Read Malachi 1.6-14
Yes Sir, Yes Mam
In God’s accusation against Israel, He begins his argument with the natural principle that some positions, by their very nature, are worthy of honor – namely that of a father and that of a master here in verse six and that of a political ruler in verse eight. We live in the south and have a clear understanding of this type of expectation. Here we were taught, and we teach our little ones to say Yes Mam’ (or Yes’ Mmm, as my friend Ryan would say) and Yes Sir. Nothing less than that will do. We call our parents Daddy and Mama as a term of endearing respect, I’d never dream of calling up my Dad and saying, “Hey George. How’s it going?”…and you wouldn’t do the same for your parents either! The rod would never be spared for such and offense. Not in the south.
Now, when I see our probate judge at church I refer to him by his first name. However, if I were to appear before the probate court, I would refer to him as “Your Honor” because of the position he holds. It is, by it’s nature, worthy of honor.
We understand this principle and apply it in our daily lives without much confusion. When we’re pulled over by the police, we don’t say, “Hey Dude. What did I do wrong?” We refer to them as Officer so and so. We refer to the President of our country as “Mr. President”. We’ve learned to do this because showing proper respect to authority tends to keep us out of further trouble.
Take a moment and ponder this question. What makes God worthy of honor? Seriously, think about this for a moment before you continue. Maybe jot some of these down, or make a mental list at least.
Take a look at verse six again. The last part of verse six is quite alarming to me. Israel responds to God’s accusation by saying, “How have we despised your name?” I can see them with a blindsided look on their face. “What do you mean, we’ve despised your character?” It’s as if they are completely unaware of the how they have offended God. I know when we read through these verses our first reaction is, “How cannot you be this unaware of what you’re doing?” It seems obvious to us. But it wasn’t so obvious to them.
Take a moment and think about your own life. Are there areas in your life that might be dishonoring to the Lord? Ask God to reveal these to you in the upcoming days.
Apparently there’s quite a famous book by this title. I wouldn’t know. I don’t read fiction.
Look down a few verses and we can see the core issue. “When you present a blind animal for sacrifice, it it not wrong?…Bring it to your governor! Would he be pleased with you or show your favor?…And now ask for God’s favor. Will He be gracious to us?” (1.8-9).
Here Malachi reveals a problem that surfaces throughout all of humanity, no matter the age.
People desire the blessings of God without showing Him honor.
I see this in people from time to time. I see it in myself from time to time. If you’re honest, you might struggle with this as well. The question becomes, Is this a fair expectation? Do we have an expectation of God to pour out blessings in our lives apart from our consideration of Him?
Thankfully, in some ways, God does do this. Romans 5.8 says, “For while we were still sinners Christ died for us!” This is the ultimate display of the love of God. So, apart from our own love for Him, God sent Christ to die on our behalf any way. For the unconditional love and grace of God we should rejoice.
However, Malachi 3.8-12 tells us that we are foolish if we expect God to pour out blessings in all areas of our lives without us seeking His Kingdom first. The God of scripture is not to be equated to a divine Santa Claus or Daddy Warbucks. He is worthy of honor.
A Great Name
Note the repeated themes throughout these verses:
- Lord of hosts
- My name
Let’s concentrate on this last theme as we conclude our time together. This particular phrase is used in v. 6 (2x), 11 (3x), 14. It’s use continues throughout chapter two as well (2.1, 5). The question is, What does it mean? In the ancient world, a person’s name was equivalent to the person themselves. It represented their character and reputation. In short, Israel was guilty in this passage of taking the worthiness of God himself and making Him seem worthless because they valued their things more than Him.
Notice God’s agenda throughout these and the surrounding verses:
- His desire is to be “great, even beyond the borders of Israel.” (1.5)
- “My name will be great among the nations” (1.11)
- and again in the same verse, “my name will be great among the nations” (1.11)
- “I am a great King” (1.14)
- “My name will be feared among the nations” (1.14)
It’s clear that Israel’s sacrificial practices communicated to the world, and to God Himself, that they viewed making sacrifices to be a bother (1.13) and really didn’t see giving to God as a worthy endeavor.
A few more questions before we go. What does our giving communicate about how we view God? Does our giving accurately reflect the worthiness of God? Does it honor Him? Do we treasure God or do we treasure treasure?
It is my prayer that we have the same agenda that God has. That we’re seeking to make known the worthiness and greatness of God in all that we do.