When our McWorship series started we saw that authentic worship involves a proper response to the love of God. Last Sunday we continued our series through Malachi by seeing that authentic worship also involves serving God with my very best. Malachi first describes the relationship between God and Israel (1:6-7). Two facts are stated in regard to relationships. Fact #1 - A son honors his father. Fact #2 - A servant honors his master. God has taken on both of these roles for Israel but was not receiving the honor due to Him. God is Israel’s father…but where was His honor? God is Israel’s master…but where was His respect? By not giving God the honor and respect He deserved, Israel had in essence despised His name. His name is mentioned 6 times in this passage and speaks of His character or reputation. The priests question this fact by asking, “How have we despised Your name?” God answers the question with the proof that they had presented defiled food on the altar. They again ask, “How have we defiled you?’ God states that it is their own words that show their guilt as they say that the table of the Lord is to be despised.
The problem with Israel back in Malachi’s day wasn’t a lack of activity…they were offering sacrifices. The problem was in not offering their best. Instead they were offering the blind and lame animals. According to Deuteronomy 15:21, Israel was forbidden to offer such sacrifices (see also Leviticus 22:20-25). God asks the rhetorical questions, “Would you offer these to your human leaders? Would they be pleased with them? The obvious answer is “No!” They were treating God worse than they would their human leaders (Nehemiah 5:17). They believed that God would be satisfied with these sacrifices. In spite of their religious activity, these offerings were producing absolutely no profit to God or to Israel. God’s wish was that someone would close the doors of the temple rather than second-rate sacrifices being offered. These offerings were useless, did not please God, and as a result, were not accepted by Him. God preferred that no sacrifice be offered than a second-rate sacrifice. This same principle can be seen as well in Isaiah 1:13; Amos 5:21-24; Revelation 3:15-16.
In Malachi 1:11, God looks ahead to a time when His name will not be despised. He is speaking of the Millennial Kingdom during which the temple will again be built and sacrifices offered (see Ezekiel 40-48). In that day, from the rising of the sun until it sets, His name will be great and proper sacrifices will be offered to His name making His name great among the nations.
When it came to their worship, Israel had a problem with their attitude (v12-13). Their actions were profaning the table of the Lord. It was as if their actions were saying, “The table of the Lord is defiled and the food that is offered on it is despised.” They verbalize how tiresome (tedious) these rituals of worship were. They “sniffed” or belittled them. God utters a curse in verse 14 to those who offer to Him anything but their best. This is because He is a great King and His name is to be feared. Are you worshipping God by serving Him with your very best?