Defiled sacrifices (Mal 1:6-14)

Introductory note: These are edited notes from a sermon I preached on October 6. We took the Lord’s Supper that morning, so though Malachi obviously wasn’t writing with that in mind, you will find some notes about that here.

Malachi is an interesting book. Written a little over 400 years before Jesus’ birth, it points us to what would come in the New Testament. It points us to Jesus, and also His forerunner John the Baptist. But it also paints a picture of things going on in the nation of Israel which are so applicable to us today.  Consider Malachi 1:6-14:

“‘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?’ “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.’ “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.  “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.  “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. “For from the arising of the sun even to its setting, bMy name will be great among the nations, and in every place dincense 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.  “But you are profaning it, in that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.’  “You also say, ‘My, how tiresome it is!’ And you disdainfully sniff at it,” says the LORD of hosts, “and you bring what was taken by robbery and what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your hand?” says the LORD.  “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 hosts, “and My name is feared among the nations.”

Now from the outset, know that in the church – in biblical Christianity – we don’t have priests in the manner Israel did, no matter what some might think. Under God’s Law Israel’s priests came from the tribe of Levi, and they acted as mediators between God and the people of Israel. We’ve seen this in Luke 1 where Zacharias was fulfilling his priestly duties in the temple, administering the sacrifice of incense on behalf of the people. Not just anyone did that in Israel. Not everyone was called to that type of service. Only the priests. In fact, one of their former kings, Uzziah, in 2 Chronicles 26 was struck with leprosy because he, not a priest, entered the temple and burned incense. Only the priests were the mediators between God and the nation. Continue reading “Defiled sacrifices (Mal 1:6-14)”

The audacity of “HOW?” (Mal 1:1-5)

We know from 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is God’s word. It is all breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. So that means we need all of it, and there is none of it that doesn’t do us good. But that said, at least in the Old Testament, there may be no prophet who spoke to and wrote in times eerily similar to our own than the last of them — Malachi.

Malachi paints us a picture of what Israel was like at the very end of Old Testament history, and it wasn’t pretty. Yes, the temple had been rebuilt after the Jews returned to their land from exile, but conspicuous by its absence was faithfulness in religious practice (at least the way God has decreed it to be). It’s a great problem in the twenty-first century American church as well. For Malachi this problem manifested itself in mixed marriages, priestly defilement, and the neglect of tithes. Nehemiah, as civil governor, would address these problems, but it would be foolish to think God’s voice being heard through the voice and writing of Malachi was not also very important.

So with that said, and an introduction already done, let’s consider the first five verses of the book, Malachi 1:1-5: Continue reading “The audacity of “HOW?” (Mal 1:1-5)”

The burden of YHWH’s messenger: Expository blogging through Malachi

The evangelical blogosphere has no shortage of those who post about every problem in the church under the sun, how to be missional, and what have you. There’s nothing wrong with that (to a point) and sometimes I am them.But in my estimation there is something sorely lacking, at least on a consistent basis, from the diet of Christian blogs, and it is people who are actually engaging the text of Scripture. Therefore, instead of complaining about, I’m actually going to seek to do it. So part of the diet of this blog, at least, will be a healthy portion of biblical exposition from yours truly.

I’ve been drawn to the book of Malachi ever since I started preaching through Luke at my church four months ago. References to the so-called last of the writing prophets is all over the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, what with all the details we get regarding the announcement and birth of John the Baptist. So beginning with this post I want to walk through the book, and I’d like you to walk with me.

The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. (Mal 1:1)

This is the last of the minor prophets in our English translations of the Bible. We have to remember that those twelve aren’t “minor” because they aren’t as important as other prophets, but because of their relative length compared to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and even Daniel. To that end, while the book of Malachi is divided into a mere four short chapters, it is breathed out by God (2 Tim 3:16) and power packed. Continue reading “The burden of YHWH’s messenger: Expository blogging through Malachi”