Acceptance Or Rejection: Malachi 1:6-11

Malachi: REFOCUSED
Acceptance Or Rejection: Malachi 1:6-11
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday October 3, 2021

Our actions are a reflection of what we believe (actions have consequences)

Outline

  1. Dishonoring the Creator
    1. God accuses the priests of dishonor v6
      1. They refute the accusation v6
    2. Evidence presented of their behavior
      1. V7, v8
  2. God calls them to repent and believe
    1. V9 – repent so that you can be restored
      1. Turn from your wicked sinful ways
  3. God’s Great Name!
    1. Shut the temple from any false actions
      1. V10
    2. God’s name will be proclaimed
      1. V11
      2. Psalm 8

Intro

This is the 2nd of six disputations in the book of Malachi.  John W. handled the first one last week.  The general rule is that it follows an assertion (by God), an imagined counter assertion (by the Priests/Israel), there may be another counter assertion by God, and then a final judgment.  With your careful reading of Malachi you will be able to find these as they stand out.

Look at the first disputation.  The Lord asserted that He loved Israel.  They question how the Lord has loved them.  God shows that they are not Edom.  That Edom will be made desolate.  And the result is the Lord will be magnified.   

And now, we begin the 2nd.  A story of the actions of the Priests.

V6

Sin of the Priests

6 “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your name?’

Now the prophet moves to the second disputation.  Notice how the prophet goes to those that deserve honor, a father or a master.  These are indisputable facts of the ancient near east, that the son would honor his father and the slave his master.  That these two types of people would be respected.  Since the priests are the primary audience (all of Israel is the secondary audience) they would know this honor to be a fact.  

God is drawing upon a fact that they know as it is part of the commandments.  Exodus 20:12 (and Deuteronomy 5:16) tells that honoring father and mother will prolong their stay in the promised land.  Leviticus restates that they shall honor mother.

Exodus 20:12 (NASB)

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

Deuteronomy 5:16 (NASB)

16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you.

What is happening in Malachi is more than likely around the time of Ezra/Nehemiah.  The end of the Babylonian captivity.  The second temple exists (rebuilt 515 BC, The temple that will exist until 70 AD.  The Ark of the Covenant is gone.  Disappeared just before or during the Babylonian captivity.  The time is somewhere in the middle of the 5th century.  450-460BC.

The temple sacrifices have been re-established and in play for a number of years.  And now this question of honor to the Lord.   From God’s perspective He has told them that they are to honor him and be obedient to His decrees.  But that is not what is happening.

We see the allusion to the same issue in Nehemiah 9:16-17.  These priests.  The ones who are to guide the nation in reverence for the Lord are being disrespectful of Him.  In this verse we see the imagined response, where the priests deny that they are dishonoring the Lord.  They don’t see how they are displeasing the Lord.

Nehemiah 9:16-17 (NASB)

16 “But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;

They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments.

17 “They refused to listen,

And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them;

So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.

But You are a God of forgiveness,

Gracious and compassionate,

Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;

And You did not forsake them.

They have not demonstrated any reverence (respect) for the name of the Lord.  

Their actions demonstrate their true belief

V7

7 You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we defiled You?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is to be despised.’

The accusation of the Lord is true and the evidence is clear.  They have brought defiled food to the altar.  The food is the sacrifice.  God doesn’t eat but the sacrifice is not only an ordinance to the people of Israel but is a sign of their reverence towards God.  It is part of their worship of Him.  And how the priests are approaching this ordinance reflects what they truly believe about God.  

And we should keep this in mind too.  Our actions towards God reflect what we truly believe about God.

It is the Lord’s altar.  It is not their possession.  It is His gift to them.  It is the manner in which they will approach the Creator.   And God is accusing them of defiling His holy place with their offering.

He is accusing them of violating the Levitical code of priestly requirements.

    Leviticus 1:3; 22:18-25

    Deuteronomy 15:19-21

Leviticus 1:3 (NASB)

3 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.

Leviticus 22:18-25 (NASB)

18 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the Lord for a burnt offering— 

19 for you to be accepted—it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. 

20 Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you. 

21 When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. 22 Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the Lord. 

23 In respect to an ox or a lamb which has an overgrown or stunted member, you may present it for a freewill offering, but for a vow it will not be accepted. 

24 Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, or sacrifice in your land, 

25 nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you.’”

Deuteronomy 15:19-21 (NASB)

19 “You shall consecrate to the Lord your God all the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock; you shall not work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 

20 You and your household shall eat it every year before the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses. 

21 But if it has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.

This is a great offence and condemns the priesthood.  This was their job.  To protect the altar of the Lord and make certain that nothing profanes it.  For God is a holy God.  And there is none like Him.  Look at Psalm 100.  They are certainly not serving with Gladness.  They are not entering His gates with praise.  They are not praising the Lord who is good.  Instead they are mocking Him with their defiled offering.

Psalm 100 (NASB)

All Men Exhorted to Praise God.

A Psalm for Thanksgiving.

1 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before Him with joyful singing.

3 Know that the Lord Himself is God;

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving

And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

5 For the Lord is good;

His lovingkindness is everlasting

And His faithfulness to all generations.

Our actions are a reflection of what we believe

V8

8 But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.

Here is the evidence.  The lame and the blind are being sacrificed.  Not the first born.  Not the pristine.  But the ones of lesser or questionable value.  They apparently don’t think it matters.  Or they don’t think that God cares.  Or they don’t think that God is watching.

And that’s a problem.  Because it was ordained by God, therefore it is important.  And they can’t just do it in any manner they wish.  God has told them the way they must proceed.  Perhaps the issue is that although the temple is rebuilt the ark no longer exists.  It disappeared as was noted before, before or during the Babylonian captivity.  

And God’s glory is gone.  He no longer comes to the holy of holies.  Ezekiel 10 tells us that it has left and it won’t return for another 600 years (Ezekiel 43:1-5) when Jesus cleanses the temple.  

Ezekiel 43:1-5 (NASB)

Vision of the Glory of God Filling the Temple

1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east; 

2 and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 

3 And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. 

4 And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. 

5 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.

They are still taking the blood into the holy of holies.  But what are they doing with it since the ark is gone? Since they have no place to sprinkle the blood.  All the evidence indicates that they take the blood and they pour it on the foundation stone where the ark would have sat.  

Maybe our first inclination is to forgive them for what they are doing because it isn’t the same as before.  There is no ark.  There is no manifestation of the Lord.  Maybe they thought the system changed because these things no longer exist.  Maybe they thought they got a pass since things were different.  Maybe because there was no ark they thought that the animal to be sacrificed didn’t matter. 

Therein lies the problem.  God did not change what he prescribed.  The priests were the mediators of the sin of Israel and by their actions they were saying that their sin wasn’t great.  And in turn they were saying that God wasn’t good.  That God wasn’t worthy of their best.  

Their acts of worship weren’t their best.  And in turn they were telling the nation that the best was not required of the Lord.

There is no reverence for the Lord’s name.  The reverence that they had previously shown in generations past is gone.  They fear man, as evidenced with how they would react to their leaders with such a sacrifice, than they do God.

Now, apparently, there is no offering that will be rejected.  Everything is ok.  

I can’t help but think about the strange fire that was offered by Aaron’s sons at the temple of the Lord and how they were consumed – Leviticus 10:1-3.

Leviticus 10:1-3 (NASB)

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 

2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 

3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,

‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,

And before all the people I will be honored.’”

So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Or the sons of Eli in 1 Samuel 2:12-17 and how they profaned the temple and then were both killed.  These stories would have been known by the priest yet they still continued with the defiled offerings.

You see, you cannot approach the Lord in the manner that you wish.  It has to be in the manner in which the Lord prescribes.

1 Samuel 2:12-17 (NASB)

The Sin of Eli’s Sons

12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord 

13 and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 

14 Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 

15 Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” 

16 If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.” 

17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.

Their actions have consequences

Their actions were reflecting what they believed about the Lord.

V9

9 “But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts.

They must repent and believe.

They must implore God.  fall on their faces before God.  acknowledge their false actions.  Ask for forgiveness.  So that they can return to a right relationship with the Lord.

There are many examples in the scripture of exactly this behavior.  

Look at the example in Daniel 9:13 – turning from iniquity back to God.

Daniel 9:13 (NASB)

13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.

The disobedience and lack of regard for the Lord’s temple is almost to the point that it is unforgivable.  Their sins are that great.  To offer that which a man would not accept to the most righteous and holy Triune God.   They are in danger of full rejection by the Lord.  Rightfully so.  They know what they should be doing and yet they don’t do it.  As  a result they are leading their flock in false ways.  They are leading their sheep on dangerous paths and leading them to poisonous water.  They are bad shepherds.  

I cannot help but think of the verse in Psalm 73 where the writer has been beset by the prospering of the wicked.  Beset to the point that he is questioning what he believes.  Yet he says in v15 that had he spoken in this way he would have betrayed his flock.  Had they considered such a passage they may have saved themselves much of this trouble.

Psalm 73 (NASB)

The End of the Wicked Contrasted with That of the Righteous.

A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Surely God is good to Israel,

To those who are pure in heart!

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,

My steps had almost slipped.

3 For I was envious of the arrogant

As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no pains in their death,

And their body is fat.

5 They are not in trouble as other [e]men,

Nor are they plagued like mankind.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;

The garment of violence covers them.

7 Their eye bulges from fatness;

The imaginations of their heart run riot.

8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;

They speak from on high.

9 They have set their mouth against the heavens,

And their tongue parades through the earth.

10 Therefore his people return to this place,

And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

11 They say, “How does God know?

And is there knowledge with the Most High?”

12 Behold, these are the wicked;

And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure

And washed my hands in innocence;

14 For I have been stricken all day long

And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”

Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.

16 When I pondered to understand this,

It was troublesome in my sight

17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God;

Then I perceived their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;

You cast them down to destruction.

19 How they are destroyed in a moment!

They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!

20 Like a dream when one awakes,

O Lord, when aroused, You will despise their form.

21 When my heart was embittered

And I was pierced within,

22 Then I was senseless and ignorant;

I was like a beast before You.

23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;

You have taken hold of my right hand.

24 With Your counsel You will guide me,

And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;

You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;

I have made the Lord God my refuge,

That I may tell of all Your works.

Their only chance of redemption is repentance.  

This is not merely asking for forgiveness but means full repentance.  A change of thinking and practice.  

Actions have consequences.  

These priests are being called back to God.  Being called back to their proper role as the temporary mediators of the nation.  

Actions have consequences and the action of repentance will bring them back to a right relationship with the Lord.

V10

10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.

God wants these offerings to stop.  The offering of an improper sacrifice is worse than no offering at all.  It is insulting towards the Creator.  Think about this.  He has told them exactly what to do and they have chosen to do something quite different and unacceptable.  They are violating the laws that prescribes the manner in which offerings are presented.

They are kindling worthless fire.  They are, through their actions, not only insulting God but they are tempting Him to do something about it.  Essentially they are poking the bear.  They are boldly exclaiming through their actions that God is not watching, God is not listening.

Which in this verse is the basis for the prophecy to stop the false offering. The false worship.  

In fact, it shows the mercy of God that this prophecy of warning would come to them.  That it would entreat them to stop before it is too late.

There is no pleasure in this for the Lord.  Especially considering clear instructions have been given.  

Their actions have consequences, and they are being called to correct their actions.

V11

11 For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts.

This is a passage that is looking forward.  It shows that God’s great name will be recognized in all places.  This points to the end of the Levitical priesthood.   It points to a time when Gentiles will be believers in the Lord.  It is eschatological in nature.  It is pointing to the end times.  To the millennial rule of the Lord.  

Look at the words of Zechariah 8:20-23.  This passage is pointing to a time when the Lord will be worshipped everywhere.  We see the vestige of this with the Gentile Cornelius in the book of Acts.  That his prayers went up before the Lord as incense from the temple.  And the Lord sent the gospel to him.

Zechariah 8:20-23 (NASB)

20 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. 

21 The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” 

22 So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ 

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”

Look at Isaiah 59:19 – the Lord’s name will be feared everywhere.  There will not be a place where He is not worshiped.

Isaiah 59:19 (NASB)

19 So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west

And His glory from the rising of the sun,

For He will come like a rushing stream

Which the wind of the Lord drives.

The sovereign God of all is calling to them.  Through this gracious and merciful prophetic word.  It is a call to return. 

So this warning comes to the priests.  that now is the time that they must repent of their false worship.  They must repent of leading others along these same dangerous paths.  The Lord is slow to anger.  But anger and righteous judgment will come if they do not correct their false ways.

Actions have consequences

There is both a right response to God and a wrong response to God

Worship that comes from the forgiven sinner whose new nature allows correct worship of the Lord

And there is worship that comes from a self-centered man pleasing center.

The one of repentance is acceptable

The one that is man centered is not

One is the unblemished first born

The other is lame and blind

One is an aroma pleasing to the Lord

The other is a foul stench that causes Him to turn away

And today it is the same even though Christ abolished the Levitical priesthood and He is our high priest

Recognizing the great thing that He has done 

In that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us Romans 5:8

Romans 5:8 (NASB)

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

This is what leads us into correct worship

There is worship that comes from a correct heart that is full of repentance and worships the great and holy nature of God.

It is not anything that we have done.  But everything that He has done to change our desperately wicked hearts to provide a fertile ground for re-birth

The sacrifice at the altar has changed too.

We are now to live a life of sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we are that living sacrifice and that we are not to be conformed to the world

Romans 12:1-2 (NASB)

Dedicated Service

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore, when we live a week that has little consideration of Christ.  

Seeking out the pleasures of the world

Consumed with frivolous things that have no eternal consequences 

And then we come to church and sing songs praising God and listen to God’s word being proclaimed 

We are much like the priests offering the lame and blind at the altar and thinking the Lord doesn’t care.

He will be happy that I just showed up

Please be warned. 

That to proceed in such a manner is to pile burning coals on our own heads

We must bring the entirety of our lives before the Lord

Live repentantly

Consider your thoughts and actions

Matthew 15:8-9 – they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far away from Me

Matthew 15:8-9 (NASB)

8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,

But their heart is far away from Me.

9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

And when we move into communion later in the service consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

1 Corinthians 10:14-22 (NASB)

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 

15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 

17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 

18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 

19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 

22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

Our actions everyday will reflect what we truly believe about our Lord and Savior

Therefore, when we come to the table come with a repentant contrite heart.  Confess your sins and know that the Lord will be merciful.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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