean heart, renew me from within!
Take not Your Spirit from me because of all my sin.
Salvation’s joy restore, LORD, and keep me in Your hand;
thus shall I tell Your strong Word to sinners in the land.
Review Malachi 1; meditate on verse 6.
1. What was God seeking from His priests?
2. What did He receive instead?
The priests who had returned from captivity were guilty of despising the LORD. They were going through the motions of religion, doing the sorts of things priests do—receiving offerings, preparing sacrifices, blessing the people, and whatnot. Outwardly, they seemed to be doing their job, just as the people thought they were doing theirs.
But God accused them of despising Him because they sought to do His work their way. He had told them what kinds of offerings to receive and sacrifices to make. But they kept the form of religion without the substance of it by offering corrupt sacrifices. They did not honor God, nor did they glorify Him, though for all appearances it seemed as if they were doing what they were supposed to do.
The lesson is clear for all of us. God knows what He wants for us, and what He wants for us is that which brings us into the joy and pleasure of His Presence, enveloping and filling us with His love. We may satisfy ourselves, to a certain extent, by going through the motions of faith—whether in our times of private devotion, corporate worship, or our daily walk—but unless we are acting from a heart of gratitude and explicit obedience, we will neither honor God nor gain the blessing He intends. Instead, we will show that, because His Word and Spirit are not at work within us, we are neither willing nor doing what pleases Him (Phil. 2.13) but only what we find to be convenient or sufficient.
Do that often enough, and like the priests and people in Malachi’s day, you’ll persuade yourself that your superficial faith is the real deal, or at least, that it’s good enough for you. But God will see us and our faith in a different light if we do not hew to His Word in all things.
Captive to Jesus or captive to our own ways. Honor God or despise Him. It’s the choice we face in all we do.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
We have what God says: we know it, we can read it in His Word.
Then we know what we will do: because we see it in our lives.
Often, these do not agree.
Our adorable granddaughter Taylor, when she was about two years old, loved to sing hymns.
She serenaded with a joyful heart, and brought smiles to all our faces; however, her words and the actual song did not always agree. For example:
Make me a servant, humble and meek,
Lord let me lift up those who are weak.
Taylor’s rendition sweetly nailed reality:
Make me a servant, humble and me,
Lord let me lip up those who are me.
See what I mean?
But I wonder, do we sing out God’s songs in the same convoluted way?
God’s people have been doing things the wrong way for a very long time. All the way back in the book of Judges, before there were ever kings ruling God’s people, God sent His Angel to say to them: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?” (Judg. 2.1, 2).
See what I mean?
When will we His people ever do what He has asked us to do, exactly the way He has prescribed?
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
that Israel would walk in My ways!” (Ps. 81.13).
“Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river, and
your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Is. 48.18).
Jesus said to the multitude,
“Take heed what you hear” (Mk. 4.24).
And James wrote,
“…be swift to hear…be doers of the word,
and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jms. 1.19, 22).
We must be doers of the Word that God speaks, not merely doers of how we have interpreted His words—like “meek” and “weak” are not always interpreted as “me”. They could actually be meek and weak.
Do you want to hear Him say, “But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?”?
We must be careful of our response: for it speaks loudly of whether we are honoring or despising Him with our very lives.
1. Little deviations from God’s Word lead to big problems down the road. What can you do to guard against deviating from the truth of God?
2. What can you do to improve how you “hear” (hear and obey) the Word of God?
3. Whom will you encourage today to stay close to God and His Word in all they do (Heb. 10.24)?
Our relation to God, as our Father and Master, strongly obliges us to fear and honor him. But they were so scornful that they derided reproof. Sinners ruin themselves by trying to baffle their convictions. Those who live in careless neglect of holy ordinances, who attend on them without reverence, and go from them under no concern, in effect say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. They despised God’s name in what they did. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Malachi 1.6
Pray Psalm 51.14-19.
Call upon the Lord to purify you of any thoughts, desires, or ways that fail to honor Him. Ask Him to purify your heart and use you in His work today.
Sing Psalm 51.14-19.
(Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
Deliver us, from guilt, O LORD, You Who have saved us by Your Word;
and let our tongues Your mercy bless, and sing of Your great righteousness!
Refrain vv. 15, 18
LORD, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall!
No sacrifice, no offering would You have us, Your people, bring;
but broken spirits, cleansed of lies, and pure hearts You will not despise.
Now build Your Church, raise high the wall of those who on Your mercy call.
And take our lives and let them be sweet sacrifices, LORD, to Thee!
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.
Honor God or Despise Him
- T.M. Moore
- November 19, 2023
It's a constant choice. Malachi 1
Return from Exile: Malachi 1 (7)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore