Malachi is the last of God’s prophets in the Old Testament. He’s one of the “minor” prophets, only because his book is so short — just 4 chapters. Nevertheless, in these 4 chapters, God tells the Jews, and us, how He expects us to worship Him. He calls out the hypocrites. Are you ready for a slap upside the head? Let’s dig in….
Malachi 1 – The Lord’s Love for Israel
This is the message that the Lord gave to Israel through the prophet Malachi.
The Lord’s Love for Israel
2 “I have always loved you,” says the Lord.
But you retort, “Really? How have you loved us?”
And the Lord replies, “This is how I showed my love for you: I loved your ancestor Jacob, 3 but I rejected his brother, Esau, and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau’s inheritance into a desert for jackals.”
4 Esau’s descendants in Edom may say, “We have been shattered, but we will rebuild the ruins.”
But the Lord of Heaven’s Armies replies, “They may try to rebuild, but I will demolish them again. Their country will be known as ‘The Land of Wickedness,’ and their people will be called ‘The People with Whom the Lord Is Forever Angry.’ 5 When you see the destruction for yourselves, you will say, ‘Truly, the Lord’s greatness reaches far beyond Israel’s borders!’”
6 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
“But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
“Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. 8 When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
9 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings. 11 But my name is honored by people of other nations from morning till night. All around the world they offer sweet incense and pure offerings in honor of my name. For my name is great among the nations,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table. 13 You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the Lord,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the Lord.
14 “Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!Malachi 1 NLT
Dissecting the Heart of Hypocrites
- Jesus called out the hypocrites, the Pharisees in Matthew 23.
- They were very pious on the outside, but corrupt and sinful on the inside.
- The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek for “actor” — a stage performer who plays a part or role behind a mask.
- The name “Malachi” means messenger. God sent him to the Jews, who returned from exile in Babylon/Persia c. 430 BC.
- Nehemiah finished building the wall and returned to King Artexerxes in Persia for a year. In that year, the Jews got lazy, sloppy, and careless in their worship of God.
- Malachi calls them out and they reply, “Really? When was that?” It’s an odd conversation, but they are denying their sin.
- 3 main issues…
- v. 2 – they denied God’s love
- v. 6 – they despised God’s name
- v. 7 – they defiled God’s altar in
- what they brought as a sacrifice
- why the came to the altar
- the way they behaved at the altar
Take each one of these as if you were holding a mirror in front of you assessing YOUR relationship with God…
Pastor Sandy Adams explains regarding God’s love…
Here is God’s first beef with the His people. They deny His love. God says He loves them, but they question that love. Understand, our backsliding always causes a blindness. Sin is the smog of the soul. It causes a haze. Truths that were once crystal clear to us now become barely recognizable, especially God’s love!
In order for the hypocrite to harden his heart, he first has to deny God’s love. The love of God is so enchanting, and compelling, and engrossing, and disarming, and captivating – it feels so good, heals so deep, lasts so long, grows so sweet – it’s impossible to harden your heart in the face of God’s love.
Listen to this poem, and take note of the hold the love of God can have on a person’s heart…
“Oh the bitter pain and sorrow that a time could ever be
when I proudly said to Jesus all of self and none of Thee.
Yet He found me; I beheld Him bleeding on the accursed tree –
and my wistful heart said faintly, some of self and some of Thee.
Day by day His tender mercy, healing, helping, full and free,
brought me lower, while I whispered, less of self and more of Thee.
Higher than the highest heavens, deeper than the deepest sea, Lord,
Thy love at last has conquered, none of self and all of Thee!”
God’s great love draws us in. The more we’re aware, the more that love endears us to God. This is why the first step toward hypocrisy is to harden your heart to the love of God. It’s easier to keep God at arm’s length if you dismiss His love for you. The religious hypocrite replaces the love of God with rituals, and rules, and remembrances, and recitals of doctrine. He or she has substituted the things of God for the touch of God.
They create a loveless religion. Rituals often remind us of the majesty of God. Rules can communicate the righteousness of God. Recollections shine a light on the faithfulness of God. And the reciting of doctrine reveals the wisdom of God. But to know the love of God it takes the touch of God. This is why the hypocrite keeps religious things between him and God. He keeps God at a distance. Yet God is undaunted by the rejection of His people!Sandy Adams
God’s love is a mystery. It’s not up to us to understand why He can still love us even though we ignore Him, oppose Him and disobey Him. He is the God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th chances — and MORE if you need it! Infinitely! Don’t ignore His Grace!
Despising His Name
It took me a long time to stop taking God’s name in vain. When you hear it all the time used as an exclamation, it’s only natural that you pick it up. Interestingly enough, you don’t hear people using the name of “Mohammad” or “Buddha” that way. In some places, that could get you killed.
His Name is Holy! He is the Great “I AM”. You can’t ridicule God’s name! Pastor Sandy Adams explains…
Remember, it was God’s name that revealed His nature. In Exodus 34, on top of Mount Sinai, “The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with Him there, and… the LORD passed before him and proclaimed the name of the LORD.” And how did He proclaim His name?
We’re told it was by giving a list of attributes, “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” In Numbers 6:27 after giving Moses the priestly blessing, the Lord said, “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel.”
The people were to wear God’s name. As a bride takes the name of her husband as an example of her unity and oneness with him, so the people of Israel were to share God’s name, both in title and in substance. Yet this was the problem. The Jews laid claim to God’s name, but ignored God’s nature.Sandy Adams
What are YOU Sacrificing for God?
We’re supposed to give God 10% off the top of our income — not our leftovers –that’s called a tithe. His math doesn’t make sense to our small human minds. Say you earned $100. You should give to the church $10 off the top. However, you have a $95 electric bill to pay in a few days or your power gets shut off. What do you do? Most folks would pay the electric bill. That makes sense. Then, they give God the $5 left over. God doesn’t want our leftovers! He wants us to trust Him! I’ve seen it work. If I give the $10, undoubtedly another job will land in my lap and I’ll have that electric bill paid off on time. That’s just the way He works. TRUST HIM! He want’s the tithe (10%) not the tip! Stop insulting Him! You get what you give.
Jesus told us…
38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”Luke 6:38 NLT
Your Worship — Your Why and How
I remember growing up Catholic that going to mass was robotic, ritualistic, unemotional. We all looked pious, but I know we weren’t. Our worship was in vain. It accomplished NOTHING.
- It was empty, hollow, vain rituals, going through the motions, playing religion
- Or we went to get something — free food, coffee, cookies, or a show
- We despised it. Our behavior showed it — hating every minute of it. Is going to church more of a chore and a burden to you?
The Remedy for Hypocrisy
The cure for hypocrisy is FEAR OF THE LORD! That is, respect. If you get to know God, you’ll get to respect WHO HE really is.
Some Names for God…
- El-Shaddai – God Almighty
- El-Elyon – God Most High
- El-Olam – God Everlasting
- El-Roi – The God Who Sees
- Jehovah – Lord, Master, Relational God
- Jehovah El-Emeth – Lord of Truth
- Elohim – The One True Creator God, Divine Deity
- Jehovah Elohim Yeshua – Lord God of My Salvation
- Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Who Provides
- Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Heals
- El-Emunah – The Faithful God
- Elohim Kedoshim – Holy God
- Elohim Machase Lanu – God of Our Refuge
- El-Sali – God My Rock
Jesus didn’t suffer torture and die so we could have religion!
He died so He could have a Personal Relationship with YOU!
What are you waiting for?!