Weekly Word from Bro. David
July 7, 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 said, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors” God said it would be better if the church were closed. From this passage we will see three reasons a church should close its doors.
The church should close its doors first of all when we no longer honor God in our worship. Malachi says in verses 6-8:
6 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?' 7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the Lord is contemptible.' 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the Lord of hosts.
In the first few verses we saw how God proclaimed His love for His people. Instead of His people responding to His love, they questioned Him, ignored Him, and remained apathetic and complacent. In fact, God says that, “His people have not loved him, honored Him, or feared Him”. This is clearly displayed in the people's worship, or lack thereof. They no longer honored God in their worship and in their sacrifices.
There is no honor God says through the prophet. In verse 6 Malachi gives God's charge against His people in a very clear statement: 6 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'”
If fathers can expect honor from their children and masters can expect honor from their servants, why shouldn't God expect honor from His people? But the indictment is clear: There is no honor for God at all.
This is a charge that God makes directly to the priests. It is directed to “You, O priests, who despise my name.” To despise God's name is to despise who God is, to despise the self-revelation of God, the character of God. And to despise God's name is also to despise the presence of God, since God marks his named well in the temple.
How were the priests dishonoring God? They ''despised [His] name.'' How did they do that? They refused to honor God and give Him the proper respect He deserved. God says, ''Where is my honor? Where is my reverence (fear)?'' In other words, there is no honor for the Lord or reverence of the Lord among the people or the priests.
The priests should have known their Old Testament and recognized that history was repeating itself. Maybe you remember the story of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu. Here's a classic example of what God does when He is not honored properly: 1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.
2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the Lord spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.' “So Aaron held his peace.” Leviticus 10:1-3.
The church should close its doors secondly when there is no longer holiness on the part of the people, verses 7-8 says: 7 "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the Lord is contemptible.' 8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?" Says the Lord of hosts.
Once again, the people respond to God's accusation with an arrogant question, ''How have we despised Your name?'' God gave the answer in verse 7, "You offer defiled food on My altar. But say, 'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, 'The table of the Lord is contemptible.' What was it that the priests did to dishonor the Lord? They were not giving God their best in the service and sacrifices of the temple. They would bring the ''blind, lame or sick'' to offer to the Lord.
These blind, crippled, and diseased sacrifices revealed much about the worshipers who offered them, and even more about the priests who accepted them. It was not a matter of ''only the best will do for God,'' but rather ''give God the worst.”
How typical of priests and people at that time they did not have the nerve to actually stop offering sacrifices, but offered second rate sacrifices, going through the motions of serving God, whenever hearts, lips, and lives were far away from God.
These animals had to be perfect; nothing imperfect could be brought to the altar and accepted. After all, these sacrifices pointed to the Lamb of God who would one day die for the sins of the world and if they were imperfect, how could they typify the Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ?
In short, the priests were permitting the people to bring God less than their best. If they had offered these defective beasts to their governor, he would have rejected them, but the animals were good enough for the Lord. These priests had forgotten what was written in their own Law: ''Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf'' (Lev. 22:20).
What does this say to professed Christians who spend hundreds of dollars annually, perhaps thousands, on gifts for themselves, their family, and their friends, but tip God when the offering plate is passed? What does this say concerning children who no longer honor their parents? Are you satisfied with sassy speech and rebellious attitudes?
God is holy. Therefore, He demands holiness and deserves pure worship. To despise these sacrifices was to despise the heart of God's gospel provision for time, forgiveness, and cleansing from sin. We must honor God in our worship - with a pure heart and right motives.
Next time we will see the last reason God gives for a church closing its doors. I pray that as you are reading these words you are allowing them to find lodging in your hearts.