When Worship Is Not Really Worship
Malachi 1:6-14
Irreverent worship insults a Holy God, and anything short of repentance will result in God abandoning them for genuine worshippers.
Published August 9th, 2021
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Main point summary
Main point summary
The Lord asks why he is being so disrespected by unholy and unacceptable worship and implores Israel to worship faithfully on the basis of His great Name.
Malachi 1:6-14
g “A son honors his father,
and a servant his master.
If then I am h a father,
where is my honor?
And if I am i a master,
where is my fear?
says the Lord of hosts to you , O priests,
who despise my name.
b But you say,
‘How have we despised your name?’
j By offering polluted food upon my altar.
b But you say,
‘How have we polluted you?’
By saying that k the Lord ’s table may be despised.
l 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;
If you present...
will he accept you
then will he...
or show you favor?
says the Lord of hosts.
And now m entreat the favor of God,
that he may be gracious to us.
With such a gift from your hand, n will he show favor to any of you?
says the Lord of hosts.
o Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors,
that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain!
I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts,
Because I have no pleasure..
p and I will not accept an offering from your hand.
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name q will be 1 great among the nations ,
and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.
For my name q will be great among the nations ,
says the Lord of hosts.
But you profane it
when you say that r the Lord’s table is polluted,
and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.
But you say,
s ‘What a weariness this is,’
and you snort at it,
says the Lord of hosts.
t 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 .
Cursed be the cheat
who has u a male in his flock,
and v vows it,
and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.
For w I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts,
and my name x will be feared among the nations.
INTRO: Are you happy to be in church? What was it like getting to church today? Was there great anticipation? Joy? Excitement? Or something else? Today’s passage deals with the something else. Mainly, what happens when worship becomes dispassionate, drudgery, mundane—when worship is not really worship. In the first five verse of this chapter Malachi speaks of the special love the God has for his people and the way in which He proved it—by choosing them above all other nations and by protecting them instead of others. In this passage, court is in session. God will begin to reveal to His people the ways in which they are not loving Him by faithful obedience. What we’ll see is that Israel had a worship problem—their worship is not really worship. Main Point: Irreverent worship insults a Holy God, and anything short of repentance will result in God abandoning them for genuine worshippers . God is insulted by irreverent worship (v6-8) The LORD deserves honor and fear - The LORD frames His argument within two basic illustrations, the relationship between a son and father and a servant and master. These are two base relationships that have a natural authority structure to them that drives how they relate to one another. A father by the sheer fact that he is the father should command some amount of honor from his son and the master should command fear from his servants because he is the master. This easily understood both in this culture and in ours…mostly. If this is true, then surely the LORD deserves both honor and fear since he is at least father and a master, and we know that He is so much more than that. The LORD is the sovereign God and Creator and Sustainer of all the universe and as such deserves ultimate honor and ultimate fear, which means we treat Him as vastly important and recognize the magnificence that He carries and then to treat Him with utmost reverence. The priests respond by asking How is has God’s name been defiled? When the Bible uses the term “name” this way, it is representative of a person’s nature, character, and/or their reputation. So, the question is “How have we corrupted Your reputation?” They do not make the connection between the quality of their sacrifices and the worth of the One to whom they are offering the sacrifices. They do not understand that offering such poor sacrifices reflects poorly on the LORD’s reputation. So the Lord will make the connection for them. We see in verse 7-8a that the quality of faithfulness reveals the heart of the worshipper. The Lord’s answer is “By offering polluted food upon my altar.” Basically what the LORD is saying is that the sacrificial offerings are corrupted in some way according to Leviticus 22. the LORD’s accusation against them is that by allowing lame, sick, and blind animals to be sacrificed, they show contempt for the LORD’s commands and demonstrate a lack of faithfulness to do what is right. They are irreverent and insincere in their worship. Their actions reveal that they do not value or respect or honor the LORD very much. They are just going through the motions—and the LORD calls this sin…its evil! To make His point further, the LORD offers them an object lesson: The governing authorities would not accept such disrespect. Again the LORD hits them with another rhetorical question in verse 8. “Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?” The LORD is saying: if you were going to go pay your taxes and you took these same offerings and offer them to a human authority—who, by the way, cannot hold a candle to my glory and majesty and power—what do you think will happen? Do you think that your governor will be honored by a blind, sick, and lame payment? Of course, the answer is “Not a chance!” ILLUSTRATION: Each one of us is required by law to pay taxes. So, we fill out our forms and see if we paid enough throughout the year, or too much, or if we have to pay more. Let’s say we still owe taxes. What would be considered and adequate payment to the IRS to satisfy a tax debt? Dollars. That is the currency we do business with in America. Let’s say instead, I decided to pay the IRS in Philippine Peso. My tax bill is $1,000 and I decide that the Philippine Peso is good enough for them. So I pay them 1,000 pesos. That would mean is would give the IRS about $20. How would they feel about that? They would not consider that acceptable and not worthy of the respect they are due as the governing authority. And if I pressed the issue and failed to do what they demanded, it would show that I have contempt toward them and I would get fined or jailed. So, the point the LORD is making is that by offering me something that you would never offer to your human authorities, you show that you fear and honor them more than you do me. You fear your governor who has a small army to enforce his laws, but you do not fear Me, the LORD of all armies who far surpasses any human governor in glory and power. APPL: Do you see the LORD’s point here? Your reverence for God is revealed in the way you worship him. Repentance for irreverent worship is required if God’s favor is to continue (v9-11) Irreverent and insincere worship must be repented of . “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.” So, we have this situation where the LORD is insulted and offended at the worship being offered to Him. This is evil; it is sin. So what is the solution? How do they make this right? Malachi tells the priests to entreat the favor of God. In other words, they are to beg for God’s grace and mercy. This, of course, assumes that they confess their sin and turn from it. Then we see that the command to beg God for mercy is followed up by another rhetorical question. “With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you?” Of course, the answer is No. So, it’s obvious that the LORD is not please with the current practices and, therefore, a change is needed—a change in direction, a change of practice, a change from disobedience to obedience. This is what it means to repent. When we discover we’ve been sinning or, perhaps, we know better and feel the conviction for our sin, what do you? Turn from it! The LORD will not bless disobedience, but He does grant His favor to those who repent and worship Him rightly. In verse 10, the LORD bemoans the situation and we see that in his eyes No worship is better than irreverent and insincere worship . The LORD would rather the doors to the Temple close and the altar contain nothing more than burned out coals than for the current state of worship to continue. What is the point really? If the LORD will not accept it, it may as well stop. This is when worship is not really worship. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn’t mean anything to the worshipper because they are just going through the motions, and it doesn’t mean anything to the LORD because He takes no pleasure in it. Perhaps, the sad thing about this situation is that no one did shut the doors and no one stopped sacrificing on the altar. The LORD will not allow irreverent and insincere worship to denigrate His reputation. Verse 11 provides the reason for why repentance is needed and why the LORD would rather worship cease than continue in its current state. The reverence and sincerity with which one worships God proclaims to the world how much they value Him. Because Israel is offering such poor sacrifices, they are telling the world that their God is not worth much. All the nations of the world would gain their concept of God from the way Israel worships Him, and this type of worship is misrepresenting the glory and majesty and greatness of God Almighty to the world. But God will not abide this. The Lord of Hosts declares that His name absolutely will be great from the rising of the sun to its setting, from the east all the way to the west, in every nation and land, from the morning to the evening. He will not allow the insulting worship that is taking place in Israel to continue. He will close the doors of the temple and go into the nations of Gentiles and find worshippers who will worship in spirit and in truth. The incense and pure offerings He mentions here in verse 11 is that genuine worship. The nations will worship in spirit—meaning their hearts will be in the right place as they worship. They will see the glory of God and their hearts will be opened to Him. Their love for Him will drive them to bring genuine praise and honor. But the nations will also worship in truth—meaning they will worship in accordance with the LORD’s commands. They will worship in the way the LORD requires. The doors to the Gentiles will be opened by the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world, into every nation, and preach the gospel. The LORD’s name will be great and now He is being exalted all over the world. APPL: But there is a warning for us as (mostly) Gentiles who worship the One true God. Our worship must remain pure and holy. God will have no problem moving off of us if we will not bring the glory due Him. This is the Apostle Paul’s point in Romans 11: even though we are grafted into the people of God, that should not make us arrogant. We need to remember the grace given to us that has placed us in this position. The LORD can just as easily close the doors to our church if we fail to honor Him and misrepresent Him to the world. See the warnings to the churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3. The LORD will protect His name and not allow it to be denigrated. We have a worship problem when we fail to see the greatness of God Those who refuse to change their attitude toward worship will have God’s blessing removed and given to others (v12-14) In verse 12 and 13, the LORD repeats the accusations from verse 8. Again, we see that Irreverent worship brings God’s rebuke. But this time the LORD exposes their attitudes and brings them out in the open. By profaning the Lord’s Table, they were treating worship to God as common and when that happened, it had an impact on their attitudes. Worship will be come mundane and eventually pointless. ILLUS: In life, there are menial tasks we all have to do. Or maybe aspects of your job are repetitive and you can pretty much do them without thinking. Those tasks can become wearisome and mundane, and often we try to get them over with as soon as possible so we can get to something more exciting. When I was young this is largely how I viewed going to church. Sunday school was fine, but the morning services were boring. And if we had communion, that was worse because it meant the service was going to take even longer. But as I grew in the faith and come to a better understanding of what we were doing when we gather at church, that attitude changed. I guess you could say that as my understanding of the greatness and glory of God grew, so did my desire to be in church and worship Him with other believer who felt the same. APPL: What was your attitude this morning when you came to church? Do you want to be here? Or is this wearisome and you are snorting at it? Careful…that attitude is not acceptable to a Holy God. You don’t want to be guilty of bringing profane and defiled worship to the LORD. Why? Because in verse 14 we read that Irreverent worship brings a curse . The LORD always provides us with the resources necessary to obey His commands. If He demands a male animal that is not sick or lame, His grace will provide one. But, perhaps, these priests and the people generally got a bit too pragmatic. Why sacrifice the good and healthy lamb when we can get rid of a lame or sick one and still offer a sacrifice. But, as we’ve said, before, all that does is betray the heart of the worshipper and expose what they really think of God. And so, failing to offer God the worship He deserves is to invite judgment and the removal of blessing. Why? Why is this so important? God’s glory is the reason he will do this . Verse 14, “...For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.” The LORD will not allow His greatness to be obscured by faithless worshippers, and so He will not endure with them forever. God will protect and defend His glory because His glory and greatness He uses to attract the outside world and draw people to Himself. This is why it is so important that we represent God well in the way we worship. It may be that our joy in serving and worshipping God will demonstrate to the world that He is good and they need him. CLOSING: Irreverent worship insults a Holy God, and anything short of repentance will result in God abandoning them for genuine worshippers. God is insulted by irreverent worship (v6-8) Repentance for irreverent worship is required if God’s favor is to continue (v9-11) "The very first thing people must do when they realize their worship and service is so deeply flawed is to pray for God's gracious forgiveness, not just spruce up their worship. Sin has been committed, forgiveness is needed." (Allen Ross, Malachi Then and Now, 52-53) Those who refuse to change their attitude toward worship will have God’s blessing removed and given to others (v12-14) The Glory of God is at stake in all this. “True contrition is to be broken hearted that God has been so boring and insignificant to us.” (John Piper, Expository Exultation, 256)
Brent Karding
nd now entreat the favor of God,
Zooming out to the largest arc now: I don't understand Bilateral here. I don't see how 9-11 is grounding 6-8 and 12-14. I can see how 11 could be, but not all of 9-11. Can you explain your thinking here?
Brent Karding
and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished.
"Yet" shows a Concessive relationship here: "even though he has a male and vows it, he sacrifices something blemished."
Brent Karding
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors,
10-11 aren't a second option, besides 9; both are positive exhortations: entreat God's favour, and stop offering vain sacrifices.
Brent Karding
When you offer blind animals in sacrifice,
8 looks more like an Explanation of 6-7 to me: Malachi writes more about polluted food here, explaining why doing so is evil.
Brent Karding
If then I am a father,
Good choice of Neg-Pos here. It isn't obvious, but the contrast is there.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.