Malachi

Malachi 1:6-14 The Regulative Principle Of Worship.

“A major reason for the Lord’s anger with Israel is the priesthood’s attitude toward God’s name at the altar and toward God’s law in teaching and judging. At the altar they offered diseased or imperfect animals in sacrifice, thereby reversing the intent of their labors and bringing curse and defilement where they should have brought blessing and cleansing. In their teaching and judging they violated the covenant with Levi (2:8), showing partiality and causing many to stumble” (NGSB. p.1487). The LORD of hosts was the Father of His covenant people (Ex. 4:22). If human fathers and masters are honoured and revered, the LORD then asks the people why they were not honouring Him, or showing Him reverence (v. 6ab Cf. Is. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 31:9; Mt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2). As noted, the LORD focuses on the priests in particular (v. 6c). Surely to keep the fifth commandment necessitates we honour the Father (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16).

In failing to honour the LORD of the covenant as Father, they were not only breaking the fifth commandment, but the third as well, because in despising His name they were taking it in vain, and “the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Dt. 5:11 Cf. Ex. 20:7). In response to this charge delivered by the prophet, the people act incredulous at the accusation. However, actions mirror what is in one’s heart. The priests believed that they were fulfilling the law by merely offering the sacrifices prescribed, but they decided that they could do so on their terms, terms that would not cost them anything, in that they offered “defiled food” on the LORD’s altar, and saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible’” (v. 7). Their offerings were defiled because they were defective, contrary to what the law prescribed (Lev. 22:19-25; Dt. 15:21; 17:1).

This is partly why their offerings were evil (v. 8a). Even their governor would not accept such sacrifices (v. 8b). What they needed was to plead for grace, even in the way which the LORD prescribed, because these sacrificial offerings were symbolic of grace via a blood offering from a perfect sacrifice (v. 9). If there was no one willing to offer the sacrifices in the manner prescribed by God in the law-word of the covenant, then it would be better to bar the entrance to the altar altogether (v. 10). It was the LORD’s purpose that His name be exalted among the Gentiles, and not despised. This required the offering of pure offerings, and incense offered to His name (v. 11 Cf. Is. 59:19; 60:3, 5; 66:18-19). Instead, they had profaned His name with their acts and words, saying “’The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible’” (v. 12). They sinned in word and deed.

The LORD’s sacrifices and offerings were regarded as contemptible, because like all modern liberal so-called Christians, and all other non-Christian religions, including modern and ancient Judaism, they considered blood sacrifices and offerings to be a profane, defiled, and despicable thing. The blood sacrifices and offerings have been despised since the time that Cain despised the offering of his brother Abel (Gen. 4:1-12; Heb. 11:4), because just as God shed blood to clothe Adam and Eve after the fall (Gen. 3:21), and what He prescribed thereafter, blood is prescribed because of sin, humanity being dead in sin, but receives life in the blood of the offering, for the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11). However, they were also tired of producing such sacrifices and offerings, and being as meticulous as the LORD required in their offering of them. This was unacceptable to the LORD (v. 13).

As a result, since they were members of the covenant community, all such deceivers would be subject to a curse, because they had the wherewithal and the knowledge to offer the sacrifices which the LORD in His word had prescribed (v. 14a). Only as His covenant people reformed their words and actions, returning to the law-word of the covenant, would there then be a proper fear of the LORD’s name, and He as the great King, and through this a proper fear of Him among the nations (v. 14b Cf. Nu. 23:21; 24:7; Dt. 33:5; Pss. Ps. 47:1-3; 93-100). Those who offered these imperfect sacrifices were guilty of deception, and so also were the priests who accepted them, for this reason they were cursed. “Laws regulating voluntary offerings required the giving of a perfect offering. This text implies an attempt to deceive the Lord (sic) (cf. Lev. 22:18-20; Ps. 76:11)” (Ibid. p.1489).

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