O priests, that despise my name

MALACHI -Fourth in a series

Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?

Has the Lord ever said a threatening word to you personally, through his Word? Every Christian would say, Yes! The Bible has power to discern our thoughts and motivations and to exhort and guide us. And if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. (1 Cor 11:31)

In Malachi 1:6 there is potential guidance for us, since WE are the priests today. (1 Pe 2:9; Rev 1:6)

What does it mean to despise the name of God?

In answering this question, it is good to have a resource to consult such as the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC). It teaches that breaking the third commandment comprises a great number and variety of sins. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain (Ex 20:7) is an analogous concept to despising His name.

WLC Question 112 asks: What is required in the third commandment? The answer is:

The third commandment requires, That the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others. [ref]

Then, the answer to Question 113 elaborates on this explanation, relating various Scripture passages to the numerous ways in which we may show lack of reverence for God's name, in effect despising it, though at times unwittingly.

Q 113: What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?
We normally view the below points in paragraph form, but the list format makes it easy to view the associated Scriptures. (The rollover popup may not load quickly if you hover over the Scripture references in rapid succession.)

A. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are,

  • the not using of God’s name as is required; [Malachi 2:2]
  • and the abuse of it in an ignorant, [Acts 17:23]
  • vain, [Proverbs 30:9]
  • irreverent, profane, [Malachi 1:6-7, 12; 3:14]
  • superstitious [1 Samuel 4:3-5; Jeremiah 7:4, 9-10, 14, 31; Colossians 2:20-22]
  • or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, [2 Kings 18:30, 35; Exodus 5:2; Psalm 139:20]
  • ordinances, [Psalm 50:16-17]
  • or works, [Isaiah 5:12]
  • by blasphemy, [2 Kings 19:22; Leviticus 24:11]
  • perjury; [Zechariah 5:4; 8:17]
  • all sinful cursings, [1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 16:5]
  • oaths, [Jeremiah 5:7; 23:10]
  • vows, [Deuteronomy 23:18; Acts 23:12, 14]
  • and lots; [Esther 3:7; 9:24]
  • violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; [Psalm 24:4; Ezekiel 17:16, 18-19]
  • and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; [Mark 6:26; 1 Samuel 25:22, 32-34]
  • murmuring and quarreling at, [Romans 9:14, 19-20]
  • curious prying into, [Deuteronomy 29:29]
  • and misapplying of God’s decrees [Romans 3:5, 7; 6:1]
  • and providences; [Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Psalm 39]
  • misinterpreting, [Matthew 5:21-22]
  • misapplying, [Ezekiel 13:22]
  • or any way perverting the Word, or any part of it; [2 Peter 3:16; Matthew 22:24-31; 25:28-30]
  • to profane jests, [Isaiah 22:13; Jeremiah 23:34, 36, 38]
  • curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; [1 Timothy 1:4, 6-7; 6:4-5, 20; 2 Timothy 2:14]
  • abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, [Deuteronomy 18:10-14; Acts 19:13]
  • or sinful lusts and practices; [2 Timothy 4:3-4; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Kings 21:9-10; Jude 4]
  • the maligning, [Acts 13:45; 1 John 3:12]
  • scorning, [Psalm 1:1; 2 Peter 3:3]
  • reviling, [1 Peter 4:4]
  • or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; [Acts 13:45-46, 50; 4:18; 19:9 et al]
  • making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; [2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 23:14 et al]
  • being ashamed of it, [Mark 8:38]
  • or a shame to it, by unconformable, [Psalm 73:14-15]
  • unwise, [1 Corinthians 6:5-6; Ephesians 5:15-17]
  • unfruitful, [Isaiah 5:4; 2 Peter 1:8-9]
  • and offensive walking, [Romans 2:23-24]
  • or backsliding from it. [Galatians 3:1, 3; Hebrews 6:6]

No doubt each of us will find ways in which we have not honored the name of God.

In the next post we will study the specific ways that the priests to whom Malachi spoke directly were not honoring God's name. As the leaders, the blame fell upon them more than on the people. This is true for Christians as well. We are the leaders who must set a good example.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Pe 4:17)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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