Sunday, February 6, 2011

Malachi – Contemptible Worship

Malachi – Contemptible Worship

This week the weather has really caused me problems, because I like to get up and go workout first thing in the morning. But Monday was the only day the Burleson Rec. Center, was open, because of the weather conditions. When I do get to work out there is this one old boy I see there who really fascinates me. He basically just wonders around, occasionally sitting down on a machine to do a few "reps", but only once have I seen him actually exert himself. My theory is he is only there because his wife is making him go. So he piddles around for a while, until he has fulfilled his obligation, then he can go home and get breakfast. In other words he is doing the bare minimum just to get buy.

In sports we call this kind of effort "phoning it in" or "mailing it in", where they perform because of a contract or other obligation, but their heart is not in it; so they do just enough to stay out of trouble. Sadly many people approach God with this same sense of obligation, determined to do the minimum required. But what these people offer to God would never be mistaken for sincere loving passionate worship; loving God with all your heart soul mind and strength, and certainly not loving you neighbor as yourself. This minimalist approach to God is what I would call contemptible worship.

Malachi 1 – God's Love

    2 "I have loved you," says the LORD.
      "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?'
      Was not Esau Jacob's brother?"
      Says the LORD.
      " Yet Jacob I have loved;
       3 But Esau I have hated,
      And laid waste his mountains and his heritage
      For the jackals of the wilderness."

[As I shared last week in Deuteronomy 7 God first confesses his love for Israel is due to his grace, not some virtue these people possessed. In Malachi he says much the same thing; God chose Jacob over Esau and Esau became despised because he married pagan women who turned him from the God of his fathers to worship idols. But how would the children of Jacob respond to Gods unmerited love?]

Polluted Offerings

    6 "A son honors his father,
      And a servant his master.
      If then I am the Father,
      Where is My honor?
      And if I am a Master,
      Where is My reverence?
      Says the LORD of hosts
      To you priests who despise My name.
      Yet you say, 'In what way have we despised Your name?'
       7 "You offer defiled food on My altar,
      But say,
      'In what way have we defiled You?'
      By saying,
      'The table of the LORD is contemptible.'
       8 And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
      Is it not evil?
      And when you offer the lame and sick,
      Is it not evil?
      Offer it then to your governor!
      Would he be pleased with you?
      Would he accept you favorably?"
      Says the LORD of hosts.

[The first group rebuked is the priests, the spiritual leaders. While they should be teaching reverence for all the sacrifices of God, they had counseled people to give God their least. Though the Law of God demanded unblemished sacrifices, they were offering the blind, sick, and lame on God's altar (verse 8). God is so disgusted by their contempt for his altar he desired that someone would just lock the gate, so that they couldn't even build a fire for such contemptible worship (verse 10). In verse 13 God reveals their poisonous attitude saying 'Oh, what weariness!', "do have to go sacrifice again", "do we have to go to church again, we just went last week". And these are the priests, the full time ministers.]

Malachi 2

Corrupt Priests

 1 "And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.
       2 If you will not hear,
      And if you will not take it to heart,
      To give glory to My name,"
      Says the LORD of hosts,
      "I will send a curse upon you,
      And I will curse your blessings.
      Yes, I have cursed them already,
      Because you do not take it to heart.
       3 " Behold, I will rebuke your descendants
      And spread refuse on your faces,
      The refuse of your solemn feasts;
      And one will take you away with it.
       4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you,
      That My covenant with Levi may continue,"
      Says the LORD of hosts.
       5 " My covenant was with him, one of life and peace,
      And I gave them to him that he might fear Me;
      So he feared Me
      And was reverent before My name.

[In the Promised Land, the tribe of Levi was not given a section of land for their inheritance; instead God provided for them with the tithes and offerings of Israel, in exchange for their service to God and his people. In Deuteronomy 10 God said "Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance" (verse 9). God allowed them cities to live in but no land to farm or raise livestock; instead their livelihood would be tied to the worship of God and the offerings of the people; in this way the Lord himself was their inheritance in the Promised Land. But because of their sin, God said he would turn their blessing to a curse, remove the corrupt priests, and renew his covenant with Levi.]

7 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge,
      And people should seek the law from his mouth;
      For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
       8 But you have departed from the way;
      You have caused many to stumble at the law.
      You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,"
      Says the LORD of hosts.

[In addition to corrupting the sacrifice to God, they had failed to teach the Law of God. Their failure as teachers had caused the rest of Israel to stumble, and break the law.]

Treachery of Infidelity

    10 Have we not all one Father?
      Has not one God created us?
      Why do we deal treacherously with one another
      By profaning the covenant of the fathers?
       11 Judah has dealt treacherously,
      And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem,
      For Judah has profaned
      The LORD's holy institution which He loves:
      He has married the daughter of a foreign god.
[Israel was warned against marrying "the daughters of foreign gods" in other words foreigners who worship idols. In breaking this Law Israel had profaned the covenant of marriage.]

       14 Yet you say, "For what reason?"
      Because the LORD has been witness
      Between you and the wife of your youth,
      With whom you have dealt treacherously;
      Yet she is your companion
      And your wife by covenant.
       15 But did He not make them one,
      Having a remnant of the Spirit?
      And why one?
      He seeks godly offspring.
      Therefore take heed to your spirit,
      And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

[Not only were they taking foreign wives, but they were divorcing their first wife, a daughter of Israel, to do it. God said if I make two into one through the covenant of marriage, and you break that covenant to get your "trophy wife", then you have been treacherous, dishonest, and profane. Furthermore if you think an idol worshiping wife, will raise you godly children, then you are fooling yourself. Divorce was never supposed to be a tool of convenience to let you break a marriage for your own selfish desires.]

Malachi 3

Do Not Rob God

    8 " Will a man rob God?
      Yet you have robbed Me!
      But you say,
      ' In what way have we robbed You?'
      In tithes and offerings.
       9 You are cursed with a curse,
      For you have robbed Me,
      Even this whole nation.
    10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
      That there may be food in My house,
      And try Me now in this,"
      Says the LORD of hosts,
      " If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
      And pour out for you such blessing
      That there will not be room enough to receive it.
       11 " And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
      So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
      Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,"
      Says the LORD of hosts;
       12 And all nations will call you blessed,
      For you will be a delightful land,"
      Says the LORD of hosts.

[I really don't like talking about the tithe, because it sounds like legalism. Most people who ask about the tithe are looking for that minimum standard, "what's the least I can get by with, and not feel guilty". In the Law I count about 4 different tithes: The tithe for Levi; the tithe from Levi to the priests because all priests were Levites but not all Levites were priests; the party tithe - were you brought everything to the place of worship and had a fest that would put any Super Bowl party to shame; and finally the tithe for the poor – collected every 3rd year as a form of welfare; and there were many other burnt offerings and sacrifices throughout the year, and depending on the circumstances of life. When I hear preachers say "we believe in tithing" I wonder why I have never heard a Baptist preacher call for the party-tithe or the tithe-for-the-poor.

The only two times Jesus spoke about tithing it was with people trying to justify themselves, essentially saying "hey I tithe, what more could God want", and Jesus tells them "everything". Whatever you're withholding from God, that's what He wants. You see God wants your heart, and if he has your heart then money becomes just a tool used to love God, and love people. Where you heart is your money will follow (Mathew 6:21). Conversely, I can figure out where your heart is just by looking where your money goes. God's desire is not for your money; it is for what he wants to do in you and through you.

Israel learned the minimum standard, and over time they learned to cut corners every chance they got, to the point where God called it robbery. They perverted what God wanted them to learn, just to trust Him. You guilt someone into tithing and they will not open their heart to missions, Manna, poor widows or any other ministry. But if you fall in love with God, your money will never be your master.

Malachi saw insincere service, profane marriage, and deceptive giving. All together this made for contemptible worship, just going through the motions, "phoning it in".]

No comments:

Post a Comment