Weekly Word from Bro. David
July 14, 2016
From The Pastor's Heart:
Today, we continue our series through Malachi. A series I've entitled Going Through the Motions. We come to Malachi 1:6-14 where it becomes evident very quickly that's exactly what God's people are doing; They are going about their religious rituals but their hearts are not in it.
Every year, approximately 7,000 churches close their doors for good.
It's a sad story isn't it? Churches closing their doors! But did you know that God actually asked the priests and the people to shut the doors at the church? He says, "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors'' God says, it would be better if the church were closed. We have already seen two of the reasons why it is better if the church were closed and today we will see the third reason a church should close its doors.
We have seen the church should close its doors when they no longer honor God in their worship and when there is no longer holiness on the part of the people.
Lastly, a church should close its doors when they no longer serve God in their actions. Malachi 1:9-11 the prophet says: 9 "But now entreat God's favor, That He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, Will He accept you favorably?" Says the Lord of hosts. 10 "Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you," Says the Lord of hosts, "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations," Says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi implores the people of God to seek the favor of God when he says in verse 9, ''With such a gift from your hand will He show favor to any of you?'' In other words, how can you expect God to give you His best when you're giving your worst? The word ''favor'' here gives the indication of lifting something up high. Malachi is saying if you're not willing to lift God up and exalt Him, be sure that He will not pick you up when you fall.
The church should close its doors when we are no longer serving God and we've begun to serve only our self-interests. Malachi recognizes the people's self-centeredness and begs them to ''entreat the favor of God, that He may be gracious to us.'' But how can we expect God to be gracious when we are not willing to repent of our wicked actions?
God is quick to show mercy, but only to those who are broken, contrite, and repentant. These people were cold, apathetic, complacent, and rebellious. They could expect to receive no mercy from God.
Verse 10 contains the first directive in Malachi. Up to this point, the prophet has been asking questions, now on behalf of God he speaks and brings a solemn word. 10 "Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you," Says the Lord of hosts, "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. God wishes there was someone who would walk up to the temple and close the doors. It would be better for the doors to be closed.
Of course, God was not confined to the temple, but He made Himself present there. The point to God's words, ''Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors,'' was not just a desire that people learn a lesson, God would prefer them to stay away, rather than come unwillingly, reluctantly, and apathetically.
God's words here are reminiscent of His words through Isaiah many years before. Isaiah 1:12, 15 says: 12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. The temple is God's earthly home. He is asking His guests to leave. Here God says that He does not enjoy their company, and so will not receive their offering.
God reminds the people through Malachi that He deserves honor, worship, and reverence. He says; ''from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations''. Think of what God is saying! All the nations will worship Me; My name will be exalted around the globe; but My people do not even bring Me honor.
The Gentiles, who had not had the biblical covenants and the long history of God's faithfulness to them, who had not been the recipients of God's special love since the time of Abraham, and of God's instruction since the time of Moses, would nevertheless one day lift up the name of the Lord in praise and honor.
Even though Israel continually failed to follow God, His purpose to bless the nations through His people would still come to pass. Through Israel, a Messiah would come and He would be a light to the nations. And He will make the Lord's name ''great among the nations.''
A professional violinist was giving a concert. When he finished, the crowd jumped up from their seats and gave him a standing ovation. He had delivered a magnificent performance. The young violinist, with tears coming down his cheeks, walked off the stage, dejected. The stagehand saw him and said, ''Why are you so sad? Those people are going crazy out there and you are crying. I don't understand.'' ''Do you see the one man in the center down there? He is still sitting.'' The stagehand said, ''Yeah, so what? There are two thousand other people who are standing.'' ''This is true, but you don't understand. That man down there in the middle is my dad. He's also my violin teacher. If he doesn't stand, it doesn't matter what two thousand other people do.'' If God doesn't applaud when He sees how you live your life, it doesn't matter what everybody else does.
Ultimately the work of weak animals and frail, sinful, and mortal priests will be finished when this is fulfilled and replaced in the work of Christ. Instead of these many sacrifices offered by many priests, Christ offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, and then He sat down at the right hand of God, His work of atonement completed. So we are not being told to stay away from God because of the defective and disobedient priests but to draw near to God through Christ.
Malachi says in verses 12 - 14 that we no longer fear God in our hearts: 12 "But you profane it, In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is defiled; And its fruit, its food, is contemptible. 13 You also say, 'Oh, what a weariness!' And you sneer at it," Says the Lord of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?" Says the Lord. 14 "But cursed be the deceiver Who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished-- For I am a great King," Says the Lord of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.
Instead of the priests leading the people of God to worship and fear God's name, they led the people astray. The attitude of the leaders infected the people and the leaders were unable to resist or question the actions of the people in bringing diseased animals for sacrifice.
The name of God is a major theme throughout the book of Malachi. God says, ''My name will be great.'' But then He says, ''But you profane it.'' To ''profane'' God's name means to despise it, to make it common, to view it as worthless.
They detest God's service: 13 You also say, 'Oh, what a weariness!' And you sneer at it," Says the Lord of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; Thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?" says the Lord. 14 "But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, And takes a vow, But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished 13-14a
Malachi put into words the thoughts of the priests. ''What a weariness this is'' For them, the holy service of God had become a bore, a labor of duty rather than of love, a yoke around their necks. The very men who were the mediators between God and his people were profaning their office and bringing shame on God's name.
They deny God's power but God says "For I am a great King," Says the Lord of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations." 14b
The chapter concludes with this profound word: ''For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.'' The priests and people of God no longer fear God's name. Instead, they deny His power. But the nations will fear His name and worship Him!
Sir Leonard Wood once visited the King of France and the King was so pleased with him he was invited for dinner the next day. Sir Leonard went to the palace and the King meeting him in one of the halls, said, ''Why, Sir Leonard, I did not expect to see you. How is it that you are here?'' ''Did not your majesty invite me to dine with you?'' said the astonished guest. ''Yes,'' replied the King, ''but you did not answer my invitation.'' Then it was that Sir Leonard Wood uttered one of the choicest sentences of his life. He replied, ''A king's invitation is never to be answered, but to be obeyed.''
When we look at the people of God in Malachi's day, it is like looking in a mirror. We see ourselves. And what we see is how easily the people of God are blinded to reality, how easily sin blinds them, and us. The reality is that we are most aware of the faults and sins of others, and most blind to our own faults and sins. We are easy targets for imagining that our lives are satisfactory, when in reality, they are not.