Malachi

Malachi 1:1-14 – A Question of Worship

A QUESTION OF WORSHIP!

 

Malachi 1v1-14.

 

BACKGROUND.

 

About Mid 5th C B.C. // previously around 586 BC Jerusalem destroyed by Babylonians // Jews taken into captivity // Temple destroyed // after 70 years allowed to return and rebuild Temple and walls of Jerusalem // almost 80-100 years had passed since Haggai and Zechariah had prohesied about the gloriuos promises of God’s blessing “the Lord will return to his temple …” there would be prosperity and peace and glory greater than Solomon’s temple // the reality was very different –

 

In contrast to glowing promises // harsh reality was economic privation //crop failure // drought // continued political oppression // opposition and harrassment from their immediate neighbours.

 

Inspite of promises to the exiles of a future Temple being superior, both physically and spiritually – reality was it was inferior on both counts!

 

Had returned with high expectations and been disillusioned!

Life was probably better in Babylon – why would anyone feel like worshipping God in such a wasteland??

 

Malachi was either a comptempory of, or closely follwed, Nehemiah. Neh 13 describes the situation in Jerusalem. A corrupt priesthood, and an equally corrupt and immoral people – YET still going through the motions of religion // they kept the machinery of the temple going.

 

STRUCTURE.

around 6 statements by God through His prophet {Malachi – lit. My Messenger}

1v2, 1v6, 2v14, 2v17, 3v7, 3v13.

 

3 basics issues – a corrupt priesthood, intermarriage with those outside the covenant, failure to pay due tithes to God.

 

Malachi’s message is one of rebuke, challenge, encouragement and love.

A message from a sensitive God to and insensitive people!

 

READ MAL.1v1-14.

A QUESTION OF WORSHIP –

 

In the past 20 years worship has gained a higher profile on the Christian agenda –

suddenly more important? NO! has always been so! BUT now more talked about! However generally used in a very narrow sense ….

… time of worship in the service

… worship service

… worship styles

… worship songs

 

What is worship?? quiet? traditional? lively? rave? hymns? choruses? organ? guitar? drums? prayerbook? extemporaneous? …… ALL this can be worship and none can be worship!

 

The charge against Malachi’s hearers was that they had all the ritual and formalities BUT it was empty.

 

Ch.1 raises two basic questions         – Do you love Me?

– Do you respect Me?

 

  1. DO YOU LOVE ME? [v.2-5]

 

Malachi 1:2

2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD.

 

have – continous – past, present future I love you..

 

THE QUALITY OF HIS LOVE

Inspite of complaints against the jews God’s love for them has no deminished.

He doesn’t love them any less because he is displeased with them.

 

He never loved US because of something in us that was attractive – he simply chooses to love!!

Our response – or lack of one – doesn’t change the quality of God’s love.

God got angry with and punished his people BUT he still loved them!!

 

THE QUESTION OF HIS LOVE

 

Malachi 1:2

2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

 

Hear the contempt – ‘Look at us – our circumstances – it this how you love us?

HOW ABOUT YOU AND I??

When life is tough do we turn away from God? – ‘If you don’t treat me well why should I worship you?

 

To show God’s love Mal. compares Jacob and Esau. – strange to the hearers —

Jacob=Israel // Esau = Edom [twin brothers w. Esau the older]

love/hate – comveying the idea of specially choosen as opposed to not specially choosen — it does not mean individual animosity against the decendants of Esau –

Did not mean that every Edomite was damned no more than it meant that every Israelites was saved!!

 

To appeal to these two nations as proof of Israel’s ‘favoured-nation’ status must heve seemed bizzare to the hearers.

God had allowed Israel to suffer total devastation for 70 yrs while Edom remained in tact – Edom gloated over Israel’s demise and even help Babylon by being informers and blocking escape routes.

 

God had predicted the downfall of Israel because of their persistant disobedience

Jeremiah 9:11

11 “I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,

a haunt of jackals;

and I will lay waste the towns of Judah

so that no-one can live there.” (NIV)

 

Mal. [v.3] applies this to Edom/Esau. The next century after this the Nabatean Arabs moved into Edom and forced the Edomites out – the Nabatens were nomadic and the Edomites cities became a ruin.

Israel was restored but Edom’s judgement was permanent and irreversable [the city of Petra is still a ruin today] Did not mean that individual Edomites – later Idumeans – couldn’t come to Christ they did [Mark 3v8]

 

God’s love is not always expressed in immediate material blessing. God’s plans were greater that Israel’s immediate comforts.

God takes a long term view and he expects our love in return NOT just our religious rituals!!

 

  1. DO YOU RESPECT ME? [v.6-14]

 

God’s complaint in these verses is that they show more respect to the Persian Governor than to God almighty!

They wouldn’t dare to bring a second rate gift to the Governor BUT the bring it to God!!

They had questioned God’s love for them – it is the opposite!!

 

There is a carelessness in worship – they bring 2nd best and then ask for God’s blesing!!

Malachi 1:7-9

7 “You place defiled food on my altar.

“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’

“By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. 8 When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

9 “Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?” — says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)

 

Give God second best then have the audacity, the gall to ask for God’s blessing!!

The Law required a spotless lamb — they brought injured – diseased and lame!!

 

God’s response —

Malachi 1:10-11

10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.

 

No worship is better than pretense!! Is there a priest who has the guts to stop this charade??!

 

They caonsidered their worship of God to be a duty rather than a delight and enjoyment. –it was all so wearisome – they turned their noses up [v.13] at the monotony of it all.

 

But God is bigger than their worship – they were not doing God any favours – there is no shortage of creature to worship God – worship is not for God’s benefit it is for ours.

 

Carelessness in worship and offering God 2nd best is still with us today – — nothing but the best is required by those who call themselves the people of God.

 

This is not about styles of worship or outward expression // we can have the best musicians, best choirs, best preachers, best building, best song-leader, best programmes and STILL NOT worship!!

 

ILLUS> Not about place or programme — Samaritan woman at the well at Sychar — John 4:23-24 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (NIV)

 

Worship is not JUST about outward expression – it is about offering life itself – time, talent and treasures. Malachi challenges our commitment – hGod is far more comcerned with inner devotion than he is with outward display.

 

Worship includes the times of corporate singing, praising and praying – but these can only be worship when they rise from hearts that love the Lord with heart soul and mind.

 

Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

 

Worship is an attitude out of which come actions and acts of worship!

true worship is more concerned with the ONE worshipped than with the means of worship.”

 

Without this right attitude our worship will be a burden rather than a blessing to us AND rather than being a sweet aroma to God it will be a stench in his nostrils!

 

Life is not merely to contain acts of worship; life itself is to be an act of worship!!

 

Are you and I giving our best to God –

How do you answer God tonoght when he asks —

— Do you love me?

— Do you respect me?

 

 

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