“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD‘s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:6-8, ESV)
The book of Malachi takes place about 100 years after many of the Jews had returned from the Exile. Yahweh had allowed them once again to dwell in their Promise Land. The temple had been rebuilt, and so had the walls of Jerusalem. Under such men as Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, the Jews had outwardly rebuilt portions of their nation. However, the majority of them had not restored that which had caused them to be exiled in the first place–their hearts.
A hundred years later, the people were just as sinful as their ancestors who had brought ruin upon their nation. They were going around, doing what made them happy. Sleeping around, worshipping others gods, and offering up impure sacrifices.
They were bringing to Yahweh, the Creator of the Universe, defected animals as their offerings. To the God Who wants only the best, Who desired perfect, indefective lambs and goats, were they bringing blind goats and lame lambs. Bringing that which they didn’t desire, seeing it fit for their God instead. Gifts with no thought put into them, just going through the motions of offering a sacrifice.
Yet, how often are we guilty of doing the very same?
It’s easy to point our fingers at these Jews, but how often are we guilty of doing whatever we want that makes us ‘happy?’ How many times are we guilty of committing adultery and idolatry against our Groom, by getting in bed with sin Monday thru Saturday, before dressing in our ‘church’ clothes on Sunday? How many times are we guilty of giving our Father defective gifts–stale worship, pennies and pocket lent for tithes, an hour of checking our phones to see how much time we have left before the sermon ends?
How many times are we guilty, of not giving unto God, our hearts?
God wants you. More than the blood of sheep or goats, more than good deeds, He wants you. He wants you to love Him, just as He loves you. Singing “Amazing Grace” means nothing to God, unless it comes from your heart. ‘Going to church’ is meaningless, if you’re only there to be a ‘good Christian.’ Giving to the poor, or making a mountain move by your words is vain, if there is no love for our Lord.
As Paul urges in Romans 12:1, “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.” We are called out to be living sacrifices for our Lord. Meaning, He wants only the best that we can offer. Not the leftovers we have after worshipping money, lust, or materials. Not a portion of our love, that which we can spare from our storehouses reserved for freedom, sports teams, or political parties. Not just our voices or bodies on Sunday morning, but our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
God loves you. And He wants you, to love Him too:
Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the LORD;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:10-20)
~Photo Obtained via The Bible Project