"A Message for the Priests"
by B. Picart & G. Gouwen
TO CHEW ON: "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand." - Malachi 1:10 ESV
It sounds like Malachi is invoking the shutdown of the temple! What is the reason for his drastic suggestion?
Malachi prophesied during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, when worship abuses were rampant. As we read Malachi 1 closely, we begin to understand his almost unbelievable message to the priests of his time. He exposed their practices which were making a mockery of temple worship:
1. They offered blemished animals (Malachi 1:8).
2. They "snort(ed) at" rather than respected the temple rituals (Malachi 1:13 ESV).
3. They allowed the people to go back on their promises to offer the best of their flocks, accepting, instead, their inferior offerings (Malachi 1:14).
Though we no longer do the rituals and sacrifices of Malachi's day, there are parallels and lessons for us in his message:
Our lives are now the "living sacrifice" we offer to God (Romans 12:1). Are we giving God our best? The best part of each day? Our best effort? Our best years?
What about the rituals we do keep, like the Lord's Supper? Are we participating with gravity, mindful of its significance? Or do we take part as a rote celebration without examining ourselves and our relationships (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)?
Finally, do we keep our promises to God, perhaps made when we're in trouble? Or, when everything settles down, do we go back on our vows?
As the Bible dictionary writer says it:
"Cheap religion avails nothing....sacrifices given grudgingly are displeasing to God. Better a temple closed than filled with such worshippers" - International Standard Bible Dictionary on Malachi.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for these sobering thoughts from Malachi. Help me to apply them to my life today. Amen.
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Scriptures marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV® Text Edition: 2016