"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
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 offerings from your hands.’ 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,’ says the Lord Almighty.
12 ‘But you profane it by saying, “The Lord’s table is defiled,” and “Its food is contemptible.” 13 And you say, “What a burden!” and you sniff at it contemptuously,’ says the Lord Almighty.
‘When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the Lord. 14 ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations.
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.
10. God states in verse 10 that it would be better to close the temple than to continue the half hearted worship. God wasn’t pleased with the Israelites and declared that he would not receive offerings from them. This is a radical response from the Lord as it halts the animal sacrifice system.
11. Verse 11 shows the anticipation of a universal worship, the future establishment of God’s kingship over all the earth. The nations from where the sun rises to where it sets imply the whole earth. Incense and pure offerings are images of whole-hearted proper worshipping.
12. The connective ‘but’ introduces a shift in participants (the nations vs. the priests) and a contrast in action (a pure offering vs. a polluted offering). It continues to point out the malpractice of the priests, who despised the name of the Lord with defiled table and contemptible food.
13. Verse 13 shows the attitude of the priests towards their vocational duties. They regarded the animal sacrifice rituals as a burden. The rhetorical question refers again to the unacceptable offerings, inferior and blemished animals, brought in by people and sacrificed by the priests.
14. Those who performed this malpractice were cursed as they committed a serious transgression against God.
The future universal worship is mentioned again in the second part of the verse.
There is a complementary relationship between the rhetorical questions of 1:6 and the pronouncements of 1:11 and 1:14. Verse 11 ‘my name will be great among the nations’ is the reply to the first question ‘Where is the honour due to me?’. Verse 14 ‘I am a great King’ and ‘my name is to be feared among the nations’ is the answer to ‘Where is the respect due to me?’.
The passage points toward a universal worship, a future establishment of God’s kingship over the whole earth. It certainly has nothing to do with our work, as we can see from the history how the Israelites failed miserably in their part in worshipping. It is Jesus Christ, God himself, who made this happen. Through the faith in his death and resurrection, we, the Gentiles, are also included in God’s chosen people. Through his sacrifice, God now dwells among us, in fact dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.
I am very thankful for being chosen by God. It is really encouraging to know that God is guiding me and helps me with my struggle. Changes are often difficult, but I know nothing is impossible with God’s power.
1. Sermon by Iain Broomfield
2. ‘Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi’ by Andrew E. Hill
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