Malachi 1 v 6 – 14
Please turn with me in your Bibles to the prophecy of Malachi – the very last book in the Old Testament. We’re going to read chapter one from verse 6 and we’re going to read together right to the end of that chapter.
6“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honour? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My Name. But you say, ‘How have we despised Your Name?’
7By offering polluted food upon My altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted You?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised.
8When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favour? says the LORD of hosts.
9And now entreat the favour of God, that He may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will He show favour to any of you? says the LORD of hosts.
10Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on My altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.
11For from the rising of the sun to its setting My Name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My Name, and a pure offering. For My Name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.
12But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised.
13But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD.
14Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and My Name will be feared among the nations.
Some of the hardest words to read in all of the Word of God! And I tried as I read it to you to capture what I think would have been the tone of the Lord’s heart at that time. Last week we looked at Malachi indicting the Lord’s people for doubting their love, you remember? That was their first sin – they doubted His Love and we saw God’s Love declared last week. We saw it doubted and we saw it defended. Now the same happens tonight in this passage with regard to the Lord’s Name, because the sin of the people in the time of Malachi did not only have to do with the Lord’s Love, but also with the Lord’s Name. They despised His Name! And God now turns to the priests, who should have been the spiritual leaders of the land. The priests were not giving honour to God’s Name – they were taking the best for themselves, and they did not value the spiritual privileges that God gave them: serving the altar, burning the incense and eating the dedicated showbread. And they didn’t bring their best to the sacrifices. They brought what they didn’t want for themselves – they brought the poorest of animals. You can read about it in Deuteronomy 15:21 how wrong that is. It’s wrong especially in light of the fact that God gave them His very, very best – the Lamb without blemish slain before the foundation of the world – and they bring contaminated animals to Him! God asked for their best in return, but they wouldn’t obey Him. Verse 10 ought to read: “Who is there spiritual enough to shut the temple doors and put an end to this hypocrisy?” That’s what it should have read, because what these people were indulging in was defiling the Name of the Lord – despising the Name of the Lord! What we see in this text is God’s Name declared – He tells them His Name – His Name declared. And we see His Name despised and we see His Name defended. God defends His Name. We live in a world where we see so much of the Lord’s Name being despised by people. Have you seen that? It’s just an expletive in the mouths of many people – God’s Name despised! But God’s Name is not only despised when we take it in vain – God’s Name is despised by the way in which we worship Him or don’t worship Him, the way in which we serve Him or don’t serve Him, detracts from the glory of God in one way or another. And it can manifest in so many ways. It can be because we bring to God only what we don’t want for ourselves. When we’ve looked after ourselves first and all our interests, then what is left over we’ll take to God. We give Him our worst: the worst of our time, the worst of our effort, the worst of our thoughts during the day, the worst of our emotions! That is to despise His Name and the Lord knows that. You see, if you know the Lord’s Name, you know who He is and when you know who He is and you really understand that, you will respond to Him in an appropriate way unless you’re a blatant blasphemer. And that was the sin of the people in the time of Malachi, but it was even worse – it was the sin of the priests – it was the sin of the people who had to know better than the rest of the people and they didn’t! And so the Lord starts out with this indictment against them that they are despising His Name and He declares His Name.
- God’s Name Declared
We see God’s Name declared beautifully in the text in verse 6 and also in the second part of verse 14. God’s Name is declared. Now we can say much more about God’s Name than what is said by Malachi here – much more! But there are four things about God’s Name that Malachi highlights and each one of them in light of Malachi’s indictment to the people is important.
When God indicted them that they were despising His Name, God had in His mind four things that He is and that they weren’t getting, or they were getting and blatantly disregarding in despising Him. What are those four things? He’s a Father, He’s a Master, He is the Lord of hosts and He’s a great King. That’s what Malachi highlights – a Father, and Master, the Lord of hosts and a great King. And His Name is being despised!
a. God is a Father
He says in verse 6: “A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then” – rhetorical question, because we know He is – “If then I am a Father, where is my honour?” Think of it – as a father ought to be honoured by his children. Now, I know in the day and age in which we live fathers have behaved in ways and failed to behave in ways that for many of us will make that whole illustration just go right over our heads. Many of us have not had very good experiences with their father. I hang my head in shame myself for some of the things my children have had to see in me, in my life. What do you do? You do what God doesn’t have to do – you try to rise up and earn that honour. You try to pick yourself up and you say to yourself: “That’s not what I ought to be! I need to be the kind of father that God is teaching me to be.” What kind of Father is God? He’s the father of our spirits. He’s the one who gave us life. He’s the one who’s strong and taking care of His people in defending them against dangers. He’s a loving Father who defends them against themselves. That’s what a loving father does. A loving father knows that: ‘in my children there are things that if they are allowed to just develop and run amuck, my child’s life will not work out well. I need to defend my son, my daughter against themselves too.’ A father will do that! Young people, you need to know when your dad talks to you, it’s love. It’s what it is. He loves you. He doesn’t want anything from outside of you or inside of you to harm you because he wants the best for you. And God as our Father – is supremely so. He knew that the Fall brought upon us things that would threaten us on every side – things round about us. But He also knew that there were inside of us things that if left to themselves would destroy us! And as that kind of Father before he even created us, He took that Lamb to whom that table points us tonight – the One with no blemish – the apple of His eye – the core of His heart, and He slew Him! Why? That was His Son! For you and for me – for the likes of us! It’s the kind of Father He is and He needs to be honoured. So often we think: ‘I just need to love my dad because he gives me nice stuff. He got me a new iPhone, so I love him.’ No, you need to honour your father and your mother. Why? Because every effort they make is to protect you against what is round about you and what is inside of you. And God is the Father who protects us against that. Our Maker and our Redeemer. And He’s worthy of honour. He says “if I’m a Father, where is My honour?” That’s the most horrific sin to not honour a Father like that! It’s a kind of spiritual delinquency – it’s a horrible sin! And that’s what the Lord indicts them of.
b. God is a Master
Where is my fear? He’s a Master. What does that mean? He’s the Boss. We live in the world of secularism and humanism – it’s run rampant. Nobody must have a boss. How many of you’ve seen that? Nobody must have a boss. I’m the boss. Nobody can be a master. ‘Oh a master over… how dare you call a man master?’ What is a master? A master is someone who has been given certain authority by God to achieve something for the people that he loves. He knows how disorganized we can get. He knows how chaotic we can get. And so masters are there to see that we get the work done, that we get the project fulfilled. Somebody has to lead. Isn’t that true? Somebody has to help people to work together and achieve a common purpose. It’s redemptive, and the pinnacle of that is the creation of civilization. Over many, many centuries our forebears laboured under the Gospel to create the greatest civilization that this world ever saw: Western Christian civilization! And He is the Master who leads us in that. And as a Master with such a lofty, lofty position and calling, He’s worthy of honour while He’s being Master over us. It’s making our lives better – not only our lives, but the lives of our children and our children’s children. So you can see what kind of a delinquency it is to not honour the Master – to not fear Him. Why? Because a master is also endued with the authority to censure you and to correct you when you don’t work for the greater and the communal good. And that ought to be feared! O, but we mustn’t make people afraid, must we? The only thing we’re allowed to be afraid of is Covid – we’re not allowed to be afraid of anything else – not allowed to be afraid of what’ll happen to your soul if you neglect the means of Grace or you don’t honour the Lord’s Name or you don’t get with a project and do what He’s called you to in the midst of all the dangers that beset us – most of which come from inside of us and among us – not round about us.
We need to fear God for how He will deal with us when we don’t honour Him, and work within the face of all dangers that face us to achieve what He’s put us on this planet for. Amen!? Where is His fear? He presents Himself as a Father and a Master, but then most gloriously:
c. God is the Lord of Hosts
“…says the Lord of hosts…” He is the Lord of all the angels and archangels – the things we cannot see that would leave us dumbfounded and astonished if we had to take a single glimpse at it. He’s the Lord of it! He’s high above it and all around it! The Lord of hosts. But in order to get that point that He is the Lord of hosts, you really, really need to have a supernatural vision. You really, really need to believe deep down without crossing your fingers, that this world is not all there is and that you must not love the world, nor the things thereof. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart because He is the Lord of hosts.
d. God is a Great King
In the second part of verse 14: “I’m a great King says the Lord of hosts and My Name will be feared among the nations.” A great King says the Lord of hosts, the Supreme Potentate, Lord of Glory. A great King your God is – He’s not just another choice among various religions. He’s a great King. You look at all the other religions – they don’t have a great king do they? They don’t have a god who is a great king do they? Our God is a great King.
And so that’s God’s Name declared. Now what is so terrible about this? With a Name like that, a Father like that, a Master like that, the Lord of hosts and such a great King – it is terrible what we see next. We see God’s Name declared and then we see:
- God’s Name Despised
In the second part of verse 6 to 10 and also in verses 12 and 14: God’s Name despised in three ways: Scorn, sacrilege and snorting, and I’ll explain them to you.a. Their Scorn They scorn His Name – they shun it – they treat it like it is nothing! “They despise My Name” He says. Despising is a very, very horrible, horrible thing! What does it mean to despise someone or something? What does that really mean? It means to look down on it with disdain – to look down on it and devalue it – to disregard it like it’s nothing. It’s a terrible thing! It’s contempt, it’s downtrodden, it’s unworthy, it’s disrespect! It’s to disregard, to slight, to treat with disrespect, to dishonour, to desecrate, to insult, to affront, to outrage, to vilify. That’s what it means to despise His Name! Now tell me this evening – how can any Homo Sapiens Sapiens – and I never know why they named us twice – I think it’s because we’re bad outside and inside – how can any human being do that with the Name of God? How? But that’s what we did. They scorn it – they denigrate it. And let me tell you something else about them: They knew that – they knew that! But they do what we all do when we are called out for our sin. You know what we say? “How have we despised Your Name?” – Always ready to throw God in the dock isn’t it? When God drags us into the courtroom and He puts us in the dock, we always want to switch places. We want to jump in the Judgment seat and put Him in the dock. “How have we despised Your Name?” What’s so bad about that, it also implies several other things such as: you’re implying that God is lying. How horrible is that? Or you’re implying that God – and I speak with reverence, but let’s think about what we think and say – we’re implying that He is stupid and making a mistake – that He was just being touchy – He was just being overly sensitive. That’s almost worse than despising His Name, because now we’re not only attacking His Name, we’re attacking His character. Can you see how bad it is? It’s terrible! That’s their scorn – their despising seen in their scorn.
b. Their Sacrilege
This begins to cut very close to the bone, especially in the days in which we live. Their sacrilege. God answers them. He says by offering polluted food on My altar. You’re sacrificing dirty stuff to Me. And look at what they say: “But you say, how have we polluted You?” He just told them! They give Him push back. Can you see that God is grieved with that in the way He speaks to these people? Can you see the grievance of God? By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised, it’s okay. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice is that not evil? When you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your Governor. Will he accept you or show you favour? says the Lord of hosts. He says: “You won’t even give that to somebody that you consider to be an earthly master, but you bring it to Me – you bring that to Me!” And the Lord is so grieved about this that He says to them in a kind of a Divine yearning. He says: “Oh, that there would be one among you who would shut the doors – that there would just be one who stands up and sees what is going on and say I’m stopping this – you stop it right now! I’m closing this place down! If you cannot worship Him right, don’t worship Him at all! Just one among you.” says the Lord. “That you might not kindle fire on My altar in vain.” And the following are terrible words – to have the God of Glory say them to us is terrible: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I’ll not accept an offering from your hand.” That’s their sacrilege – they take what is sacred and they desecrate it.
c. Their Snorting
He says: “You profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted and it’s fruit, that is the food may be despised. But you say, what a weariness this is” – and listen to this – He says: “You snort at it.” That’s horrible isn’t it? What does it mean to snort? It’s a disrespectful laugh. It’s an action that’s aimed at belittling the person who is trying to correct you. Not only have they despised the Name and then they imply that there’s something wrong with God – now they snort at Him. It’s a blasphemous laugh – that’s what it is – a disrespectful laugh – it’s a snigger. To snigger at God! We live in a world where we see this, my friends – where God’s Name is being dishonoured and we snort at it when He takes us to task about it. And that’s His indictment of these people.
- God’s Name Defended
Now the Lord defends His Name, and look how wonderfully He does that in verse 11 and verse 14b – the second part of verse 14. We see that the Lord defends His Name in two ways. He says two things are going to happen to My Name and I want the whole world to know this. People running around the world cutting off other people’s head because they blaspheme your prophet and everyone else who don’t know this take careful note what will happen to the Name of this Father, this Master, this Lord of hosts, this great King. Here’s what will happen with His Name: It will be eternally revered and it will be universally feared. That’s what God says.
a. It will be Eternally Revered
Note how He says it will be eternally revered: “From the rising of the sun to its setting My Name will be great among the Nations and in every place incense will be offered to My Name and a pure offering. For My Name will be great among the Nations says the Lord of hosts.” Verse 13 He carries on and He says: “You say what a weariness this is” and they carry on with that but then He gets to the very last part of this passage and He says not only will His Name be eternally revered by all people,
b. It will be Universally Feared
He says: “I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts and My Name will be feared among the Nations.” How many of you believe this is coming? His Name will be eternally revered and will be universally feared. Let me tell you what’s going to go down on this planet, it’s going to happen. I pray it happens in my lifetime. I pray that God’s smacks me down on my own lounge floor and makes me revere His Name eternally and fear His Name universally. In every place forever. I pray that He does that with every man, woman and child and I pray it happens in my time. And I hope you pray the same.
Now there is something about this Name, you know that Name Father. How did the Lord Jesus teach us to pray? What were the first two words? “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” He was praying Malachi. He was honoring His Name. He knew how His father felt about this – this thing with His Name. That’s why He called Him “Our Father Who Art in Heaven”, the Lord of hosts “Hallowed be Your Name. And universally feared: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s how His Son taught us to pray. We pray like our Lord Jesus. He’s God’s best – the Lamb without blemish slain before the foundation of the world that He gave to us. Why would we give Him second best? Why would we hold out on Him with our time, our treasure, our talent and our ties – those things that we are to be good stewards of? You know what it is that you need to take care of in this world? Your time – you have time – you have only so long, your talent – the gifts that He’s put inside of you, your treasure – the things that He blesses you with for your labour and you have your ties – your relationships. And we must bring the very, very best of that to God – not only when we come to church or when you go to work – wherever you go, you give Him your best. You always think about the fact that He’s your Father, He’s your Master, He is the Lord of hosts and a great King. And with the Lord Jesus you ought to say: “Our Father Who Art in Heaven…” as I go about my day, as I love my family, as I move with Your Spirit in the light of Your Word to be redeemed of my sin and sinfulness – as I put up with my enemies today and all the challenges that face me – Hallowed be Thy Name – glory to Your Name. May in everything that I do, wherever I go remember what Your Son taught me – the One You gave – the best you gave. Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, in my life, as it is in heaven.