In the book of Malachi, God’s prophet is once again bringing accusations against His people. This time, the concern is faulty worship. Even though God’s people have been safely returned home from exile, the temple has been rebuilt, their city walls have been reinforced, and their worship has resumed. Despite all these evidences of grace, God’s people continue to worship Him with their scraps.
Malachi 1:6a—“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.
If a father deserves honor from his son and a master from his slave, how much more does God deserve honor from His people? God’s people aren’t honoring God, but they think they are. Which means that honoring God is more than saying that you honor Him. If we truly honor God it will show in how we worship Him.
Malachi 1:6b-8—But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ 7 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. 8 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.
The Law clearly required God’s people to offer animals without blemish in their sacrifices (Lev: 1:10). But in Malachi’s day the people clearly disregarded these commands. They were bringing God their scraps.
Perhaps, you’re thinking, they just couldn’t afford anything else! That was not the issue. God’s law made provisions for those who could not afford a lamb (Leviticus 5:7,11). Besides, Malachi 1:14 makes it clear that God’s people had animals worthy of the sacrifice. They just kept them for themselves!
God is not pleased when we worship Him with less than our best.
As Christians, we know that the whole sacrificial system was pointing to Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice. That’s why, incidentally, God required sacrifices without blemish. They were meant to point to the cross where God did not offer His scraps, but His only begotten Son.
But on this side of the cross, how are we supposed to apply these lessons from Malachi? 1 Peter 2:5 puts it this way: You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
In this letter to a group of local churches in Asia Minor, Peter says as we gather we are offering “spiritual sacrifices” to God. In other words, our worship gatherings are a New Covenant expression of the Old Covenant sacrifice.
So here’s the question, dear brother or sister: Do you worship God with your best when you gather with God’s people?