Meditation Monday is where I share my ramblings and reflections from Sunday’s sermons from Watson Chapel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, AR, Pastor Todd Howard. Today, my thoughts come from our Sunday School lesson from Malachi 1.
Can you imagine a house of worship so far gone, the Lord says “I wish someone would shut this place down. Get rid of the musicians, fire the leadership, and lock the doors.” Yet that is where Israel is at the time of Malachi’s prophetic word. Years after they have returned back to the promise land after the judgement of God came through the Babylonian deportation, Israel finds themselves in the same spiritual condition as before, hard hearted, cold, dry worship, which really isn’t worship at all. The priests are offering sick defected animals on the Lord’s altar, there is no regard for the greatness of God, they are arrogant, and the commands of God are a nuisance. They are in a bad place spiritually… where are you in your worship and service to God?
The Bible talks about Christians as the priests who proclaim the excellencies of God,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9 ESV)
Believers are also spoken of as the temple of God, the temple was the heart of Jewish worship,
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
( 1Co 6:19-20 ESV)
We are individual members of a collective body of priests and temples who are to shine, worship, and proclaim the excellencies of Christ. So how are we doing? Ask yourself the following questions and examine your heart.
1) Do I honor and fear the Lord or despise Him?
You might ask “how can I despise the Lord?” The funny thing is, the Israelite priests asked the same question,
“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? ’
(Mal. 1:6 ESV)
The Lord ties despisement to honor and fear. To honor someone means to esteem or consider them higher than yourself. To fear is to have a reverential awe and a healthy fear of who God is and what He can do. Honor and fear of the Lord are heart/mind attitudes which reflect in behaviors. If your heart is right with the Lord and you honor and fear Him, your actions will display it. The Lord explains to the priests that they despise Him by their disobedience,
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.
(Mal 1:7 ESV)
They knew what was right and disregarded it and did what was right in their own eyes, that is sin.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(Jas. 4:17 ESV)
Does your life reflect honor and fear for the Lord or despisement?
2) Is your pride in check?
There could be a myriad of things which lead us to sin, but one thing is for certain, pride keeps us in our sin. The priests were apalled when confronted by the Lord through Malachi. “Us despise God, how?” was their reply. Yet they knew exactly what they were doing. Pride keeps us from repentance and keeps us in sin. When confronted with your sin issues, how do you respond?
3) How and why do you serve the Lord?
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 service the priests were doing was half hearted at best and their motivation was self serving. They were offering the sickly to the Lord and keeping the best for themselves. What’s in it for me was their motto. Do you give God your leftovers? Your leftover time, talent and treasures? When serving do you give it your best or do you do just enough? Is your motivation to bring glory to His name or self serving?
4) Do you love the Master or the Master’s blessings?
The priests in Malachi’s day idolized the blessings and disregarded the Lord of the blessings. They were living prideful, sinful lives, asking for and expecting God’s blessings. The Lord tells them,
And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.
( Mal 1:9 ESV)
God will not bless sin, what He will do is discipline His children to bring them back into a right relationship with Him.
Do you love the Lord or just His blessings? Is your satisfaction truly found in the Lord?
5) Are the commands of God a nuisance?
The commands of God became a bunch of tidious rules to the priests. The precepts of God were no longer desirable to them. The Psalmist wrote,
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
( Psa 19:7-10 ESV)
Is Scripture reading a chore to you? Are the commands of God burdensome to you or are they a delight? Do you ever wish you could erase a command of God? Do you formulate excuses for your disobedience?
6) Do you scorn your calling?
The priests not only thought the commands of God were a nuisance, but they were beginning to despise their calling. Malachi describes to us their attitude,
13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord.
(Mal 1:13 ESV)
The ESV uses snort to describe their attitude. Just picture a Jewish priest rolling his eyes and sighing heavily when Malachi is preaching to them, which is the attitude the Hebrew word is trying to convey. Rolling their eyes and exasperating at the calling of God.
Do you ever have the “why do I even bother” attitude? Do you sometimes wish you could just live how you want? Are you already living how you want?
Points to ponder from Malachi 1.
Until next time
Soli Deo Gloria