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)”