Main point summary
The LORD is a great King who will not stoop to receive vain worship.
A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name.
A probing question. If the LORD is a father and a master, why isn't he receiving the honor due these positions? The nation's religious leadership was disrespecting the LORD.
And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?
The priests respond to the LORD's question with a question of their own? - How have we disrespected you?
In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
The LORD's response to the priests' questions. -- Their careless attitude toward the temple offerings manifests their lack of respect for the LORD. Even an earthly governor would be insulted by their offering.
And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
Malachi's (sarcastic) challenge to the priests. -- After the way you've treated Him, see if the LORD will respect your intercession for the people! See if He'll listen to you!
Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
Because the priests were performing their jobs solely for personal gain, the LORD was not pleased with them or their offerings.
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
The reason God does not have to settle for inferior worship is that, one day, even the Gentile nations will acknowledge the greatness of the LORD by their pure offerings.
But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
In sharp contrast to the worshipful attitude of the Gentiles, Israel's priesthood saw God's altar as a burdensome chore that deserved less than their utmost concern.
But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
Because the LORD is a great King, who would one day be worshipped by all peoples, He pronounces a curse on any person who would disrespect His kingship by giving a mediocre offering. How could He rightly do otherwise?
The title "LORD of hosts" is used 7 times in this passage -- God is stressing His sovereignty over all nations.
This manner of treatment is insulting even to earthly dignitaries - How much more so to the LORD of hosts!
The story of God reestablishing His presence in the world is the goal of Scripture. It is the most exciting reality a person can ever know. How could Israel view it so lightly?
The same Hebrew word is used in 2 Chron. 36:14 and Zeph. 3:4 to refer to the condition of the temple before the exile. Israel was treating the Temple of her day just like the previous generation had done.
This Hebrew word is used in Eccl. 12:12. to describe the exhaustion experienced by someone who has studied too much.
"To Him shall endless prayer be made. And princes throng to crown His head, His name like sweet perfume shall rise With every morning sacrifice." -- Isaac Watts