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Rejected At The Altar: Malachi 2:13-16

Malachi: REFOCUSED
Rejected At The Altar: Malachi 2:13-16
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday November 7, 2021

Notes, Not a Transcript

Here we are at the end of the third disputation. A disputation which John W. Started last week. We have come through two others, their tack of sincere worship in chapter 1:2-5, and profaning the altar with improper worship i.n chapter 1:6 through chapter 2 verse 9.

And here we have arrived at the issue of marriage. Last week it was the condemnation of the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever. In violation of the law given to Moses- Deuteronomy 7:2-5. This violation of God’s commands on marriage is further evidence of the fall of these people and especially the priests.

Deuteronomy 7:2-5 (NASB)

2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 

3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 

4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 

5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.

The heart was and continues to be the issue. And they are dumbfounded when God does not accept what they want to give Him.

Look at Isaiah 29:13 

Isaiah 29:13 (NASB95)

13 Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,

And these priests, like a father to a son, are teaching the people of Israel to do the same thing.

The question for the day is -Are you walking in the light of the revealed Savior or the darkness of men?

V13

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.

The accusation from the Lord, through the prophet, is as follows -your tears are on the altar. You are weeping and groaning because your offerings are not accepted. That they are spurned by the Lord. And you wonder why? How could this be7 We are the chosen people and the chosen priests.

Never mind that we have violated your laws at every turn. Perhaps they felt that after the exile that they deserved some leeway. Maybe they thought that exacting obedience wasn’t necessary. But this was far from the truth.

God is righteous and holy, therefore He demands that those who follow Him reflect those same attributes. And they are not reflecting who God is by the worship that they are giving. Remember from Exodus 19:6, they are to be a holy nation, a kingdom of priests. Through everything they do they are to reflect the character of the only God. The one who rescued them from slavery. The one who brought them back from exile. Their lives are to be a reflection of this God.

Exodus 19:6 (NASB)

6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Look at Deuteronomy 28:10 – So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you.

Deuteronomy 28:10 (NASB)

10 And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.

Yet we have seen the problems that they have. We have seen that they are treating the altar of the Lord and the sacrifice that they make to Him as something to be disregarded. Or, perhaps more accurately, something to be treated casually. And they casual behavior makes it seem as if there is no God at all to the nations around them. They are treating the true God as a pagan god through their action.

How could they miss the true issue? Think back to Deuteronomy 28:10 – are other nations looking at what they are doing and seeing a God that they should fear? The evidence would point to something far different. Not a nation that fears God, but a nation that disregards the Creator of everything.

The lack of acceptance would point to a problem of sanctification.  In other  words they are not seeking to be set apart. They are not seeking to be holier. They are not seeking to reflect God’s character. They are not living a life that seeks obedience.

And the problem is elaborated in these verses below . Their marriage vows have and are being violated. Specifically this is addressed to the priests, not the people, although the people would be the recipients on the second level. Their witnessed marriage vows are being violated, unrepentantly, and therefore their offering is not accepted. Therefore, since it is not acceptable because of their hearts, the altar is covered with their tears. And they are surprised that their sacrifice is not accepted.

And that is the same problem we have. We can say we love God, even arguably confess God but our actions may reflect that we are truly functional atheists. We say that there is a God but nothing in our lives reflects that we believe it other than attending church a few times a year.

And then we wonder why prayer is disregarded by God.

Because God does not hear the prayer of the wicked. Of those who do not truly seek Him and His righteousness.

Look at John 9:31- We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

John 9:31 (NASB)

31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

Are you unrepentant, disbelieving, then do no wonder why your prayers are not heard.

Are you walking in the light of the revealed Savior or the darkness of men?

V14,15

14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 

15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

But here, the priests, and the people through the priests are in great distress that the offerings, the sacrifice, the worship is being ignored by God. Never mind that previously God has pointed out that their offering was substandard and that even they turned their nose up at it. And now God has pointed out their marital problems.

They apparently do not view their marriages as part of worship to God. Perhaps they have compartmentalized their lives. This is my religious life over here and over there is my everyday life. Certainly, there must be some truth to this since they have willingly chosen to violate the commands of God and married foreign women.

And now the priests, and also men in Israel in general, have been violating the marriage covenant by being unfaithful to their wives. A covenant ordained by God in Genesis 2:22- 24. This is marriage. Between a man and a woman and they become one.

Genesis 2:22-24 (NASB)

22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This is a covenantal relationship. It is why the marriage ceremony is performed in front of witnesses. It shows the marks of a blood covenant and therefore the serious nature of it. And the men in Israel are wondering why their offering at the temple is not accepted by God when they are unrepentantly in violation of a God given covenant.

And they are wondering in v15 why they are not having godly offspring. They have wedded women of foreign gods and have proceeded to be in adulterous relationships while still claiming to be God’s chosen people. All violating the obedience that God commanded.  And they wonder why things are going the way they should when they are not living as a holy nation, as a kingdom of priests . instead they are living as a kingdom of beggars. Living like the pagan nations around them. Thinking that they just need to pay a toll atthetemple and all will be good before a righteous and holy God.

Instead, their violation of the marriage covenant just demonstrates their true heart issue. Look at Isaiah 29:13 -they are only drawing near with their words. Not with their lives.

Isaiah 29:13 (NASB)

13 And the Lord said:

“Because this people draw near with their mouth

    and honor me with their lips,

    while their hearts are far from me,

and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

The glory of the Lord which had previously been revealed in the Holy of Holies is gone.

The only thing revealed now is their darkness The question to us, knowing the savior

Is as our sin is being exposed are you repenting and believing?

Are you walking in the light of the revealed Savior or the darkness of men?

V16

16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

For the Lord hates divorce. Divorce, the sending away. The putting aside of the covenant wife. It makes sense in the way these verses are constructed. When we look at last week it was the problem of marrying foreigners, outside the faith.

And when we look at this week we find the unfaithful priests treating their marriage as a non -covenantal relationship . It makes sense that God would hate divorces. Because God is a God of reconciliation.

It is true that divorce is allowed in some cases, but that is not the point here. What is the point is what the marriage represents as God’s relationship to the nation of Israel and in turn the relationship of the people to God and their testimony to the nations around them.

God is referred to as the husband of Israel:

Isaiah 54:5 (NASB)

5 For your Maker is your husband,

    the Lord of hosts is his name;

and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,

    the God of the whole earth he is called.

Hosea 2:16 (NASB)

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’

Jeremiah 31:32 (NASB)

32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

God models the behavior of a husband in a covenant relationship with Israel. He is constantly initiating the reconciliation with them. Look at the book of Hosea. That is why Hosea married Gomer, to redeem her. Even through her constant adultery.

Also, turn to Isaiah 54:5,6 where the dispersion was like a wife, Israel, rejected by the husband, YHWH, yet look at how it ends. God is calling them back. as the husband, rejecting the adulterous wife, Israel.

Isaiah 54:5-6 (NASB)

5 For your Maker is your husband,

    the Lord of hosts is his name;

and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,

    the God of the whole earth he is called.

6 For the Lord has called you

    like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,

like a wife of youth when she is cast off,

    says your God.

The divorce is viewed by God as an act of violence. That is because the marriage is more than a promise. It is covenantal. A blood covenant. A blood covenant as we see in Genesis 14:17… And as we know that the nature of this type of covenant is that it is in effect and joins one family to another. From the time it is enacted until it is broken. .And the breaking of the covenant is seen as a violent act Part of the pledge would be that worse would happen to the violator than that which occurred to the sacrificed animals.

Genesis 14:17 (NASB)

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

Israel granted divorce in the issue with marrying pagan wives in violation of their covenant relationship with YHWH. See Ezra 10:10-18.

Ezra 10:10-18 (NASB)

10 And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 

11 Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 

12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. 

13 But the people are many, and it is a time of heavy rain; we cannot stand in the open. Nor is this a task for one day or for two, for we have greatly transgressed in this matter. 

14 Let our officials stand for the whole assembly. Let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us.” 

15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them.

16 Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; 

17 and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.

Those Guilty of Intermarriage

18 Now there were found some of the sons of the priests who had married foreign women: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah, some of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers.

This passage is one in which God is not talking about lawful divorce in His eyes but one in which they are just putting their wives out without regard to the covenant. They are being disobedient to the Father. And this divorce was common.

Look at the way this set of scripture is laid out. First they are rejected. Then God tells them why they are rejected. Then God tells them what to do so that they are not rejected. Israel is being called away from the rejection in v13 to repentance and acceptance in v16. Essentially, stop what you’re doing that is in violation of the commandments. Treat your wife in the covenant with you like the covenant I made with Israel. It is the call to repentance.

Do we think about the covenant relationship that we are in?

Are we rejecting God by claiming to be in Christ but doing what pleases us?

Are you walking in the light of the revealed Savior or the darkness of men?

Conclusion

Let’s look how Jesus addresses this in Matthew 5:31-32. And Matthew 19:1-11.

Matthew 5:31-32 (NASB)

Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 

32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:1-11 (NASB)

Teaching About Divorce

1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 

2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 

5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 

6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 

7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 

8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 

9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 

11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.

Jesus models marriage for us. He died for the church and as such the  husband should treat the wife in the same way. Marriages where we repent of our behavior. Marriages where we lift up our spouses in prayer. Where we pray for their souls and their growth. Where we don’t look for the problems, but realize that our spouses are gifts from God. And that people outside of our marriage can look at how we treat marriage in the way that the nations were to look at Israel and see a holy nation, a kingdom of priests.

It cannot be said enough that through our marriages that we represent Jesus and His relationship with the church. Our families are not only part of the church but small communities that worship God and thank Christ for the unmerited grace that we have been given. Therefore, we can give those in our families unmerited Graces since that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

But even further is the covenant that we are in with Christ. He has done it all and because of what He has done in signing and sealing the covenant we are called to grow

But there is more to learn here than just about marriage because the Lord is addressing a heart issue

He is addressing the issue of unacceptable sacrifice Of unacceptable offering

All brought on by heart issues You see this is not a passive faith It is active

We are call to walk in a manner worthy of the calling Ephesians 4:1

Ephesians 4:1 (NASB)

Unity in the Body of Christ

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

We are called to be imitators of God Ephesians 5:1-2

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB)

Walk in Love

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

That walk is our offering to God

And your walk could either reveal the glorious nature of our savior or

merely tears

What are your offerings to God?

Are they a pleasing aroma that goes up before Him like incense? Are they the prayers like that of Cornelius in Acts 10?

Are we presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice Romans 12:1?

Romans 12:1 (NASB)

A Living Sacrifice

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Or are we living in a worldly manner and wondering why there is no joy or contentment in our lives?

Have we taken up our cross (Matthew 8:34) to follow the lord of light?

Matthew 8:34 (NASB)

34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

Or are we walking in the darkness weighed down by the troubles of this world?

You see, Jesus laid his life down for the church Ephesians 5:25 and we should do the same for ours

Ephesians 5:25 (NASB)

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

We are called to grow in sanctification, to grow in holiness, to grow in likeness to Jesus.

Is it any wonder that we find no comfort or joy in our lives when we have rejected what God has said that we are to do?

Is it any wonder that when we don’t seek to kill sin in our lives that we live in fear and worry?

You see these words of Malachi speak on many levels.

First and foremost is the violation of the covenant of marriage. And you can be healed from this too. Repent I say repent.

The Lord saves.

But this passage also points to disobedience.

All of which point to the disobedient nature of the priests. Much had been given to them so much was expected.

And think about this – how much was given to you through the cross and yet to claim Him and ignore your own sanctification?

tf you are not actively seeking to put an end to the sin in your lives. If you don’t hate it and long to  be free of it. If you are actively seeking to satisfy the flesh.

Then I can give you no comfort.

But if you are seeking to end this sin then all the comfort is yours. The one who

has started a good work in you were surely finish it. Repent much like these priests were called to do.

Repent from your worldly ways and turn back to Jesus.

Don’t wonder about your tears, but repent and He will comfort you Seek to kilt the sin and He will strengthen

It should be understood that all of life is an act of worship before an omnipotent ,

omniscient God. John 4:20-24 

John 4:20-24 (NASB)

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 

22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 

24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Ephesians 5:8-10 (NASB)

8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 

9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 

10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Are you walking in the light of the revealed Savior or the darkness of men?

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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