Reading For Monday Malachi 1:1-14
Malachi opens by stating that what follows is a proclamation of the word of God. Malachi's message begins with God telling his people that he loves them. Malachi then gives voice to the doubts of the people with the question, "How have you loved us?” Apparently, the circumstances and trials of the people caused them to forget all the past mercies of the Lord. Clearly they were not a great and victorious people, Gentiles were not coming to worship at Jerusalem, and prosperity had not returned. Another question followed about the relationship between God and Esau, Jacob’s brother. Every Jew would have known the answer to this query. God had treated the twin brothers very differently. God had chosen or elected to use Jacob or Israel for his glorious purposes in this world as his special people. The choice was one of sovereign grace, and it was undeserved. Esau was the eldest, the favorite son of his father, yet Jacob was chosen. Jacob was not a righteous man in his youth, yet he was chosen. God is contrasting the history of two nations. The evidence that God loved Esau less than Jacob could be observed in the condition of the nation Edom. Edom’s prospects were as bleak as its present state. The dispossessed Edomites boasted that they would reclaim the land and rebuild their country, but God declared that they would never be able to make good on their grandiloquence. Edom had been punished for their grave wickedness. Israel thought they would only observe from a distance, safe and secure in their land, the tragedies that would overtake Edom. Israel had its share of setbacks, but God had demonstrated his care for his people.
Next, Malachi brought serious charges against the priests. They had polluted the altar, profaned the name, and perverted the covenant. For these transgressions, the priests would experience punishment at the hands of their God. Part of the sacred duty which God entrusted to priests under the law was their service at the altar of sacrifice. The altar was the place where priests helped sinful people find reconciliation with God. The ritual acts performed were symbolic of Old Covenant worship. To officiate at that altar was a great honor and a solemn responsibility. These priests polluted that altar both by their attitudes and by their actions. The prophet accused the leaders of religion of despising God’s name and desecrating God’s altar. God deserves honor and Malachi uses the comparison of the way a son honors his father and a servant his master. The Israelites were the children of God, but God did not receive the honor due a father. He did not even receive the dread or fear that a servant might feel for his master or king. God was neither reverenced nor feared, just ignored and this was especially true of the priests. The priests offerings were polluted because they were not being offered in accordance with the ceremonial law. The priests demonstrated their contempt for the altar of God by offering unholy sacrifices. Blemished offerings were forbidden by the law; a sacrificial animal must be perfect, but the priests did not consider it “evil” to present blind, lame and sick animals as offerings to the Lord. Malachi challenged the priests to offer the same animals to the governor of the land contending that they knew those offerings would certainly not curry favor with an earthly ruler, and it would most likely be considered an insult. Did they expect God to show them favor when the treated him with contempt?
Rather than continue to insult God with their tainted sacrifices, it would be better, Malachi argued, to shut down the temple because the sacrifices were no longer accomplishing their purpose. It was all formalism, and it was doing more harm than good. The devastating prospect was that God found no pleasure in his people. The name of God, his character and reputation, was to be held in honor by all Israelites. God’s name can be profaned by actions and attitudes as well as words, and the priests were guilty of them all. However, Malachi announces a day in which God’s name would be honored worldwide. The implication is that there would be a new worship system that would include Gentiles among the people of God. Following the brief glance into the glorious future, Malachi returns to the inglorious present. The same name which would be treated with great reverence by Gentiles in the future was currently being treated lightly and irreverently by the priests.
Things To Consider:
- What ways has God loved you?
- How do you respond to the evidence of his love in your life?
- How should we serve the Lord?
- What sacrifices are we to make today?
- In what ways have we dishonored the name of God?
- How is our conduct connected to prayer?
- What are ways that we express weariness in our service to the Lord?