Worthless Worship: Malachi 1:12-14

Worthless Worship: Malachi 1:12-14
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday October 10, 2021

Notes, Not a Transcript:

(Thoughts – What is in a Name?  the Name above all Names

    (taking the Lord’s name in vain))

The mouth speaks out what fills the heart

The topic today may be a little difficult to hear

And if it is I hope that it pierces your heart and causes you to consider your Lord

My intention is to talk about the difference between true and false worship

To speak about the worthiness of God’s name

To draw is into worship that is worthy of our Savior

Not a form of worship that will be discarded by Him as worthless

But worship in the Spirit, Philippians 3:3

Philippians 3:3 (NASB)

3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and take pride in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh,

Through the Spirit who makes our worship acceptable Ephesians 2:18

Ephesians 2:18 (NASB)

18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

That we will worship Him in spirit and truth John 4:24

John 4:24 (NASB)

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

Before we begin a little word about sacrifice


12 “But you are profaning it by your saying, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’

We come to verse 12,  To some degree a restatement of v7.  

Malachi 1:7 (NASB)

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 Lord’s name has been profaned.  It has been polluted, desecrated, abused.  The great I Am is being treated worse than earthly rulers.  His rules and ordinances are being ignored through irreverent and ungodly behavior.  The holy ground upon which they are standing is being violated.  They are looking upon the Lord with disdain by their actions.  His name is of no meaning to them.  

There lack of respect of the Lord, the one who saves, is leaving them perilously close to the rocky shoals of permanent destruction.  Their behavior is one of the drift.  Much like Hebrews 2:1.  Although the Lord has brought them back from the Babylonian captivity, and has graciously preserved the nation, even though it was their adultery that placed them in captivity (the sinner is responsible for his sin) they are no longer seeing God as great. 

Hebrews 2:1 (NASB)

Pay Attention

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

His name is to be seen as great, the job of the priests is to protect how his name is seen and used.   They are to be proclaiming the glory of His name.  Proclaiming it as great.  In this instance they are defaming His name.  Treating the name of the lord as refuse.  

Their mouths and actions are confessing their hearts.  No form in function can hide it.  They are  violating the third commandmentExodus 20:7 – you shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.  

Exodus 20:7 (NASB)

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

And Deuteronomy 5:11 – those who take his name in vain will be punished.

Deuteronomy 5:11 (NASB)

11 ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain.

Literally means you shall not lift up the name of YHWH  without reason/for a worthless purpose

The sacrifice in the right heart is true and proper.  But their approach makes it worthless.

Their hearts are rotten.  

No amount of form in worship can make them right before the Lord.

And this is what they are doing by calling on the Lord in a form of worship that is man centered and not God centered.  It is worthless.

The area, the place, the table upon which the animal is brought for the service is sacrificed, slaughtered.  In this case it is synonymous with the altar.   The animal is slaughtered and the blood is presented.  For there is no remission of sins without bloodA concept that has been brought forward since sin came into God’s creation in Genesis 3.

But this solemn duty has been reduced to an unholy act before the Lord because of their defiled hearts.  Because they don’t love the Lord God.  They don’t fear the Lord.

They are treating the Lord’s name as being empty, as worthless, as nothingness

And the result is that the table of the Lord is being defiled.  Because there is no respect of the Lord.  There is no consideration of the Creator.  There is no holiness ascribed to His Name.  The are treating the Lord God as a non-entity.

The confession of their hearts is demonstrated through their actions.  And through their action they are not only defiling themselves, but they are also defiling the nation of Israel.

So, we are to call upon the name of the Lord to be Hallowed, to be seen as holy.  To be revered and that is the proper response.   The priests who are attending to the worship of the nation of Israel are falsely approaching the altar of the Lord.  

The weightiness of God has been replaced by the frivolity of the priests.  They are falsely representing God, God’s name.  

Look at Ps 29:2 (a Psalm of David) – Ascribe the Lord the glory due to His name

Psalm 29:2 (NASB)

2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;

Worship the Lord in holy attire.


Psalm 96:8-9 – Ascribe glory to His name, bring an offering worship and tremble.

Psalm 96:8-9 (NASB)

8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name;

Bring an offering and come into His courtyards.

9 Worship the Lord in holy attire;

Tremble before Him, all the earth.

These writers were pouring out worship that came from their hearts.

Their hearts testified to the Lord of hosts.


Listen to the words from Ecclesiastes 5:2 – Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.  For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.  

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (NASB)

2 Do not be quick with your mouth or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.

And in this case their words are compounded by their actions.  All which come from the heart.  The soul.  The nephesh of the man.  The nephesh of these priests.

Think about Jesus’s words to a group of Pharisees in Matthew 12

As it says in Matthew 12:34 – You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Matthew 12:34 (NASB)

34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

Hear that again, the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Their hearts are filled with themselves.  Not with God.  

How could they possibly represent the Lord God to the nation if they are disrespecting Him in their hearts? Taking His great name in vain.

And their question to us is this:

How have we treated the name of the Lord?

Is our worship worthy or worthless?


13 You also say, ‘See, how tiresome it is!’ And you view it as trivial,” says the Lord of armies, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I accept it from your hand?” says the Lord.

The great name of the Lord.  Defamed at every turn of the priests.  Defamation of character by the ones who are to protect the name.  The ones who are to protect the worship of the Lord.  And the defamation goes further.

They are demonstrating that they are tired of serving.  That it is tiresome for them to do this.  Rather than the honor of serving the Lord they are disdaining the service.  Remember as we spoke previously of the sins of the sons of Eli.  Priests in the temple who didn’t believe in the Lord.  Ones who did this, sniffed disdainfully at the offerings to God.   The ones who showed a form of Religion but had no heart change.  And the ones who were judged accordingly.

And so it is with these priests.  They are turning up their noses at the offering to the Lord.  Treating the entire process with contempt.  They are doing so by sneering/sniffing at the service to the Lord.  Treating this service as a burden, rather than as a joy to be called to serve the Lord.

The issue is that if something has been ordained by God then by definition it is good for the believer.  In this case they have been called to ensure the holiness of the name of God.  In other words, they are called to make sure that everything about the Lord God is seen as holy.  That there is a purpose behind the activity.  That it all points to the great Holy name of God.  The Name that is above all Names.  

Remember, what they are doing is a form of religion.  From the outside it looks like they are doing the right thing.  They are wearing the right garb, they are killing animals, presenting blood, representing the people with the right words being said.  Yet they are missing the mark entirely.  

They were going through the motions.

They did not have a heart change.

Their worship was worthless

Form cannot replace the heart change that is necessary.  Unfortunately, there are many forms of worship that occur in churches today.  People that are going through the motions and think that they are saved by their prostration at the altar of the Lord.  That prostration without a changed heart will damn them.

So it is with us.  We can have the form of religion and not acknowledge the great name of the Lord for who He is.  For His holiness.  We can come to the altar, and with closed eyes, cast prayers that mean nothing.  Because we think that is what we are supposed to do.  We can take the cup and the bread and it means nothing.  We can read the bible with no affect on our souls because we are told to read the scripture.  But there is no heart change.

Just because someone stayed at Holiday Inn Express does not make them a doctor.  And so it is with us, just because we say the sinner’s prayer and read the Bible does not make us a Christian.

Look at 2 Chronicles 30:18-20 – the form was not correct but the heart was and as a result the sacrifice was accepted.  Notice that, it was a heart issue for them that was accepted by God, not the form.

2 Chronicles 30:18-20 (NASB)

18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim and Manasseh, and Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon 

19 everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” 

20 So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

We must be careful as we consider these things.  Where is our heart?  Do we have affection for God’s word?  Do we fear the Lord?  Or are we like these priests?  Are we treating the church like a lucky rabbit’s foot?  

Will we point to our church attendance when we are before the judgment seat and say, “look I went to church, therefore I should be saved.”  How will that be viewed by a holy and righteous savior who bought souls with His blood?

Will our worship be seen as worthy or worthless?


14 “But cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord, for I am a great King,” says the Lord of armies, “and My name is feared among the nations.”

The result is the curse is upon them.  They have promised the unblemished male and have instead given another, an unsatisfactory sacrifice.  The Lord did not burden them.  His yoke is easy.  In the manner of sacrifice.  To require males for certain sacrifices was something that was not a burden.  The females were far more valuable for the flock.  Feeding and nursing could only come from them.  But males, not so much.  They only needed a few to maintain the flock.

And not all the males would be unblemished.  In reality this was a far easier sacrifice than what was required by the false religion of the pagans.  But instead they falsely promised and in turn brought a curse upon themselves.

We can’t help but think about Ananias and Saphira in the book of Acts.  Who had promised the sale of property and yet only gave half to the fledgling church.  The problem was not that they gave half, the problem was that they had promised it all and had reneged on the promise to God.  As a result of two lies they both suffered the curse.  Similarly the priests are in the same position.

It is true that we should count the cost.  The cost to follow the Lord is great.  It can cost you all your temporal comfort and pleasure.  But it will gain you eternal joy and reward.  

The end result is that the Lord’s name will be seen as great among all nations.  This is a judgment of the nation of Israel.  The name will be seen as great among the Gentiles, not just Israel.  He is not their God alone but the God of all that there is.  There is no God greater than YHWH.  

There is no excuse for not worshipping the Lord – properly.  As a result, those that do not recognize God as God, will be left behind.  Left in their sin.  Left without salvation.   The narrow door of salvation closed forever.

And now look at the change.  Since their worship is worthless the gentiles will be the ones who worship in a worthy manner.


Is our worship in form only

Are we going through the motions

Are we a Christian in name only?

Are our Christian lives just a shell with an empty heart

Is it just ceremony?

Do our lives reflect the one who has bought it with His blood?

Or do we sneer at the cross and say does God really love us?

Are we bringing lame and blind animals 

Do thoughts of our Lord and Savior fill your heart?

Does the word of God give you comfort?

Do you long to be free of sin?

Or do the attractions of this world gather your full attention?

Do you come to church as a matter of service?

Do you confess with your heart that Jesus is Lord?   

Do we have as 2 Timothy 3:5 have a form of godliness but deny its power?

2 Timothy 3:5 (NASB)

5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.

Do we have merely an outward appearance as a Christ follower – Romans 2:28-29?

Romans 2:28-29 (NASB)

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 

29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from people, but from God.

And in doing so taking the Lord’s name in vain

Is our worship worthy or worthless?

We know what it says in Philippians 2:10-11 – That every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  

Philippians 2:10-11 (NASB)

10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 

11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We are to be that light to the world.  And this cannot be done through false worship of the Lord.  It can only be done by properly putting the light on the Lord our God.  

Matthew 5:14-16

14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden

15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Our lives, saved by the precious life and blood of Christ, should reflect humility before a righteous and Holy God.

We should work our faith with fear and trembling

Making sure it is not merely form 

We should seek to make our worship worthy of the God who saves

****Let’s go back to Matthew 12:34 – You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Matthew 12:34 (NASB)

34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

Why is this important – because our speech testifies to the state of our hearts*****

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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