Fully engaged in worship

MALACHI -Thirteenth in a series

Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
Our sins of omission and commission are in plain view to the Lord, yet we often don't know what they are until the Lord sends us a prophet. Today this normally means reading or hearing God's Word.

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
We understand what a tithe is. As for offerings there were "several classes of dues to God" according to Albert Barnes, a 19th century minister and theologian. He notes five: (ref)
1. The first fruits
Commanded by Moses in Deuteronomy (Deut 26:2-11), the gathering of the first fruits at harvest to set before the altar was in remembrance of the mighty acts of God in 1) choosing Israel from among all the nations, 2) delivering her from slavery, 3) bringing her out of Egypt by miracles, and 4) giving her a land rich with produce.
2. The annual half-shekel
Described in Exodus (Ex 30:13-15), this amount was due from men rich or poor, but not from Levites, women, minors or old men. Its purpose was for atonement for all Israel and its use would be to maintain the temple or the services there. (See Mat 17:24-27)
3. The offerings made for the tabernacle
Freewill offerings were given by the people when items and materials were needed to build or to restore the place of worship (Ex 25:2-3; 35:5 et al; Ezra 8:25 ), as requested by the leaders of those whose hearts were willing.
4. Tithes of their own tithes
The priests would lift or "heave" a tithe of the tithes received from the people, a vertical motion acknowledging that the Lord of heaven had given them their sustenance, and rejoicing in it. This heave offering was not set aside for burning, but was enjoyed as food by the priests and their families. (ref; Num 19:26-32)
5. Of the portions of the sacrifice which accrued to the priests
A heave offering would be for the priest who sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice of the peace offering (Lev 7:14-21)

Very specific instructions were given to the Hebrews for worship practices. The tithes and offerings required study, understanding, actions, devotion, desire, faithfulness and time. These are required of each Christian who worships today as well.

Malachi 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
In Malachi's time, Judah had been back in the land only about a century but the promised curses had been enforced already: …if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day… curses shall come... (Deut 28:15-19)

Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
From this verse, it seems there was not sufficient giving to sustain the priests and Levites, nor were services conducted based upon the full participation of the worshippers. This verse is frequently misapplied by TV evangelists or certain pastors, that their devotees will become rich in proportion to their giving. Properly understood, its application today is that those who wholeheartedly worship the Lord and help to sustain the church that is his Bride, do experience the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10) who also warned that the rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 19:23)

Malachi 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
Ancient Israel was promised divine protection for obedience to the Law. Many who see the national disasters today in the USA believe that it is God's judgment for national sin, and this would include lack of respect and honor for the church. Yet, believers do find that they are under divine protection as they obey God's Word; if we will consider our blessings, we will find God has been faithful. The Lord is mindful of his own.

Malachi 3:12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
While the Western world upheld biblical truth, great prosperity was enjoyed; yet today we see the governments throwing away the advantages with both hands. In the long run, God blesses the obedient and casts out those who hate his law.

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)