Sacrifice is at the core of our relationship with our Creator. True sacrifice is the giving away things you value to someone you who is more valuable to you than the thing. Sacrifice is foundational in all intimate relationships. Parents sacrifice for their children, siblings & real friends sacrifice for each other. Where does that come from?
God has modeled how sacrifice maintains & repairs relationship since the beginning.In the Garden, Yahweh sacrificed animals to atone for the 1st sin. Job offered sacrifices for himself and his children as an admission of sin. Noah, 1st thing after letting the animals out of the ark…he sacrificed burn offerings. Abraham offered sacrifices, was ready to sacrifice His son! The temple system that was part of the Law of Moses served to created a regular ‘life rhythm’ of sacrifice, making God’s people deal with their sin.
Yahweh’s people were taught to sacrifice things that really mattered, things that cost. Things that were your means of survival, your livelihood & your chance to advance. God taught His people; our most valuable things are not enough to pay for our sin. The sacrifices happened day after day, year after year…partial atonement.
Then Christ Himself, offered the sacrifice that was of enough value to cover the cost. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross pays for our sin and buys us out out of HELL! Full and complete atonement. Paid in full! We honor HIM / God by laying down our lives, sacrificing our desires and pleasures to do HIS will. The Christian expression of this is that we are called to be ‘Living Sacrifices’…
Hey God: Why all the focus on sacrifice? Why make sacrifice such an important part of the daily life of YOUR people? God’s reason & purpose of lifestyle sacrifice was and still is: SIN AWARENESS. The process of regularly dealing with your sin, having it cost you something, is the gateway to grace. You cannot lay down your life to Christ without truly needing to! It takes sin awareness to fully understand the need for a savior. God wanted to demonstrate to them & us, as HIS people we must live in recognition of our sinfulness and corruption. God has blessed us to be unique: dealing with our sin is a blessing because it is how we truly recognize our need for Christ as Lord & Savior.
Last week we ended with:
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. (Yahweh Tsebaoth)
Malachi 1:10 – 2:9
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 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.
- God is frustrated with the corruption and disobedience of His people
- All over the world [at this time] other people were honoring God
- Others Honor God while those He has chosen to be HIS, do not? That is nuts!
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.
- Your actions are what matter to God
- Your actions say everything, they expose what you truly believe
- The parable of the two sons [Jesus @ Matthew 21:28-31]
- If difficulty stops you from trying, then you don’t believe in what you are doing
“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!”
- Take a second and recognize what they were doing is what we can be guilty of
- God says: ‘Should I accept these ‘lame’ offerings? You know the answer
- Taking about what you’re going to give is never a good thing [Wayne & others]
- It is like they forget He is watching…that God is paying attention
- He wants to remind them AND US…
- He is beyond powerful and His reputation is honored all over the world
1 “Listen, you priests—this command is for you! 2 Listen to Me and make up your minds to honor My name,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken My warning to heart.
- Pay attention those of you in charge [leaders can forget about their obedience]
- God wants to give us a chance to clean up out act
- Yahweh is a God of second chances, but there’s a point when His chances end
- He says He will do it and because He knows their hearts, it’s as good as done
- They will be cursed going forward but God will also curse past blessings!
3 I will punish your descendants and splatter your faces with the manure from your festival sacrifices, and I will throw you on the manure pile. 4 Then at last you will know it was I who sent you this warning so that My covenant with the Levites can continue,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
- For such dishonoring of His reputation He will include descendants is the curse
- God knows it will take something incredibly harsh to make them realize their sin
- It will be painfully obvious that God Himself is acting against what they’re doing
5 “The purpose of my covenant with the Levites was to bring life and peace, and that is what I gave them. This required reverence from them, and they greatly revered me and stood in awe of my name.
- They were supposed to be representatives of God’s peace & life…
- Those who provide the spiritual infrastructure for God must be extra reverent
6 They passed on to the people the truth of the instructions they received from Me. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Me, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. 7 The words of a priest’s lips should preserve knowledge of God, and people should go to him for instruction, for the priest is the messenger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
- Those who minister must be examples, speaking and acting on behalf of God
- From intimacy with God, they teach His principals and maintain proper doctrine
- They are to be instruments of God’s will: Messengers [like Malachi]
8 But you priests have left God’s paths. Your instructions have caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 9 “So I have made you despised and humiliated in the eyes of all the people. For you have not obeyed Me but have shown favoritism in the way you carry out My instructions.”
- God pronounces Judgement on the Levitical priesthood [It ends with Christ]
- They have become ‘blind guides’ as Jesus called them [whitewashed tombs]
- Their corruption has led others to dishonor God’s name
- God’s human ‘spiritual infrastructure’ will be judged more strictly [Jame 3:1]
- This is God speaking in present tense about future things…they are and will be
- At the core of their disobedience was favoritism
- This is still an issue amongst God’s people…see James 2:9
- ‘If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers’
- It is like they forget God is watching!
V. 1:10-14 God is not in the business of tolerating His people’s dishonest offerings & sacrifices. He cares deeply about His reputation, so should His people. Actions are what matter to God. People act in accordance with what they truly believe, even in difficulty. God’s perfect justice means he will not let falsehoods be considered blessings.
V. 2:1-4 Those who go between Yahweh and His people are commanded to Honor Him wholeheartedly, anything less curses everything they touch. God will humiliate and degrade those who corrupt HIS worship, it will be disgustingly harsh and obvious.
V. 2:5-7 Levitical Priests were Yahweh’s instruments of peace and life for His people. They were to live reverently with Him and speak for Him. They were to instruct and convict God’s people by His Word. They were to be His messengers. All of this holds true for those who minister and lead in Christ’s Body
V. 2:8-9 When those in charge of Yahweh’s ordained spiritual infrastructure become corrupt it is like a cancer throughout the community. Lack of accountability leads to mistreatment of the relationship. The entire relational structure between Yahweh and HIS people is trashed when community wide actions create a culture of dishonoring God. It works the same in Christ’s body.
How do you view God’s reputation? How do your actions enhance it? What needs to stop that degrades it?
How do you think Christ views your lack of honesty and effort in your acts of worship? How does it impact your ability to relate to Him?
If you minister to God’s people, are you convicted of your accountability to fully honor Christ? How do we strengthen our culture of accountability to honoring Christ for servants and leaders in this body?
What actions [based on Scripture] can you take to honestly support the spiritual infrastructure Christ has placed you into?