"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" – John 3:16
Reading from the NIV bible
6 ‘A son honours his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due to me? If I am a master, where is the respect due to me?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘It is you priests who show contempt for my name. ‘But you ask, “How have we shown contempt for your name?”
7 ‘By offering 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 offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame 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 plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?’ – says the Lord Almighty.
The book Malachi was written post exile period when a part of the Israelites returned to Jerusalem and the city was only part rebuilt and still under the Persian rule. This was a period of faith in crisis. The Second Temple had been completed but it was nothing compared to its Solomonic predecessor. There was a sense of disappointment. Temple worship was in a bad state with worshippers cheating God in their sacrifices and tithes.
6. In verse 6, God rebukes the priests for showing contempt for his name, or in ESV translation, despising his name.
He uses a human analogy in which he as a father and a master deserves the honour and respect, but there is none of it. The father reference is tied to his role as the creator while the master notion is rooted in the Sinai covenant establishing the relationship of God over his people Israel after he had rescued them from slavery in Egypt.
The word ‘name’ represents the essence of God’s being, especially his sovereignty, love and faithfulness to Israel.
By showing contempt for his name, the priests broke the covenant and showed their disloyalty.
7. Verse 7 further explained how the priests showed contempt for his name, i.e. by offering the defiled food – ritually polluted and contaminated sacrifice which was considered unfit for worshipping by the law of Moses.
8. Specifically, Mosaic law forbids offering lame, blind, and flawed animals as a sacrifice to God (Deuteronomy 15:21). As mentioned in verse 8, the people offered the inferior animals; while the priests, who were supposed to judge and oversight the quality of sacrifices, declared those flawed animals as acceptable and sacrificed them to the Lord.
God then uses another analogy in asking the rhetorical question: if those flawed animals was offered gifts to the human governor, probably referring to the Persian appointed governor of the province of Judah, would he accept it? The obvious answer is No!
9. Given the rhetorical question in verse 9, the plea ‘plead with God to be gracious to us’ is more of a sarcastic jibe rather than a genuine call for repentance.
The shift to the plural pronoun ‘us’ recognises the implications of the priests’ corrupt behaviour for the entire community, i.e. both priests and people are guilty before God.
There are three different types of sacrifices:
1. Animals sacrifices by the priests to God in the Old Testament
2. Jesus as the perfect sacrifice
3. Our sacrifice as the followers of Jesus
The Old Testament sacrifices are a part of the temporary system for God to dwell among his people. As we can see in this passage, the system didn’t seem to work very well as it depended on sinful human beings for picking the sacrifices and doing the ceremonies. We failed our parts miserably in the relationship with God.
Knowing that we will never be able to keep our side of the covenant, God did it for us by selecting the perfect sacrifice – Jesus Christ, his one and only Son. By faith in Jesus, we can be with God forever.
We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). Our sacrifice is a response to this gracious act of God because we are thankful, not a way to get to God. As shown in the Old Testament system, if it depended on us to get to God, we have failed it and would always fail it.
This passage challenges me a great deal. Am I giving my best to God or like them saving the best for myself?
1. Sermon by Iain Broomfield
2. ‘Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi’ by Andrew E. Hill
Link to the other posts