The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honours his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honour and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! “But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’ “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. “Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ “You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. (Malachi 1:6-8 NLT)
The book of Malachi conjures up images of the tithe. The moment a Pastor mounts the pulpit and says, “Open your bibles to the book of Malachi.” People seem to know what is coming next. A sermon about the tithe. Malachi 3:8-12 has become so fixated on our minds that we sometimes find it hard to glean anything of value from the book which is a great shame.
There is a lot more to the book and we have been looking at it at church over the past couple of weeks. The children of Judah had just returned from exile. The economy was in bad shape. These returned refugees were trying to survive and rebuild their lives.
Given the nature of the circumstances they found themselves in, compromise began to set in. The religious leaders were allowing the people to act dishonourably to God. They were now violating clearly established sacrificial laws (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 22:18-25). They brought blind, sick and deformed animals thereby treating the Lord’s sacrifices with utter contempt.
The spiritual leaders were supposed to set the bar (Malachi 1:6). Instead, they allowed people to worship God the way they wanted. They did not correct them. What they were teaching the people did not bring about transformation and a change of attitude. It caused them to stumble in their walk with the Lord (Malachi 2:7-8). This resonates with some of the mess we are seeing and hearing about in the body of Christ today.
Despite the fact that this is an Old Testament book, the message of Malachi is still relevant to us as Christians. The people had developed a bad attitude towards the things of God, which is why they had the audacity to offer to the Lord unacceptable sacrifices. The alarming thing is the fact that they also felt justified in doing so.
There are a few questions we need to ask ourselves in light of this. What is our attitude towards the things of God? What is our attitude towards His word? Are we interested in submitting ourselves to His word? Or are we creating a God according to our own image?
Yes! We are no longer required to bring animals sacrifices, but we are to honour Him by the way we live our lives. Is honouring God still important to you as a Christian?