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September 22, 2012

MALACHI 1 COMMENTARY POSTED: What is God’s response when we give Him our “SPIRITUAL LEFTOVERS?” If Malachi 1 is any indication, God’s response to the priests is a good “weather vane” (plumbline) by which we can ask God to search the conditi…on of our hearts and see if we have any hurtful way toward God (see how we hurt God = Ezek 6:9-note) like the priests & lead us in the everlasting way (Ps 139:23-24-note)? And so God zeros in on the heart of the problem which is always the problem of the heart (cf Pr 4:23-note). Lest we read the description of the defiling deeds of the priests with an indifferent, detached attitude of “that doesn’t apply to me”, we do well to recall that Peter says NT believers are a “royal priesthood” who by their conduct & their conversation are to “proclaim the excellencies of Him Who has called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pe 2:9-note).

Let us first observe that Jehovah’s “burden” (oracle) through Malachi (Mal 1:1-5) begins by reminding both priests and people “I have loved you” (Mal 1:2-note begins and ends with this great truth. Hebrew verb for “Loved” is in perfect tense = I have loved you, I love you now and I will love you forever, cp Jer 31:3-Spurgeon sermon. Has a sense of His everlasting love for you begun to fade from your heart? Take heart, for although He was addressing Israel this eternal truth is fully applicable to you dearly beloved of the Father! cf 1Th 1:4-note), and yet they had the audacity to question His love! (We never do that, do we?) Jehovah then “illustrates” the depth of His covenant love for Israel by reminding them “Jacob I loved. Esau I hated.” (Mal 1:2-note, Mal 1:3-note, Ro 9:13-14-note–see John Piper’s sermon on Electing Love).

Malachi 1 is fascinating for there are ~44 mentions of JEHOVAH (including pronouns I and My, God, LORD and 8 uses of “LORD of hosts [armies]”!), Who functions much like an attorney presenting His ACCUSATION, except that He even quotes the REFUTATION of the priests and then gives His REBUTTAL proving their guilt. In short, the priests had “DESPISED His NAME” (Mal 1:6) by DESPISING His TABLE (altar), by offering Him “DEFILED food” (Mal 1:7-note), animals that were blind, lame, sick (Mal 1:8), stolen (Mal 1:13-note), substituted (they vowed good animals, but subbed blemished ones, Mal 1:14-note). God declares their offerings are so “evil” they would not even dare offer them to their governor (Mal 1:8-note)! In Mal 1:9-note Jehovah calls for the priests to entreat Him (= irony because He will not hear our prayers if we regard evil in our heart = Ps 66:18-note), calling them to literally entreat “the face of God” (cf “Coram Deo” = Before the Face of God!), and even wishing for someone to “shut the gates” to prevent their useless offerings (Mal 1:10-note).

The evil actions of the priests beg the question to us as “NT priests”: Does our profession line up with our practice, our creed with our conduct, our doctrine with our deeds? Would our offerings be more like the Hallmark Card Ad: “When you care enough to give the very best!”? Or would we be like the woman who called Butterball Turkey Co. to ask about cooking a turkey frozen 23 years? After being told it might be safe but not savory, she quipped “That’s what I thought…we’ll just give it to the church!” Ouch! We chuckle, but do we give God our best or our “leftovers”? Do we rush into the worship service late, focused more on yesterday’s cares and/or tomorrow’s responsibilities, then focusing on Him, Coram Deo?

Remember that the priests were guilty of DESPISING Jehovah’s Name by offering Him less than the best! As God’s royal priests, is there anything in my offering that is “blemished?” To ask it another way -Is my offering from my first fruits, does in cost me anything, is it my best? Am I wholly offering the Holy One my body as a living and holy sacrifice (Ro 12:1-note) or am I holding something back? Am I offering Him my praise with heartfelt gratitude regardless of my circumstances (Heb 13:15-note, 1Th 5:18-note)? Am I offering God my external service, but inside saying “How tiresome it is?” (Mal 1:13-note). Although we might “DESPISE” His great & awesome NAME (Ps 99:3-note) with “blemished offerings,” nevertheless God declares that He will “BE MAGNIFIED beyond the border of Israel” (Mal 1:5-note), that “from the rising of the sun even to its setting” (= all the day, all the earth) His NAME would “be GREAT among the nations” (Mal 1:11-note) and that He is “a GREAT KING…the LORD of hosts” Whose NAME is “feared among the nations.” (Mal 1:14-note)

Father grant us the desire and power by Your Spirit to worship with clean hands and pure hearts, in spirit and in truth, for the glory of the soon coming King of kings. Amen.

Consider even now bringing a pleasing offering of praise by singing “Praise Adonai” based on “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the NAME of the LORD is to be praised.” (Ps 113:3-note)

PRAISE ADONAI by Paul Wilbur

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